Sunday, January 8, 2012

Soap Fail...I mean, Soap Lesson.

I had my first soap failure the other day. Still not sure exactly what went wrong (everything, perhaps?). Anyway, I am choosing to learn from it. And show you some pictures so that you know that soap is not all fun and games (but mostly, it is).

I was super excited to make some red wine soap...mainly for the deep red color I imagined the soap would be, and so that I could say I made red wine soap. 
I boiled the wine the night before (because the internets told me to), and then let it sit in the fridge overnight. Because lye would heat it up quickly, the internet said.

So the next afternoon, I've got all my ingredients measured out, oils mixed and lye in the wine. Lye in wine stinks. Bad. But that isn't what concerned me. What concerned me was the seemingly low temperature of the lye/wine mixture. It was like, 100F the first time I tested it (should have been well over that), and the oils were about that, too. Now, when you're making soap, you want everything to be about that temperature, but it usually isn't that quickly. Even as I type this, I wonder if it was a thermometer error.

Hold on.

I must go check.


Nope, they're fine. 

So anyway, I double checked the temps, after sticking the oil in the microwave to warm it a bit, and taking the lye/wine out of the ice bath. They were a little better, but still seemingly lowish. Perhaps I was not patient enough, and did not wait for the thermometer to catch up?

Anyway, I decided to mix the two, and almost instantly there were lumps (Steve provided the word later: it looked curdled.), so I stirred a little bit more and decided that it was setting up wayyy too quickly, and stuck the stick blender in there to even things out (or so I thought). After a second of that, it was seeming so thick, so I went back to stirring with my spoon. It was looking very burnt orange, so I decided to add a little bit more wine to it, as an additive. For color. A second later I was pouring what looked like sloppy joes into my new soap mold (which happens to be a silicone baking dish for miniature loaves of bread. Works perfectly (this is my second batch of soap with this new mold, so I know it isn't the mold's fault. Plus, it's pretty obvious that it was a failure long before I poured the soap). Sloppy joes is not what soap should look like. It should be smoother, and more fluid. Thick still, but not chunky.

Ok. Here are the pictures. They are hideous. To make you (me) feel better, I've included a picture of the successful batch...which was more green tea, basil, and rosemary soap. Yum.

No, that's not apple crisp. An no, the corners are not supposed to be a different color/texture from the rest. But look at my beautiful silicone mini-loaf baking dish!

Popped the bars out and looked at the other side. Diseased soap.

At least it lathers. And you can't tell from the picture, but the suds were pink!

So I went to plan B, and decided I would try my hand at rebatching it, which is essentially shredding the soap, adding water and some heat, and then some oil, and then some more heat..stirring it up, and sticking it back into the mold. I am still contemplating two ideas for plan C.*

Looks like ground beef. Rest assured, it is soap.

Nyom nyom nyom.

A stack of hideous bars awaits its doom.

Anyone in the mood to grill?

Why is it still so ugly?

Ugh! And the texture is like....wax?

Some winning bars of soap, made from the new baking dish and an oatmeal container. The little ugly duckling in the bottom left corner is a pre-shredded chunk of wine soap that I spared.

In better news, I joined pinterest today! I am going to have to limit myself to only looking at it once a day. We shall see!

*Ideas for plan C: throw the whole mess out and try again. Or. Shred up the soap again and mix the shards into another batch of soap. I might have to wait awhile. The texture is still....weird. Or go with the first plan C.

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