Posted in Gardening, Soapmaking

Growing Your Own Luffa in the Garden

Luffa plants in the beginning – small and compact!

After several months your Luffa plants will have grown into Monster vines! Which simply means you need quite a bit of space to grow them since the vines take off. I grew ours up on the chicken wire along a stone wall and even then they continued to grow into the surrounding trees.

Once the growing season has ended and the Luffa vines have started to die off, the Luffa itself will be green and heavy. Several months are needed once picked for the Luffa to dry out (several stages shown above).  

Peeling off the dry outer skin reveals the Luffa inside which is also brittle and contains many seeds.  You can cut the dried Luffa into smaller pieces or use as is. Make sure to save seeds to grow more next gardening season!

Posted in Soapmaking

Soapmaking Process

Cold process soapmaking is fun and exciting yet challenging! In this blog post I will run through the process and it may seem quick and easy, but there are a lot of little details that take place and every soapmaking session is unique. I strongly suggest watching endless You Tube presentations and reading everything you can find (the internet is a goldmine of information) if you are interested in making your own soap.

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Research and study the different techniques and formulas for the cold process method of soaping. I started just about 1 year ago and continue to watch videos and websites. In the beginning I also joined several groups on Facebook for advice and to listen to the experiences of others. You will find your favorite fragrances and products, and after bouncing around from shop to shop, you will settle on 1 or 2 that you trust and go back to for each order. Most of the basic ingredients such as oils and butters can be found at a local store such as Walmart or Costco and will save considerably on shipping costs.

Finding your recipe is a personal endeavor and most experts and online soap companies do share. You will find the ingredients are listed on products sold and after gaining knowledge from your research, you will be able to formulate your own recipe. I highly recommend becoming familiar with the Lye Calculator for recipe formulation. I was very intimated with this free online tool in the beginning, but once I took the time to understand how it works it won me over! Take the time!!

The fun begins ………… You can purchase silicone molds with shaped designs or use a wooden rectangular mold as pictured (my hubby made mine). Freezer paper is used to line the wooden mold and once you have lined a few, it becomes super easy.

I usually go through a “thought process” before I get to work on making the soap. What mold, line up my products with the digital scale out for measuring and Design a themed soap based on fragrance and colors. This particular soap is a Watermelon Soap!

Pink and green micas were a given for the watermelon design but I was stumped on the black seed portion. I watched several videos and decided to use black activated charcoal using the Pot Swirl method. As you can see I used a tad too much black and next time I will use just a fraction. I totally love the design and it does make me think of watermelon (especially with the fragrance)!

Once you have designed, mixed and added your ingredients into the mold you will leave the soap for 24 + hours before unmolding. This is very exciting and I usually can not wait to cut the soap into bars so I can see the inside of the finished product. Once cut the soap will sit on your curing rack (wire shelves work great) for 4-6 weeks before using.

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Planning ahead is key with cold process soapmaking – from design to finish! These Watermelon soaps were created for family Christmas gifts (today is August 1st). They will be ready and there may even be another soap or two to accompany them in the gift package!!