How to Have Fun With Explosive Chemicals


It’s so much fun to come home from work and find a package waiting for you on the front porch. Unless, however, the package contains dangerous chemicals that explode on contact with water, and the carton they were shipped in is soaking wet because it sat out in the rain all afternoon.

I approached with caution. There was no hissing, twitching or smoking, so I gently picked up the box and carried it dripping into the kitchen. I opened it and saw that everything was fine — the chemicals were inside sealed plastic bottles, which were also wrapped in a plastic bag.


What dangerous chemicals could I possibly need? You may well ask. I have a new hobby as of two months ago — I like to make homemade soap.

My first batch was avocado oil soap with lemon. I made another batch last week, honey oatmeal with olive oil and cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is amazing! It smells just like rich chocolate, and you can bet I’ll be using it a lot!

Our grandparents had soaps like this, but I have never used a bar of real soap in my life. During WWII, there were so many shortages of so many things that soap began to be formulated with detergents, and that’s the way it is still made today. I wanted to know how to make real soap.

It’s really not difficult to make a batch of soap. I had everything I needed, except sodium hydroxide (lye), and avocado oil. I also bought some silicone molds in bar shapes. There are lots of tutorials online. The hardest part turned out to be leaving the soap to cure for a month before I could use it!

My new grandniece, Joanie, turns one in October. I wanted to make her some baby soap and shampoo, so I found some great recipes. The only ingredients in a bar of baby soap, at least the one I’m going to make, are olive oil (for soft skin), a little bit of castor oil (for bubbles), and lye, assembled with a cold process. For the baby shampoo I’ll have to try my hand at hot process soap making, which seems to be a little more time consuming and complicated. Liquid soaps use potassium hydroxide (potash), instead of sodium hydroxide (lye). The chemistry of soap making is fascinating. It’s a detailed process, weighing ingredients and calculating the amount of chemicals and water needed according to the kinds of oils you are using.

I love shopping on the Internet, but I’m still waiting for my castor oil to arrive. Maybe it will come tomorrow — I don’t think there’s any rain in the forecast.



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