Wednesday, February 17, 2010

bees attacked my soap!

no intros, i'm just jumping right into this whole "i get to talk about my hobbies that other people don't want to hear about all the time" thing.

i recently got into making cold-process soap after spending a weekend up at my mom's house in the mountains. i had planned a women's getaway for my friends which included soap-making (because my mom knows how), playing with 4 week old goldendoodle puppies (because my mom breeds them), hiking to waterfalls from the backyard (because my parents live in paradise), and drinking wine in the hot tub.

the whole weekend was fabulous, but the soap-making really got me. i was sitting there, watching my mom show us how and i had the intense desire to take notes. ah...learning. i made 3 batches that day and my mom must have noticed the interest because for christmas, i got the full kit to do it on my own:

today i am making a breakfast soap (oatmeal and honey) in my new kitchen. not new, new, but new to me. my bf and i recent made the move from a 600 sq ft shoebox which gave me allergies to a 1,000 sq ft renovated half of a beautiful home. the kitchen literally has 8x the counter space. "on to the soap making!" you say. well, i hate it, but this is the first post, so i do have to give you some background. now, "on to the soap making!"

breakfast soap - the recipe

lye solution (95* F)
16 oz. cold water (2 cups)
6 oz. lye crystals

fats solution (100* F)
1 oz. beeswax
2 lb. lard (32 oz.)
6 oz. olive oil
4 oz. coconut oil
2 oz. cocoa butter

at trace add:
1/8 cup honey
1/2 cup pulverized oatmeal
1/2 oz vanilla bean fragrant oil
dash of ground cinnamon (this was a last minute addition)

the goal is to make the soap look like a honeycomb. i found a cute "how to" from addicted to soap that told me to pour the soap over bubble wrap. genius! i had to find a recipe elsewhere at miller soap, and i had to cut it in half. who has 4 pounds of lard? otherwise the process went as well as could be expected. First I laid the bubble wrap into my silicon mini loaf pan and got my extra ingredients ready to add at first trace.

measured all the fats by weight, not volume. mmm...lard...great for making biscuits and soap!
my bowl was too small, but it worked for heating.

time for gloves and fancy safety goggles to work with the lye. yep, those are h&m sunglasses, but something is better than nothing. i do enjoy my eyeballs in working condition.

of course, i heated the fat up too much to 140*, but at least then the waiting game of getting both the lye and the fats to the same temp was the same. and it gave me time to realize that adding a dash of freshly grated cinnamon at trace would be a fun idea too!

finally, maybe 20 minutes after i added the lye to the water and took the oil off the stove, did they both reach the correct temperatures. i was hoping to get a good picture of the trace to show the newbies out there because i just don't think there are any good ones. unfortunately, this batch took for eh ver to trace (30 minutes) and my arms were about to fall off. i am seriously investing in a hand emersion blender. you can watch this educational, yet not awesome video on tracing. good info, but terrible visuals! it's on my homework list.

 i did get a nice action shot of my sweet stirring though.

and finally, right as the loving bf pulled a homemade pizza out of the oven, i got the trace, got so excited that i poured in the oatmeal, cinnamon, vanilla fragrant oil, and honey without taking a picture. once i added the final ingredients, it was definitely time to pour, so pour i did. then covered with plastic wrap for an excruciatingly long 24 hours.

maybe cold-process soap isn't the best hobby for me as i am pretty impatient. but the soap came out pretty well and does look a little bit like a honey comb! the mini loaf pans don't make ideal sized bars of soap, so i had to get creative in how i cut them. i ended up with half honey combed, and half artsy stripes. now to wait 4 weeks for it to cure...

update: the vanilla FO turned the soap a beautiful warm brown color. it smells delicious: just like a warm oatmeal cookie. the cinnamon is very subtle, but i know that it's there. people smell the soap and say: "oooooh. i just want to eat it!"

i like the honeycomb look, but next time i will use newer bubble wrap. mine came out pretty wrinkly. i ended up liking the ones without it better. i just used a crinkle cutter to give it a little something extra. overall, i'm pretty happy with how this turned out and i can't wait to do it again using new bubble wrap with a different shape mold. or maybe fill the mini-loaf molds half way to make 2 bars per loaf. we shall see.