We take a lot of pride at our store, at how varied the skills of our staff are.
Aside from being devoted to animals, some of us have a green thumb, some of us are masterful in the kitchen, some of us can do complex mathematic equations in their head.
And some of us make soap.
Though she may be one of the more recent additions to our Calvin & Susie family, I’m sure many of you have come to know and appreciate Leah’s professional and upbeat attitude around the store. And while she fit right in as “one of us”, we were both surprised and excited when we found out Leah’s “special skill”.
And Calvin & Susie All Natural Bar Soap was born.
Calvin & Susie All Natural Bar Soaps!
Leah started making homemade soap when she first moved to Honolulu from Wisconsin. After taking a few classes with a local master soap maker, she started regularly making her own soap, simultaneously refining her skills and falling in love with the product.
“I’ve always wanted to make my own soap, and I take great pride in the final product,” Leah says. “Usually with store bought soap my skin feels tight and dry when I get out of the shower. The soap I make leaves my skin and hair soft. I like being able to trust what goes into the products I use, so it’s nice to be able to choose the ingredients. Alone they wouldn’t clean much of anything. But putting everything together in the right combination of oils and ingredients creates a soap that is gentle and effective. Plus my apartment smells amazing for days after I make a batch!”
Having been one of Leah’s first “test subjects” I can personally attest to how great her soap is. I used it on my face, body — even hair! What I found different from many store bought soaps was that while I felt fresh and clean after using it, my skin never felt stripped of moisture. And having used almost every “all natural” soap you can find on the market, I LOVE that the soap Leah makes has lots of soft, lightly fragrant suds.
Since we’re all about not just WHERE a product comes from but also HOW it’s manufactured, we thought it was only fair to take you behind the scenes and show you how Calvin & Susie Soap is made.
Leah was kind enough to show me, step by step, how she makes Calvin & Susie Soap, right in her home in Makiki!
The particular process I use is called the “Room Temperature” process.
Using a kitchen scale with a tare function, I measure out all my ingredients.* It is important to use stainless steel or heavy duty plastic that can withstand at least 200 degree heat for the large mixing vessel. If the pot contains any aluminum it will react with the soap and destroy it. Glass is fine, but you risk the chance of the bowl falling, shattering, and getting the caustic soap everywhere. I measure the water into a large Rubbermaid pitcher for easy pouring. Rubbermaid plastic is tough enough to withstand the heat of the lye solution without disintegrating over time.
The lye solution is simple. However, you have to add the lye to the water. If you do it the other way around it will explode. It also lets off fumes when added to water, so using a mask or holding your breath while mixing the solution is important so that you don’t inhale them.
I use a heat resistant plastic spatula to mix while slowly pouring the lye solution into the oils.
Once combined, I use a hand held emulsion blender and the spatula to mix the soap until it’s thick enough to leave a “trace” when you drizzle it.
Time to add the Superfat (avocado oil) and essential oil (fragrance). I’ll then blend until the soap is thickened to a “trace” again.
Pour into mold, cover with cling wrap and wrap in a towel to conserve the heat.
Let sit for 24 hours before taking it out of the mold and cutting it.
Store in a cool, dry place wrapped in paper for 3-4 weeks to cure. The soap needs time to finish reacting. It’s very caustic at first and needs time to finish becoming soap that’s safe to use without skin irritation.
*Ingredients in Calvin & Susie Soap: Lard, Purified Water, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil (organic), Sodium Hydroxide, Essential Oil (Fragrance), Avocado Oil.
Some real work goes into making our soap, doesn’t it? Thank you Leah, for letting us peek inside your “laboratory”!
So the next time you pick up a bar of Calvin & Susie All Natural Bar Soap, remember the care that went into making it.
From Leah’s two hands to your pet’s four paws (and your “paws” too!), we hope you enjoy this newest offering from the Calvin & Susie family of handmade products!
Happy Bath Time!
~Your Loyal Calvin & Susie Blogger
NOTE: Leah has been trained in how to safely make soap in her home. If you do not have the expertise or training, please do not attempt at home. While the end product is gentle and safe, some of the chemical reactions (as noted by Leah) can be quite harmful if not properly managed. This is post is not meant to replace actual lessons in soap making.
And as always, the Calvin & Susie Blog is not meant to replace your vet’s expertise. All posts are researched to the best of our ability, but when in doubt about any aspect of your pet’s health and wellness, please consult a veterinarian.