October 18, 2010

Soap Making: First Attempt

As I mentioned last week, I found an ad with melt and pour soap bases for sale. Well, as it turns out, the soaps had been sitting in a smoker's home for who knows how long, and I didn't notice the cigarette smoke smell until I'd gotten them home.

I decided to give it a try anyway, and if nothing else, I might learn a bit about the process.

And I did. Never assume the instructions are correct. They said to microwave the wax for forty seconds, stir, and then continue to heat in ten second intervals until it was completely melted. Forty seconds burnt the soap. That's not a pleasant smell, especially when the soap smells of cigarette smoke to begin with, let me tell you.

Anyway, I tried again, using opaque base for two batches and a clear base for one.

The three soaps pictured are mocha, honey cinnamon, and vanilla peppermint. I didn't add any dyes to them, and my fragrance oils are in the same shipment as my lye, so the only materials I had on hand were actual instant coffee, cocoa powder, honey, ground cinnamon, vanilla extract, peppermint oil, and finely ground parsley as a colorant in the vanilla peppermint bar.

All in all, I was happy with the way they turned out. I couldn't find a dropper for the peppermint oil, and I ended up putting too much in for the amount of soap I had. The bar was a bit too soft as a result, and it had to be pried out of the ice cube tray. (You can see the evidence of this on the sides.) But, that shouldn't happen when I go to make "real" batches of soap. I'll have droppers by then, and the silicon molds can be pulled away from the sides of the bar without having to shove a knife or something between the soap and the mold.

They actually came out smelling pretty nice, but I couldn't get past the fact they were likely covered in tar. I snapped a picture, and tossed them out this time around. I'm hoping to be able to make my first batch of cold process soap this weekend.

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