Happy July, all! We’ve been super busy around the farm with goat kids and gardening and working on projects like reroofing the main goat shed before the rains come back. The heat wave was a bit of a drag, since our 101-year-old house has no air conditioning. I parked a fan blowing across the dining room floor to keep the cats from melting and they all lay in front of it for days.

Flip isn’t impressed with the heat

All the animals had multiple water tanks and there are plenty of trees on the property for shade. We took a lot of cold showers to try to help sleep, as well, which brings me to the topic of the moment…soap!

Many months ago, I decided to try my hand at making soap for our family, to try to help with expenses and because I like to know exactly what ingredients we are using on our bodies. After watching several videos and reading a book or two, I made my first batch, a peppermint-oatmeal soap. It was a hit AND I really enjoyed the process. It reminded me of making pastry cream (I have a degree in culinary arts).

There are a couple of ways to make soap at home. There is a melt and pour variety and then there is the way I do it, with various oils and butters, and sodium hydroxide-commonly known as lye. I prefer doing it this way because it allows me to change up recipes and ingredients any way I choose. I use a tool called a lye calculator (found online) to calculate new recipes and be sure I am using the correct amount of lye. This is important because lye can be dangerous if mishandled/mis-measured. In the final product, there is no lye as it chemically changes when mixed with the different oils (called saponifying) and becomes soap.

Fairly recently, a few people suggested I sell some of the soaps I make, and after some thought, it seemed like a workable idea. It only takes a couple of hours to make a 3-pound loaf, including cleanup, and a few days of sitting in the mold before I cut it into individual bars. The real wait begins then, as the soap bars need to cure for 6 to 8 weeks. The longer they sit, the harder they become, and the longer they last, so there’s no good reason to try to rush this part. As I build my inventory, I will be listing the soaps on the website, but until then, a small number are being carried by 5B’s Bakery in the town of Concrete. Please feel free to check them out (and try a cinnamon roll from the bakery, too, they’re delicious!)

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We are a small homestead in the foothills of the North Cascades in Washington state. We breed goats for milk, cheese, and soap; keep chickens, ducks, and geese; and grow our own fruits and vegetables. Read more…

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