My Inspiration for Making Soap

I come from a long line of creative do-it-yourselfers. “ Where there is a will, there is a way”, was a common phrase heard in our household growing up. If I ever had a tough problem to handle, my parent’s instructions were to “Figure it out. I’m sure you will find a solution”. Sometimes, that journey can take a few years……

I have sensitive skin. As a kid we used Ivory soap. It is fairly gentle as far a soap goes, however, I fought acne as a teenager on through young adulthood then into my 30’s… get the picture. As the internet came into its own and information was much easier to obtain, I became a bit addicted to research. I discovered that there were a multitude of reasons for acne. Many of those issues were food related. However, the last thing I expected to find out was that my soap could be a factor as well. I changed to a vegetable glycerin soap and was surprised and elated that my acne breakouts on my face, arms and legs were reduced by over 80% my hands stopped cracking and bleeding and my skin was no longer dry and itchy. WOW!!! My thought was if this was great, could making my own soap be better?

The first batch of soap I made I wanted to go back to my do-it-yourself roots. I rendered leaf fat from pork and beef. I measured the lye on an old postage scale that I had found and I used purified water. I rendered, I whisked, and I poured the beautiful ivory batter into muffin tins to harden. Three months later, after it had properly cured, I put my first bar on the sink. I was being cautious…..within 3 days, my husband and I had chemical burns on our hands. Thankfully, it was just our hands! I tossed all my hard work into the garbage, sent the soap making book to Good Will and went back to buying glycerin soap at the grocery store. Over the years I purchased quite a few bars of hand crafted soap only to be disappointed due to the lack of lather or their short life span. Glycerin soap seemed to be my only option.

Fast forward 18 years and multiple soap books later (though there were no more attempts at making soap) my friend Sarah of Farm Gal Soaps drops in for a visit and brings me a year’s worth of goat milk soap. It is luscious and creamy and has dense lather! I am in bath heaven. My skin is happier than it has been in years! For the first time in memory, I don’t have to moisturize after a shower. My skin is smooth and elastic and there is no body dandruff. I must have more!!!!

Sarah convinces me that I can make my own and that it can grow into a nice little side business. In October of 2016, I fly to Hardy, IA and spend the weekend with my long time friends Sarah and Matthew Johnson and their four children. Sarah and I make multiple batches of soap and lotion and laundry detergent (this is where bad soap goes to do a good job). She convinces me that, YES!, I can make a batch of wonderful soap. She is a patient teacher and we brainstorm and laugh and trade recipes. At the end of the weekend, I return to CA with a great soap recipe and tons of ideas and dreams and a name for my new venture: The Bubbling Goat. Because every day is better with bubbles!

I have been cooking most of my life. As a cook, a recipe (for me) is just the beginning …an idea. I need to make every recipe my own. Sarah’s soap recipe was no exception. Make no mistake, making soap IS science. The saponification process occurs under a strict set of rules and proportions, so this tweaking was not a free for all! It took about 6 months and a few dozen batches of soap to dial in the bar that I make today. It has been worth the effort and if my first year of sales is any indication, many other people enjoy TBG soaps as much as I do! Unleash the bubbles in a bar of TBG soap and you’ll think twice before returning to a bar of detergent laden commercially produced soap. Your skin will thank you!