SOUTHINGTON – Store-bought soap will never be the same for the women who took Saturday’s soap-making class at Bradley Mountain Farm.
After each making their own soap from all-natural ingredients, fresh goat milk and unique fragrances, they may never go back to the boring bars that line the grocery store shelves.
Marilyn Modzelewski and her twin took a class for their birthday and returned for a second time on Saturday to celebrate Modzelewski’s niece’s birthday.
“The soap is really nice, really lathery, and it smells good,” Modzelewski said. “I just like the way it feels.”
“It was fun to learn how to do it,” she added.
Heather Clark was also there for her birthday. The workshop was a present from her daughter, Cortlyn. The two drove an hour from Massachusetts to take part in the class.
“It’s a kind of mother-daughter day,” Clark said, adding that the workshop is “something new and interesting.”
All the attendees listened carefully and asked questions as Karen Perry, store manager, explained the soap making process.
Perry taught them hot-process soap making. She first heated the oils, such as olive, caster, coconut and palm, in steam tables. Then she added in the goat milk from the farm.
Goat milk is great for soap because of the high fat content, Perry explained. The fat makes skin silky smooth and can help with eczema and psoriasis. Other types of milk can be used in soap, but goat milk is one of the better ones, said Perry.
She next added the lye, which makes the soap lather. She cautioned that lye is a dangerous chemical that can burn skin before it is treated.
“Treat the lye with respect. The lye is the boss,” said Perry.
While the soap cooked for an hour, the soap-makers chose which fragrances they wanted in their batch.
With 100 to choose from, the decision was difficult. There were the usual scents, like cucumber and melon, blueberry, apple and cherry blossom. There were also some more outlandish ones, like freshly cut grass, brewed coffee, Bay Rum and love juice.
Perry said lavender and honey oatmeal are the most popular.
Clark decided to go with apple butter caramel and buttercream cupcake.
“Those two together smell like an apple dumpling,” she said.
With soap-making, it is also very common to add in oatmeal, flowers or lavender seeds.
“Oatmeal is very good for your skin,” Perry said, adding that the oatmeal honey is her favorite.
After adding the fragrances, each woman picked out colors for their soap. Some even elected to sprinkle glitter on the top.
Every person left with four pounds of soap, each batch unique.
Perry said that the soap-making classes are popular.
“Nine times out of ten the classes are full,” she said. Saturday was booked full.
The store has 30 to 35 different kinds of pre-made soap for those who can’t make it to a class. They have seasonal specials, like apple harvest, some “manly” soap, like “The Perfect Man Soap,” and some geared to kids, like “Monkey Farts,” a blend of coconut and banana.
There’s soap for sinus relief, soap for gardeners. There’s even soap with pine tar, which helps heals wounds and alleviate poison ivy.
Perry splashed into the soap-making business eight years ago with farm owner Anneliese Dadras. They started making soap in Dadras’ basement and traveled to farmers markets and craft fairs. They even made soap for the Big E for two years.
“It was a lot of soap coming out of that little basement,” Perry said.
“Little by little we added on. We did a class here and there and then it just expanded,” she said.
The classes are held at the farm, which Dadras bought four years ago and renovated. The farm also has Open Farm Days on Sundays from 10 am to 3 pm where people can drop in to make their own soap and also meet some of the 28 goats on the property.
For more information Bradley Mountain Farm and its other fun activities, visit https://bradleymountainfarm.com.
Michelle Jalbert can be reached at email@example.com.