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Misbehaving Soap and How to Take Care of it.

Chemistry

The past few weeks have been interesting for making soap. Typically speaking I let my oils cool down to around 120, and I generally try to keep the oil and lye solutions within 10 degrees of each other before I mix them - now while it isn't always the case, I tend to live by this rule. The reasoning behind it is that its much easier to bring the soap to a point of gel - a heated phase where saponification happens at a rapid pace - where lye and fat are converted into glycerin and soap. To further speed this along, I create a makeshift "oven" where I'm able to saponify up to about 165, hit a gel phase, and begin cooling.

You might be asking why I force gel my soap to begin with. Gel phase is a heated form of soap (some people don't like to go through the gel phase, it's really a matter of preference) as it goes through the saponification process - and it looks... well... like gel. It also holds its form amazingly despite its rather goopy appearance. The kick about forcing gel is that it makes colors pop (when I use them), but it also makes the soap harden faster and makes it easier to remove from the mold... but the real reason:

I suck at keeping the center of my soap from gelling. This can result in a partial gel phase where the middle of the soap is slightly darker than the rest - and while it only affects the look of the bars and not the usability... I like to have a really consistent look throughout my bars (again, personal preference).

Well... I made a goat milk bar this past week, following my normal procedure for making my regular bars (I have a pretty dialed in recipe at this point that doesn't deviate very much - I just need to change the saponification values for the oil I've chosen to substitute or add and usually its milligrams of difference in terms of lye - we're not talking big batches here, and I generally like a 7% superfat). 

I failed to take into account a few things that I usually do. Honey and natural sugars from the goat milk. Both of these things react with lye and increase heat dramatically. In retrospect I could have probably just set the mold aside and let it gel naturally - but alas, I decided to do my usual applied heat method.

Once the soap was hardened enough I removed it from the mold, made my first cut and instantly saw oil separation. upon lifting the bar I got a really cool look into what could only look like a cross between an catacomb and an H.R. Geiger art installation. 

 

Don't even pretend that it doesn't look wild. I wish I'd had some color in there to try to highlight it (mental note for later).

On the surface... it looks like the soap is ruined. I can't sell an alien landscaped soap (wait, there's gotta be a market for this somewhere). But alas! It isn't!

 

Today I'm going to teach you about rebatching soap. 

Rebatching is when you take soap, add liquid and heat, and cook it down to create a new soap. In fact, rebatched soap can be found on the market for sale! 

YES! You can buy someone's botched soap, cook it, and use it!

In my case, though, I wanted to use it. I love my Goat Milk, Oats, and Honey soap (and there's only so much honey in this jar of wonders).

I fired up the crock pot (I'm not entirely sold that Yuliya was entirely happy with this) and began shredding up the soap.

Tell me that doesn't look like it's about to be the best queso dip you've ever had? 

Seriously don't eat it. It tastes like soap. Tried it already. Shredding soap in a cheese grater doesn't magically make it cheese. 

I added a few ounces of combined goat milk and purified water and mixed it around - not enough to make the soap thoroughly wet - but more like adding dressing to salad. Just enough to add a light coat to the soap. I threw on the lid and let it sit. 

An hour later I came back to find the soap had melted into a near applesauce-like consistency - I took a quick whiff to make sure that my fragrances had stayed - stirred and put the top back on. Roughly 40 minutes later, the soap was nearly pourable - in order to avoid a hot soapy mess, I ladled it into the mold once again.

I let it sit over night and cut it early this morning. The result is the same beautiful Goat Milk, Oats, and Honey soap that I'm used to making (truth be told, I expected a slightly inferior product, but the scent is actually somewhat better, and the consistency is gorgeous).

And that is my quick story about how I turned a frankensoap into a beauty. 


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