Saturday, September 26, 2009

The First Batch

The big day has arrived. After I finish this entry, eat some breakfast and go to the grocery store to buy some safety gloves I'm going to whip up our first batch of soap. Kate's working today and has a CPR class tomorrow, so she won't be able to help, unfortunately, but I figure I'll be able to share with her what I learn from this batch, and we'll do the next together.

I'm a little nervous, but mostly excited. I've read enough now that I know how to handle the lye safely, which is really my only concern. Beyond that I just want to get through all the steps once so I can translate what I've read into meaningful actions and empirical knowledge.

This would have happened last weekend, but I discovered at the last minute that lye can't be bought in Maryland in retail locations anymore, other than at a few specialty stores. Red Devil lye, the original commercial retail lye has been discontinued because of lye's other uses. Not only does it function well as a drain cleaner and a soap saponifying agent, it also plays a role in the production of Crystal Meth. I'm sure my name is on a list somewhere now because I purchased eight pounds of lye from an online supplier. But I have no plans to manufacture Meth. I mean, our first soap batch will be a light yellow bar, scented with Tea Tree, Lavender and Crank, but I don't think you'll be able to smoke it.

I do suspect that lye was pulled off of retail shelves because it's harder to track purchases, whereas my online purchase was completed with a name, an address and a phone number. I payed roughly $14 for eight pounds of the stuff. If I were to have purchased it locally at a specialty shop it would have cost me $52 for one pound. Clearly I'm intended to favor online purchase over brick and mortar retail.

So my name may be on a list. It doesn't matter since I'm not intending anything nefarious. I think it's funny what an eclectic list it must be, compiling hardened crank cooks and lavender-laden grandmothers into the same category. Don't worry Homeland Security. Kate and I are hangin' with the latter.

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