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Learn how soap making combines science and art

By Staff | Sep 13, 2013

Michelle Kwiatkowski learned the art of soap making from her grandmother, Rose. In her honor, Kwiatkowski has named her small business “Wild Rose Soap.”

She started the business about four years ago, she said, when living in Bethesda, Md. She and her husband have now relocated to Shepherdstown and have brought the business along.

Kwiatkowski shared that while she makes soap and other other products for wholesale, she loves teaching others how to make the products as well.

“I think a lot of people who make soaps try to keep it to themselves,” she said, “but I love the teaching part.”

Kwiatkowski will share her knowledge beginning with a Soap Making 101 offered this Saturday at 11 a.m. Another 101 Class is scheduled for Oct. 27. In this class, students will learn the fundamentals of Cold Process soap making. They will make a batch of soap using olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, cocoa butter and lye, she said. Students will add Essential Oils and herbs to make a beautiful natural soap. Each student will receive about one pound of soap from the class. Students will receive safety tips, recipes and resources to help the beginning soap-maker. Cost for the class is $90 and availability can be checked by visiting www.mywildrosesoap.com.

Originally from Wisconsin, Kwiatkowski said that it takes about an hour or so of active time to make soap; however, it takes much longer for it to be ready to use. She explained that there are three basic ingredients used in soap: water, lye and fats or oils.

“A chemical reaction between these things turns them into soap,” she said. The reaction, known as “saponification,” literally means “the making of soap.”

In addition to bar soaps, Wild Rose also offers lotions, body scrubs, bath salts and a novelty item called a Cupcake Bath Bomb which dissolves in bath water. Many of the business’s items can be found in downtown Shepherdstown at local shops including German Street Coffee and Candlery and The Local Source. They can also be found on the website listed above.

Kwiatkowski hopes to offer additional classes in how to make many of the items she sells. An updated list of classes can be found on the website as well.

“The ideal size is about five students,” she said, “which allows for plenty of personalized study.” Students are taught not only the needed steps to make soap and other products, but also the safety involved in the endeavor.

The use of lye can be dangerous, Kwiatkowski said, as it can cause skin irritation. She said she also teaches about proper storage of the materials used in soap making to keep household children and pets safe from harm.

Classes teach the use of fragrance oils, which are artificial compared with natural essential oils. Advanced classes can also cover making scrubs, masks and other cleaning products.

For more information on the classes, one can visit the website or call Kwitkowski at 202-525-6067 or via email at michelle@mywildrosesoap.com. .