Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Confetti Soap

It's been a year and a half since I made the botched red patchouli soap that bleeds red. I took one of the bars and grated it up with a cheese grater, some big and some small shreds. Once soap is made, it cannot be melted and unmade. So if you mess up you can't melt it down again. Hence comes this confetti soap.

I got the idea from the Soap Queen website, when reading about colorant issues. I have to wait a month for it to cure and test it, but I only grated up one bar of red and put it into a regular white batch with 1500 g oils. I used my basic hand soap recipe where I make the larger bars and cut them in half for our family use. (perfect size for toddler hands). I like to use rendered tallow for it since it comes from the quarter beef we bought last year. It takes a lot more work to render tallow than it does to just open a package of lard, so I suppose that makes me want to save it for our home use. I think also that because tallow has such a high melting point (higher than lard, and MUCH higher than coconut oil) it makes for harder bars which last a very long time. If you ever have an unlabeled jar of lard and another of beef tallow and you aren't sure which is which (as I have on several occasions), lard is soft like butter at room temperature while tallow is still rock hard. Even straight from the fridge, I can scoop lard a little, but tallow is now a cold rock. There is a lot of science behind soapmaking that is pretty interesting. Our library purchased Scientific Soapmaking at my request last year but I have not gotten a chance to read it yet.

I have been thinking of putting eucalyptus scent into soap but was hesitant since it is such a strong smell. Normally I wouldn't put scent into our basic soap but I wanted to experiment with eucalyptus, so I put 4 grams worth into this batch, and you can't smell it at all after saponification. So now I know to use my regular 15g for a 1200 g batch and it will probably be perfect.

I made this soap 10/9/2016, and cut it a day later. I think it turned out very pretty. Here's hoping I don't see any red lather this time around, especially since this is what I'm planning for us to use for the next year (with a scented bar here and there).

Monday, October 10, 2016

Clove and Lavender soaps

This was supposed to be clove with a hint of orange (I didn't have much orange left), but I made the mistake of putting the oils together in a tiny plastic bathroom cup while I made the soap. It would have been fine for a few minutes, but after 30 minutes the oils burned through the cup and the oil leaked out. I scraped up what I could with a spatula, but I couldn't get every drop. So, it is more just clove soap now since there was hardly any orange to begin with.

This is the same lavender recipe as before, but this time I put in both blue and purple. Again, I forgot to take a picture the day it was made so this picture is from today.

And that makes 14 batches of soap so far. When the 15th batch is cut I'll post that next.

Basic family soap and two christmas soaps


This batch I wanted to be the basic bathroom soap to use in our house. It is unscented, with only a streak of purple in it for fun. I used the wider 3.5 inch inserts that came with the soap mold, and cut them in half, thinking it would be just right for small hands (toddlers). And it was perfect. I still have 3 bars of it left, and we've used it all year. I didn't have a picture of it from when it was made, so I took a picture today of what I had left.

10/28/2015 & 11/25/2015

I only have a picture of the first batch of peppermint soap. Both were red, white, and green, and scented with peppermint. The second batch had much finer swirls. I think I forgot the put the scent in until after I put it in the mold, so had to stir it a lot while in the mold. So it made for a a very very swirly soap. The nice thing about these soap pigments is they don't bleed into each other. So even though I basically attempted to blend them all together, it won't blend. If you tried to do it with an immersion blender it probably would blend too much and look bad. I probably won't ever try it though:)
Anyway the first batch looked like this:

And the second batch should have looked similar, except for the stirring I had to do in mold changed the look. Two people wanted to buy a bunch of soap at christmas and I didn't have enough, hence the second batch of peppermint.

Auctioned Soap

I made two batches in a row for a church auction. I only auctioned 4 bars of each though.


This one was cinnamon again with yellow colorant.


And this one was orange scent. My favorite scent really, but I have to use 3x the amount I would of other oils (and I used a 5x concentrated orange oil in the first place). So it is more expensive. And it fades quickly, within a few months instead of a year. I used no colorant here, the orange oil turned it yellow/orange. (Not great planning on my part for the auction, two yellow soaps...). Still, everyone loved the orange scent.

Lavender and Vanilla Soaps


Another lard based soap, lavender scented with blue swirls. I had friends who were having baby boys at the same time, so I made these imagining it would make a nice mother gift at the baby shower. I have to make soap at 4 weeks ahead since it takes that long to cure. Kind of annoying, but that's cold process for you.


This soap was colored by mixing red and blue pigment. I had the notion it would be purple...but it came out this mauve color. It was supposed to smell like vanilla thanks to benzoin essential oil, but I discovered benzoin to be a strange character (and not at all oil like..its thicker than honey). Too mild, the scent was destroyed in saponification. I still have some of the oil that I keep meaning to use in chapstick or something. But I have yet to make chapstick. So. There it waits.

I posted a picture of this soap on facebook and one person said it looked like headcheese, or brains. Greeaaaat. thanks. best compliment ever.

Cinnamon and Patchouli Soaps

My fourth batch of soap I was finally comfortable enough to do a scented one. This one had cinnamon leaf essential oil. But no colorant. I was not brave enough to do both at once...yet. Also, I had run out of beef tallow and so branched out into the convenience of lard. One pound blocks of it.


And that's the only photo from that batch. It was uniformly colored so didn't look much different in cross section. Cinnamon scent still remains a favorite of mine. Also you can see the cardboard has been replaced with wood blocks on the ends. Each soap "loaf" makes 14 bars of soap. The end pieces are always a little wrinkly looking, so I always keep those for me. I cut soap with a chefs knife, but grew tired of my imperfect slices so have since bought a cheapo miter box from home depot that helps me have uniformly sized bars. I gave the soap as gifts to people over the course of a year, and then two people have started buying it from me on occasion so I always cut 1 inch bars now. The end pieces are always slightly under 1 inch, but I get 12 1-inch-thick bars that are nice enough to sell or give away out of each batch.

My next batch was both colored and scented, my first try at that. It was also the only batch of soap that I refused to give away (because it was botched)...or really use much of personally. I made a mistake with the pigment powder which resulted in soap that produced a pink lather. Like bleeding soap. I still have at least half of the batch. I tried using it for a while, but it would stain my tub and shower curtain and I got so tired of having the scum on our ancient tub be so obvious that I felt obligated to clean more often...and so I nearly threw it out. I'm glad I didn't because I have finally found a use for it, which will be in a later post.

The scent is patchouli. It didn't do anything for me and I wouldn't use it again, at least not alone.

That white stuff on top is quite visible on this soap. I didn't understand what it was for the longest time. You can rub it off easily, but it was rather irritating. Finally this year (2016) I read something about it. It is ash precipitate from the lye. I put enough oil in the soap that the lye is fully used up in the chemical reaction, but there is still the precipitate on top. The solution is to spritz with rubbing alcohol after pouring. I don't have the issue anymore, but you'll see it on a few more projects.

Next two soaps

My soap mold arrived, purchased on etsy, so I made another batch with some green oxide pigment I'd purchased with the lye.

Poured on 10/23/2014

Freshly poured, and swirled around for design.

After saponification.

The soap is 3.5 inches wide. That is standard for cold process soap molds, but I think it makes soap bars that are too big and unwieldy. When cut in half, they are quite small, so I wanted something in between. 

post soap making mess

Here is what rendered beef tallow looks like..in mason jars (which was a bad idea in hindsight. I freeze it in blocks now and wrap in plastic.)

And for my next soap 10/24/2014, I rigged up these 2.5 inch wide cardboard inserts to make a narrower bar that is comparable in size to store bought. (the cardboard was inadequate. I had some leak troubles too...and soon went to home depot and had some legit wood blocks cut for me, which I use for almost all later projects.)

These bars are better sized in my opinion. The only difference was adjusting my soap recipes from 1500 grams of oil to 1200 grams. That swirl effect was made with a clothes hangar--one of those pants ones with a waxy paper tube. I wrapped it in plastic to prevent corrosion on the aluminum. It has long since bit the dust, and I haven't got a good replacement yet. 

Soap making + first soap

I'm going to use this blog to post the cold process soap projects I've been doing over the last two years. (It's not like I'm using it for anything else these days.) I make soap and take pictures, but I've never put it all in one place. I just made my 15th batch of soap so I have some catching up to do.

Here is the first batch I ever did, 10/21/2014.  I had no mold yet and I lined an loaf pan with plastic. I didn't insulate it or anything, and the edges showed an incomplete gel phase. No picture of the cut bars for this batch.

I decided to make soap for the first time because I had some beef suet from a quarter of beef I'd gotten from a farmer. I rendered it into tallow, and then made this soap using olive oil, beef tallow, and coconut oil. And lye of course, which I'd ordered online.

I read a couple of books which were mostly unhelpful (Ann Bramson's Soap: Making it, Enjoying it is a classic but the methods are very out of date. Robert McDaniel's Essential Soap was better but didn't talk enough about cold process and all the recipes were vegan.) But I found the basic soap tutorial on humblebee & me very helpful, along with some other reading I did on the internet.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.