A while back a neighbor, and close friend, went on a bit of a rampage doing DIY projects. Part of it had to do with the fact that he was at home – going through Chemotherapy – and he just had too much time on his hands, but part of it may also have had something to do with the drugs themselves, which not only made him terribly ill at times, but seemed to make him more than a little crazy. We can joke about it all now because, thankfully, he made it through all that and is cancer free today, but at the time, you sort of never knew what he would be up to next. One day he might be building a bicycle from the ground up, and the next, he might be making a blow gun – or really pretty much anything in between. And sometime, in and around there, he ended up trying his hand at soap making, and for whatever reason, I connected with his need to do that. I found that I too had a latent desire to make my own soap. Don’t ask me why – some things just ARE.
At any rate, I realized that while I had no desire to replicate the pine scented varietals my friend was concocting in his kitchen, I was truly enthralled with the concept of trying my hand at soap making for myself. So, I started asking questions and doing research. It didn’t take long, however, to realized tha the kind of soap my great grandmother would have done was pretty intense…it had to be done outside because it involved the use of things like lye (caustic soda) which should never be inhaled, and if that wasn’t bad enough (and I think it is) , old fashioned soap making also involves the use of things like tallow (or rendered beef fat – and if you’re a purest, suet – beef fat found just around the kidneys). Ugh! My bonnet’s off to you Granny! You were one special lady.
That said, I knew I wasn’t really up that level of committment, just to satisfy my curiousity about it all, so I kept looking, and ended up discovering that using the melt and pour method of soap making, you can make the kind of quality soap your grandmother could have only dreamed of making, and yet it’s ridiculously easy, child-friendly, and very safe.
You just buy bricks of melt and pour soap base at your local craft store and add your own oils and/or other ingredients to ‘flavor’ the soap as you desire. The recipe I’ve shared below uses goat’s milk soap base, from Michaels, but there are a wide variety of bases to choose from, including olive oil, aloe vera, and shea butter, so you can experiment again and again until you find a favorite.
Combine the melted soap base with almond oil, ground almonds, and oatmeal. (Note: To extend the soaps’ shelf life, roast the almond slices before use.). The almond oil helps ensure this soap is extra moisturizing, and the ground almonds and oatmeal add moisturizing properties and make it great for exfoliating the skin as well.
3/4 cup rolled oats (Reduce to 1/2 cup to lessen the soaps’ exfoliating properties)
2 ounces roasted almond slices
1 pound goat milk glycerol soap (suspension formula)
1½ teaspoons almond oil
Roast almond slices in the oven (taking care to not let them burn) then transfer into a food processor.
Add the oats and pulse almonds and oats together until the mixture reaches the texture of a rough powder (appx 5-10 mins).
Cut up your soap base into cubes and dump them into a glass bowl and melt in the microwave (heating it for thirty seconds at a time, and stirring between each interval, until melted).
Once completely melted, add the almond oil and the ground oatmeal and almond. Mix to ensure everything is evenly distributed.
Pour the soap mixture into a lined 9 x 4 inch pan (or preformed soap molds, if you prefer).
Allow the soap to cool at room temperature until it is completely set (appx 1 hr)
At this point, the soap can be released from the pan (or molds) and sliced into bars.