Apparantly people everywhere are washing their hands more. It might have to do with that thing…um…what was it oh right…the global pandemic. What better to show solidarity with newly minted germaphobes worldwide than to dust off my soap making skills? Ok fine, I just like making soap and I’d do it regardless of other people’s hygiene habits. So while I have recently found myself in goat’s milk again, this batch was not a milk soap but was made with some lovely tallow. I’m really pleased with how it tuned out and I’m happy to be burning through it quickly. To be perfectly honest, gardening season is responsible for my increase hand washing rate, not corona virus. Anyways…here’s a run down of my process!
First thing, we gather supplies and don our safety gear. No lye/eye accidents for us! Corra was eager to be my assistant through the whole thing…
“Mom, can I carry the Lyesol (she meant lye)? I just love being a scientist.”
And I love my mini-me.
All the fat and oils go into a pot to melt. The temperature needs to not get above about 100-110 degrees F, or you run the risk of it curdling when you add the lye. The lye heats it up a ton.
Then we headed outside just because it was easy to dissolve the lye with more space and resilient surfaces. Because it can get so hot when it reacts with water, I used ice. When I make milk soap, I freeze the milk and then break it into chunks.
Now, this next part doesn’t have great pictures because it requires both of my hands. The lye is poured into the melted fat/oil and mixed constantly until it “comes to trace” or starts to thicken. Mixing by hand takes f.o.r.e.v.e.r, so I use a dedicated immersion blender (it took a few batches of normal food tasting like soap for me to accept that I could never get the blender clean enough, so it became a soap mixer only). The thing is, the immersion blender often does too good a job and the soap comes to trace too quickly. After trace, I still have to divide the batch and add scent and mix it and get it into the molds before it hardens. So I want a trace that will still give me time for all of the above before it hardens. This was a new recipe for me, so I almost messed it all up by making the soap come to trace too fast. Luckily, I managed to mix in two different scents (oatmeal milk honey and almond yuzu) and get it into molds.
Once it is in molds, it sets for about 24 hours. I can push it out of the acrylic molds and turn it out of the silicone mold.
Then I use my nifty squiggly soap knife to cut the bars. Each big mold gives me a brick that can be cut into eight perfect sized bars.
The bars then go into a cabinet in my bathroom, to be out of the way for around 3-4 weeks to cure. They get fully hardened and the saponification process finishes. The chemistry behind soap is fascinating! So whether it’s virus or garden dirt…we are ready!