Sunday, December 7, 2008

Soap Making

As you may recall, Raf is the sweetest boyfriend (er, I mean fiance) ever and reserved 2 spots for us to take a soapmaking class for my birthday. That's how we spent our Sunday. Good Times!

We took the Cold Process 101 class at The Nova Studio in Point Richmond. It's a super cute little crafters studio in a quiet, quaint downtown area. I wanted to take a class for a few reasons. First, we switched from liquid to bar soaps a while ago in an effort to be more eco-conscious--there's a whole lot less packaging when you buy a bar of soap. However, I'm not a fan of the stuff you can buy in big box stores. It's not local, it's not natural, and it dries out my skin. So, we've been buying cool soaps from local crafters and specialty stores, which is fun--but gets pretty expensive. That would be reason number two--making it ourselves may (someday) cost a lot less. Third, we're do-it-yourself people. Why buy it if you can try making it yourself!

Then, when I started looking into making our own soap, I realized you can either: a) do melt and pour simplicity by purchasing blocks of soap and cutesy molds from craft stores, or b) mess around with super temperamental and dangerous chemicals in your kitchen. Option B, of course! I don't typically want to learn the finishing steps of new crafts just for aesthetic purposes; I want to learn it from beginning to end. So, that's what we did!

I'm really glad we took the class today. It was basically just classroom style teaching and watching one portion of the process. And, while I generally prefer more hands-on learning, it served its purpose--I now feel confident enough to work with highly toxic (and slightly terrifying) lye in my home kitchen. The tough thing about these classes is that with Cold Process soap making it takes a couple days after mixing before the soap is firm enough to cut and trim...then it takes another 4-6 weeks to cure! For those of us who enjoy the immediate gratification of DIY, it's a rough concept to grasp, but you gotta learn the basics before you can move on to the shortcuts (Hot Process), right?

And, always an added bonus, we made a new friend today! Francisco was another participant in class who was a good time. He flew in from Texas to take the class!! I absolutely love the concept. If you already love to travel, why not learn something new and meet some locals while you're at it...brilliant! He joined us for lunch at this tiny, hilariously down-home, little cafe in the neighborhood, The Hidden City Cafe. My goodness, the food was PERFECT! Highly recommended to venture out here for breakfast or lunch sometime.

Anyway, we have a lot of shopping to do before we can actually experiment with our first batch of soap (cross your fingers we don't forget everything in the meantime). Not only does Cold Process take forever (to cure, not make), but it also costs a small fortune to accumulate the tools necessary to get started--not to mention all the lye, base oils, and essential oils used in every batch of soap. I certainly have a new found respect for the price of handmade, delectable, natural bars of soap.

I'm sure you'll be hearing much more in this department as our adventures in soap making begin...

1 comment:

Lori at The Nova Studio said...

hi brook, glad to hear you enjoyed the soap making class and also the hidden city cafe! it's one of my 2 favorite restaurants in town. seems like you have been bitten by the soap making bug, even though you have yet to make your first batch. i agree that at first the 4-6 week curing seems unbearable, but if you make soap 1x per month you'll always have a batch ready to use while the next is curing. it's a bigger deal before you make your first batch. let me know if you need any help assembling your ingredients/supplies - i wish we had a kit to get people started. maybe next year :). happy holidays & take care! ~lori nova