On July 14, a dozen women walked into a room that smelled of several fragrances. The scents would grow over the next hour as the class at the Southeastern Louisiana University Livingston campus in Walker learned the craft of soap making.

The teacher, Jennifer Rowell, has a side business selling Harry Potter-inspired soaps called The Soapy Cauldron Shop, available on Etsy. She shared that she learned the entire process from YouTube. She had samples of her work on display.

The class learned the cold process. Rowell said there are two other methods: the melt and pour, seen in many craft stores, and the hot process, which is similar to the cold but with the additional step of low heat. The hot process product can be used instantly once the product has set in a mold, whereas the cold process has to cure for several weeks. She said the cold process makes prettier soap, so it’s a difference of speed versus looks.

Each student got to pick a color and scent to make their individual soap.

Rowell had the ingredients divided up for each student. Soap is a water and lye mixture plus a mix of melted oils, with fragrance and color added, if wanted.

Each student mixed the ingredients and then poured the mix into a mold. Add-ons available include oatmeal, coffee grounds and colorful soap bits.

The oil mixture is ultimately where soap makers can make their mark. Different combinations of oils give different results. While Rowell shared what oils were in her mixture, she didn’t share her secret proportions.

Each person had to leave the soap behind to let it cure for a day. Rowell was planning to cut each block in to 10 bars for students to pick up later.


Email Leila Pitchford at lpitchford@theadvocate.com.