Sunday, March 9, 2008

SoapQuick-Part Deux

Okay, I'm gonna try my luck with the SoapQuick again. If you remember, I bought this from Mission Peak Soaps, and the first time I tried this, it was a total and utter disaster. I was pissed on a number of levels: One, I ruined a batch of seemingly good soaping oils. Two, I wasted some lye which for some reason is a precious commodity to me. And third, I was just pressed for the soap to turn out wonderfully, but of course, it didn't. Anyway, I decided to give it another try after I bought this fascinating read from Old Crone's Bewitching Bath Soap. The author, Amy, actually says that you don't have to measure the temperature of your oils and lye and that you can pour your lye directly into your oils once the lye has completely dissolved in the water. I am the world's biggest skeptic, so I actually contacted Miss Amy, and she personally confirmed it. No more thermometers!!!! Yes! That was probably my biggest challenge-getting the lye mixture and the oils within a few degrees of one another. I've probably ruined so many batches because of this. Moving on, this time I followed the recommended recipe for the SoapQuick. The recipe is for a 4 lb batch of soap and requires:

  • 64 oz of SoapQuick
  • 19 oz of water
  • 9.2 oz of lye

What I did was weigh out the oils in my large, plastic measuring cup. I didn't actually think it would all fit, but it did. After I weighed the oils, I poured them into my huge bowl that I've designated as my soap-making bowl. Next, I poured the lye mixture directly into the oils. Mind you, the oils are completely liquid. That's the glory of using the SoapQuick. There are no hard oils to melt. Even if I were using the traditional soaping method, I could still pour the lye mixture directly onto the solid oils without having to melt them completely. According to Old Crone's book, I could use my stick blender to help melt and mix everything. After blending the oils and lye in a few short bursts, I could see that my "soap" is starting to take shape. I've reached a slight trace at this point, and I've now added my fragrance oil (about 2 oz of Chocolate Truffle.) I'm not adding any color to the soap this time because my finished soap will darken over time due to the vanilla content. I also stopped using my stick blender at this point as once you've added your FO, you should only stir with your wooden spoon. Using the blender could accelerate trace in your soap and thicken it to the point where it's not pourable. You'd actually have to scoop it out. I've had this happen several times, and the soap turned out fine, it was just a damn mess trying to scoop it out of the bowl into the mold.

Speaking of molds, I bought a new one from my friend Julie over at Candles and Woodcrafts. I figured it was time I invested in a quality, wooden soap mold, and Julie's got a vast selection. I bought a pegged, wooden mold that would hold precisely 4 lbs of soap. I particularly like the pegged molds because the sides come completely off, and it is a bitch trying to line a soap mold-at least for me anyway. I lined the mold using freezer paper with the shiny side up. The only problem I had with the mold was getting the pegs in the holes after I lined the mold. I did leave a few out. Bad idea because I had a few leaks after I poured my mixture. With the soap in the mold, I covered the top with plastic wrap, wrapped a towel around it, then placed the wooden top over that. I did not want to set the top directly on the mold because it would have smushed down in my soap, and I wasn't about to have that!

I couldn't resist peaking at my soap after a few hours. One, I'm forever impatient, and two, I wanted to make sure I reached the gel phase which is the chemical process of your lye and oil mixture actually turning into soap. Yeah, I've reached the gel phase, and later, I'll unveil the finished product!

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