Chapter 28:

28: DIY Soap

I was Born the Unloved Twin

When I was in elementary school our school would sometimes have special presentations and events. We would learn many useful but silly things, it felt a lot like playing around. My most favorite event lessons may have been fingerprinting and folding paper lanternsBookmark here

Doesn't mean I don't remember the other things though. Such as that time we made soap. Bookmark here

My more recent creative knowledge on soap making comes from those online videos you watch for fun. I may not have access to the internet anymore but I've procrastinated and watched enough videos to have a gist of what to do beyond the basics. Bookmark here

Soap is sold as a luxury item in this world. Bookmark here

This isn't an issue for the wealthy Ventrella household but that doesn't extend very far. The soap that mother uses isn't bad but it is overly perfumed and not very moisturizing. Meanwhile, for cleaning, the staff uses a mix of fireplace ash and animal products. Bookmark here

It's time for a drastic change. My delicate senses cannot continue to live in these sad overly perfumes conditions. Bookmark here

It took our dedicated staff two days to prepare my requested ingredients. Some easier than others but the majority of it was already in our household. I based the ingredients on what I thought we would have available and easily imported from our home territory. Bookmark here

Lye, however, needed time to be made. I instructed for as much hardwood ash to be gathered as possible. Bookmark here

For the most part, no one besides household servants would make use of the fireplace ash, and even then only a mere fraction of it. There are so many mansions and manors in this area that a little bit of asking around had the filtered white ash near dumped at our feet for free. Bookmark here

Olive oil was the easiest to get since it was already sitting here in bulk. The quality comes in various grades though. For simplicity and safety, we shall be using a more quality filtered oil, cooking grade. Or 'virgin' olive oil as modern folks know it. Bookmark here

Other oils that were easy enough to gather include coconut, almond, and flowers from our territory. Bookmark here

There's also rose water, byproduct sold cheaply from some of the many perfumer businesses in the city. If a luxurious perfume is for those who can afford it then the runoff distilled water from boiling roses could be bottled and sold to the less stinking rich clients. Bookmark here

Tis the season of spring rose boiling. It would be interesting to work with other flowers and scents too. Bookmark here

Someone making a bulk purchase would be more preferable over bottling and waiting for the weak Eau De Toilets to sell. Which is how we have so much rose water. Did no one seriously figure out the skincare benefits behind this stuff? Why so much? Or is it just not profitable enough? Bookmark here

Oh well, their loss is my gain.Bookmark here

Lard is not a difficult product to obtain either. There are plenty of outskirt farms and more than enough butchered animals to grace the tiniest dinner tables in the capital. There's also the leftovers from dismantled beat hunts. I'm more comfortable using just bovine based tallow but lamb and perhaps pig lard would work. We've gathered a lot more of it than I thought could be procured in such a short amount of time.Bookmark here

In that case, we will just be making some big batches, many many batches of this stuff. Bookmark here

Soap is my first priority due to the utter lack of it around here. My own baths are beginning to feel inadequate. While I can't say I smell bad, it's quite a mess to clean up after I tumble in the dirt or woods after exercise. Bookmark here

The dryness here doesn't help either.Bookmark here

While cold cream can be personally used to fight against many skin concerns, I have a more economical reason for wanting to make it. Bookmark here

The current time that I live in is one of peace.Bookmark here

The great battles have been fought and the most dangerous of beast zones pushed back all thanks to Gramps and those who were influenced, or dragged along, by him. Thus for about the last decade or so humanity had the opportunity to grow and flourish. Bookmark here

Don't get me wrong, it's still positively medieval around here. Many rural towns and communities have hardly seen development. It's just much better without the threat of constant war, famine and death. Yeah, those are kinda sorta pretty detrimental to life quality...and just life in general. Bookmark here

The initial recovery years have passed and the era for prosperity is coming. In general people's quality of life is improving. They have savings now, savings that could be spent. Nobles with their old money are especially big fish in the water.Bookmark here

If my 'experiment' goes well then this is the start of my personal wealth. I may have the Ventrella name but only for now. What happens when I lose favor and get cut off? Even without the knowledge of Rosalia's memories, it's obvious to say I can't stand on my own like this.Bookmark here

I don't have magic. I doubt I have the potential to be a powerhouse warrior and my influential background has a ticking time limit Bookmark here

What can really secure me?Bookmark here

Money.Bookmark here

Now that I can have confidence in. Bookmark here

If not soap and cold cream then I'll think of something else. There's plenty of lacking products that have a potential market here. Worst-case scenario I waste some supplies and will treat it as a child's arts and craft project.Bookmark here

But just in case it is profitable, production needs to be kept under wraps. Bookmark here

Soap isn't that difficult to figure out, people here have already been using a primitive mixture of ash, clay and animal fats. In our home kitchen, bacon lard was the fat of choice to scrub pots and pans. But luxury soaps that nobles use are trade secrets. Not even I can tell what's in them, though I can guess.Bookmark here

Right now I'm guessing a lot of perfume.Bookmark here

I have primarily my own home staff assisting me today in a side kitchen. To account for all the extra help, I've separated the orders and have them working on different parts and pieces. Even if someone can piece together the ingredients list they don't know what to do with them nor do they have the right ratios.Bookmark here

I can't trust those in the capital mansion not go around leaking or selling information. It's too early to figure out who to trust here besides the impartial head maid.Bookmark here

So by that reasoning, my poor home staff are trapped 'humoring' their young miss today. Even George the jr chef can't escape, especially George, my most used hands and feet. I'll give you something very nice for your 16th birthday so keep it up Georgey boy!Bookmark here

Shall I make him a facial cleanser for his acne? Oh teenagers, I remember what that was like. Bookmark here

Right now he's hard at work boiling and skimming the tallow. The little red poppies on his cheeks make me wince in pained sympathy. Maybe we should just make him that face wash right now? He'll be a good tester model for my products anyways.Bookmark here

"Are you sure we're not making candles from this?"Bookmark here

"I'm sure but why? Should we be making candles too?"Bookmark here

"Maybe later on in the fall Rosa, we don't need as many candles in spring and summer."Bookmark here

"Oh ok, I see."Bookmark here

I remember making those in school too. They were fun to dip on strings but molds would be much easier. Is there a market for luxury candles? I think our household uses a plain near scentless kind and oil lamps. There are also the lights that I just never questioned us having, magically powered I assumed. Those must be expensive. Bookmark here

Well, George is right, we'll just see about the candles matter during fall.Bookmark here

In the meantime, I bounce around the different groups of working people. I've separated them into groups just like how an elementary teacher would with a class. Teams 1-6! Bookmark here

George gets to be my assistant teacher and actual hands as I supervise everyone's progress. Everyone is wearing cloth masks and makeshift wrappings as gloves. As funny as it looks, safety is the first precaution. Especially to those on lye stirring duty, that stuff can fume something foul. It's a little worrisome to home make lye, it won't be as good as the commercial products from modern times but hopefully, some salt will harden it to be less gooey. Bookmark here

Mother oddly enough wanted to join in too. But since the labor is tediously intensive during the prep work phase, I advised her to swing by later instead. Bookmark here

"Miss Rosalia here are the trays and mold."Bookmark here

"Wonderful! Set them over on the clean table over there."Bookmark here

I had to order boxes, trays and large enough molds to be made for this project. Soap making is quite an expensive hobby to set up in the beginning.Bookmark here

Luckily I'm a rich girl with a lot of capable help to find and fund everything so easily. Everything is mostly made out of wood and I kept the metal muffin tin style molds as simple as possible. Two days was plenty of time to get everything perfectly in order. Bookmark here

My plan is to make a big batch of mixed tallow and mixed olive oil soap bars. This is the recipe I'm most confident in succeeding. It will have a little of every oil to stabilize it and the variety of properties will make some solid house soap.Bookmark here

I guess worked my recipe according to the 4 properties in a good soap.Bookmark here

-Hard, stable, long-lasting: TallowBookmark here

-Moisturizing/Conditioning: coconut oil and a bit of castor oil Bookmark here

-Lathering: Olive oil! Has the highest ratio in the recipe.Bookmark here

-Super moisture!: Almond oilBookmark here

There's also the lye for purification but the ratio is, of course, a secret. Bookmark here

Normally the recipe would use plain distilled water but we were able to get so much distilled rose water. It would be a waste not to use it. I'll split the house batch in half using plain water and rose water, for comparison. The rose water added half will go into the prettier molds rather than the long rectangular boxes used to make bar soap. Bookmark here

Bookmark here

The secondary batch will be an animal-free soap using primarily olive oil once again. It will be considered a 'castille' soap then though no one seems to be able to understand the word. Well, let's just call it the Olive Oil soap for now. It won't be pure since I plan on adding coconut and palm oil to reduce sliminess and for some better lathering effects. I suspect older generations and those used to olive oil back home would prefer this product. Bookmark here

The rest of the 3rd batch will be made up of miscellaneous ingredients and ratio experiments. I'm not a genius and while I think my memory is pretty good it's not like a photographic memory. I can't recall ALL the right ratios and recipes for all the nice scents and varieties out there. So this is my 'allowed to fail' for fun batches. Bookmark here

Most of them are variations on the 'house' soap give or take some ingredients. For example, there will be a box for 'milk' soap replacing all water with whole fat milk. It will be fun to see what works and what doesn't. I have high hopes even if some of these batches will most certainly fail. Bookmark here

Mother comes in while the teams were taking turns whipping the soap mixtures till it thickens and traces. It's hard work without an electric mixer. We must have made an awful sight in our safety gear vicariously churning bowls of soap mix. Bookmark here

I forget that whisks aren't even a thing here!Bookmark here

"Are these mixing correctly?"Bookmark here

"Oh it's steaming!"Bookmark here

"Miss Rosalia? What now?!"Bookmark here

Everyone tried to reassure me that we could mix very hard using a ladle but I was insistent on tying forks and sticks together. After some time and a lot of sore arms, everyone switched over to using my makeshift whisks. Bookmark here

Didn't I say to just listen and follow me? Of course, I'm right. Hmmpf!Bookmark here

I got my arm workout of the day for sure, after all, someone had to demonstrate how to and when to properly stir. Mother did pretty well for herself actually, she lasted a full 10 minutes of some surprisingly fast stirring before needing a break. Bookmark here

The scooping and pouring into the molds was much more fun, and a lot less exhausting. I think everyone in the room would agree as they all gathered around for the first pour. It was probably the best part with people socializing, laughing and overall having a good time playing with soap making.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

I accepted suggestions for additions in making the various 3rd batch. It was a lot like leading a classroom of excited children, except for the fact that I was the sole child in a room of teens and adults.Bookmark here

Oh how the roles have flipped.Bookmark here

An unfamiliar young maid caught my attention during this part. Not one of my own. She's a little gangling thing with sandy blond hair and a splattering of freckles peeking out through her all safety wraps. Bookmark here

"You, what your name?"Bookmark here

"Epp! Uh, me-me?"Bookmark here

"Yes you with the pigtails and freckles. The one holding a whole orange."Bookmark here

"I'm so-so terribly sor-rr-rry Miss Rosalia, I'll put it away right aw- w-aay."Bookmark here

"Stop apologizing and just answer me! I like your idea! Citrus works as an amazing cleanser, so what is your name and position?"Bookmark here

Abigail is 13 years old this year and has recently come to the capital to train in something beyond her family's grain miller. She's the middle child of 6 and blah blah blah whatever I'll take her. Bookmark here

The head maid supervising gave me the ok right away. Ignoring the pure shock on Abigail's face, her work contract is basically mine now. Bookmark here

Hey now don't worry, following me isn't a bad deal here.Bookmark here

She was a solid learner throughout the process but her excitement and creative suggestions at the end was interesting. I won't be so egotistical to think only I would think of adding fruit but she thought of it all on her own. Bookmark here

Of course, I only allowed her to add the zest and peels off the citruses she chose. Mashing the whole fruit in is a little much, the wet flesh wouldn't preserve well. Bookmark here

This was after a round of mass applause and congratulation for Abigail's 'promotion'. That and after we got her off the floor. I'm only so tall at my age, you really don't have to drop crying at my feet.Bookmark here

Really please stop, it's awkward for me too.Bookmark here

The last thing to be made after cloth wrapping all the soap was the cream and some impromptu rose water toner.Bookmark here

Soap making is too tiring, we have to end with the easy things. I sent the rest of the staff to clean up and set the soap to cure. Bookmark here

The rest is so simple to make that just George and I are enough. Mother of course stayed with us as an interested audience and helping hand. The fact that these are all the people in the room I can trust 100% is also a factor. Bookmark here

Moisturizing cream was just as simple as I remember it being with oil, scents and a lot of tallow. Yes that's right, whipped rendered animals fats. This is what will revolutionize the skincare industry here. While I'd personally prefer to use a cold cream made of beeswax, I won't knock a good thing just because I perceive it to be a little gross. The finished product is a completely different thing no one would suspect. There's nothing like this in the market right now nor will there be according to my memories. Bookmark here

This is the potential white gold of this world, as long as I use it right. Bookmark here

Since we had trace leftovers I threw in the almond and floral oils as well. It would whip and cool in large milk buckets before we transfer it over some more appropriate jars later. Bookmark here

Our dry skin is saved!Bookmark here

For the rest of the rose water, I've had the head maid make a special last minute delivery of witch hazel. We sealed 3 modern beer sized bottles of that acne curing stuff. Bookmark here

I leave two of the bottles to mother for her own beauty use and safekeeping. It's great for skincare even if you don't have problematic pimples. Bookmark here

Thus the final bottle is gifted to my faithful George.Bookmark here

Sorry for making you whip so much stuff and overall working you to death with me. Please pat this on your clean face in the morning and at night. Some of the tallow cream is for you too, when it cools that is.Bookmark here

There's no one watching besides an amused mother and the head maid here, which is good since a 15 year old boy tearing up is a rather awkward sight. Thankfully he recovers much more gracefully than Abigail did earlier, dramatically wiping a not so fake tear from his face.Bookmark here

"To think our little Rosa would already be gifting things out. They grow up so fast."Bookmark here

"Hmmpf! Let's just hurry up and get to dinner, I'm starving!"Bookmark here

Enough mushy stuff, my arms are sore. Soap making is hungry work!Bookmark here

Bookmark here

______Bookmark here

Author: I am such a boring person. I actually knew how to make soap before writing this story. I'm like an old granny. Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.