Soapmaking and breadmaking – will I be in demand when the pandemic comes?

I realised, after posting the last batch of soap photos, that I had two batches that I never got around to photographing! I was down to only one or two bars of each set, so I didn’t get to cherrypick like I usually do – these are the dregs of the batches. Luckily, these batches just happened to turn out really, really well (in my opinion, anyhow). Soap photos are below the cut.

Also, I made this this morning! Should the photos come with a low-carber warning?



NYT no-knead bread recipe, of course, though with my own modifications that involve even less futzing around – like no second rise. It’s half wholemeal, half white.

Here’s the soap. gintonic









The unlabelled one at the bottom has a mango fragrance oil added.

Categories: arts & entertainment, fun & hobbies

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10 replies

  1. These soaps are absolutely inspiring (and the bread looks gorgeous too)…my youngest boy came home from school with a soap they’d made at school the other day…it was this dreadful blue colour, but he just loved making it. I am going to try and track down some sodium hydrocide in the chemists here. Do you need much space? We’ve got a pretty good kitchen bench, but no laundry or outside space in the apartment.

  2. ThirdCat: I’ve never seen it in chemists, but in supermarkets and hardware stores there are two brands you can use, Diggers or Mechanix. Make sure it’s labelled 98% sodium hydroxide or greater and do not get regular drain cleaner which has all sorts of stuff added like aluminium shavings.
    You don’t need much space for a small batch, more if you’re splitting a lot (I do 4 kg batches split into four for different fragrances and colours, which takes a bit more room to lay everything out).
    Just be sure to really read up on your safety precautions first – body, hand, and eye protection, lye precautions, fume ventilation, NO KIDS OR PETES AROUND, phones off, emergency plan. The other major precaution is to read up on recipes, _always_ run _every_ recipe through a lye calculator yourself (don’t trust the internet or paper books or friends or anyone), and measure precisely with a digital scale.
    There are some great links at the bottom of this Soapcalc page for tutorials and info. However for calculations I actually prefer the Ozcalc. It’s simpler to use, and it uses a different SAP value for coconut oil that I find gives me better results.

  3. That bread looks divine, and those soaps put the $14 Italian soaps I saw at the chemist yesterday to shame. I shall never be a soap maker – it’s the no children and no pets nearby that would do me in everytime. When the kids are behaving the cats seem to go off. Bizarre.

  4. The soaps look wonderful! I’ll trade you sewing and building fires for bread and soap!

  5. Mindy – ohyes – “fancy” imported manufactured soaps are as much a ripoff as super-expensive moisturisers. You’re paying for name and transport and packaging, not ingredients and quality. Scratch the surface, and those L’Occitane soaps (or whatever) are just bog-cheap palm kernel soap with a bit of fragrance oil and miniscule amounts of a luxury oil added for label appeal. Lush “soaps” are just SLS detergent bars with a bit of cheap soap and a lot of propylene glycol. Any local artisanal soapmaker can make something much better for a similar or lower price. [/hobbyhorse]

  6. Actually, I hope we’ll never get to the stage where we have to make our own bread for the reason that there are no food deliveries in shops, but I can see a genuine case for promoting more soap right now, because one of a list of ways to avoid spreading [any] germs I read the other days, was to not share crockery, cutlery, towels and soaps.

  7. Those are gorgeous! And cute, insofar as we’re talking about the stegosaurus.

  8. Emandink: I love the little stego. I don’t know how she manages to look so gormless yet wise at the same time.

  9. Actually, I hope we’ll never get to the stage where we have to make our own bread for the reason that there are no food deliveries in shops

    There are other reasons why it might be useful: I can see the possibility (in this epidemic or another) of it being undesirable to go to the shops for a while, or of our family being quarantined to home in the event that some of us get ill. We generally keep stocks of basics reasonably high, but we’ve today been over our inventory and stocked up in certain areas. Being able to supplement noodles, legumes, and tinned food with foods like homemade bread and yoghurt makes a big difference to the enjoyability factor, I think.

  10. I’ve only got a tiny little combination oven (micro/fan/grill) at the moment so there’s no room for a proper loaf to rise, even though I’ve got a real ceramic ‘tin’ now for a crisp crust. Will have to see if the NYT recipe works in my pyrex casserole dish or the remoska. Manage to bake a really good chocolate cake in the latter, so it’s probably just a matter of getting used to non-rectangular bread. And getting the Kenwood Chef fixed (I melted the power cord with the Remoska lid).
    Lye and hand tremors don’t really go together so I’ve never been tempted by soapmaking.

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