Rant About Lambs

I am not vegetarian. But I refuse to eat lambs.

Lamb

Photo Credit: Nevit Dilmen / Wikimedia Commons

I used to love lamb. But I swore I would never touch lamb again after having babies. Remember that lambs are BABIES! They’re innocent little baby things that the only thing they have ever tasted in their lives is their mother’s milk. And the only thing they have ever known is a mother’s love.

And the lamb you are eating never had the chance to run around in a field and enjoy life. And it was taken away from its mother, who like all mothers probably misses it a lot.

If we all chose to never eat lamb again, people who slaughter lambs for food would have to stop doing it.

Now, I realize that a beef cow or a chicken is also an animal, who used to run around. But I dunno, grown cows and chickens don’t really speak to me as lambs do, I guess. I don’t like beef at all, but it’s because I really hate the taste and feel of the meat, not because I really care anything about the cow, hehe.

End of rant.

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Hiring Expats and Immigrants in Spain

I’ve noticed that there’s a lot more work in Marbella than in Malaga, even though Marbella is much smaller. So of course that set me a-pondering. I wondered why a place that’s a tenth of the size of Malaga would have more work.

And I thought, Marbella is richer than Malaga. It might be small, but it’s where all the rich foreigners settle, bringing with them their money and their boost for the local economy.

And it also made me observe, places that are richer have more jobs. How many jobs there are doesn’t really seem to depend so much on the SIZE of the place as it does how rich the place is.

Which I suppose is one obvious reason why unemployment is so high in Spain, and even more so here in the deep south.

Canada, by contrast, has a prosperous economy. (Okay maybe not so much as the US, it isn’t on the list of the top 10 richest countries in the world but it’s doing well.)

And I personally feel (and keep in mind that these are only my own observations, opinions and experiences, not hard facts) that maybe one of the main reasons why the Canadian economy is doing so much better than the Spanish one, is perhaps because of how Canadian society ALLOWS FOREIGNERS AND IMMIGRANTS TO PARTICIPATE IN SOCIETY.

Here in Spain, the mentality (in my opinion) is just so backwards with regards to how they treat foreigners, expats and immigrants. Here, everyone congregates in little segregated colonies based on their country of origin.

You’ve got little English conclaves. Little German colonies. Moroccan and Arab immigrants only socialize with other Moroccan and Arab immigrants and Chinese immigrants only socialize with other Chinese immigrants. Ditto the Africans. To the point that many members of these groups even refuse to learn Spanish, even though they are living in Spain.

Maybe 100 years ago, Italian immigrants in the US and Canada could ONLY own pizzerias. (Or maybe work in the mafia haha.) Chinese immigrants HAD TO own laundromats or Chinese restaurants. Blacks were only allowed to sing, but no one was willing to hire a Black banker or financier.

Today, fortunately, things are different. But that was the mentality that existed back then. And that is the mentality still here in Spain, today — where things always seem to be about a century behind the rest of the world.

In contrast, in Canada today, immigrants participate fully in the world. Canadian society makes room for them. And most importantly, CANADIAN COMPANIES HIRE IMMIGRANTS!

I think so many people overlook and ignore the fact that IMMIGRANTS ARE PROBABLY ONE OF A COUNTRY’S GREATEST TREASURES.

People from other cultures bring so much knowledge that is unknown in their new country.

And more than anything, immigrants bring the desire to work and contribute to their new society.

Immigrants contribute so much to the companies that are willing to hire them. Proof of this is how in Canada, Canadian companies routinely hire immigrants, and these companies prosper and are doing stupendously.

On the other hand, in Spain, as a general rule Spanish companies never hire immigrants or expats. For a job that requires high-level negotiations with English-speaking Americans or EU companies, they would rather hire a local Spaniard who can barely stutter out “My name is José” rather than an American, Canadian or Brit who would, of course, have no difficulty in carrying out these negotiations in English.

Even for tourism jobs, such as hotel employees in hotels whose clientele are mainly British and American tourists, Spaniards whose knowledge of English is limited to “What is your name?” are preferred over American, Canadian or British job candidates.

(Or perhaps “preferred” is an understatement. Okay, what I mean is that hotels outright WILL NOT hire any American, Canadian or British candidate, no matter what, if there is so much as one Spanish candidate in the line-up, because they simply won’t hire foreigners, period.)

Well, if you were going on holiday abroad, which would you prefer? To stay at a hotel where you can understand the staff and they can understand you, even if the staff consists mainly of immigrants / expats? Or to stay at a hotel where all the employees are local people, but none of them can talk to you?

Well, if I went to Moscow or Athens for my summer holidays, I know what I would prefer. (Taking into account that unfortunately I don’t know a single word of Greek and my knowledge of Russian is limited to “da” hehe.)

Okay, I’m not saying that companies should never hire locals. I’m just suggesting that it’s just as unfair for a company to ignore, exclude, reject and discriminate against a qualified job candidate just because that candidate is foreign-born.

On the other hand, it just makes me so mad when I see people from rich countries going to poor countries and not doing anything to help the locals.

I don’t mean that you have to set up a charity or an NGO. But you could get out there and try to meet local people. If you have a blog, you could feature local businesses that you’ve become familiar with. If you went to a hotel or a restaurant, or hired a service, you could talk about them on your blog.

You could make friends in your new country and talk about them on your blog.

Here in Spain I’ve observed that most British expats ONLY socialize with other British expats. They don’t even try to make friends with Spanish people. They don’t show any interest in learning Spanish, and they only participate in the most stereotypical Spanish events such as going to watch Holy Week processions or frequenting flamenco shows.

Now, I’m not trying to single out British expats and put them down as opposed to expats from other countries. It’s just simply that, at least in my part of the world, British expats are more plentiful than people from other countries.

But as I mentioned earlier, my observation is that immigrants and expats from other countries around here, such as Moroccans, Chinese, Germans and Africans also don’t cultivate the custom of socializing with local Spanish people either.

And in part, I suppose it could be because Spanish people don’t show any particular interest in getting to know the foreigners and immigrants who live in their midst.

But couldn’t it also be because the immigrants and expats themselves also don’t possess even the smallest iota of interest in getting to know the local people in the country that they themselves have chosen to live in?

I mean, you LIVE here now, for crying out loud. You CHOSE to live here. I understand that it’s sometimes hard to make new friends, especially after a certain age.

Marbella Street With Flowers

It’s true that from what I’ve observed, once people finish their schooling, they seem to lose all interest in making new friends. So I suppose it really is a two-way street, and oftentimes adult Spaniards are just about as blasé about making new friends — be it with foreigners or with other Spanish people outside of their extended families — as foreigners and expats are.

But if you’re a foreigner / immigrant and you’re now living in a new country, could it really be that hard for you to go to a language class and pick up a few notions of the local language (which is probably also the official language of your new country, unless you just happen to be living with a small ethnic minority tribe)?

You could chat with shop assistants when you go shopping. Maybe take a course or sign up for something at a cultural association. If you’re not shy, you could even shoot the breeze with the people around you while you’re in a line-up or someplace else waiting for something.

I’m very shy about speaking with strangers, but I know people who aren’t, and they make friends everywhere — with bakers, with the people sitting next to them at restaurants, with other people waiting in line at the bank. I envy them. I’m too shy and bashful to do that sort of thing.

But if you’re not as shy and bashful as me, and you’re an expat living in a country that you weren’t born and raised in, why can’t you make an effort to make friends with the local people around you?

And if you’d like to read some exciting thrillers and recommend them to your friends, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few, so if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out here: Thrillers by Moi.

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

Rant About How Tough It Is to Make New Friends

Best Friends

How Much Do YOU Value Your Friends?

The Meaning of a Friendship

Overprotective Parents

If you are an overprotective parent or a helicopter parent, and proud of it, PLEASE BE WARNED!

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN OF OVERPROTECTIVE PARENTS!

Overprotective Parents

As an only child, all my life my parents kept me locked up in the house so I never played with other children or talked with any people other than my parents. My parents were isolated socially, they had no friends so they never left the house either except to go to work and they never talked on the phone. The result is I never learnt how to talk on the phone and even today it’s hard for me to hold a phone conversation.

No one ever came to visit us and we never went to visit anyone. My parents forbade me from having any friends. They were against friendships, which you can see as they themselves had no friends either, through their own choosing.

When I was a child at school kids soon learnt to stop inviting me to playovers and parties, because they already knew what would be my generic response: “I can’t, my parents won’t let me.” I could have spent my entire childhood with that logo pasted to my forehead, and saved people the bother of asking me if I could go to their party or sleepover.

University was just as hard because for the first time I had the opportunity to talk to other people who weren’t my parents. But I didn’t know ANY social rules.

If I was in a group I didn’t know how to figure out when I was supposed to talk and when I was supposed to be quiet, or what were the appropriate things to say or not say. The only time I’d ever spoken in groups before was in supervised situations at school where the teachers chose the person who was going to speak, and gave guidelines as to what you could talk about.

I couldn’t understand gestures, looks and expressions, take a hint or understand hints or know what you were supposed to do or not do in different social situations, since my parents had always kept me locked up at home, so I’d never had any sort of social relationships with anyone except my parents.

Finding a job was just as hard. My parents found my jobs for me. They forbade me from getting a job by myself and if I ever tried to get one, they forbade me from going to work.

Need I say they didn’t let me study what I wanted, either. They chose the career I would study, and forbade me from studying anything else. The result is that I studied a career that I hated and could never find a job that I liked, because I always hated my career, since I hadn’t chosen it.

But as I was saying, it was hard for me to find a job as well, because I had no social skills and because if I did find a job and my parents didn’t approve of it, well, I simply wasn’t allowed to go to work.

My parents found my jobs for me, and made me go to work in the places they had chosen for me. Fortunately, I actually enjoyed one of these jobs and worked there for 3 years. After that I left because it was only a student job, and I finished university. I wouldn’t have liked to work at that job for the rest of my life anyway though.

Finally after university I left the country because I had the opportunity to do so. My parents idolized university professors, so a professor from my university took me abroad on an exchange programme. I never returned home, and that is how I found my freedom.

But even so even today sooooo many things are still so hard for me. Every time I have to make a decision, be it something as difficult as the next right career move or as simple as what to wear each day, I still look around expecting my mother to give me the answer, and I STILL feel lost even today when of course there is no one around to tell me what to do.

The learning curve for learning things at the age of 40, that you should have learnt at the age of 14, is just soooooooooo much steeper and it is just sooooo much harder than it would have been at the age of 14.

The saddest thing is no longer having my mother there right next to me telling me what to do whenever I don’t know what to do. Of course I hated it and it certainly is not healthy, to have a person constantly by your side constantly telling you what to do, but there is a strange comfort in it.

You feel like you’re always going to be taken care of and you never have to worry about anything. Even though it’s only an illusion, of course, because your mother doesn’t have all the answers and she is also certainly not always going to be right.

The hardest thing is still trying to learn all the things that I don’t know and I SHOULD know, because all other people know these things. It’s like the wiring in my head is all wrong and things are just not connected, that are supposed to be connected and are connected in other people’s heads.

As if connections that should have been made when I was a child simply weren’t made, and now I’m too old for those neural connections to grow. Like there’s a certain age in which the brain is prepared to learn certain things, and after that age, it just can’t form the right connections anymore.

Like the age for learning language, you must learn a language by the age of 5 and if you miss that window, you will never learn language. The brain changes somehow after the age of 5, something hardens in it so it is impossible to learn language if you haven’t done so by that age.

They’ve done studies with feral children so they know that the right age for learning language is before the age of 5. Feral children who hadn’t learnt language by that age were never able to learn it throughout their entire lives.

Or I’d read a study done with people who had been blind as children, but they received an operation that restored perfect eyesight to them as adults. In spite of the fact that their eyes worked perfectly, they were unable to SEE using their eyes, because their brains were unable to process or understand what the eyes were seeing.

They received lessons on how to use their eyes and identify the objects that they were seeing, but they were still unable to learn it. The neural connections just simply had never been made in their brains.

Connections that in seeing children went from their eyes to the processing area of their brains, in blind children, the connections were formed between the processing area of the brain and other senses, like hearing or touch, and the neural connections with their optic nerve never occurred, because they just couldn’t be formed as adults.

Well, this post is real. But if you’d like to read some of the ravings and imaginings of a mind that grew up in social isolation,  I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out here: Thrillers by Moi.

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

The Meaning of a Friendship

How Much Do YOU Value Your Friends?

…And It’s a Rainy Night In Malaga

Anti-Vaccinations: Dying To Be Natural

I Wish!

I Wish

I just received a letter from a company I’d applied to work for. They told me they’d be happy to consider me for one of their positions if my circumstances changed and I acquired my own means of transport (a car, motorcycle or motorbike). But I know I won’t be able to get a car, not at any time in the foreseeable future (and the way things are going, probably not as long as I live either).

I’m really really really sad I couldn’t work for that company. I really liked that company. But I guess you have to work with what you have, not think of all the things that you want that you can’t have.

Like a friend of mine, Maria*. She also wanted a hotel job and they told her, the job is yours if you had a car. But she didn’t have a car and she couldn’t get that job. In the end she had to resign herself to working at jobs she could get around the city. Well today she still doesn’t have a car, but she has a much better job. Maybe it wasn’t the hotel job she wanted but it’s still a good job, today she manages a tearoom.

So what she did was she just decided she’d do the things that she COULD do where the lack of a car wouldn’t be an impediment. So I guess I just have to do the same thing. There’s no point in even talking about something that’s not going to happen.

I guess that would be a bit like saying: “Oh I wish I would grow 5 more inches so I could become a flight attendant”, because you’re 5 feet tall and you need to be at least 5 feet 2 to be a flight attendant, but you’re an adult now and you’re never going to grow anymore.

Or saying, like I do: Oh I wish I’d grown up with a whole bunch of brothers and sisters (I’m an only child). That’s something that’s just not going to happen. It’s not! Not ever as long as you live. So there’s no point in even thinking about it.

BUT OH I STILL WISH……….!!!

And if you’d wish to read some exciting thrillers before bed tonight, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few, so if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out here: Thrillers by Moi.

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

How Much Do YOU Value Your Friends?

The Meaning of a Friendship

Everyday Scenes From Everyday Life in Spain

Poetry by Hermenegildo: Bienvenida Sea La Primavera

*not her real name

Rain

I love rain.

Rain

And there is no better time for a night-time walk than when it’s raining.

The streets are sooo quiet. Even on a Friday night there’s room at the bars and restaurants, unlike a normal Friday night, so you don’t have to wait for a table or fight with other hungry people hehe.

Rain

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

…And It’s a Rainy Night In Malaga

Walking in the Rain

A Hike in the Rain in the Montes of Malaga

The Orange Trees

Homemade Soap

Following on my previous post on soapmaking, here is a selection of some of the homemade soap that I’ve made.

How to Make Soap Homemade Soap

I usually make goats milk soap, because I LOVE goats milk soap. It’s moisturizing like you wouldn’t believe, hydrating, great for both skin and hair. Plus, it helps a great deal with certain skin problems like eczemas, rashes or sensitive skin.

But in this photo above is the only water soap that I’ve made. As you can see, unlike goats milk soap, water soaps can come out light in colour (depending on the oils used). Goats milk soap always comes out yellow, tan or brown because the sugars in the milk caramelize during the soapmaking process.

The ingredients of the soap pictured above are: olive oil pomace (I always use olive oil pomace, because it’s cheaper), coconut oil and a few drops of castor oil, lye, water and rosemary essential oil.

Soapmaking Handmade Soap

This is the very first homemade soap that I made in my latest soapmaking venture. I used to make homemade soap years ago, when I lived in Barcelona. But I hadn’t done that in years.

This soap is the one all my friends are crazy about, and is the one most in demand in my circle of friends and acquaintances. The ingredients are: olive oil pomace, coconut oil, castor oil, lye, goats milk and rosemary and mint essential oils.

Homemade Soap Charcoal Soap

This curious little soap was my attempt to make homemade charcoal soap using…… homemade activated charcoal!

Activated charcoal is supposed to have multiple benefits. It’s good for acne, helps to regulate oil production in your face, exfoliates…… Usually people buy activated charcoal. But it’s pretty pricey for an ingredient you’re only going to use just once in just one of your homemade soaps. So I thought I’d try making my own.

Activated charcoal is called activated when it comes from plant sources. Well, I figured, plant sources are fairly abundant. In fact, I happened to have a huge stalk full of thick leek leaves that were too old and thick to use as food. So I cut them into large chunks and stuck them into a glass baking pan in the oven. I baked them until they charred and turned to charcoal. Then I took them out (when they got cold, of course) and pounded them in a mortar into fine charcoal powder.

And that is what I dumped into the above soap. I added it to the soap after it was already cooked, using the hot process soapmaking process I detailed in my previous post.

Thus, the ingredients of the above soap are: olive oil pomace (I use a lot of olive oil because I live in Spain the land of olive oil), coconut oil, goats milk, lye, activated charcoal made from leek leaves and rosemary essential oil.

These are 2 soaps in moulds.

These 2 chunks are 2 samples of the homemade soap I’d originally made in Barcelona years ago. As you can see, they’ve darkened quite a bit over the years. But they are still in perfectly good shape and perfectly usable.

I’m not too sure what ingredients they have, because I made them years ago, but I do recall that they are goats milk soap.

Homemade Coconut Oil Soap

These peculiar lumps are some of my fave soaps, next to my signature olive oil soap (second picture above). I absolutely LOOOVEEE LOVE LOVE this homemade soap for my hair. They are THE most moisturizing, yet at the same time, they leave my hair clean and grease free, so I can go more days without washing my hair.

This is a pure coconut oil soap, so the ingredients are simple: coconut oil, lye, goats milk and rosemary essential oil. I add rosemary essential oil to every soap that I make to prevent the oils from going rancid.

Homemade Soap Olive Oil Soap

This is a chunk of my and my friends’ favourite homemade soap. It’s from the batch of olive oil soap. I kept this for my own use and gave the others, which had a more regular rectangular shape, away.

So now you have seen a sampling of some of the soaps I’VE made, how do you feel about making your own soaps? You can find step by step instructions on how to make soap in my previous post, Soapmaking.

And if you love relaxing with a good book at the end of your day, I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out here: Thrillers by Moi.

Have you made some homemade soap of your own? Or maybe you’ve got some questions. Do leave me comments at the end, I LURRRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

Soapmaking

Natural Skin and Hair Care Routine

Bentonite Clay for Hair

Caves of Nerja

Soapmaking, How to Make Soap At Home

I decided to learn soapmaking, or how to make my very own handmade, homemade soap at home.

Soapmaking Handmade Soap

Ever since I went on a no-poo craze, I’ve been discovering all the nefarious effects of using chemical filled detergents. Chem-filled detergents are everywhere: in your shower gel, your shampoos, your liquid soap and liquid hand soap, in your laundry detergent, your dishwashing liquid, everywhere!

And chemical laden detergents are harsh, drying and irritating. They are produced through an artificial, unnatural process that you can’t exactly imitate in your kitchen, using harsh ingredients you wouldn’t exactly wish to stock up on in your kitchen.

And if you go to the store or supermarket and buy a bar of soap, you’re not doing much better. Because these commercially-made, factory-made bars of soap also contain a lot of detergents and chemicals.

At any rate, if you should choose to buy a bar of soap, at the very least, do your research and check out the ingredients list.

Here in Spain, soaps are not required to list their ingredients. But if you’re lucky enough that your supermarket soap actually does have a list, pay attention to make sure it doesn’t contain any sulfates in it, such as sodium laureth sulphate or sodium lauryl sulphate.

These are the most common sulphates, but sulphur compounds come in many forms and guises. You might have also seen ammonium lauryl sulfate or disodium laureth sulfosuccinate listed on some bottles. These are also sulphates in disguise.

I won’t go into the details about why sulphate detergents are bad for you, as you can find more than enough information on the subject on the internet today. Mainly, what this post is about, is the healthy, natural, homemade alternative: soapmaking at home, that is, making your own soap!

Why Is Soapmaking Good For You?

Why is it so good to make your own soap?

Well, first of all, it’s fun!

Next, you can use your own handmade soap to replace all those expensive shower gels, shampoos, hand soaps, liquid soaps, dishwashing liquids and laundry detergents.

Finally, YOU are the one with FULL CONTROL over what substances you are spreading on your skin or hair. After all, skin breathes. What you slather onto your skin DOES make its way into your blood stream, at least to some extent (depending on the size of the molecules involved).

And, of course, as most people could probably attest to, what you use on your hair does affect what your hair looks like and how it acts. Right?

So wouldn’t it make sense to use only the highest quality, purest, most natural, best ingredients on your hair?

So following, I’m going to describe the series of steps that I use to make my own soap at home.

Scared of Lye?

A lot of people are scared off from soapmaking because they are afraid of lye. Well, here in Spain, lye has been used for a long time as a drain cleaner. In this case, hot water is actually added TO the lye, which produces an explosive reaction. Since we get used to this explosive reaction, no one is scared by it anymore.

But in order to make soap, all you need to do is to quietly dissolve lye crystals VERY SLOWLY in water. When done in this order, no explosive reaction occurs.

So without any further ado, these are the basic steps I use to create MY VERY OWN HOMEMADE SOAP, using the hot process method in a crock pot.

You don’t need to use a crock pot. Before I had a crock pot, I used to use a double boiler. But for me, a crock pot is THE WORKS haha! It makes your soapmaking life 1000% easier.

I’ve also cooked soap in the oven, however, since some oils are hard to saponify and need more heat and I have a crock pot with a low setting only. I only use it for soapmaking, and have never used this crock pot for anything else.

I personally like to use the hot process method, where you cook your soap using heat. The other method, called the cold process method, is faster and simpler, but I rarely ever use it, as I personally don’t like it.

Why I Prefer Hot Process Soapmaking

The reasons I prefer the hot process soap method are the following:

  • shorter curing time, you can use a hot process soap immediately but I like to cure it for about 2 weeks. However, a cold process soap requires a minimum of 6 weeks’ curing time, and I’m just too impatient to wait that long haha!
  • you have no difficulty with essential oils or colorants reacting during the saponification process with hot process, because you add these ingredients AFTER the soap is already cooked and saponified
  • no alien brains hehe!
  • no other weird reactions either
  • you don’t have to worry about accidentally touching your raw soap and getting a soap or lye burn, because by the time the soap is cool enough to touch, all the lye has already reacted with the oils, and no lye remains to burn you

Some people prefer cold process soaps because they produce a smoother, more exquisite and refined looking cake, and it is a lot faster. But once again, like I said, you trade a faster soapmaking time for a longer curing time.

Steps for Making Soap

1.Measure out your oils.

You can choose from a huge variety of oils. Because exotic or harder-to-get oils can be expensive, and I live in Spain, I usually limit myself to the most basic oils: olive oil, coconut oil and castor oil.

I like to use olive oil pomace (in Spanish, aceite de oliva de orujo), because it’s both cheaper than the extra virgin variety, as well as having a higher percentage of unsaponifiables (molecules that don’t react with the lye and therefore remain as oils, which makes for a richer, creamier, more hydrating and moisturizing soap).

However, DO NOT EAT OLIVE POMACE OIL! It’s not meant for eating, and is produced using a chemical process that leaves behind some substances that not only taste bad, but might also be bad for your health if you eat them. (I’ve been trying to find out why you can’t eat them, but it’s okay to slather them on your skin, but I can’t seem to find any information related to that. I can only assume that your skin doesn’t absorb these unhealthy substances. Perhaps the molecules are too large.)

Some people do eat olive oil pomace, but nowadays it’s become very difficult to find it even here in Spain, because it’s been forbidden by the Spanish government for culinary use. You can still use it in soapmaking though.

Olive oil confers moisturization to your soap and makes for a very hydrating soap. It’s good for people with dry skin or dry hair.

Coconut oil is deeply cleansing, and produces absolutely THE RICHEST, CREAMIEST lather. It’s not particularly moisturizing, though. That’s why I like to combine olive oil and coconut oil in any soap that I make.

I like to add a few drops of castor oil as well. It makes for a soap that feels creamier and lathers up more easily. However, being slightly more expensive and harder to find, I don’t use it a lot.

So as I was saying, measure out your oils. You need to know how much oil you are using so you can calculate the amount of the remaining ingredients. I like to use this soapmaking lye calculator.

It might look quite complicated, but it’s actually quite easy to use. Simply follow the steps, which are outlined there.

The usual percentage of water in relation to oils is usually 38%. You might want to use a lower proportion of water if you want your soap to cure more quickly. Or a higher percentage if you are going to cook your soap (ie. use the hot process) and you plan on using high temperatures, which can make your water evaporate.

Most people superfat their soaps approximately 5-10%. If I make a pure coconut oil soap for skin or hair, I like to superfat it at 20%, however, because coconut oil is not particularly moisturizing, and this amount of superfat creates a more hydrating soap.

Superfatting is the amount of “extra” oil that you add to your recipe, which will not react with your lye and will therefore remain behind in your soap, in order to hydrate your skin.

If you wish to create a soap for cleaning your house or laundry, you want to leave the superfatting at 0%, because you don’t want to leave any oil behind on your bathroom sink or in your clean clothes.

2.Measure out your liquids.

Usually your liquid will be water. I like to use mineral water, although some people use distilled water and I imagine you could use tap water as well. But don’t take my word on it about the tap water, as I’ve never used it.

You can also use filtered water or boiled water, however. Once again, I have not tried this.

In fact, I very rarely use water at all. I LOVE LOVE LOVE goats milk soap, and I pretty much almost always use goats milk instead of water. I (and my friends also) find goats milk soap just SOOO much more moisturizing and soothing than water soap.

Goats milk soap is also great for a number of skin affectations, such as eczema.

3.Measure out your lye.

Use the amount proposed in the lye calculator I’ve linked to above.

I place my lye in a small porcelain bowl.

Here in Spain you can find lye at any supermarket or drugstore. However, I’ve read that it’s hard to get in the US. If you live in the US, I imagine you could try a hardware store (it’s sold as a drain unblocker), or simply order online.

4.Once all your ingredients are measured and set out in preparation, you can begin to actually create your soap.

I like to begin by pouring the oils in my crock pot and turning it on low. (If you prefer to make cold process soap, don’t turn on your crock pot.)

If I am using any solid oils, such as coconut oil in the winter or cocoa butter, they will melt in the crock pot.

5.I place the liquids (water and/or goats milk, or any other milk that you might prefer, such as coconut milk) in a stainless steel container. I thought I’d taken a photo of the container I use but apparently I hadn’t, since I can’t find any such photo. I just use a typical lidless stainless steel cup like the kind people use to pour hot milk into coffee, with a little spout.

I then place the stainless steel container in the sink, if possible inside a large pot of cold water. Make sure the cold water doesn’t get into the stainless steel cup, of course!

This is to keep the liquid as cold as possible while it is reacting with the lye. That’s not such a problem if you are using water. However, if you are using goats milk, goats milk cooks with the heat! And when it cooks, it turns brown. (I can’t remember why it does that, I think the sugars in it caramelize or something.)

So the cooler the goats milk remains, the less it browns.

6.I get all goggled up.

I am very careful and I’ve never ever ever had any accident using lye. Here’s hoping it stays this way haha.

However, I also live in a safe home without babies or toddlers or elderly folk with Alzheimers. My teenage sons know better than to get in the way when I’m soaping. If that is not your case, make sure all pets, babies, toddlers and violent angry persons are out of the way before you begin the next step.

Getting goggled up means I put on rubber gloves, long sleeves, closed toe shoes and goggles. I don’t use any special goggles, the ones I use are from the dollar store and are the kind kids use to swim in the swimming pool.

7.Add the lye crystals little by little to the water or goats milk using a plastic spoon.

The goats milk will turn yellow, then brown, so if you see this happening, it is normal. It will also smell like ammonia. Supposedly, the smell will go away once the soap is cooked. But I find occasionally a faint whiff still remains.

Stir GENTLY. This is to make sure all the lye dissolves.

And of course, don’t breathe in the fumes haha! Don’t worry, it smells so bad, you wouldn’t want to anyway.

Then wait until the cup is cold enough to handle before moving on to the next step.

8.Once the lye water/milk is cool enough to handle, I pour it GENTLY into the oil mixture. That is why it’s so useful to use a cup with a spout.

Soapmaking Crock Pot

9.Using a metal whisk, I start to gently stir the mix together.

How to Make Soap Whisking

No egg beating now hehe. The lye is still raw in there, which means it can BURN you if you touch it or it splatters out.

After I’ve mixed for a bit, I start with the stick blender. Stick blend for a few minutes, then turn off the blender and just stir with it for a few minutes. Then turn it on again.

How to Make Soap Stick Blender

I stir/blend until reaching trace.

Depending on the oils used, this can take from about 15 minutes to over an hour. So if it’s not happening yet, don’t despair. It WILL happen. You just happened to pick some rather slow oils haha.

How to Make Soap Trace

I can’t remember now, off the top of my head, which oils took longer to reach trace. But some do take longer than others, so if yours is taking a long time, not to worry.

Trace is when the mixture starts to stiffen up a bit, and to hold its shape when it drips off the blender.

You can reach light, medium or heavy trace. I like to reach medium trace, because it seems to take a little less time to cook after this.

Soapmaking Trace

If you were making cold process soap, at this point, you’d be finished. You would simply need to add any fragrances, essential oils, colorants or other additives and pour into moulds.

But since I’m making hot process soap, I would continue on to the next step.

10.At this point, having reached trace, I cover the crock pot and set it on low.

I’ve never had any problems with the soap cooking too hot and boiling over (what some people call a volcano). But I have a crock pot with a low setting. If your pot is hotter than mine, you might need to be on the lookout for volcanos.

A volcano is simply when soap boils over, explosively. You don’t want that to happen. You can prevent that by hovering near your crock pot and checking it frequently (every 5 minutes or so).

It usually takes about 45 minutes to an hour for my soap to cook. How long it takes would depend on how hot your pot is, I imagine, as well as the recipe you used.

If it looks as if the oils and water have separated in your soap at some point, actually, I’ve been told that clear liquid that separates out is actually natural glycerine (which is a natural by-product of soapmaking) and not water. Simply give it a good stir to mix it back in again.

11.Once the soap has gelled completely, it’s cooked.

Gelling is a process whereby the soap starts to look more transparent (as opposed to looking more opaque, before it’s gelled).

Some people try the tongue zap test to see if the soap has cooked. You probably don’t want to do that. Soap tastes foul at the best of times! You probably also don’t want an electric shock on your tongue.

I simply make sure the soap has gelled completely. Give it a good stir using your wooden or plastic spoon or spatula, to make sure it looks transparent throughout. (It won’t actually look clear, it will still be coloured. Simply, it will have a transparent effect, similar to glycerine soap.)

12.Once it has gelled completely, I take the porcelain pot out of the heating shell and set it on the counter to cool down.

Like any pot that you’ve been cooking (food) in, it’s hot! So be careful.

If you are using a double boiler instead, or the oven, simply take it away from the heat source and leave it to cool somewhere, about 10-15 minutes.

You don’t want to make it too cold, or it will become hard and difficult to handle.

Some people add a bit of yoghurt at this point, to make it softer and easier to pour. I never remember to buy yoghurt before making soap, so I’ve never tried this. However, sometimes I do add a few drops of goats milk, and it does soften the soap and make it a bit runnier.

13.Once it’s cool, I like to add essential oils.

Because it’s goats milk soap, it’s already naturally brown, tan or dark yellow in colour, so I don’t usually interfere with the colour. If you have made a water soap, however, you might like to add colorants at this point.

I usually always add rosemary essential oil, to prevent the oils from going rancid.

Then I also add some essential oils for fragrance. I LOVE mint!

Mix in the oils and/or colorants and stir.

14.Pour into moulds.

Soapmaking Mold

Bang the mould down on the tabletop a few times (not too vigorously!) to get out the air bubbles.

15.Set into a cool, dry place to cure.

You can usually use the soap immediately after soapmaking, once it’s completely cold. But you will get better results if you cure it for a minimum of 2 weeks.

In order to conserve your newly created handmade soap as long as possible, always store it in a cool dry place when you’re not using it. Don’t keep it in the shower.

How to Make Soap Homemade Soap

In the next post, I’ll show you some pics of a few of the soaps that I’ve made recently.

And while we’re at it, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out here: Thrillers by Moi.

So, do you think you’ll try out this adventure and make a few soaps of your own? Feel free to tell me about YOUR soapmaking experiments. How did your soaps turn out? Do leave your comments below. I LURRRVEE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

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