Tragedy and Triumph

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... all in the matter of a few hours!

So I really wanted to try my hand at some honey - oatmeal soap. I did my homework and searched the web and found a website from Google that had a 'how to add honey to your soap' recipe. In fact it was the top link, probably a sponsored ad, on the search results page.

I followed that recipe exactly.

I measured my lye water and poured about 2 oz. into a small measuring cup. Then, wanting to do it the very best I could I didn't go for the household, common bottle of honey ... I grabbed my husband's precious jar of Premium Select Raw Buckwheat Honey.

Following the recipe ... exactly ... I measured out two tablespoons of honey per pound - two tablespoons for my 32 ounce mold - and added that to the measuring cup. Nuked the mix for about 25 seconds and I had my honey water all ready.

When the lye had been worked into the oils lightly I added my honey water and was a touched surprised when the batch went from a light cream color to a deep rich red-gold tone ... but since it matched the dark coloring of the buckwheat honey I thought everything was OK.

It poured wonderfully, it peaked beautifully with the spoon work along the top. In fact, it was so lovely I decided to add dried, grated orange peel to the top, just for a little color accent to the what was now a red-brown color of the soap.

About an hour after I poured and wrapped the loaf in several tea towels I knew I was in trouble.

Where my studio for the last month has been filled with the delightful scents of Sandlewood, White Tea, and Orange Valencia there was now this really rank, odd smell of what .... it took me a few minutes to name that stench ... burnt, boiling molasses!

Now I didn't add any scent to this batch. So it didn't hit me right away that the smell could be from the batch of soap I had just made. But just in case I decided to check it.

The reak form the wrapped soap mold told me I had a disaster on hand. The tea towels on top of the mold were hot, the mold was hotter than my lye water has ever gotten, all of the spoon work on the top had melted, and my orange peel dusting was black-brown.

I left it unwrapped in hopes that it would not suddenly burst into spontaneous combustion - did I say I have a fire extinguisher in a few steps away in the kitchen.

I made that batch yesterday morning around 6-7am. By 8pm it was rock hard, and finally cool enough to touch. I went ahead and took it out of the mold to let it finish cooling down. The top was covered with this thin layer of dark orange oil which I was able to lift using a few paper towels.

This morning I did cut it, the smell has reduced a little. Its now down to burnt brownies instead of burnt, boiling molasses. That oil layer I think came from the dried orange peels that got fried during the heat reaction from too much honey and what little oil remained in the peels literally got baked out.

I think it is going to make some wonderful deer repellent soap for around my veggie garden.

I did re-search the web this morning for another 'how to add honey' recipe and discovered that its not 1 tablespoon per pound, its 1 teaspoon ... sigh ...

I used the double rich, double thick buckwheat honey at three times the recommended amount and am lucky that I didn't set the studio on fire. The whosits with worrying about the dangers of lye. Its the honey which now concerns me.

But out of all of this it did remind me to double check the expiration date on my kitchen fire extinguisher - mine has another year.

My day, yesterday, did end with a small triumph though. I have been testing here and there my first batch of soap from May 31st to see how everything was curing. I had left my sample bar in its small bowl on the kitchen sink - I could put it away later.

My son kindly did the dishes last night while the rest of us were watching the news.

I expect like everyone here I have been getting the 'how many bars of soap do you think one family needs' - 'you're giving all of those away as Christmas presents, right?' and the 'your studio smells like a popourri factory' comments.

But out of nowhere we all hear, "Hey Mom! This stuff is REAL SOAP!"

What did they think I was making ... my great grandma's stinkie, smelly thingies that go in the bottom drawer of the dresser to hide the mildew and dust ???

Sigh! Thanks for letting me share !!!!

The brown soap with the burnt top is the Buckwheat Honey soap, then there is Orange Valencia, and the green swirl is Grapefruit.

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