We woke up to a very smoky sky here in Kelowna. From my reading online, a lot of people were under the, thankfully, mistaken impression that Kelowna was on fire. As I say, thankfully there are no fires within our immediate vicinity. Unfortunately, the smoke is coming from the Stickpin fire, burning across the border in Washington state. That fire is now threatening to move into BC and it’s being watched carefully by both British Columbia and Washington State fire officials.
This picture doesn’t quite capture the redness of the sun. It was quite the surprise to step outside and see a red sun up in the sky. We were even able to look at it with binoculars and could very clearly see solar flares on the sun’s surface. It was a truly unique experience. How often do you get to look directly at the sun and not hurt your eye? The smoke, however, is extremely unpleasant. The radio has been warning that outdoor activities should be limited while the air is as smoky as it is. To be honest, it’s affecting me a little; my nasal passages are stinging and… it stinks!
My soap making adventures are continuing and, I have to tell you, it’s almost addicting. Once you’ve made one batch, you start looking at recipes and wonder what this recipe would be like, or that one…. That’s exactly what’s been happening. After last week’s three batches, I’ve made another two batches this week.
The first batch I made yesterday is a bit of a riff on a recipe I found online. It’s a shaving soap for the men (and possibly the women) in my life (not that there are a lot of them.. men, that is). It’s based on this recipe. I didn’t have all of the oils in the recipe and I certainly didn’t want to make 5 lbs of shaving soap. That’s a lot of soap! Using a lye calculator I found online, I altered the recipe to make a smaller (approximately 2 lbs) batch using ingredients I had on hand. I only had to buy a pound of shortening (which includes palm oil and can be substituted 1:1 for said oil).
In the photo, it’s the loaf of soap in the foreground. It’s a little on the dark side right now but as it cures, it will become lighter, like the bits stuck on the paper in the extreme foreground.
The second loaf of soap is one that I’ve been wanting to make since I first came across the recipe on Pinterest. The recipe is Nana’s Lavender Goatmilk Soap and it smells amazing! Even though I made this loaf about eight hours after the shave soap, it’s already much harder. I have a feeling this will be a hard, long lasting soap. It, too, should lighten up quite a bit with drying. If you read the recipe at all, you’ll see that it contains powdered lavender flowers in addition to lavender oil. I just happened to have some of that, left over from my cream and lotion making days. It’s nice to be able to use up some of the stuff I still have on hand.
This morning, I cut both loaves into bars… 9 of each; each loaf measures 8.75″ and I cut them into 1″ bars, leaving one slightly smaller bar. I’m even thinking of cutting some of the Lavender Goatmilk bars in half as they’re fairly large bars. It might help make the soap last a little longer, too, although that could just be perception.
Now, there’s just one more soap I’d like to try. This one, which is also the featured image for this post. Can you imagine the scent? Coffee, along with ginger, cinnamon, clove, patchouli, and sweet orange?? It would be like chai meets breakfast (coffee and orange juice?)! The coffee grounds in the soap help to provide exfoliation and/or scent removal (garlic? fish?) in the kitchen. And it looks like a fun technique. Maybe next week.
Edited to add: I did make the Java Jumpstart Soap this afternoon. Tomorrow, I’ll have an idea of how it turned out. It’s my very first attempt at mixing colours. For now, my soaping has come to a halt (we’ll see how long THAT lasts!); I probably have enough soap to last me the rest of my life even though a few bars have already been earmarked as gifts for family members and friends.
In the comments on last week’s post, I asked if anyone knew where I might be able to find lye (not that I’ll need any more for a long time); after phoning my local Home Hardware store, I found out that they carry it (in Aisle 5, thank you very much). Question asked and answered. Coincidentally, had I really looked at the container my mother gave me so many years ago, I would have seen that it, too, had come from Home Hardware.