"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!

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

1 comment:

  1. Oooh, this is fascinating! My husband and I have pondered how you would make your own lye, thanks for sharing your technique. Sadly, we have a small yard and two active little ones, so I think our soap making days will be delayed for some time. Good luck with your new little one!