Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rub a dub dub 3 men in a tub .... wait...what?!?

Well, here it is ~ November 25 ~ you would think I could at least check in more often than MONTHLY ~ but the terrible truth is ~ homeschooling really IS time consuming. Ok, ok, I am going to dispense with the usual excuse session and just launch BOLDLY into the blog topic this post. SOAP! Yes, it's true ~ SOAP! Bet you couldn't guess that from the title. ;-D (hmmm....That harmless little child's nursery rhyme suddenly doesn't seem so very innocent.....)

All right, the way it started out was this ~ I was on BYC ~ (http://www.backyardchickens.com/) ~ and a certain post caught my eye. I spied it across a crowded room. The air was thick, the tension high.... and there IT was... the SOAP MAKERS HELP post. It's true, it was love at first sight! ( Or should that read ~ love at first site ~ ) With shaking hands, I opened the post thread, the anticipation was mounting....could it be ~ was it really true? Some of my fellow Chicken Buddies ALSO loved SOAP??? Lo & behold, it WAS true! So true, in fact, that they even went the extra lengths of MAKING it!

OOhhh,, here were my shnoz sisters, my olfactorial friends. Brave souls who, (though admittedly with great care), nonetheless skirted the wicked properties of lye & laughed in the face of fats, adventurously adding milks, juices, scented oils & miriad breakfast & spice items..... all in the name of bathing beauty pleasures!
Naturally, what was I left to do, but invest some reading time, some more reading time, some experimental time, some resources, some more time, & VOILA!! heheheheheh ~

I have concocted SOAP! It's true! I even have some pics to prove it. ( To my sweet sisters, parents, cousins, etc. who also read this blog ~ shhhh ~ don't tell anyone, this is what I am giving out for Christmas. ;-D)
Actually, in thinking this out even more thoroughly, in the very very begining, it started out as a memory ~
I remember going to my great-grandma's house, and seeing her huge uneven blocks of yellow lye soap ~ she used to tell us ~ "don't use that soap, it's just for scrubbing" ~ then she'd point us to smaller brown-ish creamy colored bars that smelled like cookies. I imagine those were the milk-based ones, based on what I've read.
She always had these wonderful homemade soaps around. Some, like the yellow, was for scrubbing, ( literally, she scrubbed toilets with it, I saw her do it, with the bar itself, and it WORKED!), & some was for bathing. These were beautiful creamy white bars, that smelled like fresh lavender. She would render & save her fats all year round. This is the same great- grandma that used to grow meat chickens & take them to my grandma's ( her daughter) house, and they would have a chicken-choppin' fest!
They both grew huge gardens as well, & not conventional ones ~ their gardens went all over the yard, mixed in with the flowers, the trees, the shrubbery, just everywhere! I remember being in those gardens thinking they were wonderlands. I especially remember the fresh raspberries & straight cream we always got as a treat when we visited. Fond memories....I have always been enchanted by the beautiful bars of handmade soaps, especially the large-ish rough looking ones, they usually smell the best! ;-D
And now, I have made a few of my own.....
Ok, Now for the pics ~
This was my first attempt at soap ~

You can see how uneven my cut was, how rough the soap is. (They are very hard, I used a lot of tallow in this recipe ~ tallow I rendered myself, I might add, from beef suet. Boy is THAT a smelly task!! The Fam won't appreciate this part of your soap-making adventures, I guarantee

Also, you can see the streaks... I believe this was caused from stirring too much after adding the fragrances. I added them too soon before trace, because I got anxious. DON'T get anxious. The bits & pieces you see are actually 2 different teas, one a lemon green tea, the other an orange & spice tea. Also, I added those teas dry, and I should have added them soaked, that way, they wouldn't have bled like they did. Although my daughter likes the bleed, she says it makes for pretty color specks in the soap, which is true, I suppose. I also added tangerine essential oil (often referred to as eo's, fragrance oils are called fo's) to this recipe ~ unfortunately, I didn't know that tangerine ( or any citrus , for that matter) tends to flash a lot faster than other scents. And, since I added it too early, ( at least a good 3 minutes prior to trace) much of the scent was affected by the lye.
Here in the next pic, is my second batch of soap ~ This was a lavender batch. I used lavender eo, & about 1/4 cup of freshly dried lavender from my mother's garden. ( I believe she said it was called Hidcote). Since lavender sometimes has a tendency to look like mouse doodies, I decided to crush it between my fingers ~ oohh, I smelled heavenly for a while! :-D Anyway, I did better with this batch, & actually let it gel, which means that it looks like a giant tub of wet glycerin Nutrogena soap when it's at gel stage, as you can see in the pic.

And in this pic, you can see that it is beginning to firm up. Once it has hit gel stage, you have to uncover it, so that it does not OVERheat, other wise you will have problems. So, once it has gelled clear out into the corners, I take the lid off ( I just use another similarly sized pan as a lid, no blankets or anything) & let it begin to cool. You can see the color change in the corners as it begins to cool.

One thing that I was sort of bummed about with this recipe is that I used unsweetened grape juice to color it. I was hoping for even a TRACE of lavender ~ but no such luck! Part of the problem, I later found out, was that I added it too soon to the lye/water solution.

In this pic, you can see what the slab looks like once it's been in the mold for over 5 hours. Some recipes will require at least 24 hrs to firm up enough for cutting, however, don't wait TOO long, or you will have to saw your soap apart. ( refer to first pic!)

And here are the cut lavender bars. Very full of glycerin ~ they will be extremely lovely to the skin!
Now this batch I tried to tint green. Only not the color of green that it is! I used powdered icing dye, & a green tea concoction. ( I love to use tea, because while it may not be healthy IN the body, tea is quite beneficial ON the body) I also used a honeydew fo, so it smells like a sweet summer day.

Here is a close-up of the honeydew bars. These bars are all measuring out between 4.5 & 5.7 ounces each. A very HEALTHY amount of soap.

And here in this pic, we have the crabby apples recipe. I used unsweetened crabapple juice to color it, and a very lovely hibiscus fo. Just to demonstrate the ever-changing nature of soap, check out the pic below. I was slightly dissapointed at 1st cut, since the color did not seem to go all the way through, instead it seemed to create only a pretty rind all aorund the soap. Then, once I had resigned myself to this interesting outlook, and even began to think it looked pretty neat, I checked the soap again, a few days later ~

And this is what greeted me ~ ALL pink bars! So ~ now I know that juice actually CAN color your soap, but only marginally. Which is ok, because I don't care for artificial colors. Also, you can always bathe infants in soap made with juice for colors, & these soaps are mild enough for even the most sensitive of skins.

And in this final ( for now :-D) pic, you can see what happens when you tend to be a bit OCD about your crafting. Yes, it's true, I have moved around food storage a bit, and am using one whole wall as my soap drying racks! And in the next day or two ~ I am scheduled to get 2 HUGE boxes FULL of more SOAP eo's & fo's!!! WOO HOO!!! Lovely scents ~ soft, skin nourishing soaps ~ maybe even a little side fundage....... (Actually, Wood Genius intimated something to that nature ~ I believe the words were "I think if you have this much soap, you should look into the sales end of it. Cuz what you have going right NOW is enough soap to last for YEARS! And if you want to make more, I think you need to sell some off.") :-D
Anybody want to buy some soap? :-D