Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Cold-Process Soap Has Cured

Check it out!After letting it cure for six weeks, then using a bar in the shower every day for a few days, I feel it's safe now to pronounce my cold-processed soap a success. There are a few things I'll change next time--I probably should have pared all of my bars before I cured them, because I'm not in love with their lumpy tops compared to their knife-straight sides and bottoms, and, it might be my nasty cold talking, but I'm also not in love with the way that the lavender-spearmint essential oils cured. It smells almost too sweet, now. On the whole, however, I'm definitely making soap again, and soon.

I did end up liking the soap I molded in my silicon heart molds----but not liking the soap molded in my silicon Lego mold. I think that spells the death knell for the Lego molds, therefore, because I didn't like it with crayons or glycerin soap or even muffins, either, and after a good scrubbing you'll likely see the big and the small Lego molds up for a few bucks in my pumpkinbear etsy shop.

For this batch of soap I used a kit and recipe bought from The Kitchen Girls. Although I'm grateful that I had the kit the first time, to sort of baby me through, I won't be using that recipe again or buying another kit. Instead, here is a selection of the library soapmaking tomes currently residing in my house:

Out of these, I think that I'm going to use a basic cold-process soap recipe from The Soapmaker's Companion--perhaps the Soap Essentials recipe, or the hemp soap recipe, or the sunflower oil soap recipe--but make it without essential oils or dried herbs.

The independent hardware stores (but not the big-box ones) have the lye that I need, and I'm hoping that I can get most of the oils, the olive and coconut and whatever, either from a sort-of nearby restaurant supply warehouse that might have super-low-grade olive oil and such, or from Sam's Club. Whatever I can't get locally, Scott at Barefoot Kids said he could order online for me, and Barefoot Kids already has all the dried herbs I'd want to use in their brick-and-mortar.

After my basic cold-processed soap has cured, however, I think that I'm going to try hand-milling that soap in small batches (this is also called rebatching) to make the scented, herb-infused specialty bars that I want. There's a great Homestead Blessings DVD tutorial for this, if you can get past the denim skirts and gender role stereotyping and blessings of the Lord stuff, which I pretty well can if I'm in the right mood. Rebatching will keep the essential oils from altering their scent like they did with my cold-process experiment, and I like the idea of being able to make a single bar at a time of whatever random stuff I take it into my head to make soap out of.

Since rebatching also avoids the possibility of lye exposure (unless you messed up your soap in the first place), I'm thinking that's how I'll be able to include the girls in my soapmaking.

Although they do make a mean melt-and-pour glycerin bar already.


Kimberly said...

So. Jealous. I loved that kitchen girls class, and I wanted to try it, but 2 dogs and a baby that won't STAY OUT OF MY KITCHEN WHEN I'M COOKING *ahem* makes me nervous to have lye around. Maybe I could try it in my garage...

julie said...

You have GOT to get the Homestead Blessings DVD that I just returned to the library. The denim-skirted ladies used basically the same recipe as the Kitchen Girls (except that they used Crisco, which for some reason really kind of excites me), but they didn't use any burners. They started the lye, and then when it got hot they slowly added the fats to it.

What that means in practical terms is that you don't need to make soap in your kitchen! And maybe get lye on your kitchen floor! As soon as it warms up again, I'm going to try this method and move the whole soapmaking operation out into the backyard.

Kimberly said...

Personally, I just love the fact that soap, soap lasts about THREE FREAKING months longer than store bought crappy soap.

And I've just added the homestead blessings to my reserve list!

julie said...

After you watch their DVD, go to their web site and check out their music video!