My friend, Char, and I went to The Prairie Peddler to walk around in the bright October sun and take in the sights, sounds, and smells of autumn. While there, we discovered that we shared the same desire to learn to make soap. REAL soap. LYE soap. Saponified soap. SOAP soap. Your grandmother’s soap. HER grandmother’s soap. The soap of generations and generations before us. I think you get the idea.
For those of you who have never been to The Prairie Peddler, it is a festival held in a grouping of permanent, rustic structures built into the woods of the area near Mohican State Park in Ohio. The atmosphere with the brilliance of autumn’s color plus the smell of woodsmoke from the vendors cooking fruit cobblers in Dutch ovens over campfires plus the dirt paths and stick built wooden cabins is truly absorbing. It almost feels as though you are walking through an 1800’s village. Almost.
Our interest was piqued even further at a particular cabin. In this cabin, we learned that the owner of the company offered soap making classes. So, we each took a flyer with us. The seed had been planted. The following Tuesday, I called and signed us up. 7 classes. One night a week. 40 miles one way. It.was.awesome.
We not only learned how to make soap, but how to make soap. The chemistry behind it. The method to the madness shall we say. We were each instructed to create our own recipe. What did we want our soap to do? Oddly enough, it doesn’t simply clean. I learned that true soap has characteristics: lather, scent, feel, bubbles, moisture on the skin. Beyond that, there is always the next level of clearing up skin issues such as psoriasis, eczema, or acne.
Once we decided what we wanted our soap to do and how we wanted it to act, we created the recipe based on our knowledge of the ingredients. Let me tell you, there was tension that night at class: Would it work? Would it not work? Would we blow the place up? I’m kidding. Our teacher was confident it would work.
The recipe that I use today is not the exact same recipe from that soap making class. I spent a lot of time adjusting and tweaking my recipe until I was satisfied. Our soap has a beautiful white-bubbled lather that rinses clean yet leaves your skin soft. The essential oils we use for scent are subtle and light and not overpowering or artificial.
We learned that good quality ingredients produce good quality products. We learned that mistakes can be fun. We learned that we wanted to learn more. But what we really learned was that we loved doing it, our skin had never, ever felt better, and that we were extremely happy to share with our family and friends a non-toxic, natural, healthier way to clean the largest organ of your body.