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Same clean results, now organic: Soap-maker helps you craft an all-natural bar

The Brooklyn Paper
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Make your own soap from scratch like the early pioneers did — plain, unadulterated, and not loaded with phony fragrances.

A soap expert will lead an upcoming bar-making class where all ingredients used are of certified organic.

Organic bars of soap and conventional bars of soap don’t differ in how they clean, but organic soaps are much healthier for the skin as opposed to conventional soap bars that are laden with chemicals in the form of artificial scents and colors, said Clara Williams, founder of the Williamsburg-based soap brand Skinnyskinny and host of the workshop on March 21 at her Greenwood Heights workshop.

“In the same way that if you wanted to make a salad dressing you wouldn’t use a really low grade of olive oil because extra virgin would have a lot more nutrients and be a lot healthier, so it would be the same thing for the soap making,” said the seasoned soap connoisseur.

“I try to minimize the amount of chemical exposure in any of the ingredients I purchase.”

The essential vegetable oils and herb ingredients used to make the organic batches of soap are all top of the line, said Williams.

To make good use of the organic ingredients, students of the three-hour preservative-free soap making course will learn what is called “the cold process,” which differs from the common hot process method in that the raw soap base is not actually cooked, although it is heated. All participants in the intimate, hands-on class will not only create their own customized 60-ounce block of handmade soap, but also get schooled in the history of soap-making, learn the basics of scent blending and the properties of different oils, and get a glimpse of the many different soap-making methods.

“Soap-making is a blend between science and art,” said Williams, who has honed her craft for over 10 years.

Attendees of the $160 class, which includes all of the materials, supplies, and ingredients needed to make a soap batch, will act like chemists and mix different blends of oils such as extra virgin olive oil and organic virgin coconut oil with water and add a highly acidic substance to the mixture called lye that can burn skin on contact, but is essential to make soap.

“People do get really scared of lye. It could be frightening, but once you know the basic safety precautions for it then you’re totally fine,” said Williams who will provide students with goggles, work aprons, and gloves and offer a safety rundown. “People can get totally messy and not have to worry about any hazards.”

Out of harms way, students will have the option to choose from a vast array of all-natural scented herbs and spices including lavender, rosemary, vanilla, clove, and ginger to toss into their batches. They can even mix in oatmeal for exfoliating purposes.

The end product will need about three to four weeks to cure so that all of the lye can neutralize. Then it’s ready to be sliced into 15 individual bars, which Williams estimates will last a year.

Organic soap making class at Skinnyskinny’s workshop [182A 26th St. between Third and Fourth avenues in Greenwood Heights, (718) 366–2201, skinnyskinny.myshopify.com]. Mar. 21, 6:30–9:30 pm, $160.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at nmusumeci@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.

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