Mini-epic scented soaping experiment

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SheLion

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About a month or so ago, I ordered a whole bunch of FO samples from Nature's Garden. Yesterday I decided to make some test bars with some of them. I've only made a few scented soaps and those were all with EOs so this was my first foray into the world of FOs.

The plan was to make a big batch and then split out smaller amounts to scent. So I chose 6 FOs to try (OK, stop laughing all you veteran soapers!) and got to it. When I got all my supplies out, I discovered that I only had a little castor oil left. That meant tweaking the recipe because I didn't have enough for my planned recipe. No biggie. Tweaked it, ran it through soapcalc and things are good. Weigh all oils out, put on stove to heat and while that's going on, get my lye water ready to go. Oils are heated to clear, put lye water in and start stirring.

At this point, it's important to mention a few things: 1. my recipe was over 50% olive; b. the lye water was room temp and the oils were only about 100 degrees when mixed; III. I am currently sans SB so all mixing was done by hand. (Many of you can already see where this going, can't you?)

So, lye water goes into oils and mixing commences. About 20 minutes later (after I remembered that olive oil likes to meander its way to trace but I think, how bad can it be), when it looks like emulsification is complete but I am still not in the same zipcode as even a light trace, I set the bowl to the side and decide to get my FOs ready. So I weigh out each of the 6 FOs I'm using and set them aside. I return to my soap batter and continue mixing. By hand. Every time I think I'm certain emulsification is complete, I scrutinize the edges along the bowl and they always looks a bit watery, so mixing continues. By hand. 30 or so minutes later, I'm not only certain that emulsification is complete, I'm also starting not to care due to the heady fumes from the 6 different FOs that are sitting in open containers on the counter, inches away.

(At this point, you may need a chart to keep track.)

I decide it's time to start splitting the batch, thinking that the FOs may accelerate things so it's fine that the batter isn't at trace yet. Weigh out first test scent batch. Add FO and mix. By hand. Look for trace. Not happening. Mix some more. By hand. Check for trace. Nope, nothing. Set that aside and weigh out second test scent batch. Add FO and mix. By hand. Trace not forthcoming on this one either. Set that aside and return to first test scent. Mix and check for trace. Not happening. Mix furiously for many minutes. By hand. Finally, is that light trace?! Woot! Give a few more good stirs and into the mold it goes. Grab cup with second test scent batter in it. Give it a mix. No trace. Set it aside and weigh out sample scent three batch. Mix in FO, at this point hoping for immediate trace. No. such. luck. Hand mixing continues for several minutes. Put that one to the side and return to tester #2. Give it a few good stirs and behold, there's a light trace! Into the mold it goes. Give tester #3 a stir. Not even close to trace so back to the side it goes. The batter for test scent #4 hits the scale and then I mix in the FO. Trace is not happening after a few minutes of mixing so I push it to the side and check on #3 again. Give it a bunch of stirring and have a look. It appears to actually be moving away from trace. What the heck? Push it aside in disgust and grab #4. No. flippin'. trace. More vigorous stirring. By hand. No trace, not even a little bit. Sigh, grab an empty cup and weigh out batter for scent #5. Mix in FO. By hand. Any thickening apparent? Of course not. Put it to the side and grab #3 again. Give it some stirs and check for trace. Not happening. Ugh. Push it to the side again and grab #4. Mix, mix, mix. Is that the faintest of traces? Yes it is! Into the mold it goes. Grab #5 and have a look. Not at trace yet but we're close. Mix vigorously for a few minutes and coax it to trace. Hurrah! Into the mold it goes. Weigh out the batter for the final scent, #6. FO goes in and mixing commences. By hand. Not there yet so push it aside and figure that surely, #3 is ready by now. I grab it and check. It snickers at me. Furious spatula mixing ensues. Check for trace and decide it's going into the mold regardless. Finally. Return to #6. A few stirs and into the mold it goes too. Finally.

Return to the bowl with the remaining batter in it. It is at light trace. I give it a bunch of good stirs (by hand!) for good measure and into the mold it goes. Then the whole shooting match goes into the oven, 2 hours after I started.

So what was learned here? Do not test 6 different FOs in a single go. Or at least, don't measure them and leave them sitting out on the counter all at the same time. Don't soap olive oil at room temp unless you've cleared your calendar for the rest of the day. I really need to get a new SB. :mrgreen:
 

Steve85569

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I have converted a small battery powered Drimmel tool into a mini blender just for this reason.
Two speeds and as long as I MAKE SURE that the battery is charged BEFORE I measure anything. It really does help.
I have a regular sized stick blender but don't use it very much. It's a lot harder to over SB with the mini tool.

I do feel you pain. I tried hand blending a high/low mix about a year ago.

Florals can help speed things up. I found that one the hard way too....
 

LisaAnne

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I have converted a small battery powered Drimmel tool into a mini blender just for this reason.

Great idea. I got a dremel for Christmas, did you just insert a whisk?

Sorry shelion, too late and too tired to be able to follow your post. :)
 
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BattleGnome

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When I don't feel like using my SB (or want to super control trace) I'm getting in the habit of using one beater of a hand mixer. It's faster than just a whisk but slower than the blender.

(It also helps that I had a spare lying around when I started soaping and can devote one to B&B uses)
 

Nao

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My first thought is, did you use a ballon whisk? Because it will take days with anything else than a ballon whisk. I once made an 700-800g batch of 80% olive oil, whisked it outside, so slightly under room temperature, and it reached medium trace after 15-20min. Technique is also important, pay attention when they make whipped cream on master chef :mrgreen:
 
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SheLion

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I have converted a small battery powered Drimmel tool into a mini blender just for this reason.
Two speeds and as long as I MAKE SURE that the battery is charged BEFORE I measure anything. It really does help.
I have a regular sized stick blender but don't use it very much. It's a lot harder to over SB with the mini tool.

I do feel you pain. I tried hand blending a high/low mix about a year ago.

Florals can help speed things up. I found that one the hard way too....
I have a cordless pistol-grip rechargeable Dremel that would be an excellent mini blender. I never thought of that. What do you use for the blending attachment?

One of the FOs was a floral which is why I didn't want the whole batch too far along. It did not accelerate for me. But then, I was also doing very small batches so that may play into it.


Sorry shelion, too late and too tired to be able to follow your post. :)
No need to apologize, I completely understand. :grin:

When I don't feel like using my SB (or want to super control trace) I'm getting in the habit of using one beater of a hand mixer. It's faster than just a whisk but slower than the blender.

(It also helps that I had a spare lying around when I started soaping and can devote one to B&B uses)
I never thought of that, either. I have a hand mixer that I usually forget I own. It is rarely used since I have stand mixer that lives on the counter. I'll find an extra set of beaters to devote to soapiness.

My first thought is, did you use a ballon whisk? Because it will take days with anything else than a ballon whisk. I once made an 700-800g batch of 80% olive oil, whisked it outside, so slightly under room temperature, and it reached medium trace after 15-20min. Technique is also important, pay attention when they make whipped cream on master chef :mrgreen:
Now why would I use a whisk and make it easier on myself? :lol: Back when I had cable, I used to watch a lot of cooking shows. (Ironic since I don't particularly like to cook and henceforth am not very good at it.) One of the things I stowed away in my brain was proper whisking technique. I don't have a dedicated soap whisk but I will shortly.

The whole episode was a very good learning experience. And the bonus is that my kitchen trash now smells fabulous due to the discarded FO cups.
 

Steve85569

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"I have a cordless pistol-grip rechargeable Dremel that would be an excellent mini blender. I never thought of that. What do you use for the blending attachment?"

I used a (dulled) metal saw blade designed for the dremmel and made 4 cuts around the blade. A very slight bend in the blade parts results in a lot of mixing in smaller batches.
 
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