Soap Making, with a Horribly Personal Digression

In my continuing effort to have a life outside of work—which is very satisfying, probably too satisfying—I made soap for the first time with a colleague.

Jack Bauer (I changed his name) is an astonishing guy.  Only 25, he’s completed fasted without food for five days, completed half-Ironmans, speaks multiple languages, and sold his car without replacing it just to see if he can do it.

A poor school teacher, he graduated without debt and made an extra $11,000 last year with extra duty pay.  He’s willing to coach any sport, supervise any activity, and drive any bus.   And now he’s started his own business!  Refreshing organic soap.

So I joined him on MLK, Jr., Day to help.  Here are the steps we followed:

  1. Measure water to mix with lye.
  2. Add lye.
  3. Take the mix outside. Even though it’s 15 degrees Fahreinheit, it will heat up all on its own.
  4. Add 8 ounces of Olive Oil.
  5. Add 4 ounces of Avocado Oil.

These organic oils aren’t just delicious and keto-approved, they give your skin health and a lustrous sheen.

  1. If the mix isn’t 100% liquid, melt it with low heat.
  2. The add lye when it’s 120.
  3. Mix in coconut.

Between the olive and avocado oil, and now this, I am noticing a healthy, natural, ketogenic trend to these oils.  You want to toss all of your lotion bottles in the trash and never waste money on artificial chemicals again?  Even if you’re 94 and just spent two hours in the bathtub, your skin will feel soft as a baby’s bottom if you use these three oils.

  1. Stir
  2. This time, between saving America from terrorists, Jack added 1.7 ounces of lavender to give it an incredible scent.
  3. Pour out 300 mL.
  4. Add 1 TBSP of charcoal. Not mandatory! This is for effect.

After that, Jack did some hocus pocus.  Maybe he chilled it.  Maybe he cooked it.  I don’t know because that was all we could do, other than chill or cook it, and wait.

Three days later, he gave me several bars of soap.  And I agreed to tell all my friends!  So I did.


How do I feel about all of this?

Pretty cool for knowing Jack, actually.  When I was 25, I had an M.A., a triple B.A., and I was teaching at UMKC.  And making about $15,000 a year.  (That’s $26,400 in 2018 dollars.)  I was teaching five college classes per semester for $1,440 each.  Full-time professors were teaching one or two and making $60,000 to $80,000.  Of course, they had Ph.D.s and were doing important research.  They might write an essay on nineteenth century poets that thirteen other professors just like them might read across the United States.  The university was dependent upon adjunct faculty members to do 85% of the teaching, to make 90% of their money, and pay out 95% of their salaries.  (Statistics approximate.)  I loved this work, but it was a monetary and career dead end.

Jack found a better way to teach much earlier.  With no debts, he works for two-thirds as much money as a public school teacher, but he also has ambitions to donate $5,000,000 in his lifetime.

How can he do this?! Is he delusional?!

Before I tell you, let me just contrast Jack and myself:

Jack is young, cool, articulate, sincere.  I am older, nerdy, imprecise sometimes, and a blend of sincerity and irony.

Jack is making the most of things.  In my twenties, I was a walking contradictory mess: working too hard, making no money, and thinking the party scene might work for me.  It never worked for me.  Jack has a better idea: let’s call it skill set funSkill set fun is when you play sports, learn to dance, and go on cool adventures, like to Peru or when you climb cliffs and swim in the Amazon.

In contrast, I had passive fun.  That’s when you watch movies with friends who drink too much.  You lift weights and run, but it doesn’t mix with drunks.  You can’t build yourself up half the time and take a wrecking ball to your life the rest of them time.

Back to Jack:

How can he donate $5,000,000 in his lifetime?! Is he delusional?!

Well, no.  There are two ways to donate $5,000,000 that he’s hit upon:

1) Create a soap company.  His goal for this year is to make $11,000.  He already has more customers than soap.

            2) Set up a trust fund.  Did you know if you contribute just $413,280 over 42 years—that’s $820 per month—it will grow to $5,016,123.  But you have to put it in an index fund that tracks the American stock market.  Anything else is financial suicide.  (Just google “Warren Buffett index fund advice”) or read this essay, “The Myth of Mutual Funds,” by the incomparable Heath Brothers:

You can do the math for yourself at

Look, you don’t have to donate a nickel.  I’d love to establish a trust fund myself, but my friend Jack Bauer wants to donate $5,000,000.  He also wants to live life like a Tim Ferriss experiment.  That’s why he sold his car, makes soap, and is planning new and exciting adventures.

Home soap making is actually a booming industry, as you can imagine.  Just as organic food got to $9,000,000 by 2007 with no advertising whatsoever, it appears that many people are preferring things that are organic and/or locally sourced.  (Buzzwords.  Sigh.  How do I avoid them?!)

In the meantime, I helped Jack make soap.  And I felt better about my life.  My tiny little life that is all about teaching, home, and the grocery store.

And when we finished, he kept terrorists from hijacking the White House.

Next post: February 5, 2018.  Possibly.









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