This year Erica and I decided to make soap to give as Christmas gifts. (Mom, I hope you're not reading this.) Since we're both artsy types we enjoy the process of combining simple ingredients to make something wonderful. When two simple ingredients, a fat and an alkali, are combined together a chemical process occurs called saponification, and soap is created. The caustic alkali becomes neutralized by the oil and oil is no longer oily. The cool thing about handmade soap, unlike some commercial soap, is it still contains all the good skin softening glycerin.
A word of caution: If you are interested in making your own batch of soap, please do your research first. There are many wonderful books available on how to make soap. Until the soap saponifes you will be working with a very caustic ingredient, lye. It takes days for the soap to fully saponify and not be caustic to the touch, but the wait is worth it.
This is what the newly poured soap looks like a few days after it has hardened.
New soap cut into bars.
We decided to make special hand milled soap and added ingredients such as calendula petals, essential oils, oatmeal, lemon rind or coffee, to name a few. Next step is to wrap the soap in a beautiful wrapper for gift giving. I can't wait!