Sunday, 12 May 2013

My fingers smell of Christmas I've been playing with my (four, count them, four) essential oils, imagining possible scent combinations, and occasionally wafting pleasant pairings under my and boything's nose.

At one point, the pairing was sweet orange and clove bud. I asked boything (post-waft) what it smelled like and he echoed my (and I imagine everyone else's, as it's not exactly an unusual or elusive combination, if we're being honest here) thought by saying "Christmas."

This is perhaps an unfortunate sensory association to be making in mid-May, Christmas being slightly more distant a future thought than it is a memory, but spicy, fruity wintry smells are some of my favourites, so visions of sugarplums mulled wine/cider soaps and the like are dancing in my head.

One day.

It's still a couple of weeks until I can get properly kitted out to start actually making anything, so wafting and dreaming is all I've got for now (well, that and ogling tasty soaps on other blogs which, as previously mentioned, I've been doing an awful lot of).

I've been doing loads of 'research,' like a good little 'student' but there's an awful lot of conflicting information out there in the wide world of interwebs.

I'm not sure if I need to order 100% sodium hydroxide online, or if 98% (best I can find in meatspace shops, it seems?) is good enough.

I can't quite work out if coconut oil is super moisturising or a bit drying. Both claims appear to be out there in more or less equal measure.

I'm not sure if plastic (any kind or some sort of special non-reactive type?), stainless steel (definitely not aluminum apparently), glass or pyrex containers are best for 1. putting the measured NaOH crystals in before adding to the liquid, 2. mixing the lye solution, 3. mixing the lye solution into the oils/butters.

I'm not sure, again, what the best material is for utensils to stir the soap, though I've read that I should avoid aluminum and wood.  I suppose, as with containers, it might depend on which stage of the process we're talking about.

I'm also concerned about moulds.  I was thinking of (at least for now) using the five thousand ramekins (lined with wax/oven paper, of course. That much I have learned) we've accumulated from various creme brulee (and similar desserts) from good old M&S, but a Soap Queen video I watched made me think glass was a bad choice of material for moulds. Does the soap expand as it sets? Could it crack the glass?  Hm. I shall have to watch the video again to see if she actually said it was a bad idea or was just expressing a preference, or if I completely misunderstood and she said nothing of the sort! (This last is entirely possible, as I've been filling my head with all sorts of stuff and it's bound to get a bit mixed up, rattling around in there with no actual experience to attach itself to.)

I've also seen an awful lot of different advice about curing times. I wonder, do I really need to let a pure castile soap cure for 6 months or more?  I've gathered that the longer a soap cures, the lovelier it gets (this courtesy of the deservedly legendary, but sadly now defunct (?), Cocobong, among others), but is there any soap for which 6 weeks might not be sufficient to make it safe and gentle to use?

So many questions. Maybe if I'm lucky (or if I start actually commenting on some of the blogs I've been haunting...there's a completely bonkers idea, amirite?) I might get some real readers instead of imaginary ones (you're all beautiful and witty and charming in my mind, just as I'm sure you will be in reality, potential future readers!) who can help a sad little not-even-beginner-yet future soaper figure out what to buy so she doesn't make a complete pig's arse of it and resort to the threatened monkey blog instead.

Not that I'm fishing for comments/page views or sir!  What? What fishing rod?  Oh, you mean THIS fishing rod? Uh...I'm just holding it for, um, a... a fisherman! Yes. Where is this fisherman, you ask? He, uh, went somewhere. Yeah. Over there. *gestures vaguely*

He'll be back soon, though, as I definitely didn't make him up.


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