Monday, October 28, 2013

Step-by-Step Soap Making, Oil Cleansing, New Venue, and A New Dress

I'm going to start off this post by showing you a step-by-step glance at how I make my soap. I wouldn't say it is a tutorial. More of a glimpse of how soaps are traditionally made. I have a few extras to share after, as it has been a busy week at the homestead. Following the soap, I will share some photos of my oil cleansing products, reveal my master marketing plans for this coming week, and share a collage of a dress I just finished making. Enough delay, onward...

Here is my Tallow that I had rendered from beef suet a few days ago. I have it in my soap pot and have weighted it according to the recipe. It will need heated to 120 degrees, and so I will turn the burner on low to get it started while I work on other things. 

This soap will be an Oatmeal & Honey soap. I was making a bar with Oatmeal, sage and yarrow, however I will be soon replacing it with the new Oatmeal & Honey. Here I take Organic Steel Cut Oats from Speerville Flower Mill and grind it to a soft, fine powder, leaving just enough grains to give a gentle exfoliation. 

Next up is the lye solution. I measure carefully and exactly the lye crystals into one jar. Also, I weigh the proper amount of cold water. Then, taking it outside, I slowly pour the lye crystals into the water (never pouring the water onto the lye). While I add the lye, I stir and stir until the lye dissolves. At this point, the solution of water and lye reacts to create a lot of heat. In order to add this solution to my tallow, it needs to drop in temperature considerably. I place it in a cold water bath, and monitor it with a thermometer while I return to the tallow, which is still warming on the stove. 

My son asked to help make soap today, and so here he is with the tallow. We have warmed it to just below 120 degrees, and he is stirring it as it continues to warm. It's important to watch the temps closely, because if the temp gets too high, then you have to readjust the heat again. 

Finally both the lye solution and the fats have reached their proper temperatures. Now it's time to mix. I slowly pour the lye solution into the fats, all the while stirring. 

Once all the lye has been added, I grab the stick blender with my free hand, and with both hands stirring, work the newly forming soap until it reaches "trace". Trace is the stage to which the soap thickens to a soft whip cream consistency.

I always line my pans. Some people don't, but I find it is easier to remove the loaf, and makes for an easy clean-up.

Pouring the soap into the mold.

Smoothing out the top of the loaf

Me! Ha!

I had pre-heated the stove to 100 degrees, and have 2 baking stones in there to absorb that heat. After I shut off the stove, I open the door just slightly to let some heat out. Once it is warm to touch, I place the soap loaf into the oven and close the door. I leave the tallow soap to incubate for the afternoon (normally 6-10hrs).

Soap incubating.

I was explaining to my son about the saponification process and the need to incubate. Essentially, slowly letting the soap gradually cool as the lye and fats continue to turn, chemically, into soap and glycerin.

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Here's just a few shots of me making oil facial cleansers. 

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Now, I have a few shots showing the display I have been working on. I have a space held for me at the Woodstock Farmers Market where I will be setting up on Nov 1st. With only days away, I have been adding the finishing touches. I am pretty excited to be returning to the down town market. I had vended there a few years ago, selling jewelry and sewn items, however once my youngest guy was born I found maintaining such a space was more demanding than I could keep up with. Times have changed, and I'm coming back! 

...and last but not least, here is the dress! It makes me feel pretty.

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