Thursday, April 10, 2014

Soap On The Road

Cut bars in front of the MeToo
 My first batch of soap on the road did not go entirely smoothly. I opted for castille soap, made with distilled water, as I had left my stores of goat and jersey cow milk back at home base, in the freezer. Soap is traditionally made in the fall, when the weather is cooler, but not yet freezing. This being January in Colorado, even with the sun out at mid-day, the highs were only in the 30's. At least there wasn't any wind.

Yak inspecting the soap
I set up my table outside and laid out my supplies. After melting my oils on the RV stove, I brought them outside while I mixed the lye and water. Lots of fumes in that process - don't want that in the RV! Next I poured the lye-water solution into the oils to saponify - or neutralize - the lye, while changing the composition of the oils into the familiar creaminess of soap. I stirred and stirred and stirred some more. When the soap started to trace, or thicken, I poured it into my prepared soap mold. All was well, until...dinner was ready. The grandparents eat early. This is where the trouble began. I didn't want to move the soap before it set, but I didn't want to move it in the dark, even more. So I quickly set up a place for it in the trailer. The tricky part was to move the 4 ft. long soap mold while the soap was still liquidy. It spilled...I thought it was lost. I scooped up what I could off the clean vinyl tablecloth and gave up on the rest. 

You can see some of the crumbles here
   Upon inspecting the mess the next day, I discovered that I hadn't lost as much soap as I thought and I did get a good 15 bars out of this batch. A few more were lost due to the crumbly texture when I unmolded and cut it. That was thanks to Jack Frost. The soap set, or hardened, too quickly in the cold temperatures, resulting in a more crumbly texture. 

These bars cracked when I cut them
Now this is NOT great-great-grandma's lye soap! It does need to cure for 3-5 weeks to finish neutralizing the lye and hardening the oils, but after fully curing it will NOT take the paint off the barn! This pure, unscented castille soap will gently cleanse a baby's bottom, better than that big-name brand named after an elephant's tusk. After curing, my 15 good  bars seemed to shape up quite nicely and my testing with the ones that didn't cut properly went perfectly well. 

Curing on racks in the MeToo
Mrs. D's Pure, Unscented Castillle Soap is available in the Homestead Store or on Etsy. Right now I'm repouring lip butters. I added too much coconut oil to my last batch and they're too soft. Looking forward to a nice day to make some Jasmine Rose Goat Milk Soap. Can't wait!

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