Sunday, January 31, 2010

This week has been remarkably cold here in upstate New York. Outside a soft white blanket of snow covers the ground. The winter has it’s own beauty as all the seasons- though decidedly different.
This week the snow has been like a clean white canvas made to display God’s marvelous creation. From our kitchen window I admired the striking beauty of a red cardinal perched in the bare Mountian Ash tree. By his side sat his lovely little wife. And further in the distance we spotted a rusty colored fox trotting along on top of the snow. Today even the sky seems bluer in contrast to the snow and dark bare trees.
Well, with warnings of snow storms earlier this week it seemed the perfect time to stay inside and experiment!
On my birthday a couple weeks back I received a book called “Basic Soap Making”. Over the weeks following I purchased the necessary ingredients and equipment to prepare my first batch of cold process soap.
Friday morning I began, garbed in goggles, rubber gloves, face mask and in a lovely calico apron I had sewn. My main concern was working with the sodium hydroxide, as I had never worked with dangerous chemicals before. However everything seemed to be moving along smoothly. I combined all my ingredients (except the essential oil, which goes in at the second to last step), and I began stirring………..
I had been stirring for about 45 minutes when I began to feel a bit concerned. You see when stirring the soap it is supposed to become thicker and any droplets that fall from your spoon back into the mixture should leave a trail before disappearing back into the liquid. Lifting my spatula from the mixture I watched the droplets fall all too quickly back into the bowl.
It was then we decided I should call someone. So I found a phone number in the reference guide of my book. The person I spoke with told me it may take 4 hours to reach trace (the point when the mixture begins to thicken and become soap) .
I brought the bowl back to my room, as I had sewing I needed to work on. I was sewing one of our “Ladies Dress with Empire Waist”, in a lovely beige fabric sprinkled with deep pink roses and dark green leaves. So my afternoon was spent in alternately stirring and sewing. : )
My mixture did look different by the late afternoon. Turning from a translucent oily substance, to a thicker creamy opaque appearance. Still unsure, I made another phone call.
This time I discovered that my mixture was too cold! That actually I chosen the worst time to make soap, as soap must remain quite warm in order for the chemical reaction to begin, and the gelling process to turn simple ingredients into a bar of soap.
The lady I spoke with suggested I use my “soap” as glue. However I did pour my soap into it’s mold. It never did gel, but my soap did set. The house is filled with wonderful aroma of lavender soap, as I have set my soap on top of our book case to dry.
But as my mother says “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! “. I look forward to my next attempt, and I am grateful that I learned a great deal from mistakes. Matthew 19:26 “But with God all things are possible. “

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