Deb Stephens

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since Dec 03, 2011
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Recent posts by Deb Stephens

Burra Maluca wrote:

Deb Stephens wrote:
It's like saying if I decide to roll in poison ivy, please stop me.

You didn't say stop though.  You said shoot.  Shooting someone to stop them rolling in poison ivy isn't nice.

I was not in any way saying that people who use glitter are bad people.

And yet that is how it sounded. You seem to be implying that might be better off shot.  

Honestly, I think someone would have to be very sensitive to read this as "not nice". is full of very sensitive people.  

Have we come to the point here where we can't express our own opinions about what we like or don't like?

Well in that post you do seem to have reached the point you can't express your opinion without being nice, yes.

Wow. I don't know how to respond to this. You have managed to make me feel horrible. I hope that was not your intention but maybe I am just one of those sensitive people in this group. I am not going to say any more about this because right now I feel like crying and it is hard to type. It may be a long while, if ever,  before I feel like contributing anything here again.

r ranson wrote:I don't see anything in the following that meets publishing standards.

and I hope someone shoots me if I ever even hint at putting glitter in soap!!! I also DO NOT do melt and pour! That is not soapmaking to me.  

Qualifying not nice statements with "it's just my opinion" doesn't make them suddenly nice.

I find this totally baffling. I was merely saying that because I don't like glitter, I would hope someone would stop me from using it before I did it and regretted it. It's like saying if I decide to roll in poison ivy, please stop me. I was not in any way saying that people who use glitter are bad people. Honestly, I think someone would have to be very sensitive to read this as "not nice". Have we come to the point here where we can't express our own opinions about what we like or don't like? What if I say, I don't like oatmeal--does that make me not nice because I may make people who DO like oatmeal feel bad for liking it? I'm really struggling to understand this.

As for the second statement ... "I also DO NOT do melt and pour! That is not soapmaking to me." I have explained what I meant by that and I have edited the original post to make it clear. Anyone who knows what melt-and-pour soap is, will likely agree that it is not soapmaking but soap melting and reusing. There is a difference. THAT is not opinion.
Dear Staff,

I am stupified by your request that I edit my post to make "... aspiring soapmakers happy to read ..." it. This is apparently the objectionable bit of what I said, "... and I hope someone shoots me if I ever even hint at putting glitter in soap!!! I also DO NOT do melt and pour! That is not soapmaking to me. It's as much soapmaking as paint by numbers is art. (Mostly I put up those links for people who want to play with soapmaking in the hope they will learn enough to make real soap someday.)"

First, I don't think that an aspiring soapmaker would be unhappy reading any of that. Aspiring soapmakers would probably like to see opinions about the various types of soapmaking out there and might even smile (would that count as making them happy?) at the glitter comment. (To which I even appended a winking smiley face to ensure it would be treated as a mere light-hearted comment.) I don't like glitter in soap. Maybe someone else does. I didn't say that anyone who uses glitter should be shot. I was clearly offering only MY opinion of glitter in MY soap bars. Would you have flagged this if I said I didn't like a lavender scent or the color pink in soap? Really, this is too ridiculous!

Second, this comment was in response to similar statements in the post above mine. Why was mine singled out but not that one?

Third, I made it very clear that these were merely my opinions--using phrasing like "That is not soapmaking to me."--emphasis on ME. It may be soap making to someone else, but it is not real soapmaking to ME. I think my opinion deserves to be treated with at least some respect because it is based on my thorough knowledge of what soapmaking entails. Someone who knows nothing about the process might think melt-and-pour soaps are soapmaking but the irrefutable FACT is that melt-and-pour bars are ALREADY soap. How can simply melting and pouring into a mold something that someone else already made be considered MAKING soap? It's like heating a tv dinner and bragging about your cooking skills. There is none of the MAKING part of soapmaking involved with melt-and-pour soap products. Besides, and I should have said this before, melt-and-pour products tend to contain many of the nasty chemicals that people who make their own soap list as part of the reason they make their own soap in the first place.

Fourth, The only remark that I can see might be taken the wrong way was this one ... "(Mostly I put up those links for people who want to play with soapmaking in the hope they will learn enough to make real soap someday.)" I agree that might have been worded better (and I intend to edit it) but I was really trying to be positive there. I did not mean to imply that people who used those sites were playing at making soap. I was trying to be concise and ended up being confusing. What I actually meant was that some of those more "fun" sites with their glitter and cute molds and fun little inclusions, etc. might make the art of soapmaking more appealing to people who have previously considered it too daunting to try. The comment above mine mentioned one particular site as offering things that made her feel she was being treated like an idiot child (something to that effect) because the videos there talked down to the viewers about chemistry and math. My comment was actually meant to be encouraging to people who may have felt they were not up to all the chemistry involved in soapmaking while acknowledging that some of the offerings were a bit condescending to those of us who have been doing this awhile. I felt it might offer some of the more fun elements--including easy premade melt-and-pour products--to ease them into real soapmaking. Yes, I said it again--REAL soapmaking. That is my opinion and I am sticking to it.

So ... I just felt I needed to defend myself against what I do take as " ...somebody on staff is being silly". Having had my say, I will now go edit my post to make it very clear that I welcome aspiring soapmakers and truly believe that everyone who wants to be clean should make their own soap. (See? Smilleys!)

Meg Mitchell wrote:IMO the absolute best resource for a beginning soapmaker is Smart Soapmaking by Anne Watson. A lot of soapmaking resources are cargo-culting based on things other soapmakers have said in the past, but Anne bases her work on experience and dispels a lot of common myths in the book. To use a totally random analogy, I'd say she's the Sam Thayer of soap. She even has another book about how to make Castile soap that isn't gross (which I haven't tried yet, but she does explain why Castile soap tends to be so gross and yet such a classic of at-home soapmaking).

I'm not a huge fan of Soap Queen because they use a lot of unnecessary tools and artificial ingredients (they make their $ selling materials and tools, so their recipes tend to use way more than is needed to turn out a good result), and there's been more than one video from them where they insult the viewer's intelligence. I'm a STEM nerd and it annoys me beyond belief to have some woman assure me that it's okay that I'm too dumb to do basic math and chemistry.

I'll have to check out Anne Watson--I've not come across anything by her, but I think you would like Kathy Miller's site too since you prefer to get the basics without all the expensive equipment and ingredients hawked on some of the more glitzy sites like Soap Queen. I actually agree with you on that score--I make all my soap from simple ingredients and use no colorings or fragrances aside from an occasional 1/2 ounce or so of pure essential oil of some sort when I'm feeling a bit decadent. I don't use fancy molds either (mine is made of wood and I made it myself) and I hope someone shoots me if I ever even hint at putting glitter in soap!!! Please note that is only my opinion because I do not like glitter. If you are a fan of glitter, have at it.

I also don't consider using melt-and-pour products to be true soapmaking since they are already made into bars of soap that can be used as-is if desired. None of the processes of soapmaking are involved when doing melt-and-pour soaps--they are merely melted on the stove or in the microwave and poured into molds to re-set. I included some links for people who would like to learn soapmaking but feel a bit threatened by all the chemistry and the complicated processes involved in actual soapmaking. My hope is that by easing into it in a more fun way, they will learn enough to make a venture into the realm of scratch soapmaking someday. Everyone has to start somewhere and if melt-and-pour gets them started, I am all for it. It should be noted, however, that many of the melt-and-pour products contain ingredients similar to commercial soap products, so if you want to make your own soap to get away from nasty chemicals, melt-and-pour is probably NOT the way to go. Read the labels carefully--there are some good bars out there, but they may be more expensive and harder to find.

Oh, and I agree that being patronized on a subject you know well can be very annoying, however, not everyone CAN do basic math and chemistry, so there is a place for it in beginning soapmaking where one must assume that the viewer has zero experience with the process.

By the way, what have you got against Castille soap? A well-made bar is really the best for making a quick version of homemade laundry soap. I grind my bars and remelt them as the base for my laundry soap (with borax and washing soda added). It works great and is a real timesaver when I don't feel like doing the whole hot-process liquid laundry soap. Personally, I find them too drying for regular use on skin, but they do make for a good cleansing bar.

4 years ago
I just posted a thread over in Purity so we can get this soap forum going. It's on the Best Resources for Beginning Soapmakers. If you want to learn about the process, you might check out the thread--I've included a lot of good links.
I am another one who really wants a soapmaking forum, so here is my contribution to the cause.

When I first started making soap a zillion years ago, about the only things I could find were the useful, but hard to follow articles in the old Foxfire books (who remembers Aunt Airie?) I remember creating a first batch that basically stayed semi-liquid for months and burned my hands every time I tested it. I finally threw it out. It took several years for me to get over thinking lye soap was something no one in their right mind would ever want to make. Then along came the internet and I decided to try again ...

The very first website I landed on turned out to be solid GOLD for a beginning soapmaker and I still think it is one of the best out there for the sheer volume of information it contains. If you have about a month with nothing else to do, you can sit and read from dawn to dusk onMiller's Homemade Soap Pages The information there is written and/or compiled by Kathy Miller, who is a true old-fashioned expert on soap. What she has forgotten about the subject is more than most people will ever know. If you have time for nothing else, start there.

Here are some other (fancier and more colorful) websites with beginner info ... A Beginner’s Guide to Soapmaking, Soap Queen tutorials and How to Make Soap

This is a good explanation of the types of chemicals you need for hard bars or liquid soap ... Sodium-hydroxide vs Potassium-hydroxide

And, of course, you will want some reputable places to buy your more exotic oils and other ingredients from (you DO want to create exotic soaps, right ). These are two really great companies with high quality ingredients that I have purchased from myself. I was very happy with all their stuff. Jedwards International and Essential Wholesale.

Finally, when you are ready to make soap, you may want to use a soap calculator to make sure your lye to fat ratios are correct and to customize your bars (or liquid soap) for whatever qualities you prefer (like cleansing, conditioning, lather, etc.). These are great for making exactly what you want to make THE FIRST TIME so you don't waste all those expensive ingredients on a dud batch.
Soap Calc and Brambleberry Soap Calculator and Majestic Mountain Sage Lye Soap Calculator

There is a fun video that every beginning soapmaker should watch as well. I never quite understood how oil and lye made soap until I watched this. It is childishly simple but a perfect way to understand the process ... unfortunately, I can't find it right now. I will keep looking ...

Have fun!

4 years ago

Julie Inmon wrote: I did notice that the fruits were ALWAYS covered in tiny bugs like someone else mentioned. I want to say they were extremely tiny worms of some sort but my memory isn’t great. Does anyone know what they could’ve been and how to prevent/fix that? I’d love to have my own mulberry tree again one day.

NO, NO, NO!!! Those are NOT worms but part of the berry. (My mother used to think the same thing and it made me not want to eat them when I was a kid. Another one of those old folk myths!) Mulberries are actually compound fruits (technically a multiple fruit is called a syncarp) where each little round ball (the technical term is drupelet) is a fruit all by itself although they cluster together to form what we call the berry. Those thread-like things coming off the individual fruits are just the styles leftover from the super tiny flowers. Mulberries form catkins with each individual flower composed of a calyx with 4 sepals. They don't actually have petals like most flowers. So that is what you are seeing--not bugs or worms, but flower parts. Enjoy them, they're delicious!
4 years ago
This seems like an awful lot of work to get rid of something that is native, beautiful in autumn (the early English explorers took it back with them to grow just for the autumnal foliage colors) and even beneficial if you learn to look at it in a different light. (For example, deer love it!) Why not make your path in a different place or at least clear a smaller area and leave some of the poison ivy? Then plant jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) close to the path so if you do brush the poison ivy, you can grab some jewelweed to counteract the effects of the oil (crush the leaves and stems and use the juice on the affected area). In the interests of full disclosure, I'm not allergic so I can probably appreciate its good points better than most.
4 years ago