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[personal profile] delladea posting in [community profile] soap
This weekend I made my first experimental batch of soap. My main goal was to become familiar with the cold-process procedure itself using ingredients I already had before investing in more supplies with the production of decent soap as a bonus.

My choice of oils was based on what I had on hand: 10% coconut oil and 90% grocery store lard. Using my copies of Smart Soapmaking and Soapmaking for Fun and Profit as reference, I figured this ratio would likely yield a soft soap with decent lather. I was able to calculate the correct amount of lye and water by using the SAP values of the oils, which yielded me a spreadsheet that I may eventually use my geeky powers to turn it into my own soap program. In comparing my numbers to other online calculators, my numbers were within 1 gram of theirs so I'm assuming the difference is due to rounding. I chose to have a 7% excess fat amount to make sure I wouldn't have any unreacted lye left over.

These books advised rainwater or distilled water for soapmaking. Sunday's constant rain enabled me to collect enough rainwater for my experimental batch and possibly two more "experiment" size batches. Our well water is quite hard, it is filtered multiple times but not softened and I'm unsure how it would affect the soap.

I think the whole process took me an hour and a half, mostly because I had never made soap before and was rechecking myself constantly. I have a tendency to make messes and spill things, so all my work was done on the back porch.

My process was:
  • Weigh all ingredients.
  • Melt fats on low heat on stove (I don't own a microwave).
  • Meanwhile outside, slowly add lye to water upwind from resulting gas.
  • Turn off fat, wait for lye to cool down to around 130°F.
  • Carefully pour lye solution into slightly cooled fat and stir.
  • Stir, stir, stir.
  • Add lavender oil at trace, pour into prepared mold.

The soap hasn't hardened up at all yet, but is getting more dense so we'll see. I have to say I didn't cover the mold with anything to keep in the heat, and the mold itself felt warm for days afterward. Maybe I should have covered it?

In all, the process was a lot less intimidating than I thought it would be. I'm definitely giving it another try even if this batch doesn't set.

(x-posted to my journal)
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January 2012

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