Crunchy Mama's Urban Homestead

Come learn about awesome plants on my homestead

Squirt Bottle Swirl Cold Process Soap

Greetings!  For this batch of soap, I poured out three portions to color: black, blue and red.  I poured them into some condiment-style squirt bottles.  I cut off a few millimeters of the tip to widen the hole.  I poured a base of uncolored soap in one of my silicone loaf pans.  Then I rotated through the colors.  I did long S-curves across the top of the soap base until my soap batter ran out.  Then I took a chopstick and made some short S-curves in the top inch of the soap batter.

Sliced bar

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Crumbly Castile Cold Process Soap

Two nights ago, I made a 2-lb loaf of soap with 100% olive oil.  100% olive oil soap is called castile soap.

I unmolded the soap loaf from the silicone mold after 24 hours of curing but I found that the soap was very soft — my thumb made an impression in the side of the loaf.  So, I waited until 36 hours after I made the soap to cut.  Unfortunately, the soap was very crumbly.  I took my dilemma to two cold process soaper’s groups on Facebook that I am a part of.  “Did my soap crumble because of a big temperature difference between the hot lye water and my room temperature oil?”

I actually misspoke in the video. I did NOT make a big batch and split it into two. I actually made two separate 1-pound portions. I had cooled lye water to mix in the first portion. Then I was in a hurry with the second portion and I used hot lye and I was wondering if maybe using hot lye water with room temperature oils would make the soap crumble.  I layered them together in the mold. I poured one layer of one and then I poured one layer of the other. Back and forth like that. They were at a light medium trace so they swirled a little bit in the mold.

One person asked if the soap was lye-heavy and suggested that I do a zap test (which is basically touching the soap to the tip of your tongue to see if it zaps you if it has too much lye as opposed to just tasting like soap if there is NOT too much lye).  It’s not lye heavy because it didn’t zap me.

Another person asked if it went through “gel phase.”  I am quite sure that it didn’t because I did not insulate the soap and it rested in my rather cool Ohio basement.

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Free virtual survival summit with 29 speakers next week

Greetings!  I wanted to share with you about The Survival Summit that starts January 20, 2014 and runs 6 days!   It’s free.  It starts next week.  It’s online!  Here is the speaker line-up: http://thesurvivalsummit.com/schedule/

There is a wide range of topics, especially about homesteading and self-reliance — foraging, making biodiesel, first aid, trapping, food preservation WITHOUT electricity, growing food without irrigation (by Paul Wheaton, a favorite speaker), plus all of the zombie apocalypse survival stuff too. 🙂

I’m very excited to hear some of these speakers.  And I’m very excited about being able to stay at home and hear them.  How very energy-efficient! 🙂

I traveled 5 hours by car 2 1/2 years ago to go to a Mother Earth News Fair.  While it was neat to be there in person to see presenters, I wouldn’t drive that far again for it.  There was no hands-on learning; it was just watching presenters.  I was glad that I went once but, to me, I can watch a video presentation at home and save a lot of money and energy.

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3-Colored In-the-Pot Swirl Cold Process Soap

For this batch of cold process soap, I used my standard oil combination of 1/3 olive oil, 1/3 coconut oil, and 1/3 palm oil (shortening).  First, I measured out the palm oil and melted it since it has the highest melting point.  After I melted it, I added the coconut oil which melted in the heat of the palm oil.  Then I added the olive oil to the soap pot.

I set the oils aside and measured out my distilled water in a pyrex measuring cup.  I set that aside and measured out my lye in a dedicated small plastic container with a wide bottom.  I like to use wide-bottomed containers for my lye and for the container that holds the water to which I will add the lye.  The wide bottoms give them more stability — less likely to dump over if accidentally bumped.  Then I added my lye to the water (NEVER the other way around) and stirred it with a plastic spoon until all the lye dissolved.  Then I cooled the lye water in a bowl filled with ice.  I cooled it this time because I used sodium lactate in this batch and the instructions say that you add it to your cooled lye water.  I was afraid of what would happen if I added it to hot lye water.  Sodium lactate helps to harden soap bars which will help them last longer.

Then I added my lye water to the oils pot and used my immersion blender to bring it to a medium trace.  For this batch of soap, I divided my soap batter into three portions and colored one portion with prepared* Ultramarine Violet Pigment from Brambleberry and the other portion with prepared* Hydrated Chrome Green Pigment also from Brambleberry. The other third I left uncolored.

Then I poured one of the colors into the uncolored portion at 4 different places.  I repeated that process with the other color.  Then I took a chopstick and passed through each spot twice.  The reason I did it twice rather than once was because I was at a thick trace and the first pass didn’t seem to move the colors much.  I didn’t want to combine the colors so I was careful not to swirl too much in the pot.

Silicone Column Mold

I used this silicone cylinder mold that I bought from Brambleberry.  This was my first time using this mold.  This is a well-constructed mold.  There was a little bit of leaking into the seams but that doesn’t bother me.  I could clip the sides with some heavy duty clips to try to prevent that but otherwise I just can slice off the edges.  I have no illusions of “perfection.”  I purposefully made  more soap batter than would fit in this mold because I wanted to make a few snowflake-shaped soaps.  I have a snowflake-shaped muffin pan made out of silicone that I use for molding soap and hard lotion bars.

Here is the photo of the cut bars.  I forgot to take a picture of the unmolded cylinder of soap before I cut it.  Oops!

*Before you add a powdered colorant, you must mix it with a bit of oil, water, alcohol, or glycerin (depending on the instructions) before adding it to the soap batter.  You should follow the instructions for the powdered colorant and for the type of soap that you are making.  Some should be mixed with oil while others should only be mixed with water, etc.

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Short Review of Soap Crafting by Anne-Marie Faiola

 

I give this book 5 stars!  This is my FAVORITE soap crafting book. Anne-Marie is truly the “soap queen”. I have tried several of the projects with my own twist on them and I have been soooooo happy with the results. If you have made cold process soap before, you should feel comfortable tweaking each recipe to fit your needs or the oils that you have on hand — of course, you’ll have to run your tweaked recipe through a lye calculator but that’s no big deal.

I was fortunate enough to snag the kindle edition for less than $4 before Christmas. I see now that it is back up to $9.99.

Be sure to check out my other book reviews and recommendations on this page.

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2-Colored 4-Layered Cold Process Soap

For this batch of cold process soap, I used my standard oil combination of 1/3 olive oil, 1/3 coconut oil, and 1/3 palm oil (shortening).  First, I measured out the palm oil and melted it since it has the highest melting point.  After I melted it, I added the coconut oil which melted in the heat of the palm oil.  Then I added the olive oil to the soap pot.

I set the oils aside and measured out my distilled water in a pyrex measuring cup.  I set that aside and measured out my lye in a dedicated small plastic container with a wide bottom.  I like to use wide-bottomed containers for my lye and for the container that holds the water to which I will add the lye.  The wide bottoms give them more stability — less likely to dump over if accidentally bumped.  Then I added my lye to the water (NEVER the other way around) and stirred it with a stainless steel (NEVER aluminum) whisk until all the lye dissolved.

Then I added my lye water to the oils pot and used my immersion blender to bring it to a medium trace.  For this batch of soap, I divided my soap batter into two portions and colored one portion with prepared* Indigo Powder from Brambleberry and the other portion with prepared* Yellow Oxide Pigment also from Brambleberry.

I ended up using twice as much Indigo Powder than the amount recommended because it didn’t color the soap batter very deeply.  Now, I didn’t insulate my soap loaf in order to help it go through the gel phase which I just found out will help the indigo color really “pop”.  So, next time I use the indigo, I will insulate the soap in order to see the difference.

2 lb loaf of layered cold process soap

4 oz bars

*Before you add a powdered colorant, you must mix it with a bit of oil, water, alcohol, or glycerin (depending on the instructions) before adding it to the soap batter.  You should follow the instructions for the powdered colorant and for the type of soap that you are making.  Some should be mixed with oil while others should only be mixed with water, etc.

Side note: Most soaping books will instruct you to let the lye water come down to the same temperature as the oils (or at least within 10 – 15 degrees of each other AND between 120 and 145 degrees Fahrenheit).  I’ve been experimenting with adding the freshly mixed and still quite hot lye water (but making sure that all lye beads are dissolved) to the oils.  So far it has not given me any issues.  And I have heard from other soapers who also do this and they do not report any problems.  Your mileage may vary.  When I asked in a soapers Facebook group about other soapers doing this, I called it the room temperature method.  I was informed that this is actually the heat transfer method wherein you use the heat of the lye water to melt the solid oils.  Room temperature method is when you let the lye water and the oils both cool down to room temperature.  I have definitely done the room temperature method when I am using only olive oil (castile soap).  The only issue that I have noticed with the room temperature method is that soda ash will form but I have recently learned that a few spritzes of 91% alcohol after pouring the soap batter should prevent that.  Soda ash is not harmful; it is just a little bit of an eye sore.  You can cut it off with a sharp knife.

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Food Preservation Failure – Ick!

So, last summer I was all geeked out about a book that promised low-tech ways of preserving the garden’s bounty without canning or freezing.

Well, I followed the instructions for preserving small tomatoes in brine.  Didn’t work out so well.   Blah!

small tomatoes in brine

Have you tried any of the methods in this book?  How have they worked for you? Let me know in the comments.

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Fancy Soap: 3-colored 1-spot pour (cold process)

I’m not a fancy person.  My daily uniform is jeans and a black tank top (of which I own seven).  When I put on make-up, it’s eye liner and that’s it.  I do appreciate beautiful things though — especially beautiful things of nature.  And acts of love and kindness.

I have been teaching basic soap-making for a few years now (just 3 times a year or so) and I have been promising my soaping students that I will offer a “fancy soap” advanced class.  Well, the day of the “swirls and layers” class is quickly approaching and so I needed to put together an array of options for my soaping students to pick from when they come.  Here are photos of a soap design that is inspired from Anne-Marie Faiola’s Soap Crafting book — I LOVE this book.

She has a design called “Funnel Pour” in the book.  I tweaked it a bit.  She uses a funnel to pour 5 different colored soap batters into the same spot.  The result is a neat-looking swirl.  I only used 3 colors and I didn’t use a funnel; I just free-handed my pour.  I aimed for the same spot with each pour.  I counted to 3 for each pour.

Here is what the soap looks like before I unmolded it:

3-colored 1-spot pour

Here is what it looks like unmolded:

unmolded

Here is what the inside looks like when I cut the loaf into 3 equal pieces:

Loaf cut into thirds

Here are the final cut pieces showing off the unique swirls:

5 oz. cut bars

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