I love to create. I think I've mentioned that. My office is littered with half baked projects, and my mind is full of ideas that may or may not see the light of day at some point. Maybe I'm artsy, maybe I ate too many glue sticks as a child. Whatever the case, I want to share a step by step of how to concoct my favourite obsession: soap. It's easy, surprisingly unscary, and you'll feel like a true pioneer woman as you lather up with these creamy, non-toxic bars. I use the cold process method for my soaps. In short, this process takes longer, but I prefer the outcome to hot process, it's what I'm used to doing, and I'll admit it, I am a creature of habit. Here's a list of what you'll need: -soap molds (don't panic if you don't have the real thing, line a loaf pan with parchment paper and you're golden) -scale -lye (the scientific name is sodium hydroxide, please use with caution, as it is toxic in it's uncured state. I find mine at Home Hardware with the cleaning supplies) -oils (for this recipe we'll use shortening, olive oil, and coconut oil. Make sure to utilize a lye calculator if you plan to make any changes to oils, as your soap quality will be compromised) -liquid (for this recipe, we're using plain old water) -essential oils (you're the creator, go wild. Remember that citrus smells fade fast, and oils like cinnamon and clove can make your soap get thick super fast) Soap scents, found at craft stores, can also be used, as the scent is often stronger and blends can be found that are unavailable in essential oils. I, however, avoid these scents as the ingredients are usually not listed or contain harmful substances, and I prefer a lighter scent with safe ingredients. -optional add ins (e.g. poppyseeds, lavender buds, tea leaves, coconut, oatmeal) -pot, glass bowl, spoons, thermometer, hand blender or whisk Simple Soap Recipe: -9.4 oz shortening -6 oz olive oil -6 oz coconut oil -7 oz water -3 oz lye -0.9 oz essential oil Step 1: Prepare your mold. Line mold with parchment paper. This recipe fills one standard size loaf pan or soap mold, approx. 8 bars of soap. Step 2: Weigh your ingredients, all of them. I find this important, as your soap can reach trace at variable times, and you want to be ready to add scent and any other add ins when it does. This avoids any stress or words you regret later. Step 3: Combine and melt oils. Do this in a large pot, and aim for a temperature of 120-130 Fahrenheit. Yes, I am Canadian. Step 4: Add lye to water. Do this in a glass bowl. Add lye slowly, ensuring no splashing occurs. I recommend hand protection, and eye protection if you plan on splashing. Do this in a well ventilated area, preferably outside. Keep away pets and children, and avoid inhaling any steam/fumes that rise up from mixture. Water will immediately get hot, steam will rise, and there will be a smell that makes you want to cough. This is normal. Scary, but normal. Face away and slowly stir the concoction. Stir until all traces of lye are dissolved, and mixture is clear. Cool until mixture is 120-130 Fahrenheit. This may take awhile, and because of this, I sometimes do this step first. Step 5: Add lye mixture to oils. When both mixtures are within the 120-130 Fahrenheit range, add the lye mixture to the oil. And now begins the science. Saponification, the reaction of oils and lye to create those lovely, sudsy bars we call soap. Step 6: Stir, baby, stir. My lovely husband, after watching me stir batches of soap for 45 minutes to achieve that elusive trace, bought me a hand blender. I love him. And my hand blender. Do yourself a favour and buy one if you haven't already. Trace is when your mixture is completely blended, and starts to thicken. For beginners, I'd recommend a light/medium trace. Think pudding. Homemade vanilla pudding. Step 7: Add your essential oils. If you are choosing a citrus scent, or want to better anchor your scent, I often mix my EO with a tablespoon of potato starch or arrowroot flour. Work fast at this point, whisking in whatever scent you have chosen. Step 8: Add any add ins. This is optional, but I love to add them, depending on the scent and intended use of the soap. Poppyseeds are a great exfoliant. Cornmeal adds grit for farmer hands. Oatmeal, especially ground oatmeal, is calming for angry skin. The options are endless. Step 9: Pour into mold and incubate. Tap mold onto counter to get rid of any air bubbles. Depending on the trace of your soap, you may add designs on the surface, or press additional add ins onto the top. Cover, wrap with a towel and let sit for 24 hours before peeking. Step 10: Cut and cure. If your soap is hard enough to cut after 24 hours, do so. Some may take longer than this. Once cut, lay onto racks or parchment paper. Now comes the wait. I cure mine for a minimum of four weeks to ensure a gentle soap with no traces of lye's toxicity. Flip soaps every so often. A white layer, called soda ash may form on soaps as they cure. This can be removed under cold water. Wearing gloves, run the bar of soap under cold water and scrub white areas with paper towel. Rinse off any lather and let the soap dry. Step 11: Lather up. You're amazing. Enjoy your soap, share with friends, and try new recipes and scent blends. Good on you for creating something that isn't only healthy for you, but waste free and healthy for the earth as well.