Handmade Soap Shop

Monday, April 19, 2010

Soap Ingredient Availability


As I was soaping today, scooping my "superfatting" nutrients, I became aware of just how fortunate we soapers are today, with regard to the variety and availability of ingredients. Really good ingredients.

When my grandmas were making soap back in the 1930's, the only "ingredient" they bought was lye. Period. Water came from the well out back, and they either saved up used bacon drippings, or they rendered tallow at butchering time to get their "oils".

I think of my Grandma Mabel often, especially if I catch myself complaining about doing the laundry. I remember her stories (that held my sister and I spellbound... my Grandma knew how to tell a story) of having to haul water on washday, heat it up on a coal stove, and scrub the clothes on a board. It sort of makes walking to the laundry room and pushing a few buttons seem almost ridiculous by comparison. But I digress...

My Grandma's soap was utilitarian. It cleaned clothes and people. It did what it was intended to do. I wish I could get Grandma's opinion of my soap. I'd like to hear what she would say about the finished product, as well as the "fancy" ingredients that I take for granted: mango butter from India, cocoa and shea butters from Ghana, essential oils from Egypt, China and the West Indies. How amazing is that? Pretty cool if you really stop and think about it. Even the base oils of olive, coconut and palm seem exotic, I think, compared to the bacon drippings and tallow.

So today I'm focusing on the availability of exotic ingredients...just one more reason to be thankful in my daily life as a soapmaker!

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