Friday, March 4, 2016

Sick Days and Whatever Floats Your Soap

Unfortunately, I'm having a couple of sick days. Yesterday, I woke up with a massive headache, a cough, and throwing up every time I coughed. Not fun. It did, however, give me some time to read about and contemplate this month's challenge over at SMF.

Floating Soap.

You know... like Ivory Soap.

So, do you know what makes it float? Have you ever made soap that floats? Neither had I.

How do you make soap that floats, you ask? Well, it's a method more than it is a recipe, for starters. The soap is made cold. The recipe should have about 75% hard oils (oils that are solid at room temperature) and 25% liquid oils. And it's beaten.

It's the air that's incorporated while beating the solid oils that enables the soap to float.

My recipe for this month's challenge is as follows:

50% lard
15% coconut oil
10% mango butter
10% avocado oil
10% olive oil
5% castor oil

I used 5% superfat and a lye concentration of 45%. I also added one cube of frozen (thawed) coconut milk I still had in the freezer.

You know the usual method of making cold process soap, right? You melt the oils together and cool until about room temperature. You mix your lye and liquid and cool until it's about the same temperature as the oils. Right. Not this time.

Instead of melting the hard oils, they are whipped until they soften and smooth matte peaks form. Then, the liquid oils and additives (this is where I added the coconut milk) are beaten in. Finally, the cooled (and I do mean completely cooled) lye is slowly incorporated into the oil blend.

The result is a creamy, whipped cream looking concoction that looks almost good enough to eat. Almost. Don't try it. You're smarter than that.

At this point, the batter can be divided, coloured, scented, then poured, after which it should be refrigerated for a few hours. You do not want this to gel or all that beating will be for nothing. It does take longer to harden and therefore, to unmold. Apparently, it can take up to four days before it's firm enough to unmold.

I made a sample batch last night, 8 ounces of oils. I had to melt the coconut and mango together because both were quite hard (mango was stored in the fridge and the coconut stored in a cool dark closet); they never did firm up again so I added them to the beaten lard and put the whole mess in the freezer for a while. Eventually, it firmed up enough for me to get lovely stiff peaks.

I scented it with a blend of patchouli, peppermint, and lemongrass (equal parts) and poured it into single bar molds.

I put it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, then moved it into my spare bedroom overnight. It's always a cool place in the winter (we don't turn on the heat in there). This morning, I tried to unmold one bar but, as you can see, it was still a bit soft.

A few hours later, just for fun, I had to see if it would float.

John suggested the mini sail. I should have coloured it for a bit of contrast.

It floats! It's a little hard to see but there's about an inch and a half of water in the sink.

Now, what shall I make for the challenge? THAT is the challenge for me.

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