Sunday, May 24, 2009

Introducing Body Frosting Soap!

That's right. Everyone loved our Body Frosting so much, that I decided to turn it into soap! Misty and I have recently ventured into Cold and Hot process soap making. I must admit, it is very addicting. Misty went for Cold Process, I on the other hand, don't have that kind of patience or the ability to delay my gratification for that long (not to mention, I move around a lot, so waiting 5 weeks for soap to cure is really beyond my ability to fathom) naturally, I went for Hot Process, also known as Crock Pot soap.

Since I was in the process of setting up shop here in St. Louis where I spend part of my time, it took me a bit to really get settled in, so I am a week or so behind Misty when it comes to making new things. First I had to gather all the equipment. Crock pot, pitchers, stick blender, soap molds (that was the hardest part to get - but I'll explain that in a bit) etc etc. But, finally, I got it all together. Technically, I've made a couple of batches of soap at this point, but, since the process is such a fast one, I wanted to make sure my attention was fully focused on the soap making until I got through at least 1 batch before trying to tinker with the camera at the same time.

This time, I took notes however, and pictures... so this is sort of in the nature of a roughly sketched tutorial...please bear in mind, however, that this is by no means a complete representation of every step taken, and you should do lots of research before attempting this. Please do not do it based on this information alone.
I am including the times and some of the notes from this batch for your information and amusement. :)

Step 1: Gather all of your ingredients. Its best if you can have them all sorted out and separated before you begin. Since this is much like the CP, and Misty already talked about that, I skipped that part. :-D

Step 2: Make soap. lol

Time: 8:46pm. Mixed all butters and oils into the crock pot, and turned it on high power. It stays on high power throughout this entire process. Here is a photo of the butters at 8:53pm, they are starting to melt together nicely...

8:53pm measured out water and lye after checking on the oils. This particular recipe called for 14oz of water (I use filtered tap - the water around here is actually pretty decent) and 4.78oz of lye. The lye is actually already measured out in that little white tub. I do it this way, because I mix the lye outside due to lack of good ventilation in the apartment. Since I have to wander out the back door, down a step and around a corner, I decided the safest mode of transport was in a sealed container.

At 9:01 I went out and mixed the lye. At 9:07 the lye was completely mixed in and my oils and butters were now completely melted.

At 9:09 I mixed them together, pouring the lye water slowly into the oils while stirring continuously. At this point you now have to stir the mixture continuously for about the next 20 minutes. As you can see, I cheated for about 30 seconds at a time or so to take pictures of some of the process. This picture is after they are completely mixed, had been stirred together for about 1 minute, and I had begun running water in the pitcher that held the lye water. I run the water for about 3-4 minutes to be sure that straight lye is not washed down the drain - it does HORRIBLE things to pipes if you do not rinse the lye thoroughly and flush with LOTS of water.

9:16pm, the mixture begins to lighten as the lye reacts with the oils. It's supposed to resemble the texture of thin gravy... which it more or less does, but since I tend to over boil my gravy, its hard to say. Suffice it to say it develops a bit more consistency than straight oil, but is still very runny.

This is approximately trace. I say approximately, because the more you stir during this 20 minute time frame (from the time you add the lye until separation occurs) the faster trace happens, and because of the heat, it tends to only remain in trace for about a minute, if that long. This picture was taken at about 9:20, only 11 minutes after mixing the 2 together.

9: 24 - Separation had begun to occur, but my camera ran out of battery juice and I had to wait for J to bring me down some new ones. Once separation occurs you stop stirring and let it cook with the lid on. This picture was taken at about 9:27, I stirred again just before taking the picture, so you could see what separation looks like. Its that ring around the outside of the crock pot.

This pic was taken at 9:30pm. You are supposed to let the soap "cook" for 6 minutes or so, without stirring, and preferably without taking the lid off the pot, except if the soap starts to climb out of the pot, in which case you take the lid off and stir it down, put the lid back on and wait some more. You don't want the water to evaporate too quickly. (I'm not sure why... one of these days I might leave the lid off just to see what happens.)

At this point I begin collecting what I need for the final stages of the process. Hair dryer (don't worry, trust me, its important!), fragrance oil, colorant, grab my prelined mold and set it near by, etc.

This pic was taken at 9:33pm. Its coming along nicely and has the consistency of applesauce when stirred. I let it cook for 6 more minutes, stirring only as needed to keep it from climbing out of the pot, which it didn't try, so I didn't stir. I half expected it to though, as the batch of Three Butter soap was really trying to crawl out of the pot at this stage of the game.

Now comes the Volcano! This is why you need the hair dryer, and no I don't have pictures. I might have to get J to help play camera man for the next batch so you can see what I mean. The last time I stirred was at 9:40. Based on previous batches, I estimated that Volcano would be reached at 9:44, I was off by a minute, it actually occurred at 9:43! Once the volcano begins, and the soap begins to climb the pot Turn OFF the crock pot! Continued heat will force the soap to expand explosively.

Roughly, what happens during the Volcano stage, is that the soap is now being cooked, and as it cooks, it expands rapidly. The air bubbles are exploding and the soap is forced to expand. The hotter the soap, the faster it expands. Thus, the need for the hair dryer. If you stop stirring at any point during the Volcano stage, the soap will jump out of the pot, almost exactly in the way a volcano explodes. So, while one hand madly stirs away with a wisk, the other hand is holding the hair dryer, set on cool and medium or high fan, held up high enough not to blow molten soap all over creation, trying valiantly to keep the soap from escaping the pot.

Its actually rather hilarious looking and rather tense all at the same time. But, after about 2 minutes of mad stirring and blowing....the expansion starts to slow down, the soap begins to relax, the bubbles start to dissipate, and the soap begins to change from chunky applesauce to petroleum jelly... (ok, not really, but that's what it looks like).

Normally, you would add color after all this is over, however, it is very hard to stir fresh, I cheated a bit at this point, and began adding colorant to the soap while it was still gelling. However, it didn't really have any effect, so far as I could tell... but... this is what I wound up with at 9;47pm

Looks kinda nasty doesn't it? LOL But there you have it... its soap. A little dab on a *gloved* finger, blow on it to cool it off, touch it to the zap. Its official, we have achieved soap!

At this point you blend in the Fragrance oil (I used 1oz of FO for a 35oz batch of soap) and colorant, stir until its fully incorporated, and then put it into the prelined mold. Tap it on the counter from time to time to knock out the bubbles that might form and help it work its way into the corners....spread it out with a spatula. Once its all in the mold, take another piece of wax paper and spread it over the top. then with either a plaster knife (which I don't have) or a pair of oven mitts on your hands (which I do have) pat the soap down into the mold to create an even surface on the top (or not, up to you).

The soap is still very hot at this point, so you have to wait for it to cool before you can remove the wax paper. But when you do....

Voila! Soap!

As of 2am the soap was still rather soft, so I am leaving it till morning for unmolding and cutting. I shall post more pictures then.