Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Soap Opera continues

Soap progress

Sunday morning, and I decide to proceed with the soap making (sorry Lien, I was busy in the afternoon, and I know you were busy in the morning...)

The first thing to do is to bring both the oils and the lye solution to the same temperature, around 98 degrees F. (Yes, I still work in Fahrenheit.) This is a tricky business requiring hot water baths for the lye and very careful monitoring on the stove for the oils. It involves two thermometers.

Once the temperatures are achieved, it is time to introduce the lye SLOWLY into the oils, stirring madly as it goes in. That's why the lye is in that bottle. There are two small holes in the lid which allows it to pour in in a very thin stream.

Once upon a time I used to stir with a wooden or stainless steel spoon. The soap making community discovered that a stick blender works a thousand times better. (I burned out one blender, so these days keep it to relatively short bursts).

The theory is that you stir until "trace". This means that the soap has thickened and saponification has begun. The term refers to being able to drizzle a stream of mixture on the surface, and it will remain visible before it sinks back in. Normally this takes quite a bit of time. It can take up to an hour of stirring, so I had the sudoku at hand for something to do.

Here is where I start worrying. This mixture got very thick very quickly, even before all the lye had gone in. Never has soap behaved like this. Is it hubris for claiming in my last post that I've never had a bad batch? See how very thick and claggy it is?

I decide that it is just the efficiency of the stick blender. I pour it, or rather spoon it and stuff it into the prepared moulds. It is very thick, and I am worried. It is very brown, and I am worried. Perhaps I just like to worry.

Now it is covered with blankets to keep it warm. The chemical process converting the lye into soap carries on for quite a while, and it needs to keep warm. I try not to peek too often. The bits that I do peek at seem to be behaving. The residue in the soap pot looks OK. It seems to have whitened up (that means it is really soap.)

It will stay in its mould for a few days. My fingers are crossed.

And the new big platform scales arrived this morning! I think I am going to up my quantities a bit next time. This mould could take about 13 pounds of soap, I reckon.

Majic Moments

Majic still hasn't figured out what reflections are all about. He loves to try and play with the dog in the wardrobe mirrors, and barks like crazy. This also makes walkies difficult. Up on King Street there are lots of distractions, including all those reflections of himself in the shop windows. I try and walk between him and cars parked on the street, because he sees himself in the car duco, especially black cars. This makes him much more skittish and very distracted. I wonder when he will realise that it is him?

Here he is exhausted after his obedience training:

1 comment:

  1. No problems. Let me how they turn out!!