When the leaves begin to change into their fall finery, the sky turns bright, bright blue and mornings are crisp–children come in from the outside with bright red cheeks–“apple cheeks” we always called them. Green Circle Grove salutes the season with our “AppleCheeks” handmade soap.
As usual, when Kristen is in her kitchen making a soap for Green Circle Grove, she carefully measures equal amounts of lye and oils. When the lye is mixed in a bowl with distilled water, it immediately heats. The oils–olive and coconut and castor, usually–are heated together over a low heat. When the lye cools and the oils heat to exactly the same temperature, they are mixed together, kept warm, and the chemical reaction saponification occurs. The lye and the oils become soap. It’s all very scientific, of course. Temperature and timing has to be just right, and when the soap is nearly done scents and colors are added. If scent is added too early, it will dissipate or even ignite. Kristen only uses cosmetic grade colorants, and these must be mixed in carefully, too. For “AppleCheeks” soap, she adds delicately scented apple fragrance oil and a bit of red colorant. (Because she adds no preservatives, we always tell people to use a darker washcloth with this soap–the lack of added chemicals to “stay” the color means the color may transfer to a lighter colored cloth. No worries that it will stain your skin, though!) As soon as the soap is scented and tinted, Kristen pours it into a wooden mold lined with freezer paper, bangs it a couple of times on the countertop to remove any air bubbles, and lets it cool. When the soap has cooled enough to retain its shape, it’s lifted out of the mold and left to cool on racks. This final drying process is dependent on humidity. Low humidity–the soap may be dry enough to cut in 24 hours. High humidity–it may take 2 or 3 weeks for the soap to be firm enough to cut into the 4 oz. chunks that Green Circle Grove sells as “big bars”. The drier the soap–the longer it will last, which is why we suggest that persons buying very newly made soap unwrap it and let it cure when they bring it home.
Green Circle Grove will be at the Cuba (NY) Garlic Festival on September 15th and 16th. Stop by our booth to say hello, smell the soaps and purchase a selection of scents! “Applecheeks” will be there, as well as our nearly 50 other scents–and of course, our totes, purses, bags and jewelry.