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    Peppermint and Pine hot Process soap

    Last Christmas I was determined to but my fresh cut pine tree to good use. Pinterest had at some point, put information on how to use my pine tree for herbal remedies in front of my face, and I remembered it.  I am the type of person that likes to find more than one use from the things that I buy. Consequently this helps me feel like I have made a good value to investment with my purchase. Every winter we go get a permit and cut our own tree. Not only do I want to honor that tree and use as much as I can but I hate just throwing it to the curb when the holiday is over. 

    Thus came my grand idea to use the pine needles in a soap recipe. 

    I see that you are thinking, “If you made this soap at Christmas time why is it labeled as a gardeners hand soap?” That is a perfectly logical thought, and there is a perfectly logical explanation. 

    See I didn’t really have the foresight when I decided to play around with the pine needles in my soap to know that I was going to be making gardener’s soap in December. 

    Hence the first lesson to making soap.  Lye CHANGES things. This is an important lesson if you want to put additives in your soap recipe.

    So here I was thinking I was being cute and smart, by making a wonderful custom soap using the hot process soap method I shared with you here in an earlier post. I had done my due diligence and spent a good amount of time reading about how to use pine as an herb. I had read what I could find about ways to use pine needles and I thought I had it all figured out. 

    I went and made some wonderful smelling soap. 

    Then I left my soap for a week to cure.

    After about a week I needed to refill the soap in my shower and I was so excited to go and grab the Peppermint and Pine soap that I had made. If you remember from my fist post on how to make hot process soap, (if you haven’t seen it check it out here) that this method of making soap yields fairly fast results. Hot process soap can be used almost immediately instead of needing a cure time of several months like cold process soap. But even with hot process, the soap is best if left to cure for at least a week. 

    My shower went great! I loved the smell and the soap lathered really well. It seemed to me to be a success! Until about an hour later when I started to notice that my skin felt dry. After some reflection I realized that the pine needles had been hardened by the lye. They were pretty stiff and coarse and they had just exfoliated my skin in the shower. I hadn’t known it was such an exfoliating bar of soap and so I didn’t pay any attention to how vigorously I had scrubbed. 

    Now, if you know much about soap you might be thinking “no you felt like your skin was dry because your recipe was wrong and the lye was not cured out of the soap.” I thought this too. So I tested the soap and I also used the bar a second time just with lighter pressure and it was not an issue with the lye. The second time I showered I didn’t press the bar so hard against my skin and I had no dryness or irritated skin.

    So What was I going to do with all that soap?

    In all honesty the soap works fine as long as I don’t vigorously scrub with it. The hardened needles are like a large pumice. We used the rest of that bar just fine. I did however start to think about how I would prefer a different soap in the shower and started to wonder what to do with the peppermint pine soap.

    I decided that it might just make a good gardener’s hand soap. 

    Fast forward a few months and now it is early spring. I have been working in the greenhouse and digging early season weeds out of my flower beds and garden boxes. My hands have gotten dirt ground down into the cracks of my skin (like they always do since I don’t prefer gloves). 

    I am happy to report that this soap does really make an excellent gardener;s hand soap. I might be biased but it has been working better then anything else I have tried to get that dirt out of all the tiny cracks in my skin. My hands don’t feel dry and they get squeaky clean after a long day playing and working in dirt. 

    So while it was discovered by accident, I will be making it again every Christmas season from my tree. Its sort of like a gift that keeps on giving. 

    How to make Peppermint Pine Gardeners Hand Soap.

    To make this Peppermint and Pine Gardener’s soap follow the steps below. I recommend that you check out my first post on how to make soap using the hot process method if you haven’t made soap before. You need to follow that recipe first before you start adding things to your soap.  

    • Go to my post about how to make hot process soap for the basic recipe (get it here).
    • Make the basic hot process soap
    • At the end where you would add in Essential Oils add in 3 tsp of peppermint oil and 1/2 cup finely chopped pine needles (if you add more the soap will be even more coarse, that is up to you but just don't add more then 3/4 cup).
    • Continue to follow the basic soap recipe after you add in the peppermint and pine until the process is finished and the soap has been removed from the mold
    • let soap cure for 1 week to allow time for the needles to harden so the soap works to remove dirt and grime

    This recipe is really just a matter of what you add to an existing recipe. There are certain guidelines about what you can add and how much in order to keep a balance with the lye and oils in the recipe. If you make any changes on your own make sure you run your recipe through a lye calculator. Expect that any thing you add that is solid, like the pine in this recipe will harden with the lye. Smaller bits will be less abrasive. 

    Note: You can use the needles of any kind of pine.

    For an amazing peppermint essential oil shop for it here.

    Why Pine?

    Pine has potent healing properties it aids in the resistance of redness and swelling making it an amazing aid for joint pain and discomfort.

    It’s is able to help relieve general muscular aches and pains. Pine has amazing cleansing capacities, because of this it can help with a variety of skin conditions such as Psoriasis, acne, eczema, itching and athlete’s foot. Applied topically it can help remedy the scalp of dryness and dandruff. It also speeds up wound healing and fights against free radicals with its antioxidant properties.

     

    Why pepermint?

    Peppermint not only smells good but it can benificial for your skin too. It has menthol in it which is revitalizing when you breathe it in. That is one of the main reasons I love using it in topical applications like soap. It picks up my mood and helps me feel energetic when I smell it. 

    There are other common benefits of using peppermint topically. It is cooling and can relieve minor aches, and it is antiseptic, (which means it kills germs and prevents infections). Pepermint is also analgesic which means it relieves pain.

    As always, I am not a doctor or a master soap maker. Be sure to do your due dilligence and learn as much as you can before just taking my word for things. I can only share my perspective with you, I am not making any promises to you. If you ever get your hands dirty, I hope you make some of this soap to help you get them clean! 

    Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own

    these are the Easiest, softest, best tasting cinnamon rolls you will ever make

    I am making some big claims here but my family is just in love with this cinnamon roll recipe. They are so easy to make that I have to actively resist making them every single weekend for the sake of my waistline. 

    I use my sourdough starter and my grandmothers tips. She taught me how to make yeasted cinnamon rolls many years ago. My childhood is filled with memories of her making cinnamon rolls and then sharing them with me. I want my kids to have the same warm memories about my cooking. Therefore, since I want to make them every weekend and can’t (or shoudn’t) I make them only 2 or three times a year. Once in April, Once in October and sometimes for Christmas. 

    These Cinnamon Rolls are so amazing there is not much to say. So I will just tell you how to make them.

    There is only three things  you need to make them… I will provide the links and you just need to read this article all the way through so you know what to do when it comes time to make them. 

    There is only one hard part about this recipe. I find it best to make the dough and roll them up the night before you want to eat them. So for me I normally make them at about 10 PM on a Friday or Saturday night. And sometimes at that time of the day I just want to go to bed.

    The good news is that it takes only 10 minutes to get them made but add another 5 minutes to clean up for good measure. 

    Here is the process

    Mix up a basic sourdough bread recipe. I have one and you can go here to get it if you missed it.

    Once the dough is mixed and is not sticky take it and roll it our into a long rectangle or oblong shape. 

     

    Spread butter over most of it. Just leave a small ribbon without butter at the bottom of the rectangle of dough so it will stick together when you roll it up.

    Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon all over the butter. The amount is up to you. I like a lot of cinnamon, and a modest amount of sugar (1/4 cup ish). 

    Roll the dough up into a log and slice into 1 inch rounds. I have been doing this for years and for some reason have never gotten an even number to fit in my pan. So just arrange them the best you can and give them room to grow. Once they rise and get baked no one will notice if there are only 3 in one row and the rest have 4 per row.

    Grease a large 10 x 20 glass baking pan (if you don’t have one that big you can use two smaller ones, or two round cake pans, whatever works). 

    Place the dough rounds into the pan and leave some room in between them. Cover the pan with greased plastic wrap. I just spray my pan and plastic wrap with coconut oil.  Let the pan sit overnight.

     

    The cinnamon rolls need to be cooked fairly soon in the morning. When you wake up check on them, they should have risen to fill the pan. When I make them at 10 they need to be baked no later then 8 AM. In the summer sooner. If you like to sleep in to 10 then you will need to make the dough a little later in the night to compensate. Remember sourdough will fall like yeasted dough if it rises too long. 

    If your starter is not as fast rising as mine then you can adjust the sitting time for next time. Just take a little note to help you remember. Everyone’s starter will be a little different as starter reacts to the environment. They will rise faster in the summer when temperatures are warmer and slower in the colder months of the year. 

    BAKE at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. I like my cinnamon rolls to be soft so I don’t let them brown much. Don’t worry, they will be done. 

    Let cool for about a half hour and then cover in your favorite topping. We like cream cheese frosting but in a pinch I will make a lemon glaze that is pretty tasty too.

    Cream Cheese Frosting

    1/2 cup softened butter

    8 oz softened full fat cream cheese

    1 tsp vanilla extract

    3-4 cups powdered sugar

    Mix the butter and cream cheese until fully combined. Then add the vanilla and powdered sugar. Go slow with the powdered sugar so you don’t make the frosting too stiff. If it gets too stiff add a tablespoon of milk until it is at the right consistency.

    Lemon glaze

    1-2 cups of powdered sugar

    1 tsp lemon juice

    2 tsp milk

    1 tblsp lemon zest

    Mix all together. If its too runny add more powdered sugar. If its too stiff add a sprinkle more of milk. 

    Quick Recap

    Baking with sourdough is more of a process and less of a recipie. If you have a starter and can make a basic bread then you can make almost anything you can think of. I will list out the steps below and the links to my information for the starter and the bread dough. 

    At around 10 PM mix up a basic bread dough with your sourdough starter

    Roll it out into a large rectangle

    Spread butter, cinnamon and sugar on the dough

    Roll it up and cut into 1″ rounds. 

    Place in greased pan and cover with greased plastic wrap.

    Get up in the morning and put the pan in the oven at 350 degrees. Don’t forget to take the plastic wrap off.

    Bake for 20 minutes.

    Let cool for 20 minutes and then frost with your choice. 

    Enjoy

    Link to basic sourdough bread recipe. 

    Link to starter info.

    Normally we try to live sugar free, but life is worth living. I can justify making these tasty treats a couple times a year. While they may not be healthy, they will be worth it! Enjoy and let me know how you like them.

    March is the first month i can get out and work in the garden

    Early spring is so exciting as the temperatures warm and the snow starts to melt. I love March because it is a month of excitement and hope. I find myself looking forward to warmer weather but sill able to enjoy the small victories of 4o degrees, then 5o degrees and even warmer still 6o degrees. 

    As it slowly grows warmer fun surprises start to show up on our property. The vibrant color of the crocuses coupled with excitement as my children start to find the first insects and worms of the season. By summers end they will no longer want to play with the worms and slugs but in March anything is game.

    This year I was gone for most of the month traveling to see family. There was so much snow when I left and the temperatures were still so cold that I was fully expecting to return to snow and minimal change in the garden. It was amazing to me how much had changed when I got home. March has an incredible ability to be drastic and dramatic. 

    Once the snow melts and you can dig the dirt its time to get to work

    Right now I still have a ton of landscaping to do on our property. I can only bite off small chunks of work at a time since I home school my kids and have other work to do around the house. I find that it is easiest to do most of my major digging when the soil is still pretty wet from the melting snow. As soon as the ground thaws enough to dig I am out there with my shovel.

    Back in January and February I do all of my planning. This not only includes what vegetable and flower varieties I am going to grow and my seed orders but it also includes what plants need to be moved. 

    By March I have a handy list of what plants need to be relocated and since a garden is trial and error there is normally quite a bit to move. There is also usually quite a bit to repair. 

     

    March is also a great time to build new garden beds or boxes. I find that sometimes our current boxes need screwed back together and we almost always have to top with compost. I also like to plan a couple of new items to build each year around this time. This year I plan to make a compost bin and a cold frame in April. In the garden you always need to be thinking ahead so I like to look around and try to find materials I have on hand and places to put new projects during March to be prepared for April builds.

    March is the time to get the greenhouse ready for the upcoming growing season

    Our greenhouse if fairly new. We built it last year but didn’t have time to get the shelves built before spring was in full swing. 

    I like to start my veggie starts and a lot of flowers in the greenhouse early, by the first of April at the latest. This year we built our shelves and I am in love. I spent some time getting everything laid out and ready to go. 

    I plan to install a garden box one one side of our greenhouse so we only built two shelves on one side. This will leave room so we can build the box right on the ground and I can plant several tomato starts in the greenhouse and they should do well because they love heat so much. 

    I also spent some time organizing and cleaning up all my pots. I also looked through my seeds and made a planting plan. I love spending time in the greenhouse, its so warm and peaceful. 

    March is exciting because you can normally see some growth in the garden

    I walk around in March after the snow cover has receded and check on all my early perennials and herbs. I take note of how they look and if they are coming up. I normally can see chives, and rhubarb beginning to break the soil. If I have planted garlic I can check on its growth as well. 

    I love to see the new growth from the tulips and iris. March is a time for me to clean up all the pine needles that have fallen into the flower beds and on the lawns. We get a lot of needles and if we don’t clean them up they can kill he undergrowth. 

    March is the month for fruit tree pruning. You need to prune in the spring to encourage growth. For some varieties like apple you want to prune before the buds break and the tree wakes up. Other varieties like Peach may need treatment for disease but you will want to prune later in the season. For me as a matter of rule, if I want explosive growth I will prune most things in the late winter early spring. This trims the branches back while the roots remain, causing the tree to want to grow fast to catch up with the roots.

    Some plants do not need trimmed this early in the year and you can actually cause them to not bloom if you do. Don’t trim lilacs or hydrangeas in early spring. Check out a list by searching online for when to prune if you need more information. 

    Chickens in the Garden always need some love in March

    Its been a hard winter for chickens. I know that my girls were a little cooped up. They don’t love snow and they will tend to stay inside their coop if it is really rainy or snowing. Now that things are starting to thaw I can finally get in and clean out their litter which normally gets pretty gross during the frozen months. 

    I also shoveled their run and fixed the fences. I don’t want my girls free ranging when things are starting to grow, they will eat all the new buds and growth right out of the ground. 

     

    Its also a good time of the year to inspect the chickens for any lice or mites that they may have gotten in the winter months from being cooped up. They can get lice from other wild birds eating their feed. I like to also check their toe nails and the bottoms of their feet for any sores or excess growth from being less active. Bumblefoot can be a problem since they have had frozen litter and its harder for them to jump down from their roosts. 

    Basic List of Garden Chores For March

    • rake pine needles and leaves off flowerbeds and out of the lawn
    • clean chicken coop out and replace litter
    • give chickens a health inspection
    • prepare greenhouse for planting starts- clean it up, build shelves ect.
    • relocated perennials and bushes before they wake up
    • check garden planting areas for new growth and make repairs to boxes and planting boundaries
    • make any repairs to chicken coop and get the birds contained in their run to protect new spring growth
    • do a walk through and inspect planting areas, look for new growth or dead and diseased plants
    • do any major shoveling while the ground is soft for landscaping or transplants
    • inspect garden tools, sharpen edges, oil hinges on pruning shears

    Get excited for the upcoming growing season

    And just like that March will march on into April. 

     

    I still have a couple of projects I am hoping to do this spring before the planting season gets into full swing. I am looking forward to April. Check back in to see how to build a compost bin and a cold frame as that should be up for my April garden post. 

    What does March look like in your garden? Please share in the comments. I would love to read about what you do.

    Simple Farm Stool tutorial out of a single piece of lumber.

    This post has been a long time coming. I was out of town and when I sat down to write it for you, I didn’t have internet. Please forgive me for being absent for longer then normal. What can I say, sometimes life is out of my control. 

    This stool is so awesome. My kids use one in the kitchen and in the bathroom. I am sort of short so I find that I use it too when I need to reach something from of the top of the cupboard or off of a piece of tall furniture. 

    My dad created this pattern and he made the first stool few years ago. It was inspired by an old stool he saw one day while out doing a construction job.  He has given me permission to share it with you.

    After my dad made the first stool he then helped my son who was 7 create one for himself.  It wasn’t long before I needed one too because my son would not let me take his out of his room. 

     

    this stool is so awesome

    I love the shape and that it hasn’t chipped the paint off my kitchen cupboards while in use. This stool can age and still look right at home in almost any decor. 

    I also love how it is made from one 6′ 2×6. 

    You can finish it however you like. My son’s stool is varnished. My stool is untreated. We have painted some and we have stained some. No matter how you decide to finish yours it will look rustic and be a great addition to your home.  

    Here is your shopping list

    For this build you really only need to have a drill, circular saw, jig saw and a measuring tape. 

    It is nice however to have a table saw and a miter saw for a couple of cuts. If you don’t have one or both of these you can still make this project if you are careful with you circular saw. 

    The picture below shows all the pieces you have just cut.

    Here is your cut list

    This is the basic cut list is for a 2×6. You will want to get your pieces cut and prepared and double check everything to make sure it will fit. We have had to trim a few things from time to time to get everything snug and flush. Sometimes wood is warped or swollen so just make sure to double check before you glue and screw it together. You may have to make a few minor adjustments and cuts right before assembly.

    When picking out your wood look for a straight piece with good edges. 

    • Cut 2, 15" pieces-these will be the top
    • cut 4, 8 1/2" pieces- these will be the end pieces or "legs"
    • Cut one piece 12 - this will become the sides
    • cut piece 7 1/4"- underside support piece

    Basic Instructions

    Take your 7 inch piece and your 12 inch piece and rip them in half. I prefer to use a table saw for this. When you are done you will have two 7″ pieces and two 12″ pieces of the same width. 

    Take the 4 8 1/2″ pieces and miter off one corner at a 45 degree angle. Get rid of the small pieces you cut off they are not needed for the stool.

    Take the two 15 inch pieces and mark on one a 5″ by 1.5″ square in the middle on one edge. There will be 5 inches on each side of the mark to the corner. Round the corners inside the marked small rectangle and cut it with a jig saw. Make sure to clamp it down to a table top surface. 

    Use the first piece that you just cut to mark the second piece so that they are cut exactly the same. These cut outs will be the handle of the stool when it is all assembled. 

    If you have a rough time with the jig saw and you ended up with some jagged cuts inside the handle you can use a metal rasp to smooth it out. 

    Assembly

    Now you will want to assemble the stool in two parts. Do each half separate. Make sure you drill your holes for the screws so you don’t split the wood. Also you need to make sure everything is flush and even as you assemble.

    We did two screws on each board and we screwed into the leg pieces from the top. This picture is with the pieces upside down so you can see how to put in the side piece but unfortunately it doesn’t show the screw holes. The supply list says 20 screws but in all reality you will most likely use just 16. We threw in a few extra on the list just in case you drop a couple mid project.

    When the stool is finished you will see 8 screws heads from the top  and they go down into the the legs. Two screws in each leg piece.

    Then the 12″ side piece is screwed on in between the legs and the screws go on the underside up into the bottom of the top pieces. You should not see these screw heads from the top. They will be on the bottom. 

    Again this picture is from right before we drilled the pilot holes. We drilled them in from the bottom just as the stool is laid out in the picture. 

    Now you will want to get everything lined up and take the two halves and put them together. Use the two 7″ pieces to attach everything into one unit. The two 7″ pieces go up next to the legs on the underside. They are screwed into the legs from the inside. Again, just 2 screws into each piece to assemble and remember to drill your pilot holes first. 

    You can see the screw heads in the picture below. You can also see how the underside should look.

     

    In the image below you can see the finished stool completely assembled. 

    Now you get to decide how to finish the stool. We have stained them, We have left them raw, and we have painted them. We have also just put a sealer on them. The options are endless. 

    If you do decide to stain or seal the wood you will likely want to sand it first. 

    We like a more weathered and rustic look so its OK if the stool is not finished to perfection. 

    How to make chalk paint when you can't buy it

    When I build the stool with my dad for this tutorial I decided I wanted to chalk paint it. I was however, about 30 miles away from the nearest store that “might” carry it. 

    So I decided to make my own chalk paint with what we had on hand. I actually really enjoyed the process because it felt true to the nature of the stool. The original stool built from this pattern was old and beat up. It was pretty cool and I am sure they didn’t’ have fancy paint back in the day when it was made.

    BASIC CHALK PAINT RECIPIE- no special ingredients:

    23/ cup latex paint

    1/3 cup baking soda

    So I searched through the buckets of leftover paint until I  found a color I liked and I found some baking soda. 

    I mixed up 2/3 cup of paint and 1/3 cup of baking soda.

     It was really thick and chunky. I painted it on thick and it took only one coat. The paint was so thick I had to leave it to dry overnight. 

    The next day I did a quick sanding job to knock off the extra paint and get the stool ready for the wax. I used a heavy grit and worked in circular motions taking care to expose some raw wood on edges and in raised grain areas. Then I used a fine grit to make it nice a smooth. Remember I waned my stool to look old and original. 

    After I sanded it I wiped it down with a damp shop towel. 

    When you paint with chalk paint you need to put a layer of wax on to protect it. 

     Again, I was a long way from the store so I went on a hunt for an alternative. I ended up finding this tub of Carnauba wax in my dads shop. Apparently you can buy this at almost any hardware store. 

    There wasn’t much left in his tin but a little goes a long way. I rubbed it on to cover all the parts of the stool and then I let it dry for a few minutes. Once the wax was dry it filmed over and looked white. Then I buffed it with a shop towel.

    The next day my 9 year old boy saw the finished stool and the words out of his mouth were “that looks old!” 

    I would say that this build was a success. I hope that you can use this tutorial to build a stool for your home. It’s a fun, simple, useful project that will add instant character to any room. 

    Let me know how it goes in the comments below. 

    Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

    why do I make my own soap?

    I have always been drawn to the luxury of a well made bar of soap. There is something about the texture and the scent that just makes my heart sing. For years and years I wanted to make my own, but every time I read up on the process I would get completely overwhelmed with it. It seemed like making soap was an expensive adventure, and I was a little scared of risks of working with lye. Also, I didn’t want to order the ingredients which made it a project I had to put a lot of time and money into.

    Since we live simply and try to cut costs as much as possible I started to feel like buying good quality bar soap was too expensive for our family on a strict budget. I started to feel like it was a cost that could be cut and a process that could be simplified. One day I came across a hot process soap soap recipe that was super simple and I realized that I could make soap in my own home. The recipe used common affordable ingredients that I could find locally.  I decided to give soap making a chance and ordered up the supplies I needed to get started. 

    I Decided to give Hot Process Soap a try.

    I have to be completely honest with you. I purchased the supplies that I needed to make hot process soap about 2 years before I finally got the gumption to actually make it. My hope is that if you are thinking of making soap my words will help you get started today.

    The following are the items I needed to buy since I didn’t already have them. They are a must for any kind of soap making. 

    1. A digital kitchen scale

    2. An immersion blender

    3. lye

     

    Some other items that are a must but are more commonly found in most homes.

    1. Long handled wooden spoon 

    2. Those yellow long armed cleaning gloves

    3. Safety goggles or glasses

    4 Junky long sleeved t-shirt

    5 Something for a soap mold

    I have a small wooden mold that I made. It holds the recipe I am giving you today (which is a 2 lb recipe). I made it myself with some scrap wood and some salvage hardware. You can use almost anything for a soap mold, Pyrex, cardboard boxes, or used yogurt cups. Just don’t use anything made of metal.  Here is one I found online for pretty cheap. 

    To my surprise these items were not expensive to buy. I found a kitchen scale and  an immersion blender online. Both of those links are for similar ones to mine. I just wanted to show you how cost effective soap making can be. In all honesty, I have use my scale so many times since I bought it. It has been useful way beyond soap making. I don’t regret that purchase. Occasionally I use the stick blender for things other then soap also.

    This is the lye I use. Its actually sold as a drain cleaner from my local farm store. Make sure what you use is 100% Sodium Hydroxide.

    Cold process soap is not hard. It can just take some time to get it to trace. Also, after you pour it into the soap mold it has to cure, a process that can take months. The biggest reason I have never made cold process soap at home is that I am not a patient person. When I take the time and energy to make something I want to use it right away. 

    One time way back, when I was in high school chemistry class, my teacher decided to do a demo on how to make soap for all of us. She mixed it up and poured it into molds and we all took our soap home. Mine sat, and sat, and sat and it never cured. Eventually I just threw it out. Ever since then I have had that negative experience to in the back of my mind when I think of cold process soap. 

    Hot process soap, on the other hand, takes about 2 hours of my time. For a breakdown, it takes me about 20 minutes to get the ingredients measured out and mixed up. Then it cooks in a slow cooker for 50 minutes. As soon as its done and cooled (I wait until it is cool enough to add my essential oils) I add my essential oils and additives and then pour it into the soap mold.

    I let it sit in the mold until its cool enough to take out and cut, which is about 5 hours. I am usually so excited that I slice it into bars right away but you can slice it anytime after it comes out. Then it needs one more week to cure. If I really need to I can use some of it right away. It is so easy, (as long as I mix the lye correctly) and it’s instantly gratifying. I just follow a basic recipe of lye, olive oil, coconut oil and distilled water. That’s it easy peasy pumpkin pie. In the end I know what I am putting on my skin is healthy and toxin free.

    So whats the catch?

    With hot process soap you are basically cooking the lye and speeding up the saponification.  When you make it you MUST stay right by the slow cooker for the entire 50 minute cook time (and sometimes a little longer depending on your slow cooker calibration). Some times, mostly in the first 15 minutes it will try to boil over.  If it boils over and you don’t stir it down, the recipe will be ruined and it might not set up right.  

    Hot process soap is also not as smooth in the mold as cold process. It looks a lot more rustic. Since you cook it to speed the process it can be a little more “dry” when it is time to pour it into the mold. Some people remedy this slightly by putting a plastic wrap over the cooker and under the lid during the cooking time to lock the moisture in. You can also add another 1/4 cup of water at the end to wet it back down. Just make sure that what ever you add at the end of the cooking time gets stirred in really well.

    With hot process soap you don’t want to be lifting the lid and stirring it unless it tries to boil over. You want to keep all the moisture in the pot since it’s essential to the recipe. I also find that with hot process soap the end result has a more mild smell since the soap will be fairly warm/hot when you stir your essential oils in. This causes some to burn off, resulting in softer scent. I don’t really mind this since I am not trying to sell my soap. 

    A little blurb about safety

    One of the main things that overwhelmed me about soap making was the dangers of lye. Just make sure you are ALWAYS POURING THE DRY LYE INTO THE WATER.  If you pour the water into the dry lye it can explode and burn you. You also need to wear long sleeves, gloves and eye protection. With hot process soap I only wear my protective gear while mixing the lye and while bringing to trace in the slow cooker. When it gets to trace I put the lid on and take all the gear off. Its about 5 minutes of wear time. Remember earlier when I mentioned a junky long sleeved shirt? When I use my immersion blender to mix the oils and lye in the slow cooker to bring the mixture to trace I get splattered a lot. Those greasy splatters are hard to wash out. 

    So whats the recipie already?

    I got my main recipe from Pinterest. You can make your own recipe but you will need to check it in an online lye calculator. For me it was just easier to get a recipe that had already been checked and that I knew was balanced. If you have too much lye or not enough oil the soap can burn you. The recipe I am giving you is pretty basic. I have also made tweaks to it and I will share those tweaks in future soap posts. So be sure to check back in for seasonal soap recipes.  

    • 10 oz olive oil
    • 20 oz melted coconut oil
    • 9 oz distilled water
    • 4.78 oz 100% pure lye
    • 3 tsp essential oil
    • Vinegar for clean up

    You will also need your digital scale to measure out those ingredients. You will have to You will also need non metal bowls and spoons since metal may react with the lye. 

    READ THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY BEFORE MAKING YOUR SOAP. Then refer to them and follow them step by step while you are making your soap. 

    Trace looks like a thick pudding. If you are confused by this look at some images online before you attempt to make soap. Trace is an important step to get your soap to set up and cure properly.

    1. Measure out the olive and the coconut oil and add them into the slow cooker. Put the temperature on low. 
    2. Measure out the distilled water into a quart size glass mason jar or other glass bowl.
    3. Measure out your lye into a separate glass dish. 
    4. Get your immersion blender ready near your slow cooker.
    5. Stir  your oils together in the slow cooker and check to make sure they are warm then put on your safety gear.
    6. Take your separate containers of distilled water, and lye to a well ventilated place and a wooden spoon. I actually use a chopstick since the lye will ruin the wood over time. I also do this step outside. 
    7. Pour the dry lye into the water. Stir as you pour, be very careful as the jar and the mixture will get VERY HOT. 
    8. When the lye mixture is well combined and the lye has dissolved carefully carry it back to the slow cooker. 
    9. Pour the lye mixture into the oils. Stir gently to combine.
    10.  With the immersion blender stir and mix on low until the mixture in the slow cooker gets thick and comes to “trace.”
    11. Place the lid on the slow cooker, keeping the temperature on low. Set a timer to 50 minutes and allow it to cook the entire time. 
    12. Stay very close for the first 10 to 15 minutes, you will need to be there to stir it down if it tries to overflow. 
    13. Get your soap mold out (and line it with wax paper if required) while you wait. 
    14. Once the 50 minutes has elapsed, you can touch a tiny bit of the soap to your tongue. If it zaps you then you need to cook it a little longer. If it just tastes like soap then it is done. If you don’t want to do this then you can just let it cure for longer then a week  (say 3 weeks) and it should be fine.  
    15.  Allow the mixture to cool slightly before adding any additives or essential oils. 
    16. Once cooled a little (not so much it is starting to set up) you can add up to 3 tsp of essential oils. This is an amount that is generally considered safe in soap. 
    17. Pour the soap into the mold. Press it into all the corners and smooth it out as much as you can.
    18. Set it aside to cool. I always put mine outside in the winter or in a cool place in the summer. It can take up to 24 hours but mine is normally able to come out of the mold in 5 hours. 
    19. Put all the utensils and bowls in the sink and fill with warm water and a splash of vinegar. The vinegar neutralizes the lye.
    20. Remove soap from mold and cut into bars. 
    21. Allow it to cure for 5 to 7 more days. This will let it harden up and finish the saponification. 

    For the images on this post I used this basic recipe and added Cedar wood essential oil. I use Butterfly Express because they have amazing quality and awesome value. The link here is for a 50 ml bottle WHICH IS HUGE!!! 

    A little disclaimer...

    Even though making your own soap is very easy it can be a little dangerous to mix up. That is one of the reasons it took me so long to hop on the soap making bandwagon. If you decide to try making your own hot process soap using my recipe and you make a mistake or fail to follow the instructions I am not liable for any injury or cost of ingredients. 

    I do know that if you do decide to start making soap you will have fun, and feel good about making the switch. For me this recipe costs about 6 dollars to make (after purchasing all the kitchen items) and I get almost 20 bars of soap. THAT IS HUGE SAVINGS for non toxic handmade soap. So roll your sleeves up, get started and let me know how it goes. 

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