Your guide to natural and organic living

Soap making workshop at Plush Folly

January 22, 2010

Yesterday, I was treated to a soap making course at Plush Folly, Hampton. I’d wanted to learn how to make soap for a while but had been putting off teaching myself because of the sodium hydroxide (I’m sure your all familiar that the scene in Fight Club where he burns his hand with lye). So a soap making course was perfect because I’d learn how to handle lye safely as well as the basics of soap making!

Plush Folly logo

The workshop was split into two main areas: cold process soap and hot process soap.

“By the end of the course you will know how to make soap from scratch, understand what benefits the different ingredients will bring to the soap, use essential and fragrance oils to perfume your soap, use a range of botanicals to add texture to your soaps and understand different colouring techniques such as layering and marbelling”.

In the morning we learn’t how to make cold process soap. The first part of this was an introduction to lye and how to handle it.

Preparing the lye

This seemed to be one of the main reasons we’d all been apprehensive about soap making. Preparing the lye was actually much less scarey than I thought it would be – I had visions of a big bubbling pot of caustic liquid. However this was not the case and as our teacher put it, “it’s no more dangerous than pouring a cup of boiling water if handled carefully”.

Soap fats

After we’d learned how to mix our lye, we learned about fats, their characteristics and benefits. We then explored botanicals and colourants and how we could use them to make our soaps more attractive. The final part of the process was to create our own fragrance. Plush Folly had a huge stash of essential oils and fragrance oils to choose from. This was good fun and a great way of discovering new essential oils!

For my cold process soap I used lavender and orange essential oils and created a layer of soap containing exfoliating rosehip grains on the bottom. This soap needed to cure for 4 weeks, after which time it will be posted to us and I’ll get to test out my cold process creation!

In the afternoon we learnt how to make hot process soap and were able to choose from a selection of recipes. My second soap was a nourishing recipe packed full of skin conditioning oils. I used a tangy peppermint, lemon and ylang ylang fragrance and coloured it with spinach powder to give it a pale green colour. I was able to take this soap home with me because it had already set and the sodium hydroxide had been neutralised during cooking.

I’d definitely recommend this course to anyone interested in soap making – whether you are apprehensive about using lye or just want to learn the basics. I had a fantastic time and was really pleased I could take some soap home at the end of the day to show off the fruits of my labour. As well as the soap we made, we were also given lots of instructions sheets to help us recreate these soap recipes at home.

Can’t wait to make my next batch of soap and receive the cold process soap I made in a few weeks time!

Plush Folly: Making Soap using the Hot and Cold Process Methods ยป