Tallow ho!

Discussion in 'Beginners Soap Making Forum' started by DirtyKnuckles, Jan 31, 2019.

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  1. Jan 31, 2019 #1

    DirtyKnuckles

    DirtyKnuckles

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    My last batch of soap lasted ever so much longer since I became parsimonious about giving it away to anyone crossing my path (I strongly suspect much of what I gave away from batches one and two got set aside as curiosities and went unused). Consequently, my memory was a little hazy on a few details. I walked myself through the process a few times in my mind, then ran actual numbers through Brambleberry's soap calculator in preparation to doing the deed.

    Here is the recipe in it's glorious simplicity:
    1175 grams pure deer tallow
    152 grams Rooto brand sodium hydroxide drain cleaner
    540 grams water

    I melted the rendered fat on the stove top slowly. I went outside and gently mixed the lye crystals into the water .....and that is where the first wheel fell off the wagon! I forgot to use distilled water. I used good old Rapid City, SD tap water. "Oh well, too late, moving on!" I said to myself. When the lye solution clarified, I stopped stirring and carefully carried it back into the house. Fortunately, I made it to the counter top without spilling before the safety glasses utterly fogged up. It was a balmy 11 degrees F outside.

    I had run a sink full of cool water as a safety precaution, thinking any body part getting accidentally splashed with caustic can be immediately plunged into water. I checked the temp of the lye solution and it was at 125F. The rendered tallow was 148F. I moved the stainless steel bowl of tallow to the sink of water and stirred constantly as I watched the thermometer drop. The cool water bath brought the tallow down to 120F and we were off to the races!

    Slowly and easily, I gently introduced the lye solution to the fat, stirring gently, but insistently. The stainless steel mixing bowl from the lye went into the sink and I ran cold water over it with one hand while stirring the mix with the other. Wheel number two then gently rolled past me when I spotted the new pair of bright yellow rubber gloves lying there on the counter. You know, it really isn't safety equipment if it is unused! I paused with chagrin and put them on.

    Twenty-one interminable minutes of stirring before I saw a hint of trace. I slid the mold over closer in anticipation. Soon I had a nice, thick trace that would take 20 seconds to disappear and I felt it was time to pour the very first batch in the brand new white plastic mold I had bought this morning. It poured in and settled fine, but I had a fair bit left in the mixing bowl. So I reached for a cheap-o plastic leftovers tub to take the last....well, hello there Wheel Number Three, I see you have come off right on time. The batch in the mixing bowl was kinda ricing and there was clear fluid pooling!

    Drat, I thought to myself, while my mouth spewed an actual string of foul non-family friendly epithets. I upended the mold's contents back into the stainless steel mixing bowl, and reached for a wire whisk. I began laying the cat-o-nine-tails to that batch like I was putting down a shipboard mutiny. But it was cooling and getting lumpy faster than I was beating. I turned on the burner on the stove down low, slid the bowl over the heat source and kept flailing like a windmill in a tornado. I cackled and cried "Auntie Em! Auntie Em!" for some unknown reason. I have no idea why The Wizard of Oz popped in my head during such a serious soaping incident, but there you are.

    Moments later the batch began to liquefy again and I was back to a soft trace. I breathed a sigh of relief and shifted to a slower stirring pace. Once I hit that firmer trace it was back into the mold again. As I was pouring the last of the batch into the plastic tub I saw a little separation again with the clear fluid. Less this time. By now, I had been stirring for a continuous 35 minutes and my right arm looked like I was Popeye at an all you can eat spinach buffet while the left had withered away to a stick. I was done. It will be what it will be.

    Several hours later, I popped the mold apart to remove and slice up the soap. The soap did not release from the mold very well and there were quite a few bits sticking to the slick white plastic. Pretty doesn't matter to me and I will survive somehow with uneven edges. But should I have used a mold release compound? Or waited longer?

    Comments? Observations? Random thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2019
  2. Jan 31, 2019 #2

    Steve85569

    Steve85569

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    That's where using freezer paper to line the mold comes in. Mine still aren't real purdy but they release easier. :smallshrug:

    Two words.
    Stick.
    Blender.
    Saves lots of time and worry. I'd been making soap for nearly a year before someone here reminded me that they can also be used for - get this - food.:nodding:
     
  3. Jan 31, 2019 #3

    KiwiMoose

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    Dunno about the soap but you have a great writing career ahead of you :)
    Thoroughly enjoyable!
     
  4. Jan 31, 2019 #4

    CaraBou

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    Great adventure! That's one way to learn.

    Lowering your water will help you more quickly achieve trace and release from the mold. You appear to have used about 3.5 parts water to 1 part NaOH. Consider dropping that to 3:1 or even 2:1.

    Stay warm, Coyote State!
     
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  5. Jan 31, 2019 #5

    Ladka

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    You're a talented writer, I enjoyed your report! Only I don't know how you managed it to the end with only one wheel left :)

    And I also think you used too much water. So have I, and had to whisk and stick-blend for very long when I used only oils, not tallow.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2019
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  6. Jan 31, 2019 #6

    Dawni

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    Are you gonna show us your one-wheeled wagon soap?

    I have no advice but I'm here to say I loved reading that haha

    Oh but also, maybe you unmolded too soon?
     
  7. Jan 31, 2019 #7

    KiwiMoose

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    Wagonwheel.png
     
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  8. Jan 31, 2019 #8

    DirtyKnuckles

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    Until I have an excellent grasp of "the rules" and why they are "the rules", I try not to break them. In this case, that is what the soap calculator said to use. Several others have also suggested less water, so I am gonna take this advice to heart, though considering the sieve-like state of my memory, perhaps I should take it to pen and paper in a notebook labeled "Soap Making Adventures; or My Vain Attempt to Keep the Wheels From Coming Off".

    Well, you will just have to imagine me rolling about the kitchen on a unicycle, knocking things over, pots and pans crashing, two dogs huddled under the kitchen table vacillating between hope for scraps and dreading the taste based on what they are smelling.
     
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  9. Jan 31, 2019 #9

    Donee'

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    love love LOVE your writing

    Go dump your stuff into soapcalc.net - will tell you exactly what to use
     
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  10. Jan 31, 2019 #10

    Dawni

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    There's good explanations regarding water in the forum... If you do a search you'll find lots, including how much water used is dependent on recipe, how "% of liquid" isn't the right choice, etc..
     
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  11. Jan 31, 2019 #11

    Donee'

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    But I must say that since I started use medicinal and lard soap I (and the twenty something people I have handed out samples to) have had no need to use moisturiser.
    I am a carnivore and I believe that it is most respectful to use the animal from head to tail.
     
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  12. Jan 31, 2019 #12

    DirtyKnuckles

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    20190131_070935.jpg

    Here it curing in the basement. Again, I am pleased with how paper white it has turned out.

    Donee, same here. I make every possible use of the game I hunt and practice the most ethical means to do so. Recently, I switched to Non-Lead ammunition so that the offal left in the field contains NO traces of lead. Raptors have virtually no resistance to lead poisoning and I will not contribute to unnecessary deaths.
     
  13. Jan 31, 2019 #13

    Donee'

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    oh yes yes yes
    that is beautiful
    Looks firm enough and you will loooove it.
     
  14. Jan 31, 2019 #14

    DirtyKnuckles

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    Careful how you say that! My mind is dirtier than my knuckles!
     
  15. Jan 31, 2019 #15

    Susie

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    I think you got false trace the first time. That is when your fat cools off and starts re-hardening before it interacts with the lye because it is taking too long to get trace. You never said if you used a fragrance. Ricing typically occurs with the reaction of fragrance to the oil/lye mixture. Not just oil + lye. A stick blender will eliminate that.

    LOVED your story!
     
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  16. Jan 31, 2019 #16

    cmzaha

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    I totally agree with Susie that you experienced false trace. First mistake was trying to get to trace while cooling off your batter in cold water while whisking, especially when working with tallows, hard butters, lard etc. They will start to thicken up due to the cooling and you will think you have trace, but you do not. It is a learning curve. If you had continued stirring your batter would have heated up and thinned back out.

    Using a stick blender will help tremendously, unless trying to make a floating soap, it is best not to use a wire whisk, which incorporates air into your soap batter. A lot of the trick is know how your batter behaves and you now know with your deer tallow. My go to recipes contain around 40% hard oils such as my tallow/lard soap or high palm. They will always go into false trace when I dump in my room temp lye solution, and take a few minutes of off and on stick blending before the batter warms back up and thins out. I will mention here I do not pour my fragrances into the oils before adding in my lye. If I tweak my recipe at all, which I am certainly known to do, I want to know how the batter is going to behave.
     
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  17. Jan 31, 2019 #17

    KiwiMoose

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    Wow! So very white!
     
  18. Jan 31, 2019 #18

    Meena

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    Don't want to sound unsympathetic, but this was a great piece of writing!! I snickered and chuckled my way through it, all the while admiring your "fresh turns of phrase," as writers all strive for!

    Did I understand correctly that this was your first-ever soap batch?
     
  19. Jan 31, 2019 #19

    DirtyKnuckles

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    It was my third or possibly fourth.

    I will probably stick with tallow based soaps because this is about an ethical use of every part of the animal that I can.
     
  20. Feb 1, 2019 #20

    Dawni

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    Lol found another one for the team @Chris_S and @Zing!

    Don't worry @DirtyKnuckles ours aren't as clean as those soaps of yours either ;) They seem to be OK now, are you happy with the results?

    If I could find any form of tallow ill probably use it. I've heard it makes lovely soap but I think the people here take ethical up a notch and eat up the whole animal including the fat lol so I'm unable to purchase by tallow, and don't have the time (yet) nor the patience to render myself.

    Plus we don't eat that much red meat...

    Excited to see your future soaps!
     
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