It seems like for us, the hardest thing about making soap is keeping our hands off of it until it cures.
We recently made a couple of batches of soap for our household needs. We made a batch of devil’s club soap the first day, and a batch of tea tree and lavender the second. Soon after, Michelle and I cut up the devil’s club before she left for work. I cut up the tea tree/lavender later, and set both sets of bars aside to cure. They will need somewhere between four to six weeks for the saponification process to finish. This means that lye and vegetable fats will chemically bond, turning a caustic, slimy mess into good, sweet soap.
That’s the hard part, leaving it alone to go through this process. It’s way too fun to mess around with it now, carving the bars into nice shapes, molding the excess crumbs and bits into balls, or just playing with the chunky bars. The devil’s club looks like Michelle’s chai fudge, while the tea tree/lavender looks like chunks of mozarella cheese. The soaps’ aroma fills the upstairs room—thank goodness the fragrances are compatible. It smells heavenly up there. It’s hard to keep from wandering up there to poke around 4 or 5 times each day.
We don’t need to make soap very often. I’ve lost track, but we probably don’t make more than a batch a year, and even then we often make it with our nearest neighbors and split the results between the two households. But we’re getting better at it, a bit faster, less worried about handling the lye. We don’t seem to be developing any patience, though.