At it again, experimenting on cactus juice.

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I have been adding aloe vera juice to some of my soaps, but I suspect aloe vera gel might be better. The juice is so watery looking, so I planted an aloe vera in my back yard to grow my own gel. They do well here with all the sunshine. But it is going to take ages to grow big enough--Sigh!
I read up on it a bit and see that aloes have long chain polysaccharides. That's stuff above my pay grade but I'm guessing it is a type of sugar. It is the slimey gel you scrape out, yes? Well, I can get loads of slimey stuff right now for free from the prickly pear cactus that grows like a weed all around me. I researched a bit and discovered the cactus fruit has some good qualities...vitamin C, fiber, carbohydrate, and polysaccharides. It is edible too.
So I did it! Made my own slimey gel stuff from cactus. I picked some beautiful cactus fruit from near my driveway, scooped out the pulp, mashed it, added an equal amount of distilled water, let it seep a few hours, and filtered the result. I got 4 fl oz of viscus looking pale green juice. The skins looked interesting too, so I seeped them in water just to see what would happen. The water turned a lovely pink but I expect the lye will devour that. However, the skins made an even more viscus solution, like really snotty-looking (sorry). I plan to use each one in a different small loaf of same recipe soap. It's worth a try. I will be my own guinea pig. (Gosh, hope these pictures are allowed and not too big.)
cactus juice 6.jpg
 

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I did it. Made 3 identical batches with the only variable being the cactus juices. No color or fragrance was added. Since I batch my lye solution, only 1/3 of the volume came from the juices. The one marked with a "C" is the control where only distilled water was added with the lye. The one marked "G" was the green cactus fruit juice from a Santa Rita prickly pear. The one marked "R" is the red cactus fruit juice. As expected, the red juice lost its color during saponification. However, it turned light beige color and looked marbled. Perhaps the marbling is due to its viscosity, it was going to heavy trace quickly as I was mixing it. There is also a bit of ash on the top, but it looks pretty. I will report back in a few weeks :--)
cactus juice soaps.jpg
 
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Wow thanks @Zany_in_CO
I wish she had shown us the unmolding and cutting. She didn't say what properties the juice brought to the soap. I found another cactus soap maker with a great idea for the pads...dehydrate and grind to a powder. Neat! I think I will try that next because the fruit is seasonal but the pads are here all year round.
There was a lady on this forum who tried the pads but she never came back to report what happened. My goal is to improve the bubbles. Don't care about label appeal. Will have my results soon.
 
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earlene

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All I would expect from the cactus pulp to bring to the soap is a boost of bubbles & lather, a nice 'feel' to the skin and not a lot more. Vitamin C would not survive the heat of saponification, let alone the harsh treatment lye would give it were it to try to cozy up to the lye (tongue-in-cheek.)

But I love that you are creating soap using what is free and available in your yard! What fun! You know, if you do a bit of research, you may find some recipes to turn those prickly pears into candy for your (or family's) enjoyment. I don't much like super sweets, but ate them as a child. I've also had them in vegan wraps (not candied), and you can also use them to make a sorbet (I have not tried that myself, but would be tempted if I lived near a growth.) There really are endless recipes for using them in meals.

Looking forward to your reports on how the soaps perform. Well worth the effort, IMO.
 
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All I would expect from the cactus pulp to bring to the soap is a boost of bubbles & lather, a nice 'feel'
Hi @earlene yes, that's what I'm after :) and it is indeed a lot of fun!
I paid $12 recently for a prickly pear margarita, only one of course at that price. Here in the southwestern states prickly pear this and thats are very popular in touristy places for rip off prices. My brother visited and we ended up in a gift shop buying prickly pear salad dressing. It tasted blah! It is so labor intensive and ...prickly...that I wonder how much is actually in these things, how dilute is that juice? Ha Ha.
Prickly pear sorbet, homemade, hmmm, I like the sound of that one.
 
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The Prickly Pear Pads/ Napoles are used a lot in Mexican dishes. We also have Pickley Pear wild in our local canyons but I am too lazy to gather and clean them of their awful spines, although I like to eat them. Yep, I have made cactus pear soap, but found it to not be anything amazing, actually not really different from aloe soap. Either just proved to have label appeal when selling, which is why I fussed with it.
 

Marsi

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Great soap idea Shirley!
Makes me curious to know how much difference there is, between pad and fruit cactus soap :)

PS. I did forget myself once, and ate a prickly pear fruit without cleaning it properly ... that was annoying.
 
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I am too lazy to gather and clean them of their awful spines,
Hi @cmzaha , I have discovered a few tricks through trial and error with the prickly pear fruits. I'm sure this has been done before by somebody somewhere. Every time I think of a new soapy idea I find it has already been done. Ahh, but that doesn't stop me from experimenting for myself 😁.
I get rid of the prickles by first putting a large batch of the fruits into a clean sink full of hot water. Then I bat them about vigorously with a wooden spoon. Those pricklies fall off pretty easily and soon can be handled (carefully, just in case). I placed a fine strainer over my drain hole to prevent a plumbing problem.
As for going out into the canyons for them, well, I wouldn't either. These are growing next to my driveway.
Last month I paid $14 for a gallon of Aloe juice from CVS pharmacy. I could get the same juice for $7 at Walmart. However the gas (petrol to some) to drive there would cost more than I would save. Sometimes you can't win.
:computerbath:
 
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Makes me curious to know how much difference there is, between pad and fruit cactus soap :)
Hi @Marsi
I'm on it already, LOL 🤣
The pad juice is much more scant and thin. The fruit is thick and viscus. I had a go at a pad and the prickles are bigger and stronger...ouch! You also have to cut them off with a serrated knife, a BIG, LONG knife. On the other hand, the fruits just fall off or are easily knocked off once they ripen. I use BBQ tongs to gather the fruit. In the pads there is far more fiber, no gel and not much juice. I abandoned the pad idea for now. From what I know the edible pads called nopales are the fresh, new pad growths that are greener, less prickly, and more tender. They show up in the spring. The older pads are tough and not worth it to me. I might try dehydrating them and pulverizing them like the lady in the above video, but that's for another day.🙂
 
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