Field Work Friday – Makin’ Soap with Red Mountain Goodness

 
I have always wanted to learn how to make soap.  Maybe it started when I read about a pioneer doing so in one of my historical fiction novels.  I remember that coming up several times.
 
While I’m not interested in pouring lard through ashes or anything, soapmaking has remained at the top of my list of things to learn about for a long time, so I was super excited when a friend shared that there was a great soap company operating in the next county over.  I was even more excited when founder and owner of Red Mountain Goodness, Todd Hinson, immediately replied to my request for a lesson with a ‘Yes!’
 
 
Todd began by sharing with us how his company began.  A research scientist by training, he was working in that field when he began to develop a type of soap to help with his wife’s wintery skin.  Friends and family loved the result, and Red Mountain Goodness was born.
 
 The best part of Todd’s backstory was the way that he encouraged our kids.  He shared with them difficulties of beginning your own home-based business, some of the details and issues that were involved, marketing strategies, and the like; all provided great information and insight to our future entrepreneurs.  He told us several times, however, that we should not be afraid to look for a solution to a problem or to do something in a non-traditional way – that those are sometimes the things that help people the most.  That those things can make a difference.  
 
As a scientist, Todd looks at soap differently than many.  While we might be happy to have a soap that feels good at the moment and smells great, Todd is looking for all natural ingredients.  He talked with the kids about ingredient labels on products and how the list is graduated – so that the first ingredient listed is used the most by quantity, etc., and then he compared each ingredient in order to his soap.  Did you know that one of the most common soap companies in our country puts the main chemical in antifreeze into their soap?  UGH!
 
Then Todd demonstrated making his soap.  While he made it look easy, he takes great care when measuring and mixing the ingredients to provide a high-quality product for the consumers. 
 
 
 
 
 
 

His soaps contain olive oil …


coconut oil …


goat’s milk and lye.  Regardless of what other soap labels say, for a product to be a true soap, it must contain lye as an ingredient, but the lye is used up chemically during the soapmaking process, making the end product totally safe for your skin.


Combing the lye with the frozen goat’s milk creates an exothermic reaction, one that releases heat, and so we watched this reaction melt the goat’s milk.  My kids were fascinated by that part!


Todd has incorporated many scientific tools into the process of soapmaking.  This ‘self-stirrer’ (I don’t know the scientific name) allows liquids to be stirred using magnet technology.  Since the soap needs to be stirred for 15 minutes after the lye has finished reacting, Todd uses this handy tool to do the work.  My Big Helper thought that was quite ingenious.


The next order of business is to combine the oil mixture with the lye mixture.  Todd uses a regular immersion blender for this, and the kids in the group all loved watching the two elements begin to change color and for soap particles to form.


Todd scents his soaps with essential oils, and our group voted to make lavender soap.  It takes 40 mg of essential oil to scent the soap.  Todd shared with the kids the best way to measure liquids in a graduated cylinder, and their eyes were all big at the sight of his scientific equipment.

As one girl inquired, the soap must be put into something while it cures and hardens.  Todd explained that you can use anything, but he uses these soap molds.  Each batch of soap will make 16 bars, and while making such small batches is quite time-consuming for a business of this size, Todd is determined to maintain the high quality of his products and refuses to make bigger batches.

When the soap is ready, Todd poured it into the mold.  He then lifted it carefully and tapped it against the table to release any bubbles that might be hiding inside.  This reminded me of the trip that candy bars take on bouncing conveyor belts to do the same thing!  

Next the bars will hang out in the fridge overnight, and then be cut the next day.  They’ll then cure for a month, be wrapped, and cure for another month before being sold.  This means that each bar has been in production for a total of two months!  

Todd was a great presenter for our group.  We learned about entrepreneurship, about creativity and scientific method, about the role of chemicals in our society, on marketing and goal-setting, and much more.  I appreciate that so many kind people are willing to share their dreams and their knowledge with your young ones.  We can’t replicate that kind of education!

I also couldn’t replicate Todd’s soap!  It feels great on my skin, has a delightful scent, and the best part is knowing that I’m not absorbing antifreeze or any other crazy chemicals in the process of getting clean.
 

So – are you willing to give all-natural soap a try?

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