"Living Sustainable Earth Stewardship"

VTGW began as a small, mom owned & operated venture, with many ideas of how to offer consumers what they are seeking. With many changes necessary for growth, natural ingredients bath & body products continue to be the main focus of VTGW. A recent addition of featuring farmer's market vendors, emphasizing the support of the Local Movement, will be highlighted weekly. Striving to provide all Earth patrons with what YOU are seeking, VTGW is your destination. Enjoy the journey!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Updates and Changes

Wow! Its been busy here for the last couple of weeks; I've been away from blogging for what feels like forever. I spent almost everyday of last week troubleshooting my formula for my new soapmaking process; the first batch didn't set up the way I had hoped, sending me back to research and cross referencing to solve the mystery I found myself faced with. After a couple of resources found, articles combed over, and the motivation to try again cropped up-24 hr. turnover-I was at it again.
The open air Farmer's Market season 2010 is upon us, and I'm so not ready at this time. Its about two weeks or a little less to be ready for the first days, beginning at Shelburne. I have to double check my schedule and coordinating calendar for dates, so I can post here as to where I'll be and when.
I'm two days away from my new batch of soap being set enough to take out of the mold box, cut and lay out to continue curing (drying). My new process starts with a week of setting up and then 2-6 weeks to cure to the desired firmness. My patience is being tested for this new method but I feel confident now, with the bugs worked out and moving forward to produce a new line of product. I am also considering to take recipes for my handcut soaps I've been producing and move them over into this new process method; I hand cut the new processed soap into bars, so it would primarily be the same, just moving from one processing method to another.
So, here's to another wonderful spring day and a good day to be had for all. Enjoy!
~Momma G

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Vermont Potash Soapmaking in the 21st Century, Part One

"Ashes on Branches Filter"

"Nature's Filter-branches from my backyard"

"Two Gallons Water, 16 oz. Ash"

"Necessary Equipment for Ash Based Lye Water Processing"
I love it when setting up images on blogger seem to go their own way as opposed to how you originally want them set. No use getting upset over the situation, as with reflecting on the process, I had to do it twice to get the right consistency and potency. Lessons learned along the way, and more to come as each step of the process comes into view.
I chose ash based lye processing as opposed to using sodium hydroxide crystals; yes, the lye water produced using the ash is the same as the sodium hydroxide but to me, I feel that using the ash is a more natural process; it also puts me more in touch with what I'm producing, why I choose to make soap and who my consumers are, and I feel I'm picking up and carrying on with a process that is a part of my state's history, especially the industrial/homesteading element.
Necessary Equipment for Lye Water Making:
-1 gallon bucket, galvanized steel
-1 7 oz. stainless steel coliander (pasta strainer)
-1 pair industrial rubber gloves*
-1 pair safety glasses*
-1 4 cup glass measuring cup (Anchor Hocking or Pyrex, your choice)
-1 handful of branches (birch or maple work best) for filter purposes
-2 gallons non-tap water
-16 oz. potash (I used a 12 oz. container to measure out what I needed)
-1 set of kitchen scales
I worked this process in the garage, as this is my first time making soap from "scratch." Taking appropriate safety measures with lye water making should be as the same as necessary safety measures needed for working with sodium hydroxide crystals; lye is caustic and can burn the skin if it comes into contact with exposed skin. This is something I don't need to be worrying about, especially being pregnant. Also, working outside gives an open air environment to work in as opposed to being inside and perhaps having to move outside just long enough to combine lye and water (ash and water with this process).
My first time through this process, I felt confident but when I went back later to cross reference my process with two resources that I implement in my new processing method, I realized I may not have produced lye water that would be of the correct potency. Therefore, after some thought, I went back, remembering my original measurements, recalculating and reworking my lye water production. Working through the process once again, I felt a surge of even more confidence and felt satisfied when closing the garage door.
Because of the attention to detail process necessary to temperatures and when ingredients need to be added to the base, I will be processing after my son goes to bed tonight; more at ease with a little one NOT underfoot? You better believe it. I will be documenting and photographing while processing, resulting in additional posts as I move deeper into this project. I'm excited and hope all who read stay tuned; here's to soapmaking! ~Momma G

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Night Before

It's May, and time to work. I've been freelance writing, which I'm continuing, and now its time to make soap again. I have all the materials and ingredients I need, and as of tomorrow, my adventures into the world of cold processing will begin. The best part is, that I'm using wood ashes to make my lye water. After discovering this "ancient" processing method tied into Vermont's history, I began to brainstorm how it can be broken down from gallons and pounds of ingredients, larger than life equipment to process, to a more modern, kitchen countertop method. After some research through Vermont historical accounts of "the potash industry," notetaking, more brainstorming, and extensive thought, I decided to give it a try. I will be writing about this method to post here, as well as taking pictures to give visual confirmation, as I move through the process.
Market season is upon us, and I'm really hoping to be where I planned to be this year; I know my season will be "as it goes" in the beginning, having to fill the absence in the middle, and coming back as strong as I can towards the end. So, here's to soap making, sun filled days to come, and endless possibilities. ~Momma G