Free Shipping For Soapy Mom’s!

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Great News for all you Soapy Moms! Soapalooza has a FREE SHIPPING EVENT from NOW until Midnight Sunday. Use Coupon Code MDFREESHIP during our checkout! http://www.soapalooza.com

Shop our Cold Process tested fragrance oils here, and get FREE SHIPPING!

(lower 48 USA only, 25 lb drums NOT included, and adjustments can not be made if you forget to use the coupon!!).

The Studio has new paint!

2015-03-28 09.15.48 2015-03-28 09.15.59 2015-03-28 09.16.25 2015-03-28 09.16.58 2015-03-28 09.17.07I spent last week painting Soapalooza Studio with fun, inspiring paint! We stained the floor, and added vibrant curtains! The lease is locked in for the next 4 years, hurray!

I waited until the lease was locked in to do the redecorating, and then it was a rush to get it all done in time for the Saturday VA Area Soap and Bath & Body Products Meet Up. It was the first meet & greet, so I wanted the Studio to look fantastic.

We had four people show up on this first event, and it was fun! One attendee also had contracted for a Wine Soap Making Class directly after the Meet Up also.

Later in April, a handyman is coming to construct a cabinet and shelf system around the two areas that house mechanical devices for the facility. Can’t move them, so we will encase them so we can show off the space more effectively. Also, an electrician comes and rewires, or ‘tones’ the electrical outlets so we have more places to plug in at! Hurray!

Don’t forget about the current Spring Fragrance Pre Sale… all these fragrances are returning to my fragrance library. The sooner we complete these, the sooner the next batch of my fragrances to return also! The June line up will include several long awaited fragrance oils of mine also! All Pre Sale fragrances are offered at at 15% discount over their regular retail prices, and will NEVER be offered this low again.

Good luck and safe soap making from Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, where soapmaking is an Art, an Adventure, and a Passion!

Kelly, Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza!

KellyJan2014Kelly Bloom is the owner and Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, located in Williamsburg, VA. She is a former Science Education teacher, and the founder of Southern Soapers. Soapalooza sells Kelly’s formerly Southern Soapers branded fragrance oils now under the Soapalooza brand. Kelly is a 20 year veteran soapmaker and soap business owner, supplying wholesale soap for private label as well as back bar products for local boutique spas.

PS: We would LOVE to connect with your at our Facebook Soapalooza Fan Page We also have a Facebook Soapmaking Group called Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, and we share lots of information there! We would love for you to join us!

 

Recycling Your Amber Glass Bottles

Amber-Glass-BottleIf you make soap, than chances are you have a stash of fragrant, but empty amber glass bottles. Here is a way to clean and deodorize them so that you can use them for fragrance oils that arrive in HDPE plastic bottles.

What you will need:

Dawn Dish Detergent, coarse salt (kosher, sea salt, even regular table salt will work in a pinch), hot water, a regular household dishwasher.

  1. Fill empty amber glass bottles 1/4 full with hot water.
  2. Add several tablespoons of coarse salt to each bottle .
  3. Add approximately 1 teaspoon of Dawn Dish detergent to each bottle.
  4. Cap and shake well for about 15 seconds.
  5. Uncap, finish filling each bottle with hot tap water, leaving 1″ head space. Recap.
  6. Shake well and let these bottles sit overnight.
  7. Rinse well next day. Rinse until water runs clear from each bottle. Set upside down in top rack of dishwasher.
  8. Separate the clear cones from the black caps. Place cap portions in separate sections of the silverware holder in your dishwasher.
  9. Run dishwasher on the hottest setting with the hot dry cycle. This heat will burn off any residual odors and fully sanitize your bottles.
  10. Set cooled bottles right side up to cool and allow any remaining moisture to evaporate. Do not use for several days to ensure any remaining moisture has evaporated.
  11. Set caps and cones on paper towels on a paper plate and allow any residual moisture to also evaporate before putting cones back into caps.

Good luck and safe soap making from Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, where soapmaking is an Art, an Adventure, and a Passion!

Kelly, Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza!

KellyJan2014Kelly Bloom is the owner and Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, located in Williamsburg, VA. She is a former Science Education teacher, and the founder of Southern Soapers. Soapalooza sells Kelly’s formerly Southern Soapers branded fragrance oils now under the Soapalooza brand. Kelly is a 20 year veteran soapmaker and soap business owner, supplying wholesale soap for private label as well as back bar products for local boutique spas.

PS: We would LOVE to connect with your at our Facebook Soapalooza Fan Page We also have a Facebook Soapmaking Group called Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, and we share lots of information there! We would love for you to join us!

Spring Fragrance Pre Sell Extravaganza!

Soapalooza Spring Pre Sell Fragrance Extravaganza!

We are excited to start our Spring Pre Sell Fragrance Extravaganza!

We heard you!  More of Kelly’s former Southern Soaper fragrances! We are returning quite a few this year now that we have our warehouse lease locked in for another 4 years! So, celebrate Spring with us as we return many of your former favorites. All these fragrances were developed by Kelly Bloom for her own use with her cold process soap making business (BloomWorks Soap Company) and later sold under her former brand Southern Soapers. Several of the current line up have NEVER been offered before also! Click this SPRING PRE SELL link to see the line up!

This is our Annual Spring Pre Sell – This means your order for this product will NOT ship until the Presell is completed, approximately April 1, 2015. Fragrances will be ordered and shipped as soon as they arrive in the warehouse.

Take advantage of the great savings of 15% off during the initial Presell these cold process tested fragrances. They will not be discounted this low again! Additionally, don’t forget that we offer a Flat Fee Ship rate of $9.95 for the continental US!

Each week we will be placing an order for several drums of fragrance oil on our Pre Sell line up. At that time, those ordered fragrances will be REMOVED from the Pre Sell line up… So, as the Pre Sell progresses, there will be less on sale to choose from! So ORDER EARLY in the Pre Sell so you get the best selection and the LOWEST PRICES these fragrances will EVER be offered at!

Fresh Linens (returning) Apple Blossoms (returning)
Red Papaya (New!) Carrot Cake (New!)
Chamomile Tea (New!) Coconut & Tahitian Lime (New!)
Chipotle Caramel (New!) Jamaican Plantain & Vanilla (New!)
Masculine Musk (New!) Indonesian Teak (returning)
Linden Vert (returning) Aloe & Yucca (returning)
Guns & Roses (returning) Yuzu Satsuma (returning)
Cherokee Princess (returning) Tuscan Leather (New!)
Apres Apricot (returning) Red Red Wine (returning)
Rosehip Jasmine (returning) Lemon Drop Candy (returning)
Havana Nights (returning) Click this SPRING PRE SELL link to ORDER!

 

Kelly, Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza!

KellyValentines14Kelly Bloom is the owner and Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, located in Williamsburg, VA. She is a former Science Education teacher, and the founder of Southern Soapers. Soapalooza sells Kelly’s formerly Southern Soapers branded fragrance oils now under the Soapalooza brand. Kelly is a 20 year veteran soapmaker and soap business owner, supplying wholesale soap for private label as well as back bar products for local boutique spas.

PS: We would LOVE to connect with your at our Facebook Soapalooza Fan Page We also have a Facebook Soapmaking Group called Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, and we share lots of information there! We would love for you to join us!

Congrats to Patricia Dean of East Coast Essentials

BizInsuranceCongrats to Patricia Dean of East Coast Essentials for renewing their HSCG Membership and obtaining business & product liability insurance through one of our industry trade associations!

Soapalooza offers a $20 Gift Certificate when you join or renew your membership with either the HSCG or Indie Business Network (formerly Indie Beauty Network) and obtain your business and product liability insurance through them. Simply send us a copy of your insurance certificate PDF with date issued, and we will issue you a $20 Gift Certificate to shop at Soapalooza.com. More details on our exclusive promotion at the Soapalooza website.

Good luck and safe soap making from Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, where soapmaking is an Art, an Adventure, and a Passion!

Kelly, Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza!

KellyValentines14Kelly Bloom is the owner and Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, located in Williamsburg, VA. She is a former Science Education teacher, and the founder of Southern Soapers. Soapalooza sells Kelly’s formerly Southern Soapers branded fragrance oils now under the Soapalooza brand. Kelly is a 20 year veteran soapmaker and soap business owner, supplying wholesale soap for private label as well as back bar products for local boutique spas.

PS: We would LOVE to connect with your at our Facebook Soapalooza Fan Page We also have a Facebook Soapmaking Group called Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, and we share lots of information there! We would love for you to join us!

Congrats to Laura West of Miss Jessie’s Soaps

BizInsuranceCongrats to Laura West of Miss Jessie’s Handmade Soaps for renewing their HSCG Membership and obtaining business & product liability insurance through one of our industry trade associations!

Soapalooza offers a $20 Gift Certificate when you join or renew your membership with either the HSCG or Indie Business Network (formerly Indie Beauty Network) and obtain your business and product liability insurance through them. Simply send us a copy of your insurance certificate PDF with date issued, and we will issue you a $20 Gift Certificate to shop at Soapalooza.com. More details on our exclusive promotion at the Soapalooza website.

Good luck and safe soap making from Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, where soapmaking is an Art, an Adventure, and a Passion!

Kelly, Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza!

KellyValentines14Kelly Bloom is the owner and Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, located in Williamsburg, VA. She is a former Science Education teacher, and the founder of Southern Soapers. Soapalooza sells Kelly’s formerly Southern Soapers branded fragrance oils now under the Soapalooza brand. Kelly is a 20 year veteran soapmaker and soap business owner, supplying wholesale soap for private label as well as back bar products for local boutique spas.

PS: We would LOVE to connect with your at our Facebook Soapalooza Fan Page We also have a Facebook Soapmaking Group called Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, and we share lots of information there! We would love for you to join us!

Thank You and Many Thanksgiving Blessings

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Thank all of you for your continued support at Soapalooza! 2014 has been a year of many blessings and abundance here at the Soapalooza Studio and within my own family.

This time last year my grand daughter had just been born, and come home from the hospital with my daughter to stay with me. My daughter and baby Sophia are now happy in the Atlanta area. My daughter & Sophia’s daddy had their own special Thanksgiving this year! I am Thankful that my daughter & son in law are happy, and that I got to help deliver Sophia at the hospital and have my daughter and her with me while they needed my home.

My son came back to live with me after some turmoil at his father & stepmother’s home. It has been wonderful to have him back here. He is in 8th grade now, and taking some High School credit classes, and I am so proud that he made the A/B Honor list for the first marking period! I willingly let his father have the chance to finish raising him, but am so thankful that I get to do this!

My daughter in Colorado has grown her soap business, Nederland Naturals, to a point that she is supporting her business and supplementing her own income! I am so proud of her also. I am so thankful that I could pass on the skill set for her to do this! I am thankful my daughter is strong and resourceful. I am Thankful that Robert, born early at 5.6 lbs, is a happy, healthy, thriving little boy that I adore.

I am Thankful that my daughter in Miami is safe and happy with her boyfriend, and that she is also strong and prevails over the periodic turbulance that occurs in her life also! She is my youngest daughter, and still making her way in the world.

My eldest daughter, up in New York, I am Thankful that she is happy creating the life that she wants.

I am Thankful that my loved ones are safe and healthy. I am Thankful that I am safe, happy, and healthy… I am Thankful that I am able to do all the creative things that pop in my head, create the Soapalooza Studio and curriculum, to share it with others that want to learn from my experience.

Good luck and safe soap making from Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, where soapmaking is an Art, an Adventure, and a Passion!

Kelly, Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza!

KellyValentines14Kelly Bloom is the owner and Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, located in Williamsburg, VA. She is a former Science Education teacher, and the founder of Southern Soapers. Soapalooza sells Kelly’s formerly Southern Soapers branded fragrance oils now under the Soapalooza brand. Kelly is a 20 year veteran soapmaker and soap business owner, supplying wholesale soap for private label as well as back bar products for local boutique spas.

PS: We would LOVE to connect with your at our Facebook Soapalooza Fan Page We also have a Facebook Soapmaking Group called Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, and we share lots of information there! We would love for you to join us!

My Saponified Life – Frozen Dead Soap

PirateSoapToday I made the rounds of the Nederland, Colorado stores. I was accompanying my daughter as she made her wholesale soap stock exchange. We stocked Dandelion Fine Art & Gifts with a limited specialty selection of Frozen Dead Soaps for the upcoming weekend Frozen Dead Guy Days. These special skull, bone, cannabis leaf, and dancing bear soaps will be available only at Dandelion or the Nederland Visitor Center. I really enjoyed seeing the variety of soap makers products in this tourist town as we made our way through the stores filled with talented local artist’s creations.

Nederland is like a modern day Amsterdam. Nederland decriminalized marijuana several years ago, long before Colorado’s Prop 64. There are between 8 to 10 medical marijuana dispensaries vs one grocery store. Everything is locally owned, no chains, and is strictly an entrepreneur’s town. Breweries, dispensaries, local artisans are in such close proximity that you really don’t even need a car. There is a bus line going from Boulder to Nederland and Nederland to the ski resort on fairly regular basis, or travelers can hitch hike with friendly residents.

During the soap stock exchange today, I recognized some of the other soap maker brands. At Dandelion Fine Art & Gifts, not only did we see Nederland Naturals soap, I saw soap by Spinster Sisters (Golden, CO), and The Mod Cabin (Lafayette, CO). In other shops around town I recognized Sad Cat Soap Company, Mountain Moon Glow Candles (Nederland, CO), The Pampered Pioneer (a private label by an actual soap friend), Ostara Organics (Longmont, CO), and The Clean Get Away Soap Company (Denver, CO).

I had not believed my daughter when she told me I really did not need a car while in Ned. The thought of being on foot all day, every day, for week was just too much for me though, so I had a rental car arranged. The first day here in Ned, we just went out and about with stroller exploring, getting lunch, and generally site seeing in town. The baby slept most of the duration, lulled to sleep by the rhythmic jostling of the stroller. It was a fun, and easy to maneuver outing with us toting along all the accoutrements needed when going out with an infant and conducting some business in a few of the local cafe’s like Salto, and the Train Cars.

Last night however, a foot of snow fell so we loaded up the car this morning and drove to a central location in downtown Nederland. That’s where we attended the Baby Story Time at the Nederland Community Library, afterward strolling across the street to The Business Connection for a full color label print. After printing the Frozen Dead Soap labels we returned to our car where we proceeded to label all the soaps that were intended for Dandelion. We dropped the soaps off and visited two more shops to check stock, then went down to the Nederland US Post Office where my daughter mailed off a few Etsy soap orders. We then stopped by the feed store and purchased pine tar for the upcoming Mountain Man Pine Tar Soap, but stopped off at that only grocery store for the few items we needed for dinner.

We took a time out for lunch and hot tea at the Blue Owl after stocking a fresh round of hemp seed oil soaps at the Mountain Peoples Co Op, scented with Soapalooza’s own Truly Patchouli and Wicked Ganja! My daughter used the interlude to catch our breath, feed the baby, catch up on email, and manage some custom orders in her Etsy store.

At this point, I was having traumatic flashbacks of when I had three children under the age of 5 years, shuffling them in and out of coats, mittens, and car seats and into strollers, in a town where it was impossible to get really anywhere without a car. I was convinced that not only was it easy to do pretty much all you need to do in Nederland on foot, but glad that we were not waking a baby up from a car seat nap, folding & unfolding a stroller, and loading and reloading as we drove 40 to 150 feet every 30 to 45 minutes. The idea of coaxing a wriggling 14 lb sack of potatoes into a happy state after being woke up from a car seat nap every 45 minutes is mentally exhausting, and I am convinced would have been more physically exhausting than simply walking and pushing a stroller loaded to the gills with soap and computers.

Tonight I am teaching my daughter how to use the Low Temperature soap making method with her new Mountain Man Pine Tar Soap. Last night we poured her very popular Mountain Woman Soap, both exclusively available at the Mountain Man Outdoor Store in Nederland, Co. You can download a Pine Tar Soap Class PDF from Soaplooza to learn how to make this also!

Now that the baby is sleeping, I am teaching my daughter a few more Melt & Pour techniques to make Pirate Soaps for the Renaissance Woman costume & gift shop Friday.

Good luck and safe soap making from Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, where soapmaking is an Art, an Adventure, and a Passion!

Kelly, Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza!

KellyValentines14Kelly Bloom is the owner and Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, located in Williamsburg, VA. She is a former Science Education teacher, and the founder of Southern Soapers. Soapalooza sells Kelly’s formerly Southern Soapers branded fragrance oils now under the Soapalooza brand. Kelly is a 20 year veteran soapmaker and soap business owner, supplying wholesale soap for private label as well as back bar products for local boutique spas.

PS: We would LOVE to connect with your at our Facebook Soapalooza Fan Page We also have a Facebook Soapmaking Group called Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, and we share lots of information there! We would love for you to join us!

Birthday Party Ideas for Kids!

PrintYesterday I was processing files from over 10 years worth of teaching various types of soap and cosmetics classes in my forums and private consulting. Materials spread out over three hard drives and 8 thumb drives! It has been something I’ve been planning to tackle for a few years. Consolidation and compilation of all my soap and cosmetics training materials!

The daunting part is tying not to confuse myself between open file folders across the couple of thumb drives a particular document might be re-saved with a different date! Thank goodness I had the foresight to actually date my files when I saved them on a new location!

Not everyone can manage to come spend a day or two with Kelly, sadly!  I would love to have you all here, laughing and cutting up as we make soap or cosmetics together. But I realize that with jobs, family, and expenses of being away from your own businesses, that often training workshops are not easy to get away and attend.

The Soapalooza 2 Day Intensive Soap Making Boot Camp, and the Soapalooza 3 Day Bath & Body Boot Camp are doing phenomenally! These workshops have been SO MUCH FUN to give and participate in! I will be adding a weekend session for both each month, straddling the holiday’s that teachers and students are off from school also!

The Skype Classes are also fun! We have had a huge response to the Labeling De Mystified Conference Call / Skype format class. I will adding my Preservative Class next to the Skype format, as well as the PDF Training format.

For those that just can not attend our classes and workshops, I have started uploading workshops and training materials as PDF’s that students can purchase and download. All the PDF Training products will be located in the Soapalooza E-University store category.

The first PDF Training document for sale in the store is the Master Batch Soap Making Techniques. It includes the slides from the 2010 HSCG Conference presentation I did in Denver, Colorado, as well as 14 pages of step by step instructions on setting up your soap production to handle several thousand bars of soap manufacturing per week. The PDF includes how to master batch your lye solution, soap formula, how to adjust your lye solutions, and many more Master Batch Technique tips.

soapalooza_inviteI had an other brainstorm too! I have a really cool PDF Birthday Party Invitation from when Soapalooza hosted children’s Birthday Parties at our Hampton, VA retail store.

I learned that after 5 children of my own, it is more fun to teach mothers to orchestrate their own children’s Birthday Parties than me doing it in the studio or at their homes! So, I am making the Soapalooza Birthday Party Invitation Fillable PDF available FREE on the Soapalooza website! You can put it in the shopping cart and then you can download it for free. The really cool thing about this PDF is that you can EDIT it with your child’s name and party location, then print it. You can download the PDF, save it to your computer, and use it and share it!

NicholasBday1bOver the next few days I will be adding a few fun ideas for Birthday Party soap activities also! Your children and their friends will be fighting to get into the tub first!

Kelly Bloom is the owner and Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, located in Williamsburg, VA. She is a former Science Education teacher, and the founder of Southern Soapers. Soapalooza sells Kelly’s formerly Southern Soapers branded fragrance oils now under the Soapalooza brand. Kelly is a 20 year veteran soapmaker and soap business owner, supplying wholesale soap for private label as well as back bar products for local boutique spas.

Good luck and safe soap making from Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, where soapmaking is an Art, an Adventure, and a Passion!

Kelly, Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza!

PS: We would LOVE to connect with your at our Facebook Soapalooza Fan Page We also have a Facebook Soapmaking Group called Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, and we share lots of information there! We would love for you to join us!

The Big Lye (History of Sodium Hydroxide as We Know it Today)

Collage1In 2005 there was a discussion in my former Southern Soapers Yahoo forum about the origins of Lye.  The Lye we use today, in modern soap making, is a synthetic. I was utterly fascinated by the entire Sodium hydroxide history and evolution. Prior to the development of plastics and other non reactive, air tight containers, there was actually no safe way to store sodium hydroxide as it is so incredibly hygroscopic, and violently reactive. There seemed to me no way it could have been stored for use in handy gourds or pottery urns.

So I had to go do research to satisfy my curiosity about what did folks in the 8th century use to store their lye?  Well, they did not use or even have lye as we know it today!  Lye, as we know and use it (bead or flake form,readily available in 50 pound poly bags), is not something our great, great, great grandmothers used to make soap with. We have it so easy compared to our ancestors soapmaking alkali’s available.

Wikipeidia had some great information on sodium hydroxide and other elements of it’s production and history. From the early 1800’s up until the the 1860’s, the Leblanc Method was used to create sodium hydroxide. Then, the Solvay Method was devised in the 1860’s and outdated the LeBlanc process.

Prior to these two first manufacturing process, sodium hydroxide did not exist in the form we know it today. Calcium carbonate, also known as limestone, then readily available (and very easily stored), was used in a long tedious cooking (the ancient soap boiling method) to expedite the saponification process, with salt water washes of the soap curds used to separate the non water soluable elements out of the soap mass. Yeminte and Arabic records record bits of pieces of this long tedious process, and the Marius Fabre soap company in France still uses it to this day.

How Sodium Hydroxide is produced today:
Sodium hydroxide is produced (along with chlorine and hydrogen) via the chloralkali process. This involves the electrolysis of an aqueous solution of sodium chloride (or, more simply known as salt water). The sodium hydroxide builds up at the cathode, where water is reduced to hydrogen gas and hydroxide ion:

2Na+ + 2H2O + 2e- ? H2 + 2NaOH

To produce NaOH (sodium hydroxide) it is necessary to prevent reaction of the NaOH with the chlorine, this is typically done in one of three ways, of which the membrane cell process is, economically, the most viable.

Membrane cell process –  with a Nafion membrane to separate the cathode and anode reactions. It produces a higher quality of NaOH.

An older method for sodium hydroxide production was the LeBlanc process, which produced sodium carbonate, followed by roasting to create carbon dioxide and sodium oxide. This method is still occasionally used. The LeBlanc method helped to establish sodium hydroxide as an important commodity chemical.  The following article was one I published in 2006, edited slightly for this blog format.

So, one of the biggest lies in soap making, and probably one of the most fiercely debated, is that soap can not be made unless lye (sodium hydroxide) is used.

Sounds heretical to you if you are a cold process soap maker, right?  Here is some history on early soap making, and on the use of sodium hydroxide in manufacturing soap.

In the 1600’s the French king issued an edict that the popular regional soap, Marseilles soap, could only bear that name if it was produced in a very specific manner. Sodium carbonate was the alkali used for saponification then, and is still used in Marius Fabre French soaps today.

If a soaper wants to make soap without lye, it is possible, but not really as practical as using lye (sodium hydroxide). It can be done, but is a  much more complicated and laborious process. Saponification using other alkali’s requires many more steps and ingredients to create the chemical reaction & catalyst than our method of just mixing a strong solution of lye (sodium hydroxide) & water into melted or fluid oils. Salt water rinses, long cooking periods (as many as 10 days), etc.. are not really feasible for most of us, or even warranted anymore. The method of soap making that does not use sodium hydroxide is the ancient, dying art of true soap boiling. It was one of the true soap arts guarded by the medieval soap guilds. No clear European description of how soap was made has survived from the medieval period.

Lye is not a chemical that exists by itself. Prior to 1791 Sodium hydroxide did not exist in any recognizable form. Additionally, the storage capabilities for safe handling of sodium hydroxide on a large manufacturing scale surely did not readily exist as we have today. Plastics and stainless steel were not available for storage protection of the highly reactive sodium hydroxide. But we know there was true soap being manufactured.  So how was this done and what was being used as the alkali catalyst?

First some history on sodium hydroxide, also known as ‘lye’ and NaOH. 

Sodium hydroxide is produced in the chloralkali process, which is the electrolysis of an aqueous solution of sodium chloride (salt and water). It is a by-product from the production of chlorine. Sodium hydroxide is both hygroscopic (attracts and absorbs water from the environment) & highly reactive, producing often violent exothermic reactions. Until 1791 soap making alkali was commonly sodium carbonate and soda lime, then rinsed and washed and cooked with salt water baths. This laborious 10 day process had the effect of creating a strong alkali by product.

Sodium hydroxide (NaOH), also known as lye or caustic soda, is a caustic metallic base used in industry, mostly as a strong chemical base in the manufacture of paper, textiles, and detergents. Due to it’s high reactivity, it must be stored properly in air tight, non porous containers to prevent it from absorbing CO2 (carbon monoxide) and H2O (water).

Since the ready availability of sodium hydroxide, by the Leblanc process in 1791, it is the most financially feasible, and readily available alkali for soap making.

An early soap method was recorded in Yemen (Arabia) The Secrets of Master Alexis of Piedmont, written about 1547. Arabia was making hard soap in the soap boiling method as early as the 8th century, and a document translated reads:

Description of Soap Making

Take two thirds from alkali (al-qily} and one third of un-slaked lime (nura dhakar). Break the lime into small pieces the size of faufal or chestnut. Take a mirkan large vessel} of pottery and cut an outlet (manzil) at its bottom. And seal this outlet tightly with a rag. Take bricks and break them into small pieces, not quite small, and pack them inside the middle of the mirkan.

Place on the broken bricks a piece of khsaf. Throw on the khasafa the alkali and the un-slaked lime. And pour on them an amount of water equal to four or five times the submersion volume. The mirkan should be placed on a high position, and we place under the outlet another empty mirkan so that the liquid will flow into it. If there is no high place you will dig a cavity in the ground at a depth equal to that of the empty mirkan, and it is lowered down the cavity so that it is below the outlet.

Leave it for one day and one night then open the outlet on the second day so that the filtered water of alkali and lime will pour into it. When all the liquid is emptied, return again and pour it above the alkali and lime and leave it for one day and one night. Open the outlet the next morning and empty the whole clear liquid. When the whole liquid ceases flowing divide it into two halves. Put one half aside. Pour [onto the remaining half] an equal amount of sesame oil (shiraj) and beat (agitate) the mixture strongly and repetitively with a wooden beater for one hour until it hardens and thickens.

Leave it for the rest of the day and overnight if you are in a hurry, otherwise leave it for two or three days if you are not in a hurry because the longer it stays the better it ferments. Cool it down and put it in a copper cauldron and set under it a strong fire. Each time it thickens water it with the sharp water from the one half that was put aside as mentioned above.

You will continue kindling the fire and watering with the sharp water until it becomes grainy and ripens. Continue beating (mixing) it so that it will not burn. Put it down and pour it into a mirkan (a large vessel) and beat it and water it little by little, then pour it again into the cauldron and place it on fire, let it be a strong fire, and whenever it tends to become dry, water it with the sharp water little by little while you are stirring so that it will not burn.

Continue like this until the water is consumed and the soap is well cooked and its consistency becomes like that of the shoemakers glue, known as ashras. Make a milban (mould) from wood, similar to the milban of bricks, but larger. Spread a kham cloth {coarse cotton cloth) or a piece of khasf and place the milban (the mould) over it. Pour the soap into the milban. The purpose of the milban (the mould) is to prevent the soap from flowing until it thickens.

Leave it for one night and one day until it solidifies. Then cut it with a knife as is usual. If you want the soap to be perfumed add to it, on the last cooking on fire, choice perfumes and saffron and whatever scents you like then pour it as above mentioned, if God wills.  (source: http://www.gabarin.com

Info on Sodium Hydroxide
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_hydroxide

Info on Sodium Carbonate
http://www.inorganics.basf.com/p02/CAPortal/en_GB/portal/Anorganische_Basen_/content/Produktgruppen/Anorganische_Basen_(Laugen)/Produktinformationen/Soda

A really cool science experiment using Sodium Carbonate
http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/gen01/gen01966.htm

Ancient soap methods
http://www.answers.com/topic/soap

Marius Fabre soap caldroun/boiling method
http://www.beautyandstyle.net/store.php?counter=fabre

Solvay method of Sodium carbonate production
http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu/chemweek/Bicarb/SodiumBicarb.html

Chemical process of creating Sodium hydroxide
http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu/chemweek/Cl2&NaOH/Cl2&NaOH.html

More soap history
http://members.tripod.com/~marieainsley/instruction/soap.htm

/Kelly Bloom is the owner and Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, located in Williamsburg, VA. She is a former Science Education teacher, and the founder of Southern Soapers. Soapalooza sells Kelly’s formerly Southern Soapers branded fragrance oils now under the Soapalooza brand. Kelly is a 20 year veteran soapmaker and soap business owner, supplying wholesale soap for private label as well as back bar products for local boutique spas.

Good Luck, and Safe Soapmaking from Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, where soapmaking is an Art, an Adventure, and a Passion!

Kelly, Chief Excitement Officer at Soapalooza!

PS: We would LOVE to connect with your at our Facebook Soapalooza Fan Page We also have a Facebook Soapmaking Group called Soapalooza Soap Arts Studio, and we share lots of information there! We would love for you to join us!

© 2006 Kelly Bloom, BloomWorks Holdings, LLC & Soapalooza at http://www.soapalooza.com. Registered with US Library of Congress. If you would like to reprint this material, please contact us at kelly@soapalooza.com for permission. All we require is a link to our published post here on the blog, author credit, etc. We want our materials to be shared, just credit given where credit is due.