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Beginner’s Cold Process Soap Making Kit from Brambleberry.com

brambleberry soap kit

A few weeks ago, I started doing a bunch of research about making soap. What directly sparked my research, as I have noted earlier, was a customer in one of the store I run at my day job, complaining that my handmade soap had lye in it. After I told her that all soap had lye in it, I decided to Google it just to be sure. Sure enough, lye and fat makes soap. This article from humblebeeandme explains it pretty well, and if you ever wondered about soap, it’s a great read.

I’ve had a passive interest in soap for awhile, but hadn’t really pursued it. It was a very passive interest, as in, I would click on pins that claimed to be soap recipes and all it would be was adding essential oils to Dr. Bronner’s soap. I would click away, frustrated, because I wanted to know how to make the Dr. Bronner’s, but not enough to look it up directly.

The first soap making supply website I came across was brambleberry.com, and ordered their beginners cold process soap kit almost immediately. I ordered it before I really understood what was in it or really how to make soap with it once it arrived.

The kit contained four types of oil, lye, fragrance oil, and a box to use as a mold. (I had to supply the gloves, goggles, bowls, measuring cups, thermometers, and stick blender, etc.

Now, I didn’t know all that much about soap making when I ordered the kit, and I was so excited to find a concise set of supplies, that I didn’t realize the kit included palm oil until after I had paid for it–and I didn’t realize what the palm oil was for when it came to soap making. I did know that palm oil is often used in foods instead crisco to avoid trans fats, and I also knew about the toll it is taking on Indonesia. Even though Brambleberry’s palm oil is RSPO certified, I still have reservations about using palm oil. In cooking, palm oil is a fat that can be easily substituted with butter, lard, or tallow, or shortening if you don’t use animal products. As far as my reading has gone in soap, palm oil is one of the only hardening oils that does not come from an animal. I hesitate to to call it vegan, like so many soapers do, because to me, anything that takes that large a toll on it’s local community is not vegan by any stretch of the word. To me, it’s far more preferable to use lard or tallow, because I can buy it from local farmers or butchers, and because a lot of the time, it gets thrown out anyway. Making soap is a great way to start using all of the animal that has already given it’s life. Plus, traditionally, soap was made with animal fats, and I can get behind that.

So anyway, the soap you are about to see was made with palm oil, because I had paid for it, and I felt responsible to use it. I had enough palm oil for two small batches of soap, and have since switched to lard. I am now getting off my soapbox. (Tee hee, see what I did there?)

cranberry fig soap

Overall, I think this is a great kit for someone to get if they want to try out cold process soap making, but aren’t sure they want to make a habit of it. The mold you receive is a cardboard box, which is a good size, and show’s a new soap maker how to be creative, but I don’t think the size matches the recipe given. I think, when someone makes soap for the first time, they want the soap to turn out in nice bars, not in little biscotti pieces (I’ve been calling this batch of soap biscottis, which is just about what size these bars are.) I understand why the mold is what it is, but I wish either the size or the recipe were different.

cutting soap
I got my crinkle cut soap cutter at Michaels. Perhaps I am just a novice, but to me, handmade soap is more fun if it’s crinkle cut.

The kit also came with a cranberry fig fragrance oil. While not an unpleasant scent, I find that I am not all that fond of fragrance oils. I prefer a subtler scent, and am naturally just more drawn to essential oils–but the oil in this kit taught me that, so it’s a valuable lesson. I do think that if I had been a little bit more patient, I would have assembled my own oils, mold, and essential oil before starting, since I knew I wanted to give soap making a good go of it.

Overall, I am very glad I ordered this kit. I have at least one more week for this soap to cure before I can test it out–and a couple more before I can tell you the difference between palm oil soap and lard soap, but stay tuned. There’s much more to come.

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In the Works

I’m going to be honest, (I say this, though, I always am when I am writing to you, dear readers), it has not been a very productive week on the fiber arts front. I have been doing a lot of reading and research on various topics lately. In particular, I’ve suddenly become very interested in soap-making.
You see, in my day job, and I may have mentioned this before, I specialize in selling Kansas-made products. I have two very good soap-makers whose work I sell in my shop. I had a customer complain to me directly that the soaps we carried contained lye. Now, I’ve heard this before, but it had never been broached to me directly.

Naturally, I was a little taken aback, because I was under the impression that lye was necessary in soap-making, I told her that all soap had lye in it–I thought I remembered that much from when we made soap in chemistry class in high school. Later, just to make sure I wasn’t inadvertently lying, I looked it up and found this blog post from Humblebee & Me and was relieved to see that I was correct. At the same time, I discovered a really cool new blog, which I plant on exploring more thoroughly. Naturally, I looked up a local soap maker, at lovingsoap.com a soap maker out of Kansas City, to see if there were any classes in my area. She has an affiliate link to Brambleberry.com and suddenly I was so far down the rabbit hole of soap-making that I am already a soap-maker in my head, even though I have never ever tried it, outside that one day in Chemistry Class in 2001.

Anyway, I have been doing a lot of research about soap-making and ruminating on my blog and the roll it plays in my business (by the way, did you notice that I put up a survey a couple days ago, please won’t you fill it in?) and so my knitting has not really been so impressive this week.

I knit exactly 3 1/2 inches on my Thrysos, but it feels like I should be so much further along.
thrysos blouse onto body
I am using smaller needles than I remembered, and things are going slower than I counted on. But I love, love, love this yarn at this gauge. It’s pretty gorgeous; look at that stockinette! Every now and then I remind myself that I am knitting a sweater for me out of silk and merino and it keeps me motivated to finish it.

In light of me hosting a KAL in a couple weeks, I did a little bit of swatching to try out needles size on my handspun. I decided on size sevens. Here’s a look at the alpaca swatch I made.
pogona swatch
I am loving the handspun. I can’t wait until July 1st. If you want to join us for the KAL, just stop by the PFA Ravelry group and you’re in.

In the meantime, I ordered a cold press soap kit from brambleberry.com, where I have spent way too much time the last few days. It’s a lot of fun to learn about something new.

What’s driving you lately?