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Soap! Finally! [Dec. 20th, 2009|04:32 pm]
SCA Soapers

So today I put up a 48 ounce, 8 oil recipe. I always find anything over a pound and/or three oils to be very ambitious. The last time I tried this recipe I went all out with color and scent as well. Always a mistake. The first time I attempt a recipe - any recipe - I need to do it plain: no scent, no color, no additives whats so ever. And an eight oil recipe.?. What was I thinking?
The first one didn't come out too bad. Mostly there was an oil that fell out of the tube mold but not out of the box mold. The color took pretty well but as I used the soap it started to fall apart along pour lines. It's all still use-able (and very luxurious)but I don't think I'll be selling it. Shame since I also covered the box mold in lavender buds.
It's really amazing that most soap issues can be solved by more stirring.
For this recipe I traded the coco butter (which I'm out of) for reclaimed lard (recycle, recycle, recycle) since the numbers remained fairly similar. I'll be interested in seeing how the final bar turns out.
What I really need to do is settle on 5 base recipes and then work in some seasonal things as well.
'Course, I've been talking about doing that for a while now.
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Beet Juice as Dye? [Mar. 29th, 2009|04:43 pm]
SCA Soapers

[Current Location |home]
[mood |accomplished]
[music |"Vertigo" by Antje Duvekot]

Does anyone ever use beet juice as dye for soaps? For that matter, do you use it to dye cloth? I'm curious as to how it would come out, and how to go about setting it if I use it to dye a white cotton ...
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Adventures in soaping [Feb. 3rd, 2009|02:12 pm]
SCA Soapers

Found lye!
A small, local hardware store carries it in 1 pound bottles. The price isn't quite prohibitive but I'll be looking into splitting a bulk purchase soon.
For my recent birthday my household got me a new soaping program called SoapMaker. Sort of the Quickbooks for soap makers. It tracks your inventory of ingredients and finished product, keeps track of your costs, all your recipes, calculates lye, INS and qualities and downloads to your computer. If I had anything bad to say about it it would have to be that it doesn't have sap values for sheep fat.
Which is where today's story begins.
I have this recipe that is more than 50% lard and calls for an ounce of something dairy and heavy. I think the original recipe said heavy whipping cream, I usually use half and half. It also calls for the dairy to be added to the lye water once it clears. I've never had any luck with that. It always scorches no matter what I do. So I usually add it at trace.
Going through my 'fridge I came across some store bought buttermilk that needs to be used up and the sheep and goat fats in the freezer. I decided 'two birds, one stone. Replace the lard with sheep, the half and half with buttermilk and off we go'.
Luckily I ran the numbers first.
Sheep fat is very rich soaply speaking. If you want the numbers on the finished product to stay similar it's not going to be a 1:1 trade off. I spent some time reworking the recipe so that the numbers on the sheep recipe resembled the numbers on the lard recipe. It meant drastically cutting the fat and adding soy.
Next I reduced the recipe to one pound.
So, the plan was to use a new silicone mold I have. It's a sheet mold of leaves and pumpkins that I bought at the grocery after Thanksgiving. I wanted to do the leaves with a green dyed soap and a springy scent. I went with Irish Linen from the Perfumed Dragon since I've always had good luck with their scents; they almost never effect trace. For color it was a small squeeze bottle of light green that I picked up from a craft store intended for melt and pour.
Now, usually when I make soap I don't worry too much about temperatures. I have found that with cold process soaping the basics are very basic and while you can make an infinite number of infinitesimal adjustments to the process, the changes to the final product will be slight. Those slight changes may be important to you or your product but I'm just fine with the basic results.
Usually I add all my liquid oils together, melt the solids in another container and add, add the lye after it clears and mix till trace.
Today I worked a little different.
The solids were melted in the microwave. The liquid oils were added. There was still heat in the bowl. The lye was clear when added and I took the stick blender to it for an unusually long time. I added the buttermilk well before trace. At light trace I added about a third of the color. It didn't last.
Next came the scent.
It was about an eighth of an ounce in one of those small blue bottles that have the plastic insert that reduces flow to a drop. Usually I have no problem pulling that out but lately they've been falling apart on me. After ripping the insert some I took my teeth to it.
You can see this coming I'm sure.
Irish Linen doesn't taste too good and despite several washings of my lips and chin I think I'm going to be smelling it for days.
I covered the top of the mold with cling film (something I only do when using sheet molds), wrapped it in a towel and set it on the counter.
The final color has come out orange. The mold holds less than a pound (important note for next time). I have no idea how much scent it actually got or whether or not I'll be able to tell how it handled the lye tomorrow. While I suspect the added heat, I haven't worked with either it or the sheep fat often enough to know which, if either, caused the long trace.
Despite all that I expect the soap to be very rich and am looking forward to using it.
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Question for discussion [Jan. 16th, 2009|08:14 am]
SCA Soapers

Where are folks finding crystal lye these days?
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Some random soap thoughts [Nov. 25th, 2008|03:48 pm]
SCA Soapers

I've been trying to make a shampoo bar that my hair will put up with and (most ambitiously) wont need to be followed by a conditioner. So far, the closest I've managed is a lard heavy, ultra conditioning favorite of my customers who have dry skin issues. This recipe INS's at 152 with a conditioning rating of 50. It seems to come closest to not opening up the cuticle layer on my hair and turning me into a haystack. The rest of the numbers are very interesting as well; Lauric - 9, Linoleic - 14, Linolenic - 0, Myristic - 4, Oleic - 36, Palmitic - 23, Ricinoleic - 0 and Stearic - 10.
It's the Ricinoleic rating that I find most interesting. Conventional wisdom (or perhaps current fashion in hair care) says that you add castor oil to your recipe to get a shampoo bar. www.hairfinder.com says "On the hair, castor oil works to coat the hair shaft and smooth the cuticle layer, sealing in moisture and leaving the hair feeling soft and silky. It is more easily absorbed by the hair, allowing for deeper penetration into the hair shaft." While organicfacts.net says: 'The germicidal, insecticidal and fungicidal properties of Ricin and Ricinoleic acid present in castor oil protect the scalp and hair from microbial and fungal infections, the two prime causes for hair loss. In addition, the fatty acids in it nourish hair and prevent the scalp from drying by retaining moisture.'
Now, you would think (at least I did) that all I'd need to do is add Castor oil to my lard heavy recipe and POOF! the shampoo bar of my dreams. Thing is, when I run the numbers it all goes a bit wahoonie shaped. INS drops to 146 while the conditioning goes up to 55, Lauric - 8, Linoleic - 13, Linolenic - 0, Myristic - 4, Oleic - 33, Palmitic - 20, Ricinoleic - 10, Stearic - 9.
At this point I'm thinking that I need to isolate exactly what it is in that list that my hair objects to and try for a bar that minimizes that property as much as possible. That's going to be a long and soap-filled process starting with that lard+castor bar.
In the mean time, I poured my first avocado oil soap today. It's a recipe from a friend that is supposed to be a shampoo bar and is only four oils. It turned out a nice color so far and is in the tube mold wrapped in a towel.
Tomorrow I'll test my new soap cutter.
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Yep, you guessed it. [Oct. 3rd, 2008|01:29 pm]
SCA Soapers

Today's soap.
Last night while winding down to sleep I decided to make a scrubbing soap. This is as much about getting rid of supplies I've been holding onto forever as it was getting out one more batch in time for Red Dragon.
This morning I dug out a recipe that I hadn't done in a while. I ran it through the calcs and found that it INS'd a little lower than I would prefer. I played with it a little and after finding more coco butter in my oils closet I got it into a area I was happier with. By the time I was done it called for coco butter, shea butter and beeswax and I added the last of the yellow oxide (not enough to matter I'm sure) as well as about two tablespoons of ground apricot kernel and some honey/almond scent. It came out a lovely soft almond color (mostly from the scent, oddly enough) and is currently in a tube mold wrapped in a towel. I'll cut it tomorrow. Fortunately I made more room on my shelves by packaging up some of the harder bars and, apparently Chrys has claimed one bar for the front bathroom. It was the mint soap and she tells me it's been doing great so there's a field test for that one.
Anyway, we'll see what I've got left after the event.
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Exploding Soap [Sep. 20th, 2008|05:11 pm]
SCA Soapers

[mood |depresseddepressed]

I tried to make soap this afternoon with disastrous results.

20 oz castor oil
24 oz cocoa butter
81 oz fractionated coconut oil
84 oz olive oil
32 oz palm kernel oil
15 oz beeswax
29 oz palm oil
44 oz lye, mixed in 41 oz water
after trace (which was nigh immediate), mixed in a small tsp of honey, 2ish oz fragrance oil, and 50 oz of half & half (slightly frozen)

First, it chunked up immediately upon mixing in the lye. There wasn't trace so much as there was suddenly solidness. I added the honey, which I've done a few times in the past to success each time Then I tried adding the fragrance oil and the half & half, and it *exploded*. It at least doubled the volume of the stuff, to the point where it overflowed onto my stove and burnt me and I ended up putting half of the mixture into the sink. Whenever I stirred, it expanded further.

WTF? Please help me understand where I went wrong. The dairy didn't burn. That part ended up fine -- not even a singe scent. The results of this experiment are cleaned up from being all over my stove and sink, and what I salvaged looks like vomit, frankly, from having the early yellowish chunks mixed in with the later red molten part of the mixture. Obviously I made a larger batch than I should have, since I couldn't handle the stirring fast enough, but that wasn't my only mistake. What made it explode?

Also, given that it's cold process soap, can I reheat & remix it as I've read others do? I've never done that with soap before.

SOOOOO sad. :(
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Gah! [Sep. 19th, 2008|02:07 pm]
SCA Soapers

I'm never sure what to think when, after all these years of making soap, something new and interesting happens.
Today's batch of soap was a rather common 4 oil recipe. 2 pound finish weight of olive, soy, palm and coconut. The recipe INS'd at 147 (a little low but *shrug*) and lords know I've worked with these four oils in one ratio or another many times before.
I think the mistake was walking away while the mix was still in the bowl. I wasn't gone that long but by the time I got back it was too think to pour. So thick, in fact, that I ended up lifting it out of the bowl in one piece, molding it into a long tube, and cramming it into the PVC and shoving it down to try and make it solid.
*shakes head* I don't fancy what this one will look like.
I added one teaspoon of grape EO, 1/2 teaspoons each of orange oil and bergamot EO. I also added what I thought was yellow color from my Small Box of Additives. It was something I bought - probably at a craft store - that came in a bubble pack on a card. The card had all the information on it and the squeeze bottle was blank.
When am I going to remember to label everything.
Anyway, the new bit. While I was cramming the whole thing into the mold it seems that the center was going into gel with a fairly exothermic reaction. It was really hot. And a bit raw but not terribly. My hands are smoother* but the open cuts on them didn't scream about the lye much more than they would about the heat so it's hard to tell.
I have a feeling that this batch is going to end up in the laundry soap.

*I quit wearing protection when making a soap a long time ago. I don't much like rubber gloves because I prefer to be able to feel what I'm touching and I've never cared for goggles. The concentration of the lye solution that goes into CP soap is weak enough that the worst damage I've ever taken has been having all the finger prints removed from my hands. But then, at most, I make a 2 pound batch every day or so. If I were making more it would be a different story. When I teach I'm very clear about just how stupid this practice is but the point of my classes are to get people past their fears and start making soap. I need to get a T-shirt made that says 'Respect the lye, do not fear the lye.'
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As a matter of fact... [Sep. 18th, 2008|04:04 pm]
SCA Soapers

I cut yesterdays soap.
It had set up much more firm than most and I'm thinking it's because it got stirred a lot more than the others. It wasn't quite to gel stage by the time it went into the mold but in an effort to make sure the color was well incorporated I both blended and stirred until it was just short of mayonnaise consistency. It still poured but only just.The color seems much more even throughout the bar than in some as well.
If I'm going to make more (I'd like to, that's only five recipes) I'm going to need to clean out the drying/utility cupboard.
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Today's soap [Sep. 17th, 2008|04:09 pm]
SCA Soapers

A two pound, three oil recipe; soybean heavy, coconut, and olive.
I added a half a teaspoon of spearmint and also eucalyptus and two teaspoons of powdered mustard at trace. I was hoping that the mustard would also add some color but I really didn't see any. Not fair to look for it at trace since the coconut oil tends to whiten any soap recipe (I love using it with reclaimed lard to help lighten the finished product). Still, I also added the last little bit of my yellow oxide powder. Boy, a little of that goes a long way. I definitely recommend oxide powders for anyone on a soaping budget (and really, who isn't?)
The recipe's INS is 138 which is lower than I usually like to go. Staying as near to 160 as possible usually produces a hard bar that both lathers and cleans well. I'm pretty certain this one will do well when it's dried.
Labels are coming along slowly. I'm thinking I may have to upgrade my poor little graphics program. Even so, I'm sticking with my black and white laser printer so my graphics are kinds limited either way.
I'm also going to need to look into a cutting box. I've been looking around on line and not coming up with anything resembling what I'm looking for. I want a box that will firmly hold a bar of soap that I've pulled from a 3" PVC pipe with a cutting guide at the open end and the ability to advance the bar in even (and variable) increments. I know - basically - what it would look like and I fear I may have to build it. I've been resisting as I don't have the tools that would make the job easier if not possible.
So what is everyone else doing?
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