January 27, 2014
Greetings Linfield post followers,
Our Thailand group recently had the opportunity to assist in soap making with the ladies of the Muslim village of Ban Talae Nok. Students helped with the preliminary procedures for soap preparation, which required the use of 99% sodium hydroxide (lye), palm oil, soy bean oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, olive oil, and other ingredients unique for each fragrance e.g., lemongrass. Afterwards, our group had the opportunity to make our own soap souvenirs using completed soap bricks. Cinnamon and Lemongrass were some of our group members’ favorite fragrances.
The villagers began producing the fragrant soap eight and a half years ago to aid in economic recovery from the devastating Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that struck Thailand in 2004. The twenty women that formed the soap-making cooperative aimed to provide a future with more security and self-reliance for themselves and their family members.
Our Jan term group enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about the soap-making process, which is roughly similar to the smaller-scale lab-sized soap-making processes a student would encounter in an organic chemistry saponification lab experiment. However, one notable difference between soap making in Thailand and the U.S. was the handling of caustic materials during soap preparation. Overall, soap making was an educational and inspirational experience.
Thanks for reading,