The first rule of Squirrel Club is you do not talk about Squirrel Club. Yeah, who are we kidding? Squirrel Picnic is nothing like Fight Club, but we do make soap. In case you ever wondered how it’s made, here’s a quick overview.
I start by gathering the ingredients and supplies. The most important of which is my trusty guide Soap Maker’s Workshop by Dr. Robert and Katherine McDaniel. This husband and wife team really know their soap. I’ve tried a lot of different recipes and guides over the years, and I always come back to this one.
Ingredients for my favorite (and the simplest) soap include olive oil, coconut oil, shortening, lye, distilled water, and your choice of essential oil fragrance. This time we’re using lemon. Because of the use of lye, we always wear heavy-duty gloves and protective eye wear. Doesn’t Hodge look cute with her goggles on?
The next step is to measure out all the ingredients very carefully by weight. Then we go outside to mix the lye into the water. I always feel a little like Mr. Wizard when I’m doing this because the solution reaches upwards of 200 degrees and steams like crazy.
Next, I melt all the oils together on the stove and cool them until they are about 120 degrees. It takes a while, so here’s a picture of Podge waiting.
The lye solution then is poured into the oil and mixed continuously with a stick blender. Yes, those are a pair of my stockings on the lye pitcher! Sometimes particles of foreign matter remain in the bottom of the solution after the lye has dissolved. When this happens, you have to sift them out. The best way to do that is to pour the solution through a pair of pantyhose. I don’t like pantyhose much, so I was totally okay with ruining a pair.
See, I’m totally okay with it.
Next, I mix in the fragrance.
And pour the soap into silicone molds.
I also use silicone loaf molds.
Then I wrap the containers up in towels and set them aside for 24 hours while they continue to saponify. Silicone molds are so nice because when the soap hardens, it is very easy to remove it from the mold.
Finally I cut them into bars and store them for about six weeks until they are completely hardened and ready to use.