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The Downsizer Soap Making Challenge!
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sally_in_wales
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 06 Mar 2005
Posts: 20809
Location: sunny wales
PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 05 12:20 pm    Post subject: The Downsizer Soap Making Challenge! Reply with quote
    

Downsizer Soap Challenge

Make this in the next two weeks and it will be ready for use at Xmas!

You need
Ingredients:
Sunflower Oil 300g
Olive Oil (cheap pomace grade is fine) 300g
Coconut Oil 200g
Sodium Hydroxide (caustic soda) 112g
Water (bottled or distilled is the most reliable, but I do use tap water as well) 250ml

Equipment:
Stainless steel, glass or sound enamel pan. DO NOT use aluminium.
Glass or stainless steel jug or bowl for mixing the lye
Stainless steel spoon, or wooden spoon
Rubber gloves, suitable eye protection and apron
Accurate scales
Balloon whisk or stick blender (optional, but it speeds things up)
Thermometer (optional)

This recipe is aimed at those who have not made soap before.
Please make sure you fully understand the following points before starting:


1. Lye is in this case caustic soda crystals. It can often be bought from larger chemists where it is sold as a drain cleaner. Never use a ‘brand name’ drain cleaner instead unless you are certain that it only contains caustic soda. Boots often have it in the household cleaners bit.
2. Always add lye crystals to water, Never the other way around (it could spit). Lye and water generate a lot of heat and nasty fumes, best step outside to mix it.
3. Lye in any form is strongly alkali and can burn skin, if you splash it on yourself you will notice itching first. You can neutralise this with vinegar and then wash the area well. (Keep an open bottle of vinegar to hand when soap making as a precaution.) Wear rubber gloves as well and consider eye protection.
4. Lye reacts with some metals, I recommend you stick to glass or stainless steel jugs and bowls when making soap.
5. Raw (freshly made) soap is also too alkaline for use immediately. Give it time to mature and the pH will come down. The traditional way to tell if your soap was mild enough to use was to touch some to the tip of your tongue. If it is still caustic, it will ‘bite’. Use caution if you decide to try this approach and never try it the day you unmould your soap! It will take several weeks for your soap to mature enough to try this with any degree of safety.

Method:
Weigh and measure all of your ingredients as precisely as possible. Wearing suitable protective gear, add the crystals to the water (never the other way around) and stir. Warm the oils over a low heat (ideally aiming for hand hot, but don’t try sticking your finger into hot fat). If you have a thermometer, you can check that the oil and lye are at a similar temperature, ideally in the region of 50-60C/120-140F, but its not that critical in my opinion as long as they are broadly similar. Take the oil off the heat.

Pour the lye mixture into the oil after giving it a few moments to cool down with a metal spoon or balloon whisk. The lye will start to react with the fat to form molecules of soap and glycerine, in practice it will look a little like thin custard. Keep stirring, this stage may take as little as 10 minutes, or as much as an hour. You want to keep mixing the fats and lye together. If you have a stick blender, this will speed up the mixing to about 2 minutes flat, but beware of splashes.

You are looking for the moment at which the mixture leaves a trace; this is simply the point at which you can see the trail left by the motion of the spoon for a few seconds. You don’t want it too thick, that custard analogy is a good one, you are aiming for a ‘pouring custard’ consistency.

This is when you add any additional ingredients such as essential oils, oatmeal or herbs. A batch this size will need between 5-10ml oil, make sure you know it is suitable for skin use!. Alternatively, make plain soap and you can grate it later for mixing with a variety of scents.

At this point pour it carefully into a mould (a small plastic food container works well). Smooth a piece of clingfilm onto the top (optional but it gives a nice finish), then wrap the whole thing in a large towel to help keep the heat of the reaction in, and leave in a warm place to finish reacting and setting.

As it reacts it will pass through a gel phase, where it generates a lot of heat and goes darkly transparent. It will slowly cool and become opaque after this. Two days later you can unmould the soap and cut it into bars. It is not ready for use yet! It needs to be aired for a few days then wrapped in grease proof paper and put safely away (an airing cupboard is ideal) for at least four weeks during which time the pH will decrease and the soap will become gentler on the skin.

Soap is fairly soft when first cut, but gets much harder with age. If you are making this in mid November for Xmas presents, Xmas will be the earliest date it can be used, even longer curing gives much nicer soap.

You can use it as laundry soap before it is fully cured, just grate a bit down and use around a tablespoon of grated soap in the machine, with an optional half cup of white vinegar in the rinse aid drawer.

Making it smell nice if you made plain soap!
You could try storing the wrapped bars in a bag of herbs to impart a delicate scent.

Once the soap is cured (wait at least 2 weeks and you can do this bit) you can grate it finely, mix in dried herbs or spices, moisten it either with boiled water, or herb tea or rosewater and squidge it into 'soap playdough'. This can be pressed into moulds or rolled into balls and gives a good way to try several scent variations without having to make lots of batches of soap. These will need to air dry for a week at least before use. (Soap playdough is very popular with young kids who want to make presents for granny/aunty/teacher- just make sure the soap is not still harsh (the tongue test) and ensure they wash their hands very carefully afterwards and you may want to put a bit of moisturiser on them after, as handling soap for prolonged periods does make your skin dry. )


Have Fun! Cab and I are on hand during this challenge to help with any questions, so be brave and make that first batch of soap

Fee



Joined: 21 Mar 2005
Posts: 15922
Location: Earth
PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 05 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Excellent idea, just the push I needed to finally make my own soap...look out all, it's soap for Christmas!

judith



Joined: 16 Dec 2004
Posts: 22789
Location: Montgomeryshire
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 05 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Excellent. Thanks Sally.
If I wanted to add some honey, how much would you recommend for this amount of soap?

sally_in_wales
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 06 Mar 2005
Posts: 20809
Location: sunny wales
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 05 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Just a teaspoon or two of honey added at trace would be good, it takes surprisingly little to have a good effect.

judith



Joined: 16 Dec 2004
Posts: 22789
Location: Montgomeryshire
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 05 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Thanks again - I'm looking forward to trying this one.

Bugs



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10744

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 05 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Excellent, thanks Sally and Cab I hope we might get to have a go next weekend, so I have time to go shopping.

If we want to add herbs/oatmeal etc as you say how much of that would go in to this quantity? About the same volume as flavouring oils? Sorry if I've missed this bit.

If I've time later I might go and PM the people on the other thread who were interested in this just in case they miss this one, would be nice to get as many people having a go at once as possible.

So what's everyone going for then, plain to flavour later or have you got something special in mind?

I rather fancy doing a lemon scented one, nice and clean and inoffensive so I can give it to other people too. I wonder about lemon thyme...

sally_in_wales
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 06 Mar 2005
Posts: 20809
Location: sunny wales
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 05 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Try a tablespoon of herbs or oatmeal and see how it looks, that seems about right

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 05 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Bugs wrote:
Excellent, thanks Sally and Cab :


I had VERY little input, this is really all Sallys work

In terms of things to add to the soap, at 'soft trace', here are some suggestions.

Two or three teaspoons of finely ground allspice, with pinches of dried cinnamon, mace and coriander seed.

Half a teaspoon of lavender oil, with one drop of rose oil (expensive, but it goes a long way!), with a few drops each of fragrance oils of lilly of the valley and fresia to make it up to a good teaspoon and a half or two teaspoons (this is my standard 'girly floral' mix). A good handfull of dried elderflowers will also add texture at this point, and they'll go a lovely golden chocolatey colour.

A splash of gin, with a tablespoon of finely ground dried juniper berries and the zest of a lemon... I call this 'Gin and Tonic' soap.

A teaspoon of rosemary oil, a little lavender oil, and fresh lavender and rosemary. Lovely, clean smelling soap.

A good couple of handfulls of spearmint leaves, chopped with a teaspoon full of spearmint oil. I love this, but it isn't to everyones tastes.

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 05 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Bugs wrote:

I rather fancy doing a lemon scented one, nice and clean and inoffensive so I can give it to other people too. I wonder about lemon thyme...


How much lemon thyme do you have? I'd go for warming some of it through in one of the oils (say, the olive oil) a couple of times, to infuse the flavour, then adding more lemon thyme at soft trace. I might also be tempted to add in some lemon balm, maybe some lemon zest too. I've yet to have any joy with adding citrus oils at soft trace, the smell seems to be lost.

Penny Outskirts



Joined: 18 Sep 2005
Posts: 23385
Location: Planet, not on the....
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 05 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

cab wrote:
Half a teaspoon of lavender oil, with one drop of rose oil (expensive, but it goes a long way!), with a few drops each of fragrance oils of lilly of the valley and fresia to make it up to a good teaspoon and a half or two teaspoons .


Any suggestions where the best place to get oils is? It's not something I've bought before

tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 44720
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 05 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Penny wrote:
Any suggestions where the best place to get oils is? It's not something I've bought before


I do believe one of our traders sells oils

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 05 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Penny wrote:

Any suggestions where the best place to get oils is? It's not something I've bought before


New age shops, herbalists, places like that tend to be good. I don't have any experience buying them online.

Bugs



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10744

PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 05 7:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Penny wrote:
Any suggestions where the best place to get oils is? It's not something I've bought before


If you look on the main site there's an ad by White Wolf, or alternatively you could try these people https://www.amphora-wholesale.com whom Nora and a couple of others use, they have a retail site as well if you don't want to order so much, although the price difference is so big it is probably worth looking for someone to share an order with.

mochyn



Joined: 21 Dec 2004
Posts: 24581
Location: mid-Wales
PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 05 9:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Ooh ooh: exciting! Shopping to do on Thursday...

I'm going for lavender porridge: Lavender oil, oatmeal and a drop of honey. I'll just have to remember not to eat it.

Bugs



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10744

PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 05 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Got my very unfussy olive oil - re coconut oil is it possible to get it from a chemist or even the one they sell in Superdrug in the hair section?

The town I work in isn't up to much for individual shopping, the only independent health food shop is a lunch hour's walk there and back and I don't think they had it when I went before, and I'm not doing a Suma order til December.

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