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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.