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Pittsburgh Soapmakers Gathering

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Pittsburgh Soapmakers GatheringPittsburgh Soapmakers Gathering

The 2015 Pittsburgh Soapmakers Gathering was the soaping conference held on Saturday May 2 at the Shaler Library in Pennsylvania.  There were about 25 participants at this event.  Nature’s Garden was one of the lucky vendors that donated to this soaper’s gathering.  It was an opportunity for the participants to get new soaping ideas, learn new techniques, and hopefully make some new soapmaking friends. The one day event included soap making and candle making presentations and workshops.  Each of the guests were given an opportunity to learn a variety of soap making styles.  During the conference some of the events included demos and sessions involving specialty oils like cocoa butter and almond oil, how to creatively use embeds, and how make your products SPARKLE!!!  The participants were also shown techniques for adding various soap colorants including micas and oxides, all natural colorants, and liquid colorants.  Of course, they didn’t leave out candle making!  There was even an informative demo on how to make a coconut and beeswax candle.

Pittsburgh Soapmakers GatheringNature’s Garden was honored to donate door prizes for this fabulous soaping conference.  These door prizes were raffled off at the gathering.  Our door prizes included soaping fragrance oils, a Natures Garden t-shirts, sodium hydroxide, and Nature’s Garden Shopping Bags.  These goody bags were given away at the one day event.  Who wouldn’t love that!?!

Pittsburgh Soapmakers GatheringEach lucky participant was also able to take home a 4 ounce bottle of one of Natures Garden’s 828 fragrance oils.  Some of the scents included Champagne Pear, Coconut Lime Verbana, NG Aqua di Gio Type, and Capri Olivo.  Each of these fragrances have been tested thoroughly and perform amazingly well in soap.   We are hoping that they enjoy soaping with them and are able to find some new soaping favorites!

Pittsburgh Soapmakers GatheringThe conference also included a vendor review time.  During this time, all those who attended, were given the opportunity to learn more about our company and our variety of soaping products.  As you can see, it seems everyone involved had a great time.  To see even more photos and information about the Pittsburgh gathering, check out their Facebook page.

This event was coordinated by the lovely Lori Chandler of Ashgrove Soaps.  I just have to say, what an amazing woman!  I had the pleasure of meeting Lori at the 2015 HCSG Conference which took place in April in Indiana.  She is an absolute doll!  It was a pleasure to meet her.  Clearly, she has done a wonderful job coordinating the 2015 Pittsburgh Soapmakers Gathering and worked very hard preparing.  It looks like everyone had a blast.  Thank you so much for letting us donate to this event.  Also, a big thanks to all those involved in making this gathering possible.  Nature’s Garden is very grateful to all those who participated.  We would also like to thank Stu Chandler for the amazing photos.  He is a very gifted photographer and he did a great job.  It is truly appreciated.  If you attended the Pittsburgh Soapmakers Gathering, we would love to hear about your experience.



How To Make Soap

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Soap Making Supplies

How to Make Soap from Scratch 

The earliest recorded proof of soap making, saponification, was found around 2800 BC in ancient Babylon.  The recipe for this soap-like substance consisted of water, alkali, and cassia oil.  Years later, in ancient Rome, soap was made using tallow, tree ash, and water.  Fast forward to today, soap is made using vegetable or animal fats/oils, and an alkaline mixture of lye and water.  One thing is for certain:  soap cannot be made without lye.  Even when soap was made with tree ash, water, and tallow, the tree ash contained lye.  You see, fats and water do not mix together, therefore, lye works as an emulsifier that allows these polar opposite ingredients to combine to make soap.

Before you make soap, make sure that you become familiar with the safety precautions to follow when handling lye.  Natures Garden provides a Soap Making Safety Class that will explain the hazards of soap making, and the necessary safety gear that you should wear when making soap.

Now that you understand how important safety is when making soap, you will need to buy the equipment and soap making supplies you need to make homemade soap.

Equipment you will need for soap making- By the way, once your equipment comes into contact with lye, you can NEVER use this equipment for food contact again!  Ingestion of lye can kill you.

1.  Heavy duty plastic bowls
2.  Plastic spoons or Silicone spatulas
3.  Whisk or Stick Blender
4.  Thermometer
5.  Soap Safe Molds- such as plastic or silicone (never allow lye to come into contact with aluminum)
6.  Scales to weigh out your ingredients
7.  Plastic wrap to insulate your soap while it cures
8.  Safety goggles, safety gloves, safety mask, and wear long sleeve clothing to protect skin from being burned.
9.  Spray bottle containing vinegar.  Keep a bottle of vinegar with you when mixing your lye just in case; it will neutralize the lye and stop the burning process immediately.

Soap Making Recipe and Exact Amounts that you will need to make soap:

The recipe we use at Natures Garden to test our fragrance oils is listed below.  We use this recipe because it allows you to make colorful swirled soap once you have more experience.  We also love this recipe because it is very moisturizing to the skin, yet still provides a creamy lather.  This recipe makes 3 pounds of soap.

12.16 oz Water (345 grams)
4.4 oz Lye (125 grams)

9.6 oz Olive Oil (272 grams)
9.6oz Shea Butter (272 grams)
6.4 oz Coconut Oil 76 (181.5 grams)
6.4 oz Palm Oil (181.5 grams)
2 oz. Copperhue Suntan Lotion Fragrance Oil
FUN Soap Colorant (optional- but if you use color, we suggest using orange color)

Instructions for making soap:

  1. It’s important to prep your area with the equipment and items you will need before you start. You don`t want to have to stop half way through and run to go get something!
  2. You should be mixing your lye solution in a well-ventilated area. No kids or pets anywhere nearby! Lye is very caustic and will create fumes that should not be inhaled as they can burn the tissue of your lungs. Also if it gets splashed on you, it can cause a nasty burn on the skin.
  3. Make sure that you have your bottle of vinegar handy if you get lye solution on your skin.
  4. Weigh out your lye
  5. Weigh out your distilled water
  6. Slowly add lye to your distilled water and stir until lye is dissolved.  NEVER EVER add your water to the lye!  It will produce a hazardous volcano scenario.
  7. Set you water/lye solution somewhere safe where kids and pets cannot get to it or knock it over.  Allow this solution to cool to around 90-100F.
  8. Weigh out your oils and butters.
  9. Melt your oils and butters until they are completely melted, but be careful not to get them too hot or they may burn.
  10. Allow your oils/butters to cool to around 100F.
  11. Add your lye/water solution to your oil/butter solution and mix with a whisk or a hand blender until the batter is emulsified.
  12. Add color to your soap mixture
  13. Add fragrance oil to your soap mixture and bring to trace.  (Trace is a pudding like soap consistency).
  14. Pour soap mixture into soap molds (my favorite molds are silicone loaf molds).
  15. Cover molds with plastic wrap, and place molds somewhere that they will not be disturbed.
  16. Allow soap to remain in covered molds for 24-48 hours.
  17. Remove soap from the molds.  Slice.
  18. Allow soap to cure in a cool, ventilated area for 2-6 weeks.
  19. After soap has fully cured, you can use it.

Check out Natures Garden Soap Making Supplies

For awesome ideas in soap making please check out Natures Garden’s Free Recipes and Classes.