Monday, March 30, 2009

soap tutorial with photos, part 2

getting to this point (part 1) is here.

9. soap stays in the mold for approximately 48 hours. i had a busy weekend so this was a bit more than that. it's not an exact science, so if you get impatient after 24 hours or forget for a day or so it's not the end of the world. just don't leave it in the mold for 6 weeks or you might not be able to get it out. see how the color has changed to that pretty cream? the tiny dark flecks are what slipped through the strainer when i infused my oils and are not a concern to me. the blobbiness in the middle is because i tend to pour my soap at a slightly heavier trace, so it is a bit thicker. i could easily remedy this by being a bit less enthusiastic about blending, you find your own style. mine is with a somewhat imperfect "other" side to the bars.

don't worry if the scent is a bit strong, it will dissipate some during the cure. also, if you used some "funky" ingredients in your soap (like subbing milk for water in the lye solution) it could smell really odd, but that should go away. goat's milk in particular can give off an ammonia smell, like cat pee, for a couple days, but don't worry, you won't have to wash with cat pee soap.

10. soap out of the mold; this is the "backside" which is the pretty side because it has been against the smooth inside of the mold. dunno what that paw-print-looking dark spot is but i'm sure it will clear up as the soap cures. if it doesn't, well, to me that's the beauty of handmade soap, minor imperfections like that. because my mold is specifically for soapmaking, there are cutlines on the bottom to ensure that i always cut even bars. you can get them without cutlines, i just knew i would always have wonky bars if i did that because i'm like that. imperfections are one thing, wonkiness is another.

another thing, i always turn my soap out onto a piece of waxed paper on a cutting board, so i have a smooth surface (cutting board) to work on but no mess (waxed paper). that's just my personal anal retentiveness.

11. 12 cut bars of soap. i use an inexpensive dough scraper, but for a long time i just used a knife. the advantage of a dough scraper is that the edge is even, whereas a knife edge gets wider as you go farther back up the tang. that's just more for aesthetics though.

you can see the unevenness on the interior, kind of like under-done brownies. this is fine. sometimes there are little air bubbles; these are fine as well. what would be concerning would be if the air bubbles were filled with oil or watery liquid; that could be unsaponified lye solution and burn your skin. don't use the soap if that happens. (it shouldn't.) if there are pockets of flaky white NaOH, don't use that soap either; it's dangerous. more than likely this will not happen; i've never had it happen. just be aware of what "bad" looks like.

12. finished bars ready to be stored for curing. i bevel the edges of my bars with a potato peeler (you can see better here or here) because i like the way it looks and feels when you first use it, and it helps smooth out any mistakes i made when cutting. i do it before the bars go in the box because it is easier but you can do it after the cure if you want. you will notice as you cut that your soap is firm but soft to the touch, kind of like zucchini. it is certainly solid but you could nick the surface with your nail, and possibly a bit "sticky" feeling. two of my bars were stamped with a soap stamp as an experiment. i have this stamp and i never use it, i think because i can never get the hang of it to make the stamp look as nice as i would like.

you can cure your soap however you want to. lots of people use cooling racks but i don't have any. if you are making more than one batch or don't have a lot of space you probably need something stackable that doesn't take up a lot of space. at first i just spread out a paper towel and stood the bars on end. now i use a very high-tech system of two soda flats (these are beer ones i picked up at the grocery store) nested together. the boxes are free, breathable (not airtight), will stack on top of each other, and i can stick post-its on them so i don't forget what kind of soap is inside. i line them with a paper towel to absorb any moisture and i will flip them over in a couple weeks. basically you just want to be able to have air move around the bars on all (or as many as possible) sides. you are drying out the water weight in the soap to make a firm, long-lasting bar of soap. it is useable right now, but it would dissolve a lot sooner in the shower than if you were patient and cured it. curing takes 4-6 weeks.

after soap has cured, you can use and enjoy it!


Anonymous said...

How neat, I am loving these soap tutorials, I never knew all was involved in soap making, I am super interested now!

Sarah @ said...

I just checked out your other blog, and oh my goodness, 33 weeks! Looking good! You must be so excited =)

Also, I totally agree that non-pregnant people take sex for granted. Donald and I spent the weekend away and it was, you know, SIGH.

Jessika said...

You have inspired me. SO much. If you can email me, I am now looking for soap-making supplies on amazon for us to put on our registry!

You shoudl make a baby count-down, by the way... for each day over due-date, you should have something scheduled that is pampering and fun.