Monday, February 15, 2010

Blame it on the soap fairies

A customer who's interested in learning how to make soap recently asked how I dealt with the frustration of soap batches that didn't turn out right. 

That’s a great question because I’ve never been able to overcome the disappointment of having wasted valuable ingredients. Soaps that failed frustrate and disappoint me just as much today as when I actually made them, no matter how long ago that was. But that’s just how it goes. Some experiments work, others don’t. Usually when a soap fails it’s due to an error in the formulation. Something was left out, something was mismeasured, or something was calculated incorrectly.

I rarely have failures now, I'm happy to say. But I do have experiments that don't come out as well as I had hoped.  A new fragrance blend doesn't smell quite the way I wanted it to, for example.  Or something I tried to enhance the appearance of the finished soap didn't quite result in the look I had in mind.  Or one of the fussier soaps I make decides to be extra fussy and not gel properly, resulting in a soap that's just not up to par in terms of appearance or texture.  Most of these soaps I either use myself, sell at a discount, or give away.  

But I'm convinced that sometimes the real explanation is that it’s the work of the soap fairies.  They’re quiet and benign most of the time, lurking in the background, watching but not interfering.  When they decide to act up, however, there's no telling what will happen.  The result can be an unaccountable failure or a magnificent success. Both have happened to me. All I can do is scratch my head and wonder.