“He thought it was a candy bar,” she said, pointing to a giant brown and white block sitting atop the dining room in her Anniston home.
It’s not really that surprising. At first glance it’s quite easy to mistake the sweet-smelling wedge for a king-sized Snickers bar with creamy vanilla frosting on top. But truth is, it’s chocolate espresso soap with ground-up coffee in it for exfoliation.
If coffee isn’t your pleasure, then how about coconut, pomegranate or white tea-and-ginger, three of Morris’ fragrances for fall and winter — along with soaps specially crafted for Alabama and Auburn fans.
“A lot are experiments that either do or don’t work,” she said while walking up to the wall of more than 25 different soaps in her kitchen.
Morris listens to other people when it comes to creating new scents. Her more popular fragrances are ones that she never would have considered making.
“My nose is not any more special than anyone else’s,” she said.
Morris started her soap-making endeavor, Blue Mountain Soapery, in February. She doesn’t just sell body bars that people want to eat. She also makes body lotions, body butters, lip balms, a facial spa line and pet shampoo. She hopes to eventually have her own hair care line.
Morris has received online orders from as far away as the United Kingdom and Pakistan. For those who prefer to shop locally, her products are for sale at Wright Dairy in Alexandria, and at local festivals.
Morris used to make wedding cakes, but had to stop when her health became an issue. She wanted to find something that used a similar skill set, but would allow her to cook without deadlines.
It turns out that making soap is a lot like making cake — except it takes about four weeks instead of a couple of days.
Morris said everything takes place on her stove, making the kitchen her playground. “Soap is chemistry. You combine lye, which is a caustic substance, with oils.” After that, the ingredients go through a chemical process called saponification.
Precise measurements are crucial when it comes to soap-making. One time Morris miscalculated lye measurements in a soap, which caused it to burn like acid. But when it’s done right, it can smell yummy and look awfully tasty, she said.
“When you’re done mixing everything together, it’s very similar in property to a cake batter. I wouldn’t leave it sitting on my counter because my kids would probably lick the spoon or something,” she said, laughing.
Though she’s the top soap chef in the family, Morris isn’t the only one involved in her business. Her son, Dakota, helped design her website. Her husband, Mike, helped her come up with the name Blue Mountain Soapery.
Mike also sells one of her more popular soaps, Camo Silk, out at McClellan, where he works for the National Guard. The soap features military colors and a fresh scent.
“All the guys up on the base want it,” she said. “It started out as an accident. It was supposed to be a very pretty white, sunshine yellow and green, and it sort of turned a different color. But he likes it. It’s guy-smelling and it’s not overly sweet.”
Morris has a couple of other options for men that were inspired by her nephews. One is based on Acqua di Gio by Giorgio Armani; the other, Untamed, smells like Abercrombie and Fitch.
Untamed is one of the soaps that Morris tops with mica, a sparkling mineral, for a fancy finish.
Though Morris enjoys working with soap, it doesn’t come without challenges. Aside from being dangerous, soap-making can also be time-consuming and expensive, especially when it comes to fragrances.
“Some of the fragrances are a little more difficult to work with than others,” she said. “If I’m not really fast, I get soap-on-a-stick.”
Morris enjoys creating fragrances that her clients recommend – unless they want “eau de skunk or something.” The one fragrance that people continually ask for that she is unable to replicate is puppy breath.
“There’s something about puppy breath,” she said. “I’ve never quite understood it, but there are people who get intoxicated by it.”
WHERE TO BUY...
Blue Mountain Soapery products are available at Wright Dairy in Alexandria and online. Visit www.bluemountainsoapery.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BlueMountainSoapery.
This story first appeared in the Fall 2013 issue of Northeast Alabama Living magazine.