Monday, December 28, 2009

Let's make soap!

Tonight, I'm beginning the first of a series of Valentines Day soap.  Yay!  Christmas was a happy success, and I'm anxious to get into my soap pot again for the next holiday.  I'm calling this one "Soul Kiss".  The scent will be a smokey, sexy blend of of lemon, lime, grapefruit, cucumber, jasmine, pineapple, blackberries and bubbly champagne.  (I know, right?!)   This soap will also be a two-parter.  I'm doing two layers.  The bottom 3/4ths will be a melon red, and the top layer will be a lemon yellow with a dark cocoa line separating the two.    Tonight I'm working on the first layer and cocoa line.  The last layer will be tomorrow, so look for that posted here.

Now, since I am a horrible example, I have to add a disclaimer:  Sodium hydroxide is EXTREMELY dangerous.  If ingested, it can kill you.  See:  Nap, Dirt.  If you get it on your skin it can result in serious chemical burns, and we don't even wanna talk about what happens if you get it in your eyes.  Always wear protective eyewear and gloves when working with lye.  I know all the soapers are going to email me because I am not wearing any.  Don't email me.  I know.  Try as I might, I can't work with them on and it's a stupid risk I take.  Do as I say, however, and not as I do.  WEAR GLOVES AND EYEWEAR!!  Please, also keep out of reach of kids and animals.  This stuff is no joke.

Okay - onto the fun stuff!  In this soap, I'm using a new recipe I've come up with and used only once before.  It's very soothing with lots of fluffy lather.  It will be 100% goat milk, olive oil, coconut oil, rice bran oil, castor oil & lots of yummy shea butter.  I'm using LabColors colorants, and a log mold my super awesome hubby made for me.

I started by measuring my sodium hydroxide, and frozen goat milk, and putting my hard oils into a pot to be melted.

Now I have my hard oils on the stovetop melting slowly, and I can start to slowly add my lye to my goat milk.  Frozen works best for me.  It's the best shot ya have against burning it, and I just add it in small increments, stirring very thoroughly to make sure all the crystals get dissolved. Some people use powdered, some canned concentrate, some live life on the edge and can manage to add it at trace in liquid form - I've tried it all and this works most consistantly for me.  There's nothing worse than having to throw out all your expensive oils and ingedients because you got too cocky and your mixture turns to an orange ammonia-stankin' mess.  Respect the  If you're using water or another liquid like aloe etc., always add the lye to the water - never water to the lye because it may result in a bubbly scary volcano!

After a few minutes your mixture should melt and the lye should dissolve.  The lye will get very hot when mixed with your liquids.  (In the picture below you can see that I just have a couple of frozen chunks left).  Set it aside.  It will need to cool to room temperature before mixing with your oils.  This requires some patience.  If you move too quickly, you risk overheating and will get some not so pretty cracks down the center of your soap.  Ask me how I know...

Next I measured out my liquid oils.  the RBO, the olive, the castor etc.  Sometimes I add some titanium dioxide to my liquid oils to lighten up the entire batch, but in this instance - I didn't.  I want a strong red/orange.

When my hard oils are melted, I combine the two together in the stainless steel pot (Side note:  Never ever ever ever use any pots or utensils made of aluminum.  It reacts with sodium hydroxide and it will not only ruin your batch, but will smoke you out of your house and cause dangerous chemical fumes.  Always make sure you're working with stainless steel and sturdy plastic).  After that I measure out my scent, and set aside.  In this case, I'm using skin safe fragrance oils at about .8oz. per pound of oils.  This varies depending on what you use.  Usually, it's anywhere from .5-1 ounce per pound.  Pardon the ghetto manicure...

When your goat milk and lye mixture and your oil mixture have both reached room temperature (this particular method is called Room Temperature Cold Process or RTCP), you can begin to combine them.  Add  your lye/goat milk to the oils and using a silicone spatula (wood spoons will get eaten over time, in the lye) and stir, being careful not to splash.  Alternate with a stick blender. 

Once you find that you are pretty well mixed, yet still pretty thin - you can go ahead and add any colorants and fragrance.  Okay, so Ansel Adams, I ain't.

Now this is where it takes some experience and feel.  Depending on what you're trying to achieve, you need to get your mixture to a certain consistency.  If you're doing fancy swirls that take some time, I recommend JUST mixing enough to avoid separation.  If you've reached "trace", you've already gone too far, in my opinion.  For this application, I took it to a thin to medium trace.  "Trace" is a term soapers use to define a moment of thickness in your soap batter.  If you pull up your stick blender, and drizzle some of the batter onto the top of the rest of the soap, and it leaves a line before sinking in.  That's called "trace".  Now we are ready to pour!

There's my first layer.  Are you suddenly hungry for Campbell's tomato soup?  ;o)  trust'll be cool when it's done.  (I hope). :)

Now I could just slap two layers together and call it good, but I'm going to add a thin layer of dark color, defining a separation between the two, that makes the colors pop more.  You can use micas, spices....lots of things, but I'm going to use plain ol' cocoa powder.  Once my first layer is poured and has set up enough so that the powder doesn't sink to the bottom,  I'm sprinkling a thin layer over the top of the soap using a very high tech applicator.  A piece of pantyhose stretched across a salt shaker filled with the cocoa powder. :)

Looks pretty bizarre right now, right?  :) 
So that's it.  I could wait for that to set up some and pour the second layer tonight, but I'm gonna go ahead and let that saponify and mix up a second batch tomorrow for the top layer.  Goat milk heats up really hot, so when I work with it, I don't insulate my molds.  Usually it gels - sometimes it doesn't.  Tonight it is, go figure.  So swing by tomorrow for part 2!  Thanks for soapin' with me! :)


  1. That is a wonderfully detailed tutorial....looking forward to the next instalment :)

  2. Wow! Thanks for the tutorial. It's so great to see how another soaper soaps. I'm excited to see how the tomato soup color turns out! The FO sounds yummy and I love your color combo idea! Can't wait to see the next tut!

  3. Great tutorial! It really is fun to see another soapers process. I'm looking forward to the next part!

  4. I'm glad I discovered your blog! I'm anxious to read part 2! :-)

  5. I agree, great tutorial with great pictures!

  6. that thing don't bite, do it?