Monday, September 28, 2009

The Joy of Soaping!

Some of you may not know that I am a soapmaker in my free time* (*oxymoron). I have been making goat milk soap for a couple of years now. I make a few hundred bars a year that I sell through myself and in a few local stores. Word of mouth has spread about my soap and people really seem to like it because they keep coming back for more. Here is a picture of my cute packaging for the soap.

I really enjoy making new combinations of scents and colors. I use the same plain recipe every time to make the base batch and then I add all sorts of botanicals, colors, and scents to jazz it up. Each batch is made with food grade vegetable oils, pure sodium hydroxide (lye), goat's milk, white sugar, borax, and glycerin. I get my colorants and scents from Brambleberry Soap Supplies . I like this soap supply company because they always send me free samples of stuff with every order and they have sample packages of scents and colorants that are cheap and fun to play with. Here is a picture of the latest batch of soap that I made yesterday. It is lemon-sagegrass scent with a brown oxide swirl.

Lately I have been having some issues with my soap separating. I have been using the same recipe for years but for some reason things keep happening. I know why some of the batches had issues. It was because I tried to use a different shaped mold for the soap. Instead of a flat slab mold, I tried a more concentrated loaf mold. Because of the goat milk, the soap tends to heat up as the lye reacts with it and the more concentrated shape of the loaf mold made the soap too hot and it separated. The result was really funky. The soap looked normal on top but when I popped it out of the mold I discovered a black gelatinous goo on the bottom. I scraped the goo off and threw it out. Then I cut the soap into little chunks and put it in the crockpot to remelt. After a few hours in the crockpot the soap was melted enough to pour into the mold again. The second try came out a lot better.

My most recent separation story happened when I made pumpkin spice soap. I thought everything had gone well when I made the soap but I did notice that it didn't look fully mixed when I poured it. I didn't think anything of it. Well, that turned out to be a problem. The soap was very oily and soft when I cut it out of the mold. I decided to let it dry for a few weeks to see if it would firm up. No luck on that and yesterday I finally cut it up and remelted it. I added some milk with lye mixed in to try to equalize the oils. After it melted fully I poured it back into the mold and let it dry. Here is a picture of it after I took it out of the mold this morning. It looks a lot better than it did.

Hopefully this batch will dry better and be ready to sell in time for Thanksgiving. Soap is fun!

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