In a recent post I mentioned that I was planning on making one batch of soap per week. After receiving a call from a customer last week I knew what kind of soap I would be making this week.
The phone call started with the customer asking me how many bars of soap I make when I make a batch. I explained that each tray holds 16 bars and I usually make two trays at a time. She said, “next time you make my soap I want a whole tray.” She explained that her “other half”, as she calls him, ran out of his commercially made soap, so she had him try her soap. He liked it. “I’ve been trying to get him to use homemade soap,” she said, but he would only use a specific brand.
The soap I make for her is one of the simplest soaps I make. She called me last summer and told me her soap maker was no longer going to be making soap for her. She explained that she had horrible reactions when using commercial and homemade soaps and her previous soap maker had made a special recipe for her. She wasn’t sure what ingredient she was reacting to, nor was she sure what the ingredients her previous soap maker was using. She only knew it contained lard. Could I make her a soap, she asked. Since I do like experimenting, and I do like problem solving, this would be fun.
I had her describe the soap she was currently using. When she said it was very soft and “snot like” when wet, and it did not lather, I decided it was not necessarily a recipe I needed or wanted to duplicate. Since I know the two most common oils used in both commercial and handcrafted soap are coconut oil and palm oil, I figured she was probably reacting to one of these. I do not use palm oil in my soaps, so I asked her to try one of mine. After several days of use she said she did break out in a rash.
Even though it is a soap making rule of thumb to combine three or more oils or fats to make a nice bar of soap, it’s a rule that I have been breaking since early on in my soap making practice. I have made, and continue to make, very nice soaps using recipes with one, two or three oils/fats. I suspected it was coconut oil that my customer was reacting to, but decided to play it safe by using just the one oil/fat that I knew she could use. I made a soap with just one fat and three total ingredients – lard, water and lye – a recipe I had not made before.
The soap was ready six weeks later and after my husband and I each tried it, I delivered it to my customer. My personal impression was – a hard bar of soap, some creamy lather, felt good on the skin (no snot), and rinsed off nicely. Custom made, yet simple, this soap has now become “her soap” or maybe I should say “their soap”. This is the recipe I made this week, and although I haven’t named it yet I will be adding it to my store when this batch is ready (about 6 weeks).