Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Soapmaking: Seizing the moment, literally

It all began with a spark of an idea, a spicy-citrus aroma, an enticing bar of soap to lather up with over the winter months. I had it all planned, an orange scented soap with added spice in the form of ground cloves, nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon. Who wouldn't love that? I went about making it as I had in the past. Olive oil, rice bran oil, coconut oil. Simple. Easy? One would think.

I used my new weapon. A stainless steel stick blender that was bought with the skeptical thought that it would actually reduce the time for the soap to reach trace. But oh! Does this baby work up to it's reputation!! After waiting what seemed like an eternity for the lye solution to come down to around 115f, to match the temperature of the melted oils, my new gadget started it's work. Trace happened quickly, around 7 minutes!! Compare this to the 1-1 1/2 hour onwards times for my previous batches using the stand mixer, this was absolutely unbelievable! I had to work efficiently, short bursts of the stick blender combined with stirring with it and the soap was thickening quickly (but oh, so lovely!).

The spices were added, the fragrance oil, and ahhh! Noo! What's this, clumps...unattractive clumps forming...is it....seizing? Oh, yes, I think it is. Aghh! What next? I mixed it as best I could with the nearest thing - the soapmaking wooden spoon and scooped the lot into the mold. When soap seizes, it does it fast!

48 hours later, it was unmolded.
Oh, boy, it's not pretty. Really not pretty.

This is what seized soap looks like:



I cut it up anyway and placed on a rack to dry.

3 days later, and it's not quite so offensive. There are globs of spices in the bars that have failed to mix, parts where oil hasn't mixed in properly, but overall, the bars are firming and the scent is ....ok. Maybe it was the fragrance oil. Too much? Not good enough quality? The cloves? I have heard they can make soap seize suddenly. Oh, and another error, in my haste I used tap water instead of distilled. Not sure if this would've been a contributing factor?

So, unfortunately, no swapping with these bars, but I will certainly give them a go at home. I have been using the botched soap #1, which is actually really nice on my skin..just not the prettiest to look at. This batch will be it's companion.


Seized orange & spice soap bars

3 comments:

  1. You are talking another language there to me- but the language sounds good to my ears! I haven't made soap before. Looking at your unseized bars, I think they look great. That combination of spices would be lovely to the nose :-)

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  2. The soap doesn't look too bad and I bet it smells lovely (citrus and spices).
    The stick blender make it so easy and quick doesn't it?
    I like your soap combinations they all sound great :0)

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  3. chfg, the language was new to my ears too, until just a couple of months ago! It really is worth giving it a go. (Ahem, properly made) homemade soap is so lovely to use - you won't want to go back to store bought!

    Debbie, the smell seems to be improving daily, and that stick blender! Wow, I just can't get over how quick it makes the whole process!!

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Hi there, so nice of you to stop by! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I love hearing what you are up to. Christine x

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