Living Better With... Soap and Deodorant

Oh dear, I have put off this post for nearly exactly a month now. Tomorrow is our next meeting for our Living Better With Less group, and here I am, still dithering about how to report the last month's meeting.

So last month we watched Leah make soap. It was amazing - did you know that soap looks exactly like custard while it is cooking? I am quite excited about the idea of learning to make soap - but it is quite complicated because you need the exact amount of water and lye in ratio to the fats you are using. There are on-line calculators to help with this process, but Leah used a manual method which involved actual maths. I know. We had pencil and paper maths whizzes competing with phone calculators to get the final total finally correct.

My dilemma is this. Soap making is dangerous and you have to get it right or you can get burnt. The only written instructions I had, which one of our members uses every time for excellent soap, had the instructions around the wrong way. In soap making you have to add the lye to the water (I had to check that three times just then, so I know I'm getting it right) to avoid a volcanic-type reaction of exploding burning soap mixture. We don't want that. The instructions I have from Kay on a pdf file tell you to add water to lye. Kay does it like this, and hasn't had a problem, BUT I don't want to risk it, so won't link to those instructions. Just in case, you know. Also, the on-line lye-calculator she used doesn't exist any more. Plus, I forgot to take any photos. So probably I am going to get fired from my job as recorder-of-Living-Better meetings. Sigh.

BUT, I have been researching all afternoon and found some useful help for hopeful soap makers.

Learn How To Make Soap this is the process.

Lye Calculators this tells you how much lye to add if you are making up your recipe, but do not fear, for here are:

Basic Soap Recipes which tell you exactly how much of each ingredient to use, no maths required:)

Obviously this is all from one website, which is the most comprehensive and clear that I have found.

To buy soap supplies in Australia, try Aussie Soap Supplies which will also sell you everything you need for lotions, lip balms and other health and beauty products.

Lye (sodium hydroxide) you can generally find at the hardware store. It can't be sent through the post in Australia.

One last note: apparently winter is not a good time to make soap, because it needs to stay warm for twenty four hours after you make it. So if you live in Tasmania, no soap making until next summer, which will give you (and me) plenty of time to brave up and find a soap buddy (truly, soap making feels like something to do in company, for courage).

Now, on to deodorant. Kay showed us how to make her fabulous home-made deodorant which contains no nasty heavy metals.

Home-Made Deodorant

1/2 cup bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
1/2 cup arrowroot flour, or tapioca flour (cheaper - this is Living Better With Less, after all)
5tbs unrefined coconut oil
20 drops grapefruit or lime oil (or other citrus oil)

Mix bi-carb soda and arrowroot together, add oils, mix well. Coconut oil needs to be room temperature to mix easily. You know, warm room temperature, not an unheated studio in Tasmanian winter room temperature. Poor Kay had to mix for quite a while..

Pour into clean jar. Kay used an old Gillette speed-stick container (solid deodorant stick).

This makes a firm deodorant which melts on contact with body heat.

It smells lovely, and conforms to the only-put-stuff-on-your-skin-that-you-can-eat school of cosmetics.

Thanks so much to Leah and Kaye for sharing the art of home made cleanliness with us. Next month - oops, tomorrow.. soil health with David, who has been doing vegie growing trials with Steve Solomon's Complete Organic Fertiliser and biochar at the trial gardens at his Inspirations Garden Centre at Exeter.


Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

We're on the same wavelength as I was going to cover soap making over the next few weeks too (the title of the blog is a real shocker too - should get a few cheap laughs).

My methods are perhaps a little bit more slapdash so you may get another take on the whole art of making soap. The recipe uses olive oil and I haven't had any troubles with it and didn't seem to be in danger of burning myself during the process either. It was a slow process though.

Once you've made your own soap you'll never go back to the store bought stuff, it really is that much better. Much softer and much less drying of the skin. Someone once explained to me that the soap you buy in the supermarket is really a detergent, but honestly I sort of phased out, as their explanation seemed overly technical...

Well done and very good work!

Seriously, some of my friends need to use a bit more deodorant from time to time... That feels much better now that I've said it!


Anonymous said…
Being fired from minute taker/recorder of meetings is not too bad. Anyway isn't that why people go to the mesting? So they can see the things and to about them rather than read from paper or the interweb-thingie?

I'm scared about making soap and suffering burns. Maybe it's a conspiracy from soap manufacturers? So we keep buying but burns scare me and I don't want a chemical burn. On SS Mimi has a no-burny easy soap recipe.

On deodorant, Mr S never uses it and he never smells. And he does heaps of sweat inducing exercise - bike riding, weights, boxing, walking. He uses talc with zinc. He also washes well so no bacteria remain on his underarm. And he swims regularly so the chlorine in the pool kills all smells.

Anonymous said…
I've been making soap for about 2 years now and while it can be dangerous, it's really safe as long as you use the proper procedures and pay attention.....just like cooking with hot oil.
I will admit I've only made basic soap so far and I'm a bit leary about getting into adding fragrance or different oils but that's because I don't want my soap making to fail and then all the ingredients are wasted.
I have found excellent books in the library for soap making, and I have also bought a couple.
My basic soap is olive oil,castor oil and coconut oil....that one I had to order online.

I like your recipe for deodorant.
I haven't made my own yet, as I am still using a handmade one I got a few years ago
I have found as I get older I don't need to use it as much...I guess there are perks to this "old age" thing.

This year I made my own toothpaste, really easy and works great and my dental check up today confirmed my teeth are fine with it.

Oh! about making soap in the winter. I do it and I'll bet Canada has much colder winters that Tasmania.
Once I pour the soap into the molds I just wrap it up in a towel to keep it warm....usually by the next day it's hardened off just fine.
Bek said…
The thing that stops me making soap is that I like trying all different types and flavours (I was going to say smells, but that just sounded wrong), so I don't want to make a batch that lasts for 10 years before I use it all up and then can have a different one. I like buying a bar of this and a bar do that, so one day I smell like lavender and the next it's lemon. So I am happy to buy it.
But the homemade deodorant. I love this,and will definitely give it a go!! Cheers for the tips.
Jo said…
Hi Chris, I very much look forward to your slapdash soap-making process! I am very much a slapdash person! Which is why soap making scares me a little. But I really want to try it.

I was very pleased to be able to watch the soap making process though, and to know there are actual people I can talk to when things go wrong, which they no doubt will..
Jo said…
Lucinda, I am sure they won't really fire me, everyone is pretty nice actually:)

I don't use deodorant much either. I did an experiment once and discovered I only need deodorant if I don't shower for three days!! And I love my hot showers too much for that..

Marieann, that is great information about soup making in winter, but now that means I don't have an excuse..

I would really like to know your toothpaste recipe if you are happy to post it here.

Bek, I am hearing you on variety, although I am the person who can do the same thing for 20 years. I am very boring. BUT I am thinking - gifts. Make yummy soap, give most of it away.

narf7 said…
It was really interesting to watch Leah make soap and I am sure that the risk factor brought out the daredevil in all of us. I can't wait to be a soap Evel Knievel but I am with you on needing a "soap buddy" as otherwise who is going to phone for an ambulance/fire brigade if it explodes?!
Sorry I couldn't make it to David's talk. Will be there with bells on for the next one. Cheers for taking the notes and for sharing here on your blog. Being responsible for taking notes, photos etc. is hard work. Remind me to bring my camera next time and I can be your photographer whilst you do your journalist stuff if you like.
Treaders said…
Gosh, I didn't know soap-making can be dangerous. Not a clue. That being said I might just try some organic soaps out to see if they really do feel nicer and who knows - maybe I will give it a go. I mean, if I can make honeycomb, soap can't be so bad can it? (Although I do remember my honeycomb once fizzing all over the stove top - not to mention the rhubarb and ginger jam I was making as a teenager. I forgot all about it and ended up with jam all over the floor, which stuck to EVERYTHING as I desperately tried to clean it up before my mom got home). Oh happy days. Anna
Jo said…
Fran, I am such an idiot, metaphorically slapping my forehead as I type - I actually took the camera with me last night, but just realised I forgot to use it. I am so not of the social media generation.

Anna, love the rhubarb jam story, but what a fab teenager you were, making jam. All I could make when I was a teenager was cup cakes.
Anonymous said…
Inquiring minds would like to know about liquid soap. I live in Man's Land and the Gentlemens are incapable of using a small amount of soap. They like to lather and lather and lather. And unless the shower room looks like a walrus has been arm wrestling a seal, they don't consider themselves sufficiently clean.

(And I've just discovered I was supposed to have taken (and KEPT!) minutes for several meetings that took place last year. I um. Didn't. At all. May have to pretend they're lost and that the related email exchanges are summaries?)
Jo said…
Miss Maudy, I make foaming pump soap, it's ridiculously easy and very economical. I buy castile soap from the whole food shop, pour it into an old foaming soap dispenser (you can add essential oil of choice at this point). You only need a quarter bottle of castile soap, then fill it up with water. Done.

I was interested to see that there is a liquid soap recipe on the soap website I linked to which I would like to try. I am wondering if you could use it for dishwashing liquid..
Anonymous said…
Hi Jo
This is the site where I got the toothpaste recipe.
Anonymous said…
Soap making isn't hard but there is the risk factor. Having said that, the first time is scary but once you've done it once you realise that it's about common sense with lye. We have all used chemicals like caustic soda before where common sense must prevail or injuries happen - eg, draino (which is caustic soda anyway), in the pre-naturals day garden poisons etc. If you approach the lye with respect then all will be well. :)

I use a recipe for soap from Gav from Greening of Gavin and it's easy peasy and never fail. Here's the link to his search page for soaps - where he has some video tutorials and there is his recipe on there too. :) He and his lovely wife Kim also sell soap making kits through their online store and they are truly ethical about every aspect of it too. :) They also have cheese making kits, oil burner melts and candle making on there. Worth a browse. :)
Jo said…
Marieann, thanks for that link - brillliant! What an interesting site:)

Jessie, I had no idea Gav made soap too. I will have a look at that as well. When I want to try something new I need to watch it being done about fifty times before I brave up and try it myself, so the internet is a boon for my learning style:)

Good to know where to buy ethical supplies as well. Thanks all!!
Mimi said…
For those a little nervous, try making rebatched soap first. It's basically grated soap or soap flakes like Lux flakes, mixed into a slush, then coloured and scented to your liking. Works well, no burny. That said, I've been making the most divine goats milk soap for years, and can whip up a batch in under an hour these days. It's so lush and moisturising that I no longer give it away for fear of not being able to keep up with repeat requests! Mimi xxx
Jo said…
Mimi, seriously, goat's milk soap, that sounds to die for. Do you have a link to a recipe, is it on your site? I'm sitting here wondering where to get some goat's milk, and have just remembered which dairy supplies it:) Every time a new comment goes up here my soap-making horizon expands..
Mimi said…
Jo a member of the Simple Savings site posted the recipe on her blog originally. I'll find it and link it here for you. It is truly divine. I buy long life goats milk from the supermarket for mine :)

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