A good bar of soap takes a blend of a few oils… like olive oil and palm oil, amazing essential oils that are rich in nutrients and amazing for their fragrant qualities without the typical allergic reaction most people have to “fragrance oil”, some botanical – like rose petals, or lavender buds, or sage or comfrey, chamomile All of this is not going to make soap without the introduction of lye (commonly called sodium hydroxide), which is a powerful base that when blended with the oils, essential oils and botanicals will result in a transformation of the whole to a solidified bar of soap. This process is called saponification.
Creating soap was one of those happy accidents of history – the community took all of their trash, including their animal renderings to a town dump. Often people would also bring the ash from their cooking and heating fires to the dump…. through the process of time the ash melded with the rendered fat, and someone discovered the chemical reaction that transformed both ingredients into something altogether better, practical, amazing. Sapo Hill was the name of the town dump, and it gave way to the process we now call Saponification. The process of turning oils or fats to soap is called saponification.
Happy accidents are interesting. But making a quality bar of handcrafted soap is more like building a community. Sourcing good ingredients, building the recipe, blending the essential oils, building the mold, preparing the mold, following the recipe to the letter, and molding it, curing it, cutting it, wrapping it. Plain soap is good, but when you begin to add herbs, or botanicals, blend in wonderful essential oils, and take care to finish the soap blending well… amazing,
We see a comparison between soap making and building community – both take making choices, sourcing out great ingredients that are the foundation of greatness; and finding those elements that will add color, zip, fragrance… in community it is the people that are idea generators, encouragers, supporters, framers. Soap without a mold would look much different – the same is true of a community without structure and order. Plain community is great, but when you begin to add interesting projects and events, plans for involving residents, revitalize business districts, or bring back a population of hard working tax paying citizens you have amazing and vibrant community. A spark of art, a splash of festival, a dash of economic planning, a measure of passion and you will find the recipe for community goes from good to great.
So while we continue to make soap, we will always think not of just the recipe and the ingredients, we will be thinking of the amazing volunteers, the interesting sparks of ideas, and the wonder of seeing community pull together for purposes. Soap is alot more like community – as you blend all the ingredients you have a great and new outcome.