Thursday, September 17, 2009

chemical reactions

golden one's dad is a plastic surgeon with beautiful skin. as such, i have always told blutsie to pay close attention if he should so much as reveal his beauty secrets (oh, lol, a man with beauty secrets). miss c had already found out that he used neutrogena moisturiser with spf 15....then more recently, blutsie found out that her father in law used goat's milk soap. he bought her a few bars of it and told her that it was very good and that she should use it.

now, i have possessed a desire to make soap for a very long time, and thought that this would provide the opportunity i have been waiting for. i looked at several recipes for soap and found that even though they expressedly tell you to weigh everything carefully because soapmaking was a very exact science, i found none of them to have an identical recipe....can't be that exacting then, i thought.

because i'm me, i thought i could easily replace the water needed with goat's milk and honey, after all, measurements looked approximate when comparing soap making recipes. measuring was not the issue here. it was the goat's milk and honey. i had to add sodium hydroxide to the liquid, and i did. i knew there would be a chemical reaction which would make the liquid very hot. what i didn't know was that it would be so hot that the sugars in the honey and goat's milk would burn. then there was the fat in the goat's milk i didn't consider. this fat would start the saponification process. but that didn't stop me....i persevered. i carried on as if there was nothing wrong. i heated the coconut and olive oils (i used extra virgin olive oil, no less - that was all i had) as instructed and combined the two liquids together. once the lye and fats have been combined, the mixture has to be stirred until "trace" is achieved. this is a state where the lye and fats have combined sufficiently for saponification to occur and develop the mixture into soap. the favoured method of mixing is to use a stick blender; this speeds thing up - mixing by hand using a spoon/stick would take anywhere in the vicinity of an hour or more, especially if olive oil is used; a stick blender would help the mix achieve trace within minutes. i used an old (i think about 40-50 years old) sunbeam mixmaster. my mixture achieved trace soon enough after mixing, but me being me thought that it would be better to keep beating. big mistake. the mixture separated. %##&*$!^%*%$..... i felt the bowl....ahhh....maybe it's not hot i stuck it into the microwave and beat it some more.....hmmmm..... heat it again......beat it again.....and keep beating. finally, i get this mixture that looks like thick, gluggy custard, but a caramel colour. oooh...better pour it into the

i notice the soap is solid really quickly which wasn't what i expected. i thought i'd have to wait until the next day, but since it was so obliging, i went with problems there.....i'm impatient, and if the soap wants to set quickly, i'm good with that.

when i think it's solid enough (and this was only an hour or so after pouring it into the mould), i unmould it....and i cut it. soap is the loveliest thing to cut. it's so smooth and firm and the knife just glides through. nothing as smooth to cut.

i lay out all the bars of soap. it's rustic looking, and it looks like fudge. and it has a distinctive smell which i can't put my finger on. it's probably the mixture of olive oil and honey.

i've used it since, and it is lovely. i don't think i could go back to using regular bought soap anymore; there's no comparison.

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