Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saponification Sunday

Soap making has become my all time stress reducer, next to reading, writing, horseback riding, Aiden Quinn watching, road tripping to the Windy City, spending a long vacation in a rental cottage in County Clare,gardening, and....that about covers it I guess.

 I make it when I am all alone, the lights are low (in the living room they are low because I am in the kitchen. Of course they are not low in the kitchen I am working with highly caustic lye. Lets be reasonable shall we?) and the music is relaxing. George Winston or John Denver , maybe even Tracey Chapman if I am feeling really hopeless in a relaxing sort of way. I also do it late at night as I don't like to be interrupted when I am in my creative mode trying to decide if it is Babassu I am feeling or am I just in a plain old Coconut Oil mood?

But the point is, soap making is for me, and me alone and I enjoy it immensely.  But I do run hot and cold when it comes to saponification methods. For instance I've been on a recent hot process kick. Sometimes I just like to see things boil over, besides me that is.  I colored this batch of hot process soap with Spirulina powder found at the Naturally Yours grocery in Normal, Illinois. Spirulina is a free-floating filamentous cyanobacteria characterized by cylindrical, multicellular trichomes in an open left-hand helix. (As opposed to a right hand helix don't cha know)

They occur naturally in tropical and subtropical lakes with high pH and high concentrations of carbonate and bicarbonate.  They occur in Africa, Asia and South America, then they hitch a ride to Central Illinois. Why anything would leave the warmth of Africa for the frosty heartland in December is beyond me.

It is a blue green algae and contains loads of protein, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. People even eat it. In the bag it is a very dark spinach green color .A hint of blue may be seen when the soap is first cut into bars, but that hint of blue quickly disappears. What you end up with is green soap, sometimes light sometimes dark. And the green color of the spirulina seems to last a very long time. This batch was extremely dense and hard and bubbles up nicely due to the Castor oil I am a fan of. Funny how before I was a partisan soap maker I never imagined Castor Oil had any pleasant uses.

Spirulina cost a little more than other herbs or plant material that produce a green in soap, but considering the color you can get from a very small amount, and the length of time the color lasts, it’s well worth the price. For this batch I only needed 1 teaspoon of the powder for the 36 ounces of oil in my recipe. At about $4 an ounce you can color quite a few bars without much pocket book pain. ("pocket book"? How old am I for Pete's sake? Oh about 100 since I said "Pete's Sake")


  1. I was on a hot process kick for oh, about a year. Then I rediscovered cold process and have been mostly doing that ever since. I was too excited to see how things turned out that I couldn't wait a whole day to cut. I think I've calmed down since then.

  2. A close neighbour, and friend, has just made her FIRST 'bar' of soap. I'm sending her your link.

  3. Beautiful colour... I am always looking for a nice green. Have tried spirulina but it faded... can you let us know how this one holds up? xoxo Jen

  4. Briny, WHAT ?!?! Now you are ging all cold on me? You were my main HP Muse. Oh well, I still really love your soaps. Funny how we swing back and forth sometimes isn't it?

    Cro, any friend of yours is a future blog follower of mine and for that I am grateful. slowly you have gone the way of soaping frenzy have you not? Go on admit it Cro, you'll feel better (and cleaner)

    Jen, my first spirulina bar is about 6 months old and down to a sliver on my kitchen sink. It has faded but not terribly. I'll watch this one more closely, maybe with some progressive pics as my soaping science becomes more sophisticated. Seriously.

  5. Lovely pistachio color you there! Dontcha wish it would linger? Love hp soaps as well, their chunkiness and rugged flair.. just a whole different feel. Monsieur Magnon is coming around afterall. I am quite impressed.

  6. I've read about spirulina and it's value as a superfood. Interesting that you put it in your soap. And I'm going to have to remember about the castor oil. Someday I'll start making soap again and I would love to have hard bubbly bars. :)

  7. Cocobong, you crack me up. Everyone knew Cro would come around. He was just playing hard to lather.

    Yeah I love the ruggedness of HP and I really love SLAMMING it on the counter to get rid of air bubbles. Its like the MEN of soaps while Cold Process is definately the chicky girl

    Leigh, Imagine my surprise that Spirulina was a "super food" who knew? Since I started soaping my nutrition has improved by at least 26% and I've only licked a few bars (testing for cure)

  8. Cro, "The Heathen Frenchman" would be a great title for my second novel.

  9. Oh, how I've missed your humor, Donna! Sorry I've been away for so long. I just wanted to report that I tried using spirulina in my early soaping days, but couldn't get past the smell. Do you smell it in the soap??