Soap Makin’ with Old Town Suds: Plus, Giveaway & Discount!

Old Town Suds Natural Soap

As a natural product junkie, I’m curious about what goes into my beauty, bath and skincare purchases, all the way from ingredient sourcing/origins to process and packaging.

So, naturally, (had to, sorry) I jumped at the chance to attend a soap making class led by the Owner and “Chief Sudsologist” behind a local, natural soapmaking company that I know, use and love: Old Town Suds. I’m excited to share my soap making experience here on Unsullied, and Old Town Suds was generous enough to offer a freakin’ fabulous giveaway of their products, plus a discount code to use on their classes, beautiful soaps, and other beauty and skincare essentials. Read on for all of the sudsy goodness!

Steffanie, the founder of Old Town Suds, began making her own handmade, natural soaps, bath, beauty and household products in 2011 after a major health concern that resulted in brain surgery. Steffanie is now celebrating three years post-surgery and her natural products are a bigger part of her life – and the lives of her Old Town Suds customers – than ever! Her story is nothing short of inspiring…and I love that Steffanie turned a scary situation into something so positive by launching a business and sharing her natural creations with the public. Her tagline for Old Town Suds is “…made with products you can eat and drink,” and from her gentle lemongrass laundry detergent to her shampoo bars, I can say I’m a HUGE fan of her goods. Seriously, I first approached Steffanie about this post last fall, before we even had a blog. (Putting the cart before the horse, much?)

When I saw that Steffanie was offering soap making classes ($50 for a one hour class), I thought, yep, this is the type of gal I want as an instructor! So, t’was a sunny Saturday that I drove out to the Old Town Suds soap making kitchen (a whole floor in Steffanie’s house) in Virginia. And it was glorious. And yielded me a full pound of custom, sweet, woodsy smelling soap. It’s the current Unsullied soap of record, y’all!

So, how do you even make soap? Most people who have seen Fight Club know that it involves lye (and human fat cells…just kidding. That’s movie fiction!…right?). The basic gist is lye (sodium hydroxide) + water, mixed with oils/solid fats (think almond, olive, etc. oils + shea butter or cocoa butter, etc.) = saponification = SOAP!

We started off the class by peeping at Steffanie’s soap curing racks for a bit of inspiration. (Cue the “oooohs” and “aaaahs!”) This is a soap enthusiast’s dream. Steffanie had all types of artisan soaps in a rainbow of colors and beautiful textures and swirls – beer based, charcoal face cleansers, shampoo bars, and even a “tingly” bar made with sriracha!…don’t mind if i do. You can check out her assortment on the Old Town Suds online shop.

Old Town Suds soap curing

After drooling over Steffanie’s creations, we set off to make our own. We began by browsing Steffanie’s seriously colossal collection of scented oils to give our soaps that special somethin’. I opted for a mix of essential oils, and with Steffanie’s guidance and suggestions, settled on a blend of grapefruit, rosemary and tea tree oils. This yielded a woodsy, subtly sweet scent that I LOVE. Bonus: of the many benefits of tea tree oil, it has skin-clearing properties.

Soap making oils

Next up: we had the option to select a clay to add some color to our soaps. Yes, please! Steffanie had a great selection, from shades of greens, purples, pinks, neutrals and more. I couldn’t say no to her rose clay: since I was scenting my soap with grapefruit essential oil, is only seemed suiting. Plus, it’s pretty!

After that, we strapped on mad scientist goggles and the real science of soap making began.

Steffanie mixed lye and water, which causes an exothermic reaction…that stuff gets HOT. We had fun pointing a temperature gun at the mixture, watching the temp spike and then fall back down. She then mixed together a selection of nourishing oils and butters. Once the lye mixture had cooled closer to the temperature of the oils, she mixed them together to start the saponification process. She divided up the mixture among her students: at this time, I mixed in my essential oils and rose clay to create my own custom batch. After some mixing via a stick blender, the mixture began to thicken enough (reaching the “trace” state) that it could hold peaks, swirls and swoops, which I made with a spoon. Finally, it was time to seal up our soaps in take home containers. Parting is such sweet sorrow…

Old Town Suds Soapmaking Class

What follows is the hardest part about soap making: WAITING FOUR WEEKS to lather up with ‘em! Soap has to cure after it’s been mixed and cooled in order for the water to evaporate. This creates a harder bar of soap that lasts longer and offers sufficient suds. After getting my one pound tub of soap home, I sliced it into bars after about 24 hours, and now have them laid out to cure for the next four weeks. I’m literally watching over the bars like a mother hen (but not sitting on them) - and I’m so pleased with my pink, swirly bars that resulted from Steffanie’s class! As soon as I hit the four week mark, those babies are going in my shower. And I will REJOICE.

Despite the waiting game, Steffanie gave us a bit of instant gratification at the end of class: all of her students were invited to pick out one of her lovely soaps to take home. Hallelujah. I went with her favorite, the Dry Skin Buster.


AND…I also have some instant gratification for Unsullied readers! Old Town Suds put together a custom spa giveaway package worth $49 (wooooo!), that one of you will win. It’s open to everyone, U.S. and international readers. Here’s what’s inside:

To enter and experience this fabulous local brand, follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Steffanie has also offered up a discount code so that you can get whatever you want from her shop, or sign up for one of her soap making classes.

Use code getunsullied to receive 15% off Old Town Suds orders over $25.

The code expires on April 15, 2014.

As Steffanie would say…stay sudsy!

  • Molly

    YOU GUYS ARE SO LEGIT, doing a blog giveaway. Hit me up with some Relaxation Station!!! Or the Luxury Spa Bar… or everything :)

    • Jennifer

      Not going to lie, I’m a LITTLE excited about our first giveaway. (Understatement of the century) Thanks for entering, Moll!

  • Caitie

    Sounds awesome! I’d love to find somewhere here to take a soap making class :) I’ve done lots of reading/research, so I get the how-to’s, but the lye part makes me nervous to just go it alone the first time.

    I think I’d choose the Dry Skin Buster, but Smell the Rainbow has me intrigued too!

    • Jennifer

      100% agree with you – when I first read up on how to make soap, I figured I’d blow up my kitchen if I tried do it by myself. The class experience was much better! Thanks for the comment!

  • Meg Schneider

    Wow, sounds like I have to try a soap-making class! In terms of what bar, hmm…I think the Alexandria Beer Soap would be cool! :) Thanks for this giveaway!

    • Jennifer

      Great pick + good luck! Thanks for entering. :)

  • Ania

    I’d choose dry skin buster :) This all looks amazing!

  • lizriz

    That class sounds positively delightful! And the soap sounds marvelous. :)

  • lizriz

    Oh, and I would choose The Green Fairy. Mmm…

  • Call It Vanity

    4 weeks?! Sounds like some kind of torture to me! Seriously though, I’ve never made soap and it sounds like alotta fun. I reckon I’d pick the Luscious Locks bar as I’ve been searching high and low for a decent shampoo bar.

    Mayah x

    • Jennifer

      I know, this is seriously a lesson in patience for me. Hopefully I haven’t mauled my soap bars to death by the time the four week is up… :/

      I have Luscious Locks in my shower right now! Haven’t tried it yet, will let you know how it is :)

  • Kasey

    Oh boy, my heart is racing this sounds so fun! II visit Virginia a lot (my boyfriend lives there) so maybe I can visit Old Town Suds for a class next time :) The soap you made looks amazing and I love the story behind the company. Mmm the Sweet Rose soap sounds lovely. Great post!
    P.S. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks of Fight Club when I think about soapmaking! haha ;)

    • Jennifer

      Whaaaat! We may have to plan a blogger meet up next time you’re in the vicinity! Thanks for entering :)

  • Amber

    SO awesome! My sister just walked past my laptop as I scrolled over the photo of your oh-so-pretty pink bars and said ‘ooooh what’s that?! looks so pretty!’. Sounds like you had an awesome time!

    • Jennifer

      That is the highest compliment of ALL. :) Haha, thanks, Amber!

  • Amber

    OOH SORRY! I would choose Peppermint Surprise!

  • Mademoiselle Nature

    Really interesting post! I ‘m glad you enjoyed the soap class!
    Would love to win the Milk and Honey soap….looking really nourishing! x

  • Taylor

    I’d LOVE the chance to take the class it looks like a blast! I think I would choose the Japanese Citrus bar.

  • Ru

    I love lemongrass, so Spring Breeze would be my top pick! Thanks for this giveaway, the soaps look so awesome!

    • Jennifer

      Thanks for commenting + entering, Ru! Old Town Suds’ lemongrass laundry detergent smells all types of lovely…bet the soap is great, too!

  • Angie

    Dry Skin Buster sounds amazing! :)

    • Jennifer

      Great pick, IT IS! I have it in my shower right now and am loving it!

  • Naturally Paula (@saints09chick)

    Um, hello! How have I not entered until now! I’d love to try the dry skin buster! Natural soap + something for my dry skin = heaven :)

  • Kat

    the luxury spa bar sounds divine xx

  • Kimberly

    I am so glad she is doing so well with the soap process! I would love to try some! The dry skin bar is probably what I need at this point….

  • Tess

    Is it bad that I’m sorely disappointed there are so many comments on here? I mean, it’s great you guys are getting followers, but I want this giveaway! Great post Jennifer and sister I have never met, keep up the awesome blogging! xx

  • Becky

    I got my girlfriend a “how to make soap” zine at some point, but we haven’t tried it yet! This is terrific.

    • Jennifer

      I think I need that zine. Good luck with your project!

  • Susan O’Bryant

    I’d definitely pick the Dry Skin Buster. I am one of those weirdos who has dry skin all the time, even in the summer, even in the South!

  • Hephzibah

    Ohh, I love the pink soaps you made! The course sounds amazing, I’d love to go on something similar here in the UK. Came here via a comment on my blog, thanks so much for stopping by!

    Oh, and I’d probably go for… arrr…decisions… the Lemon Verbana, I think. Mmm. :)

    Hephzibah x

  • Aimee

    I so wish I lived close to Stephanie, I’d make soap every weekend- if she’d let me. I’d like to try the champagne detox thing!

  • Laura D

    That sounds so cool to become a ‘sudsologist’. I love natural based soaps, you can’t be too careful about what you put on your skin. Would the guys be attracted to the scent of the beer based soap?