Monday, January 21, 2013

Adventures in Soap-making

I looked in our storage cupboard yesterday and noticed we were running a little low on soap, so yesterday and this morning, I made some more.  For the first batch I decided to use coconut milk instead of water for the liquid, as I thought it would make a nice, soothing soap.  It was a classic kind of spur-of-the-moment-and-destined-for-failure idea I'm famous for, because while the concept of coconut milk soap sounds fabulous, when the lye is poured into whatever liquid you're using, it heats up that liquid to about 150 degrees.  Got (scorched) milk, anyone?

Some Very Unlovely Coconut Milk Soap bars
 So, yes, when I poured my lye in, it immediately scorched the coconut milk and smelled beyond awful.  If you've ever smelled scorching coconut milk, it's every bit as nasty as curdled cow's milk. No, I take that back.  It's worse.  And as you can see, this soap also looks like it may be a bit brittle. It will have to cure for a couple more weeks before I try it out, but if it's got a good fat content and lathers well, I'll keep it around.  If not, I'll grate it and use it to make laundry soap.  

(As of this morning, the disgusting smell is pretty much gone, so it actually may end up being a decent batch.  Talk about snatching victory out of the jaws of defeat.  And curdling, smelly defeat at that!)

But even if it all works out, it's still not a physically attractive bar of soap -- and I use my soap all over the house, including the guest bathroom.  Sometimes I even give some away. So this morning I made a second batch, using water as the liquid (the usual method) and adding some olive oil in addition to the usual coconut and soybean oils, just for fun.

Some Much Nicer Olive Oil Soap bars, still setting in their molds
This batch came out fine, so it looks like our family and friends will be lathered up and clean for the next several months.  Always a good thing when you live with a houseful of men.

**Update!!**  It's been 24 hours since I took the stinky batch out of the soap molds and the smell is completely gone!  I'm left with the slight orange-y smell from a small amount of orange extract I put into the soap, in the hope of diffusing the scorched milk smell.  Gold star for me today....doesn't happen often, but once in awhile, it DOES happen!

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