Soap Cutting Day

     Time to cut the soap!  I know it is two days later but I was being lazy yesterday.  I did check my soap and two of the batches popped right out.  I just didn't feel like getting out the camera yesterday.  After all it wasn't going anywhere.  Things do take longer when you are trying to hold the camera with one hand and doing with the other.  

     I stuck to demonstrating with my Fireballs soap.  I am using a serrated knife but that is not necessary.  A friend gave me this knife to cut my Scrubby soap with.  I use whole loofah with that and you need the serrated knife to push right through the loofah. 

     Something I didn't tell you the other day was that I use index cards to write my recipe on.  I have learned the hard way to make a new card with every batch I make.  I keep the card with the soap till I put labels on it.  It is hard to remember which bar is what when you have a dozen or so batches to put labels on.  After a few sniffs and I have a hard time telling the difference.  Especially when you use similar essential oils.  I know this seems crazy but when I set my booth up I can smell the difference but by time the customers come I can hardly smell the soap.  People come over and tell me how good it smells.  I agree but really I can't smell anything.  

     There is a trick to getting soap out of plastic molds when it doesn't want to come out.  Stick it in the freezer for a little while.  There are times when I have forgotten it and ended up with frozen soap.  I just let it defrost and I am all set.  Like I mentioned before when you use a citrus essential oil the soap is softer and takes longer to harden up to get out of the mold.  Plastic molds are the hardest to get the soap out of.  You just have to have patience or you will loose your mind.  So save yourself the heartache and stick it in the freezer.  Of course it may be time for me to get wooden molds and make bigger batches.  I have been doing this long enough to have several popular soaps that I am making more often.  Small batches are great for testing new soaps.

                                     Well, here are the pictures.  Let's get started!

1.  Here is the soap ready to remove from the mold.  It feels firm at this time.  If it doesn't then it is not ready or something went wrong.

2.  Peel off the butcher paper.

3.  Here is the soap out of his mold and ready to cut.

4.  First step after it is out of the mold is to trim the edges.  I didn't have much to trim on these batches. 

5.  I keep a bucket just to put the trimmings in.  You can melt this down and pour into molds to make bars.  This is the an everything but the kitchen sink soap.  Good for home use. 

6.  I start cutting the in the center.  The good thing about the plastic molds is it tells you where to cut.  I love this knife because the handle is up and you can push the knife straight down without any trouble.  I also find that if your knife is longer than your soap you get a nice even cut.  You don't want to saw your soap, you want a nice even push.  The soap is firm but still soft.

7.  After the soap is cut you want to stand it up on it's edge.  This gives it maximum air exposure.  After a day or two I flip it over so that the other edge gets a chance to dry as well.  The soap needs two weeks to cure.  You want it to sit at least 4 weeks to dry well and get hard, 6 weeks is better.  If you are in a hurry you can use the first bar after two weeks, just know that it won't last as long.

8.  Here is the soap I made the other day minus the coconut soap.  I used a lot of lemon and lemongrass so it is in the freezer for half an hour.  I did want to show you my recipe cards.  Nothing special.  I list the amounts of the oils, lye, water and ingredients I put in after trace.  It is important to list the date and I always list the quality numbers for the soap.  It tells me the hardness, cleansing, conditioning, suds and etc.  It is helpful to know these numbers in case you want to tweak your recipe next time.  Good place for notes also.

9.  In this picture I just wanted to show you the color difference between soaps.  On the left is my Fungus Amungus and on the right is my Fireballs soap.  The Fungus Amungus gets this color from the Neem oil.  Neem oil is a brown color.  When I make my soap I only use natural things to get color.  Yes I know minerals are natural but I stick to clays, roots, herbs and etc.  I really enjoy the color honey gives it and you should see what cinnamon does!



Soap Making Day

     Finally, I am posting about making soap.  My first batches of the year.  I started out by making a double batch (4lbs) of my Fungus Amungus.  Since I am down to only one bar of soap it was necessary to make at least a double batch.  I really should make another double batch, maybe next week.  Won't be long and things will be starting to grow and the poison ivy will be out.  This soap is AWESOME when it comes to preventing poison ivy and if you don't catch it in time then it is a wonder once you have poison ivy.  Wished I was making soap about 4 or 5 years ago.  I had poison ivy as well as a reaction to Bradford Pear tree.  If you have not seen a Bradford Pear tree the branches have barbs on them.  I was out trimming things up and apparently I was poked with the barbs on my arms.  The next day I had these brown spots on my arms that I was able to scratch off but the damage was done.  By the end of the day I had swollen craters on my arms.  MISERABLE!!  Never had that happen before and don't want that to happen again.  Now I make sure I soap up exposed areas let that sit for a few minutes then rinse and no harm no foul.

     Next I made a double batch of a new soap.  I used the same base recipe as my Nutty Coconut.  I have been wanting to make more soap with the coconut milk in place of water.  I added ground oatmeal as well as Lemongrass, Lemon and Myrtle.  I know this is going to be extra lemony, but by February everybody is going to want to smell that invigorating smell of lemon in the shower.  It really is a great pick me up.

     Of course by time I was finishing the coconut soap I realized I promised to take pictures and post them.  So I made a double batch of my Fireballs soap.  I love this soap.  One of my favorite candies is the Atomic Fireball.  When I first received a bottle of Cinnamon Leaf essential oil I knew I would love it by itself in a soap.  It smells so good when your taking a nice hot shower no matter what time of the day.

     I hope you enjoy the process.  Tomorrow I take it out of the molds.

1.  Starting out, I gathered my supplies.
     Yes I am using plastic.  It works for me.

2. Next I poured my water in my container.
After that I poured my lye into my water.  Yes, I know I am pouring straight into my water.  I have tried to weigh my lye in a separate container then pour into the water but I never seem to get all my crystals out.  I worry about messing up my lye weight, so I just pour slowly and keep my eye on the scale.  I have only messed up twice and over poured.  No problem when at home I just get on the computer and change my recipe to fit my lye amount.  Always remember to add your lye to water.  Never water to lye.  It won't be pretty.

           3.  Stir the lye mixture till the crystals are dissolved.  Make sure to never breath in the fumes.  It will burn your lungs.

4.  Place the container in another container that has a couple inches of water in it.  If using coconut milk or any other milk it is helpful to have a small cup of ice in the water.  The sugars super heat with the lye.  Since I am using thick plastic and not glass I don't want to melt my container.

4.  This is my container of coconut oil. 


5.   Here are all of my oils measured out and ready to melt.

6.  I love my microwave.  With a double batch I start at 2 minutes. Because my most of my oils started out solid it takes longer. After the first 2 minutes give it a little swirl to even up the temperature a little then give it another minute.  If you get it too hot it will pop in the microwave so it pays to go slow.  If there are a few blobs left to melt go ahead and take it out.  You can stir those out.

7. You may have noticed that I never showed you a thermometer.  I have learned what 110 degrees feels like.  It doesn't have to be exact.  Summer you can go to 100 degrees, but in the winter you want to go higher.  I have read that some even do 120 degrees.  This step I am pouring my lye water into my oils.

8.  Now that everything is together I start out getting it mixed up well.

9.  Now I mix with my immersion blender.  This is another tool I love.  My first experience with soap making was stirring by hand.  We stirred for 3 hours.  That is what the person said to do at the class my mom and sister went to.  Three hours of three people keeping the spatula moving quickly.  That was a long 3 hours and to top it off we made a second batch that day. Each batch was 6 lbs each, but still!  Immersion blender less then 2 minutes.  Much better.  Worth the $2.00 I paid at a yardsale. 

10.  After mixing things have turned lighter.  When you mix this up you want to reach sapponification.  You don't want to see oil streaks in your mixture.  Let it sit a minute or so and if you don't see oil rise or streaked then you have reached sapponification.

11. Once you have sapponification you should have trace.  Trace is when you drizzle over the top of the soap and if the shape holds for a short time then you have trace.  Some soapers think you have to have it at a pudding constancy, but that is not true. A lot of times it can be very thin.  If I am adding in something in like oatmeal, coffee grounds etc. I do like it to be thicker so that they do not settle at the bottom.  When I put something in I want it to go all the way through the bar.

12.  After you reach trace this is when you want to add some of your oils, essential oils or other additives.  There are some oils that do better after trace.  Sunflower oil is one of my favorites and it prefers after trace.  Stir this together well.  No Oil Streaks!

13.  Time to scent.  I am putting in 15ml of Cinnamon Leaf.  I love this stuff.

15.  Time to pour in the molds.  Since I am using plastic I do grease it with petroleum jelly.  You can not use regular oil.  It will turn into soap.  Of course you can't coat it too thin or too thick.  Too thick and it will be sticky and will not get it off till you take a shower.

16.  Soap in the molds.

17.  Once poured into the molds cover it with butcher paper.  I put the non-shiny side down.  This helps prevent soda ash from forming on the soap.  This isn't a problem so much.  It rinses off.  Just an aesthetic issue.

18. Time to put the soap to rest.  You want to cover it up with towels or a blanket.  Wouldn't want your soap to catch a cold. You want the temperature to come down slow.  using the plastic molds you should be able to take it out of the mold within 24 hours.  When you use citrus essential oils it will take longer.


God's Work, Our Hands

     I know I promised to make entries more often.  This year I started off with spending my time doing outreach.  I am very very involved with my church.  My thinking on church is it is not a place just to show up on Sunday and sit in the pew.  God and Jesus tells us to go out and do.  So I do.  

     One of the things that I do is I am the Chairperson for our Interfaith Hospitality Network at our church.  For those who don't know "IHN" is a nation wide organization.  Their purpose is to take homeless families and help them get out of their situation and into their own homes. You know the teach to fish not give them fish.  Here in our area we have two day houses in our Network.  One in High Point and one in Greensboro.  Each house has a network of 13 churches and for a week at a time the churches house the families in the evening.  Each church has at least one or two support churches.  Our church currently has one. 

     My week started by cleaning our back building which we call "God's Garage".  This is the building our church started in and was a mechanics garage before we got it.  Now this building has many uses.  Normally during the week we let Narcotics Anonymous use the building for their daily meetings and Monday evenings Gamblers Anonymous uses the building for their meeting.  We do suspend all other use and turn God's Garage into a home.  Downstairs we set up a living room for watching TV or DVD's, we have a kitchen and dining room and two rooms for volunteers to sleep or over flow from upstairs.  Now for upstairs there is a full bathroom (tub included) and four bedrooms.  Last month we were fortunate to receive a donation of 4 twin size beds and a twin trundle which sleeps two.  Normally the guests sleep on cots so this is a real treat.  Our hope that we will be able to get real beds for all around.  The program capacity is 14 or 15 people.  

     The guests stay Sunday through Sunday.  Normally I cook the meal on Sunday and I fill in where needed depending on how many volunteers I get.  It takes a lot of people to make the week happen.  Everyday we have a morning van driver and evening van driver, people to make dinner and serve dinner and two people to spend the night.  I only had to spend the night twice.  I really enjoy doing it so it is no problem to fill in.  We have a great group of guests this rotation.  Currently there are two families for a total of 4 people.  Last night I got a call that a mom and three kids will be joining the program today.  So I need to go in today and set up three more beds and a portacrib.   Of course our supply church takes over tonight till Sunday morning.  Then it's breakdown and clean up.

     It is so uplifting to be there for others.  It is more than just making a meal, driving a van or sleeping in a bed.  It is getting to know the people, making friends and being a good listener.  So for anyone reading this, I highly recommend getting involved.  It does a body good!

     Next week I will be making soap!  So come on back and see what I make.  I will have pictures.  I know I get a lot of people looking up my Fungus Amungus.  That is first on my list.  It's such a great soap and I am down to just one bar.  


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