Saturday, March 24, 2012



"Soapmaking is fun.  You get back to the basics of color, chemistry, and cooking and at the end, you wind up in the tub or shower!"  Alicia Grosso

Today I tried my hand at a Castile cold processed soap.  By definition Castile soap is 100% olive oil, so I guess what I made with olive, coconut (for lather) and palm (for hardness) oils isn't technically Castile, but it's close. I've heard it called Bastille.
So, I had my lye water cooling when I realized that the lids on the new gallon pails of oils I'd ordered would NOT come off!   I used a kitchen knife, I used a screwdriver and after forty-five minutes and a cut from my hand getting pinched in the pliers,  I was ready to give up. Picture me in long sleeves, big safety goggles and clumsy chemical gloves -- dripping with sweat --yanking on the darned lid with a pair of pliers.  I finally was able to get the lids off, but needed to reheat the lye water at that point.

Here's the recipe I used:

40 oz olive oil (refined would have been better as it's lighter in color)
5 oz palm oil
5 oz coconut oil
16 oz water
6.7 oz lye

I poured off about 3 cups after trace was achieved and colored it with a violet mica. It didn't take the color well, so I'm now just hoping the swirls will be tone-on-tone at least.  I did a high pour for swirling within the soap, and a low pour for swirls on top and used a chop stick to make the pattern.  The entire batch is scented with Spicy Mahagony fragrance oil and the scent seems to be holding so far.
A little spicy, a little flowery.
The waiting is so hard.  I'm just dying to cut into the loaf to see how the swirls turned out.  Maybe I'll uncover it tomorrow night and see if it's ready.  I was told to wait 36 hours, but I'm just not that patient !!!

Soaping supplies:  goggles, safety gloves, oil buckets with lids that shred your hands when you try to remove them and the scary lye.

I found this pretty light blue stock pot at WalMart. It works on the induction cooktop and holds more soap than I'd ever need to make at one time.  Mostly I just liked the pretty color. Thank you, Paula Deen!

Here's the new 5 lb wooden silicone lined mold that I used. This was the first time I've used this mold, so we'll see how it unmolds tomorrow or Monday.  I really like the idea of not having to make a freezer paper liner each time. No paper wrinkles in your soap ! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it hardens.  After a month of curing, it will be ready to use.  I'll post pictures of it being unmolded and cut.

Here's the top of the soap - pretty enough, though the color could have more contrast.

And here's one of the bars. Not terrible, but nothing special either. My high pour didn't seem to reach the bottom of the mold.

Cut bars drying.  Recalculated and with the high olive oil content they'll need to dry for about 8 weeks before they're ready to use. Just to be safe, I've ordered some litmus paper to test the ph level.  I hope they lather nicely and work better than they look !

Now that they're out of the mold, I'm ready to try another batch !!!



"Embrace your imperfections"  Tim Holtz

Week One of Creative Chemistry 101 with Tim Holtz, Creative Director of Ranger Inks, just ended and WOW! What an amazing week it was.  I've had Distress Pads, Alcohol Inks and Stains and realized I never really knew the full uses of any of them.  Mostly, because I never stopped to read, but Tim's videos are so much more to my learning style. I love the way he encourages us to create and not get too wrapped up in the details....just get in there, have fun and try different techniques.  I'm really looking forward to next week's classes.  Here are a few of the project technique tags I've created so far.