Lots of notes because I wanted to document my experiments and learning experiences.
This was my 6th batch of soap and my second HP. It was also my first girly soap project adding botanicals. I also wanted to try superfatting after the cook, and putting in a pencil line. Im a newbie who is still using acrylic divider trays as a mold - it makes 1 lb 13 oz of soap each time, which is nice for me to make small batches of different things.
I collected a bunch of dried lavender buds from my garden, and further dried some of them in my dehydrator. Drying them turned them from almost black to a greyish lavender color. Once dry I ground up the lavender in my spice grinder (about 2-3 tbs), and then sifted them so I had some very fine power for the pencil line, and some coarser material to mix into the soap (due to recommendations from those wiser than I, I was advised against using whole buds to avoid the "mouse poop" look).
The recipe was a simple 65% OO, 30% CO and 5% Castor Oil, with only 2% super fat, with a plan to add a further 5% superfat after the cook with sweet almond oil.
Id also planned to soak the coarsely ground lavender buds in the lavender essential oil, I'd read that helps to fix the scent a bit. My recipe called for 1 ounce of fragrance weight for my tiny batch, but I only had maybe 0.3 ounces of EO in my collection. So I mixed that with the lavender buds and then added about 0.6 oz of sweet almond oil to act as a carrier oil - which in retrospect may have been a silly thing, and bumped my superfatting to about 10% at the end of the day.
The melting and mixing went well, and the cook went well once I remembered to turn the crock pot back ON after the mix. Having read to avoid the temptation to stir, I just left it alone till it looked like fluffy greasy mashed taters, and passed the zap test.
It then got scooped out (leaving the dry white bits on the walls of the crockpot behind) and dumped into a different bowl to mix and cool. I stirred in the almond oil and after the temp got down to about 144 F, I stirred in the EO/lavender bud/ almond oil mixture. All these additional oils did indeed help make the batter less stiff and a little easier to work with.
I spooned half of this into my little mold lined with plastic wrap, and banged it on the counter to get rid of air pockets, maybe evened out the top a little with my spatula. Then I used a strainer to shake the lavender power on top of that layer. This is where I learned that if you think its too thick in some places, DONT BLOW ON THE POWDER LAYER!. This only tends to make it thicker at the ends... Ah well, it looked ok and I'm into the rustic look.
I blobbed the rest of the mixture on top of the powdered layer, and futzed with the top a bit, fluffing it up to what I considered a rakish texture.
The cool went well, after a few hours it was in that "probably too early to cut but lets see how it looks inside" stage. I used my highly technical cleaver to cut most of the bars sideways so as not to smear the line. Because of the bits of lavender I did get some scratches in the surface, but hey - rustic!
All in all I quite like it. It really smells nice and lavendery, despite the low EO amount. Except for the thicker ends (where I blew the powder to), the pencil line worked out quite well for a first try I think. Its still quite soft, Im hoping that a couple weeks curing will make the bars a bit harder.