Sunday, December 12, 2010

The death of a soap......

Soap making is a mixture of art and chemistry.  Art because the various combination of oils will produce different results, different textures, hardness's, abilities to cleanse etc.  Then there's that actual artistic part in how it can be decorated with herbs, different colors, and wrap it and label it in an endless number of ways to personalize it.

It's chemistry because before any of the artistic parts can take place calculations must take place to make sure saponification will happen between the oils and the sodium hydroxide.  I happen to love the whole process, I love working with different oil combination's and liquids to achieve different types of soap.  As an artistic person I love the endless possibilities there are to personalizing and making a batch mine and mine only.  Creating recipes is great, I study the oils and their properties and check my calculations over and over to ensure a successful batch.......but sometimes the death of a soap batch will occur.  What can you do?  Learn from it and move on.

We have teamed up with Brooklyn Brewery to make some promotional items for them, namely soap made from their own beer.  I have made beer soap before, the process was not hard but with every beer comes different ingredients and sugar levels which will affect saponification and this is where I was stepping into unfamiliar territory. I decided to start with the chocolate stout.  A beautiful dark beer that has a heavenly scent and great bubbles.

The night before I opened the beer and poured it into my ice cube trays to freeze it.  (Trust me if this step is missed, your lab will stink to high heaven).  The next day I prepared my molds and oils and lye mixture as always, using the beer as the liquid portion as I have done with other types of beer.  Everything seemed pretty normal until I combined the lye mixture with the oils BAM!!! It instantly thickened on me I could not even pour it into my mold!!!!  Hence the death of a soap.  I will not be stopped that easily though.  I cleaned everything up and did manage to get some of the renegade mixture into the mold so I could observe it and I moved on.  I needed a different plan of attack for this clearly.  What to do???  AHA!  Treat it like an additive, without going into too much detail, put it in AFTER the lye mixed with the oils and right before it was to be poured into the mold, giving it less time to react. I still had to work very fast but it worked and this morning I awoke to a beautiful chocolate stout beer soap! 

death of my soap :( it was all crumbly

The second batch, beautiful and creamy with a slightly nutty scent!

Notice how light the soap is in color, it seems that no matter how dark the beer is, the soap is always very light after it goes through its saponification process.

Stay bubbly my friends
~Your Soapsmith

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