Thursday, March 10, 2011

Soap Making ~ Trial and Errors

My first few batches of handmilling soap were a total disaster.  This is not what I aspired to do my first few attempts at handmilling soap.  I spent Monday and Tuesday doing 5 small batches, my first two batches are below.  They look and feel like wet tofu, and are too soft (because I added too much water), and when I pulled them out of the molds, I realized I may have to scrap the whole batch.   I followed the directions in the Norma Coney book for handmilling, and was working simultaneously on melting 2 pans of grated basic soap.  As I watched them, I noticed they weren't liquefying... hmmm she said you may have to add a little more water, so I added more water, and watched, then it looked like it might be sticking to the bottom, so I added more water, she said not to stir much, but it seemed like I needed to stir, so I stirred and stirred, in the end I probably added 2 or 3 times the water she said to use (apparently it's very important to not add too much water), maybe a few drops more is all.

After an hour I realized it never would liquefy, and  it just looked like a mashed potato disaster!  , so I decided to go ahead and add the peppermint oil to one, and the lavender oil to the other pot, and stirred it all in.   Then I scooped the mashed potato mess into the molds... it was not a pretty picture. I left it to sit at room temp, then after an hour put it in the freezer for an hour, all just like the book said, it came out very wet and ugly.  I still am going to try and dry this soap if it dries, and will grate it to use in my homemade laundry detergent recipe.  So hopefully it won't be a total waste.

I was discouraged and am not the type to give up, so later that night after dinner (Monday night).  I decided to try again, in the book she said to be patient, and not stir much, and that it may take an hour and a half.  Ok so I sat over the stove, patiently, watching the whole time, not stirring too much, not adding water, and kept thinking something miraculous would happen chemically and it all may liquefy at a certain point.  Kind of like how butter just miraculously turns to butter when you whip or shake the cream long enough, it just happens all at once.

Well I had to admit defeat after an hour and a half.  This is what it looked like... the hardball stage :)  I just left it to deal with the next day, took a long hot shower and crawled in bed and realized I may never make soap at this rate.  I am not one to give up easily.  My kids had all been home from school Monday for a school improvement day.  They watched this whole fiasco until it ended at 10:30 at night with the final batch of botched soap, that I couldn't even pour.  We will all remember my first day of trying to make soap.
The next morning I went online to find other soap makers who I could learn from.  One great site had comments from first time soap makers who were trying to make soap from the directions in the same book I had, and had exactly the same thing happen.  Apparently this is a great book, but not the best book for beginners to start with.  There were some interesting suggestions I will be trying. 

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