One of the greatest scenes from seminal counter-cultural macho fest Fight Club has got to be the one and only Tyler Durden burning the crap out of Ed Norton's hand with caustic soda in a male-bonding initiation ceremony so hardcore its almost homoerotic. Durden of course turns out to be Norton's merrymaking alter-ego and this is his first lesson in the very sexy dangers of soap production.
"this is your life and its ending one minute at a time..."
It was this brilliant scene I had in mind when I attended Melinda Coss's soap production course today in lovely, leafy Walthamstow. Melinda couldn't quite reach the same heights of hotness as Tyler Durden but she proved to be a wise old owl, having decades of soap making experience including a stint learning and teaching the craft in Africa. Melinda (above) and her lovely crew of ladies explained the delicious chemical reaction which occurs when caustic soda mixes with oil to create soap, like water into wine...(maybe not that good). Hence the requirement of the heavy duty industrial safety chic items below.
Melinda's course gave an excellent run down of the fundamental history and principles behind soap making as well as two attempts at the actual process, very messy and requiring an exacting precision to get the measurements correct. We made a basic batch with ylang ylang essential oils, then a batch experimenting with different colour pigments to create some pretty pastel swirly effects. It proved to be somewhat of a labour of love producing our own bespoke soaps...and it feels creepily satisfying to pour your heart and soul (not to mention risking third degree burns and potential blindness) into creating an object your lover will ideally be rubbing enthusiastically over his/her genitals at some point in the future. For more information on Melinda's courses check this link.