Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Quiet (by Kat)

It's been pretty quiet around here, hasn't it?

I've been up to my brows in reading the three soap making books available at our (tiny) library and devouring every web page I can find that pertains to the subject.
I'm not happy with what I'm finding...

One of the books from the library gives three very bad pieces of advice in the first three pages. So really, am I going to trust anything else she has to say on the subject? Heck no!

The second book was a real hoot to read. It was full of old soap advertisements, and delved very deeply into the history of soap making. I loved her style, and she had really good advice. The trouble is, the book was written in the early '70s. The methods and materials she uses are very out of date. I'm not going to stir my soap for an hour and a half when I can use a stick blender. It's just not gonna happen! Also, her book only has two recipes that don't include tallow.

At the time the book was published, tallow was extremely inexpensive, if not free. I haven't found a local supply of it that isn't nearly the same cost as hamburger. I think this is because the stores are owned by national franchises who just can't see past the end of their greedy little fingers and must set a minimum price for everything, even if it's just scraps that they'll end up throwing out anyway. So, that book was fun, but not so helpful.

The third book is very pretty and has lots of recipes for melt and pour soaps. I'm sorry, but taking a pre-made bar of soap, melting it down, and pouring it into a mold is not soap making! It's soap art. I'm not knocking soap art--I have two sisters-in-law who do that type of thing and their results are gorgeous and smell really nice--but it isn't "making" soap.

So, web pages. They've been somewhat helpful. I've spent a lot of time there. A LOT of time there. HOURS there. And you know what, it's frustrating as h e double hockey sticks.
I work closely with the EPA and our state's department of ecology. I can sling acronyms with the best of the government agents. But holy cow, soap makers put the g-men to shame when it comes to cryptic "communication."

I've been persevering though, reading page after page of in the soap makers' forum. Finally, I decided to register so I could post a few questions that I had not been able to find answers to. The registration process required entering a series of letters and numbers shown in one of those spam-bot prevention boxes. The program was case sensitive. Each letter was of a different font, and the letters themselves were topsy-turvy throughout the box. So how the h e double hockey sticks are we supposed to be able to tell the difference between a capital v and a lower case v?

Same thing with the w.

Same thing with the o.

I finally was given a box with no ambiguous letters, I entered the code, and it said the user name I chose was already taken. So, I changed my user name and tired to enter the code again. This time, the letter that stumped me was a straight vertical line. Was it an I or an l or a 1 or what? I guessed wrong, and then a message popped up saying that I had exceeded my number of tries.

No registration for me.

I went to bed.

Soap making is hard.
(My soap still isn't.)

So, while it's been quiet here on this blog, you can imagine that it hasn't been quite so quiet at home, here in front of my computer!

Stupid hockey sticks!!!


  1. So is melting down old candles and dipping new ones from it candle-making or candle art?

    I haven't heard the expression h e double hockey sticks in a while. I'd kind of forgotten it existed. It made me smile.

    "Back in my day, we had to plow through hundreds of webpages, just to make a lousy bar of soap..."

  2. Hee hee! I'm standing at the top of a very slippery slope, aren't I?
    Glad to make you smile!

  3. Kat, FYI http://www.kookoolanfarms.com/Classes_and_Events.php

    Will be offered in 2010!! -- make your own milk soaps, taught by Kristin Gardner. Simple hot-process soap making lets you complete your soapmaking in only two hours. Space available. Learn hot process soap making. Make your own soap and use it tonight: with hot process soapmaking there is no waiting several weeks for your soap to "cure." Make your own soap with all-natural ingredients including milk. The make-it-yourself price works out to about $1.50 material cost per bar for natural, homemade soaps. Great for allergies and sensitive skin, and great as a thoughtful, handmade gift for the holidays or having on hand for last-minute gift-giving year-round. Your instructor is a safety-conscious mother of young children, and she will also share her tips for sourcing, buying and (not!) storing the highly caustic lye used in all soapmaking. Course fee includes take-home soap. Kristin's handmade soaps are also available for sale in our farmstore. Space available.

    ABOUT THE LOCATION: Kookoolan Farms is a diversified, small family farm in Yamhill, Oregon. We raise chickens for meat and for eggs, cow and goats for milk, and we offer a full line of cheesemaking ingredients, cultures and supplies from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. www.kookoolanfarms.com We gladly accept check, cash, Visa, Mastercard, Discover and debit cards. We do ask you to pay in advance for classes.

    Maybe there is something in your area?