- Jan 14, 2021
- Reaction score
First time to
- use that second-hand cheese cutter that I've got in a thrift shop some weeks ago, but hadn't had an opportunity to use on a soap batch of sensible size yet. I LOVE it, I'm an instant convert! No more sticky knives, no more tear marks!
- re-use confetti embeds. In a former project, foolish me had embedded those white/tan/brown chunks, then inch-sized, into a M&P soap matrix. Just to find that they fall apart when used . The embeds were packed too tightly for the M&P to hold them together. Luckily, M&P is reversible, so I heated up the M&P matrix until molten (more on this later), took out the embeds, and cut them into much smaller cubes this time.
- Not the first salting-out I've made, but the first I'm actually happy with. A few weeks ago I had cleaned out my curing rack, thrown out some mediocre bars , and decided to give some others (unsightly but of decent quality) a second life. Part of above M&P soap was among them.
Upon adding salt to the simmering soap paste, initial precipitation was highly unsatisfactory (I panicked a bit and wasted a ton of salt). For one I have under suspicion my softie/low-INS/high-IV notoriety (unsaturated soaps just don't give hard soap curds, and love to slip through strainers). But then, there is also an above-average amount of polyols (glyerol, propylene glycol etc.) from the M&P in there, that might impede a swift salt precipitation on the first run.
I needed three rounds of heating→adding brine→cooking→sifting off curds until I had a satisfactory purity. Good thing I didn't make photos of the kitchen after that party .
- I tried hard to get soap curds and brine separated as thoroughly as possible, but there is still a ton of salt in there (so tells my tongue). So this does not only qualify as kernseife, but as brine soap/soleseife as well.
- M&P base to re-add glycerol to the salted-out soap. Salting-out removes most of the non-soapy constituents, including the glycerol that is naturally present in lye-based soap. IME, this makes the bars feel somehow rough, scratchy and irritant at times. So, how to enrich the soap with glycerol again after salting-out? I still have that leftover M&P base, that is, roughly, a third glycerol by weight . I saved an amount of M&P soap that would hold an amount of polyols about 10% of the amount of soap I've put in in the first place. Once salting-out was eventually finished, I melted up the M&P base and whisked it into the still soft-ish soap curds. They instantly “gelled”, i. e. turned from a crumbly-curdled consistency to a sticky, reasonably smooth paste. Then it was time to add the confetti embeds, and to squeeze all into the mould.
- I know exactly why I'm so reluctant with adding fragrance to soap. But I eventually succumbed. This batch was the first time that I used an EO blend that deserves this name. I had found a tiny bottle of citriodora eucalyptus (an impulse purchase a few years ago). Too penetrant for any use I could make up back then, but throw away? Gnah, c'mon.
Now this soap is the stage for its final performance, backed by rosemary, elemi, cedarwood and camphor. I knew it would be risky to dive into the whole perfumery/EO blend topic, and I was not disappointed. Rabbit hole ahead!
Though motivated less by experience than by EO availability, I do like the smell. The single weird point about it is that its fresh, green, herbaceous uplift doesn't fit at all to the look of the soap. It's really weird. I hadn't anticipated that my brain can be so stubborn to refuse any cooperation between the eyes (chocolate shop) and the nose (cough drop/arboretum/botanical/herb garden).
- I hadn't expected that cocoa colour is able to migrate. Even less so how quickly it'd happen. Some of the the dark embeds are made with literal chocolate as part of the oil blend (cocoa butter as 23% of the oils, which makes 12%TOW dry cocoa solids and 15%TOW sugar). Said soap is terribly soft and super soluble even after months (looking at you, overdone sugar!). The M&P into which it had been embedded has turned into a dark cloud. What was going on there? Apparently, the cocoa darkness is remarkably mobile in a moist soap matrix, and will migrate into adjacent soapy regions. I hadn't anticipated this; such things don't happen with multi-coloured chocolate either – but who knows what lye does to the cocoa colourants?
Anyway, this sheds another questionable light on the usage of cocoa (powder/cocoa mass/chocolate) as a soap colourant.
- Not the first time bevelling, but I don't usually do it, just for the lack of a loaf/slab mould. You can tell I have improvised here too, from the irregular dimensions of the individual soaps. It took a few days until the soaps were solid enough (more importantly: the matrix hardened up enough so that the embeds wouldn't rip out) for cutting and bevelling. I still expect them to be hard enough to be easily handled in two weeks at least.