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Stewing Plant Essence In Lard

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Howdy all! This is a question I've thought up while at work. I know that in the old school enfleurage process of extracting essential oils, they would take beef fat or pig fat and allow the plants to soak inside it, then distill it to obtain essential oils. (A recent movie about this subject was released with Dustin Hoffman in it, got the wheels turning inside my head...) Is it possible to measure your set amount of lard/tallow, melt it, and then allow the cut up leaves and stems of fragrant plants (Lavender, Rosemary, Mint, Gardenia, Pine Needles, Etc.) to stew inside of it, filter them after the oil changes color and absorbs scent, and use it in your soap making recipe? I'll have to try it when I get home I think!
 

Sudsy Bubbles

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I've only tried this once and it came out nice. I added my essential oil to the lard before mixing in my lye solution. The spearmint scent was awesome for a 100% lard soap!

I would think you could do the same with plant material but probably won't get much scent from it. It might even discolor the lard if you are hoping for white soap.

Sudsy Bubbles
 

donniej

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I've done a little research into botanicals and I know that some components are only fat soluble while others are only water soluble. You'll probably need to try both and compare. For either I'd try to make the particles as small as possible, while leaving them large enough to filter out (assuming you want to remove them) as well as heat and residency (amount of time required for botanicals to release there fragrance). Agitation may also be required.

If you're only doing small batches then you could also try to extract the scent with alcohol and allow the alcohol to evaporate off leaving behind the plant solids or oils.

Food for thought...
 
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It's very intriguing to me to study this and figure out what the possibilities are. Thanks for the ideas! I'll have to play around, so thus far I took Rosemary and Mint and stewed it in melted lard for about 2 hours on very, very low. The fat turned a dark green and had quiet the herbal scent sticking to it. I strained the plants out and afterwards I mixed it with other oils and got the soap making process started.

During mixing with a stick blender it turned dark, dark red surprisingly and the scent disappeared entirely. I poured it into a mold and this morning the color faded into a light peach color, remaining scentless. Sigh, back to the drawing board I guess. :p

So many possibilities though.
 

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