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  • Mark Neath

I am a soap maker

Updated: Jun 7




The beginning of M.I.F……an incredible journey!


I am a soap maker. I didn't know I was a soap maker until a few years ago. I've been lots of things in the past, a hairdresser, a delivery driver, a mum, an office worker, a single mum, but one thing that has been a constant throughout my life is being a maker. I'll have a go at almost anything from mint jelly, quince jelly, lemon curd, elderflower cordial, curtains (not so good at that), anything using felt, pottery, stained glass and jewelry making. I love the process of putting materials together and coming up with something creative, pleasing and yummy.

So, when my sensitive skin started to flare up on a regular basis I started looking at the products that I was using and reading the ingredients label. I had no idea what any of it was to be honest, which made me wonder if some of the things on usually vast lists were completely necessary.

That led me to start to research how to make soap. I found that quite simply it was a blend of oils (fatty acids) and sodium hydroxide and water (Lye) which is alkaline. Put the two together and the process of saponification occurs and hey presto - you get soap.

Now, it's not quite that simple and drilling down into the detail I could see that different oils brought different properties to the party, so to speak. Coconut Oil is a lovely cleansing oil which helps to make a good hard bar of soap. Castor Oil makes prolific bubbles but add too much and the soap goes to mush. Butters like Cocoa Butter are nourishing for the skin so are a great addition to your recipe.

It was starting to get quite complicated and I had lots of unanswered questions, so I enrolled on a couple of courses. These helped me not only with the process of making soap, but with my understanding of why one might choose from the enormous array of different oils, and of course, aromas.

Going back to my motivation for making soap, I decided to keep it as simple as possible. Ethically I didn't feel the need to use palm oil or ingredients that would whiten or harden the bar. I was keen to use essential oils as opposed to fragrance oils just because this fitted with my "simple" ethos although there can be an argument for the consistency of the fragrance oils, as essential oils can behave in a slightly flaky way……

But…..I was off. Soap made from all sorts of oils, Lye made with beer, wine, coconut milk, you name it I threw it in the pot.

A zillion squishy stinky messes later I had learnt quite a lot, and was ready to find some unwitting guinea pigs……………….

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