Tag Archives: Hobby

A Homemade Soap Recipe

Part four of a Series on Soap. Part One, On the Quest for Soap. Part Two, What is Soap? Part Three, On the Quest for Lye are linked if you’re interested.

I hate searching for a new recipe, finding something that looks nice, and getting a 2,000-word-count blog about the meaning behind the recipe, how the meal tastes, or the detailed cooking process. No, I don’t need to hear how much better a Dutch oven is (what even is that?) and why I shouldn’t just use a glass baking dish. That’s all we have and that’s what I’m going to use! I know why they do this — word count, keywords, photographs, etc. — but I’m still a guy looking for a recipe and only a recipe. Where is it? Usually at the bottom of the page past all the paragraphs, photographs, and advertisements. Ignore the text, scrollscrollscroll until I see the list, screencap that shit and scurry back to Reddit for a few days before I actually try to cook the recipe.

So I won’t do that here and here’s a quick and basic soap recipe. It’s nothing fancy, nothing that’ll make your mother-in-law finally impressed with you, nothing to quit your job over, nothing to justify your lack of a real career over, but it’s soap. I’m keeping it simple and basic for a few reasons: I don’t know what I’m doing anyways, trying something new should be kept simple (and cheap), and to give anyone trying this ample room to get creative. Add your own scents! Try to mold it into animals or Christmas trees! Add color. Make it look like a cheesecake. Whatever. The fun with these projects is experimenting.

So finally, my Very Basic Soap Ver. 2.2.1 Recipe:

300 grams (about 1.5ish cups) of canola oil

36 grams of lye (sodium hydroxide, NaOH, drain cleaner from the hardware store, check the label)

3/8 cups of cold water

It’s all pretty easy to do. Dissolve the lye in some cold water (The water will heat up when adding lye so make sure you start with cold water and add the lye slowly!) and add that to your oil. Grab a blender and blend the shit out of it. It should cloud up quickly and you want to mix long enough until the oil/soap/lye doesn’t separate. This mix usually does it pretty quickly, after a few minutes. It’ll still be fairly liquid and won’t look at all like a solid bar of soap, but will have a slight ‘soapy’ smell. I’ve been letting it sit for about ten or twenty minutes to make sure it’s mixed well and doesn’t separate, and if this doesn’t happen you’re basically done.

(Note about lye: Lye is corrosive. Lye will eat your skin. Lye reacts with a bunch of stuff. Be safe with it. It won’t kill you and it’s not really dangerous as long as you’re careful. If you get some on you, just wash it off. If you don’t you’ll notice a red mark and it’ll itch. No big deal, just be aware that it’s called ‘caustic soda’ for a reason.

Also, do not use metal for your mixing bowl or mold! Lye reacts with aluminum to form hydrogen gas, and while flammable probably won’t be a fire risk, but if the lye in your soap starts reacting furiously with your container it will certainly fuck your soap up. You want all the lye to react with the oil and reacting a bunch of it with aluminum will ruin everything.

I found this out by buying those single-use aluminum baking dishes to use as cheap soap mold. I knew Al and NaOH reacted but somehow forgot about this until I poured the soap into them. It started bubbling. Instantly I recalled the Al + NaOH reaction and dumped the soap into a ceramic dish/mold. I put the aluminum, along with the soap residue, outside for the night. Most of it was gone the next day.)

Add scents or coloring if you want, mix that all together, and pour it into a mold or whatever you have laying around. Hell, just leave it in the container you mixed it in if you like. Over the course of a few days it’ll harden up and you can remove it from the mold to further dry.

Apparently this soap needs to sit a long time to properly finish, but can be used a few days after you make it. It’ll be soft and will quickly dissolve once water gets involved, but it will work. Just try to be patient and wait for it to properly cure before you get too excited to use your creation.

As for how I got these numbers, namely the amount of lye required, I’ll make another post about that. I already have it written — it was supposed to be part of this post — but it’s a totally different topic that doesn’t fit. Part Five later on today perhaps?

Check out my YouTube channel about off-grid green energy setups!

Or my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

The “Valley of Despair” Sucks

I sometimes frequent the blogging subreddit, but not too frequently. The sub seems to focus mostly on increasing viewers, finding topics to write about, and doesn’t seem too concerned with the “art” of blogging. It isn’t too active of a sub with most posts getting at most between 20 to 30 comments. Compared to some subreddits (like the famed r/wallstreetbets) it isn’t really active even if you can find some decent information from time to time.

I still check it out sometimes and one comment resonated with me this past week. The actual discussion was about how many blogs actually “make it.” (which is an unexplained victory condition: what the hell does “making it” blogging mean? Make money? Keep it running for more than two years? I mean eventually you’ll die and your blog will end but that doesn’t seem like you’ve “failed at it.” Anyways, /rant #1.) There were varying answers but the one that stuck with me was one that mentioned “the valley of despair.” [Big Fucking Note here: I went and found the thread I was alluding too and the poster in question referred to it as “the dip” and linked to blog describing “the dip.” I really have no idea how I came upon the term “valley of despair” in regards to blogging, but apparently the term is real. Who fucking knows. Maybe my mind just connects dots on its own and doesn’t notify me that it’s doing so. Or maybe I’m losing my damn mind. I just wanted to stay accurate with what I’m actually writing.] I didn’t officially know what the hell the valley of despair was but something in the back of my mind knew it too well. Even if it wasn’t explained to me I already knew exactly what it was.

I suppose it’s easy to see in retrospect, as everything is. This blog right here had a “dead period” (actually two of them) not too long ago and since I’ve gotten my act together I’m finding some success. It feels like I’ve hit a stride where all I need to do is to keep working at the blog and it’ll be successful. I’m quietly confident about it and while I don’t think it’ll ever be a super-popular monetized thing I know it won’t be a “dead blog.” Looking back at those dead periods when I wasn’t writing, wasn’t posting, and felt about deleting the damn thing was, obviously, the dreaded valley of despair. And according to that one resonating Reddit comment, is the primary obstacle to successful blogging.

I didn’t want to make this post about blogging though because I’m in a new valley of despair in another area of my life: creative writing. To sum it up quickly, me, lost without any major goals, decided to take up creative writing about three weeks ago. I attempted this years ago and just didn’t stick with it, but this time it’s different. (Really. I’m fucking sticking to it this time.) I took my old blog and started collecting some short stories and chapters to a “book,” made a Facebook author’s page for myself, and started posting and sharing my work (please go check these out if you’re interested). Initially I was met with some warm reception from a few friends and, holy fuck, I was actually doing it! I was going to be Jeremy the Author Guy and sell books and shit. I was riding the wave and on top of the world was king of the world.

It’s funny what two weeks can do to you though. My last few “chapters” haven’t had shit for readers/viewers/likes/feedback at all, and I’m fundamentally wondering if I’m actually cut out to be a writer. Do I even have that “gift” that creative writing requires. (It doesn’t. I’m convinced, logically, that all anything takes is hard work and “talent” is just some bullshit idea people who don’t want to do hard work use as an excuse to not try anything. /rant #2.) Even if I know in my mind that it’s just hard work and dedication, I still feel in my heart there is some vague thing called “talent” that I might not have and will never have it even if I don’t believe it. It’s like some festering, subconscious fear I have, like being scared of the dark knowing well you’re perfectly safe. Hell, and maybe my stories are just terrible. This is a really scary thought because if they were no one would say it out of kindness. I’d like to really know how bad I am so I can either 1. give the fuck up or 2. know what I’m bad at exactly so I can improve on it. But pestering friends and family to read your shit is a whole new level of cringe that just comes across as attention seeking. BUT I JUST WANT FEEDBACK GUYS.

Let’s define this a little bit more though as it makes total sense with writing/blogging/whatever new project you’ve started. Some uninspired Googling has given me a bunch of charts and websites talking about “emotional change” and while that isn’t exactly what starting a project is, I think it’s close enough to actually be the same thing. Like maybe starting a new project is a subset of “emotional change” as you’re adjusting to having an entire new part of your life you’re dedicated to. There also is apparently a Dunning-Kruger valley of despair, but that doesn’t seem to be relevant to the topic at hand.

Since I couldn’t find a site that seemed legit or non-clickbaity enough, I just screencapped everything Google tossed at me. As you can see most charts show the same sort of trend when faced with “change.” It’s kinda like a sine curve or something.

Close enough, right?

And then I went and drew my own so I can talk about each point I labeled, as well as not get any sort of copyright bullshit tossed at me.

Current Mood vs. XP Points Gained at your “project” or whatever you’re doing. It seemed general enough.
  1. This is usually called “uninformed optimism” or some shit like that. Basically this is the point where you’re high off actually making a decision to progress forward at something. You have a goal that you’ve set upon and you start working towards it. Actually doing work towards a goal feels fucking amazing and even if you’re scared of the future, at least you’re taking matters into your own hands.
  2. This is the start of the valley of despair also called something lame like “informed pessimism.” This is where you realize that your goal isn’t going to be all fun and games and that, holy hell, sometimes doing a glorious and noble task like writing a book is actually not that fun sometimes. And sometimes it’s actual work that you dread.
  3. The pit of the valley of despair. I think with creative writing I’m somewhere between #2 and #3 (although I’d like to be closer to #3 so I can actually get over feeling awful about it. I don’t even know how to explain this spot on the chart because it’s like an unexplainable pit in your stomach. It’s a total feeling of shit, like you’re not meant or cut out to do what you’ve set out to do. Like the universe itself doesn’t want you as an author/blogger/artist/whatever. It makes you want to quit and many people do give up their project in this phase. The project feels like a mistake: a mistake that you continue to put time, effort, and resources towards that also feels like a waste of all of these. The general feeling of being shit is also kinda shitty. There doesn’t seem to be a way forward and you’re not happy doing what you’re doing. It’s a feeling of being lost and of wanting to toss the towel in and give up.
  4. “Informed optimism.” After hard work and giving up all hope you find some success but you’re not letting that shit go to your head because you think you still fucking suck at what you’re doing, but there are clear signs of progress if you quit being pessimistic enough to notice them. I like to think you make progress continually at this stage because of giving up in the valley of despair. You simply don’t care if you make it or not and your project just becomes something you do without attachment anymore. There’s something very freeing about not giving a shit, and this allows you to do what you do in the most genuine way possible. I say this so clearly because this blog right here is at #4 I think. I don’t give a fuck if no one reads it or if I fail, and contrary to what you’d expect, I’m actually have some success with it.
  5. Success! (whatever that actually means) I don’t even want to get into this because I don’t know what it’s like to be at #5. I’m assuming this is the point where you feel confident at what you’re doing — a quiet confidence that isn’t cocky — and your project has become a facet of who you are and part of your life. You accomplish things in a determined but carefree manner. I get this impression when I visit successful and mature blogs as well as many YouTube channels. Like go watch a newer SmarterEveryDay video and tell me Destin isn’t at #5 on this chart. That man is in the zone doing what he’s doing and he’s confident and enthusiastic with what he’s doing.

“Hey Black Haired Guy, got any tips for us bloggers/writers weathering the storm in the valley of despair?” No, no I do not because, like I said, I’m not at #5 so don’t think I am qualified to give tips and am kinda hoping for tips myself. But if anything (and maybe to just get myself fucking hyped the fuck up to continue on creatively writing) don’t give up! Because what else are you supposed to do besides not give up? If you give up in the valley of despair you’re fucking giving up. The whole thing this chart hints at is the fact that success might just be making it through the valley in the first place. Like maybe this is where the 80 or 90% of blogs that “don’t make it” go to die; what if the valley of despair is just the great filter between you and success? I just don’t see what you’d gain by giving up because giving up is giving up!

Being slightly more specific maybe I do have more ways to get myself siked up more tips for those in the valley of despair. Make small bits of progress: a book isn’t going to write itself in a few days and a blog won’t be successful in the first few months or years. Take things one tiny bit at a time. Write a chapter every two days or post a blog post every few days or every week. Maybe make a schedule and hold yourself to it like it’s a job? Try to summon memories from when you first started and we’re enthusiastic about your dream/goal. Find that passion that surely still lives deep within you. And if you’re really lost? Write down a plan. Writing seems to be a large part in marketing yourself so try doing that for some possible success. Ask people to read and critique your writings and learn from it. Or, to sum up what I said before: don’t fucking give up!