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The art of making soap: Sat:Suma

Updated: Jan 24, 2021

Naina Panemanglor of Sat:Suma introduces us to the fine art of soap making.

When Naina, maker of the artistic soaps at Sat:Suma extended me a casual invitation to her soapery, I wasn't really expecting to be part of quite so therapeutic an experience. From film production to soap-making appears to be a drastic career switch - it appears that 2020 was the year of reawakening and steps forward in the direction of ones passions. What started as an attempt to reduce the amount of store bought items in her home, soon turned into a hobby for her better products for her family and gifts for friends.

A bar of soap
Makes you want to know its story, doesn't it?
Two cats
Kaza and Tabo who aren't allowed inside the soapery even though they are very curious

Sat:Suma soaps take birth in a small section of Naina's beautiful Pune home where she lives with her husband, daughter and two cats. Her eclectically designed home sits in a quiet part of the city overlooking a hill. If i were an artisanal soap, I would want to be born here.

"The hardest part of making a soap is getting certain measurements absolutely right - the weight and the temperature. And you need to do some calculations too so I always keep my calculator handy." I wonder aloud if she is an ace at chemistry and baking.

Naina prefers a manual whisker to an automated one
Measurements are key for the best results

Clad in an apron, gloves and laboratory eye glasses, Naina seems a bit anxious. It is evening now. She confesses to me that this is the first time she's making soap at this time. The afternoon time is her golden hour for making soaps - when the light is perfect and her daughter is napping. She is nervous about not being well-organised but she makes up for this with her quick on her toe-ness. She runs from one cabinet to the other to gather her plethora of ingredients, some essential to the process and some decorative.

"Always add the lye to water and not the other way around or you'll end up with a sort of volcanic eruption." I make a mental note of this - by this time I'm inspired to try my hand at this on my own sometime soon. When her husband saunters in and touches the lye, Naina quips a quick warning to none of us in particular, "I have an extra pair of gloves if you would like to assist". We learn that the lye is the most essential ingredient of soap making, it's what results in 'saponification', the chemical reaction that gives out heat. It is a bad idea to touch the lye because it can cause your fingers to burn.

For the soap we are making, fresh turmeric is grated, dissolved in the oils to lend it an orangey shade and then sieved through a tea strainer. We animatedly discuss how important it is to use soaps that are a 100% natural. To give the soaps their attractive colours, Sat:Suma's pantry list consists of indigo, beetroot powder, Moroccan red clay, Rhassoul green clay, madder and many more. The divine fragrance comes from a combination of various essential oils - a true craft of the nose.

I came away looking forward to using a bar of the soap I had just witnessed come together with all its science and heart.

You too can indulge in some Sat:Suma skincare via their website (that incidentally launched just today.)

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Peter Hartman
Peter Hartman
Sep 26, 2021

Gratefful for sharing this

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