I have made the ugliest soap.
This is Castile soap, just like last time. That batch, however, was cold process. This baby is hot process. Cold process soap needs to cure for six weeks before it’s neutral enough to use on your skin. The first batch still has another week in the closet ahead of it. Hot process soap, on the other hand, is ready to use the day it’s made.
The difference is heat. Setting the lye and oil mixture to low in a crock pot for a few hours cooks it to neutrality. How does it do this? I don’t know. I’m still learning and taking quite a few things on faith.
I bought a special little 2 quart crock pot that’s just the right size for a 2 pound batch of soap. I followed the same recipe for the cold process Castile soap, only double the size. I put two pounds of olive oil into the pot, then separately mixed together 4 oz. of lye and 10 oz. of water. I took a little too deep of a breath during this stage and had to leave the room for minute. Lye ain’t no joke.
Once I’d recovered, I poured the lye and water mixture into the oil and stirred it all up with my immersion blender. In about five minutes it was tracing.
I put the lid on the crock pot and left it to its devices. Every half hour I gave it a stir. The instructions in my book said to cook for 3 hours, but it was for a 3 pound batch. I guessed that a 2 pound batch would only take 2 hours, and I was right. I bought a little bottle of phenolphthalein, a chemical that lets you easily check pH. It’s clear at neutral levels, and pink at more basic levels. I put a few drops in my soap, and they stayed clear. After stirring and dropping a few more times to be sure, I declared the soap done.
It turns out that finished hot process soap is a lot gloppier than finished cold process soap. It also turns out that two pounds of soap is a lot more than one pound of soap. I should have been able to tell you one of those things ahead of time.
The only mold I have is this set of 12 2 oz. bars. For those not counting, that’s 24 ounces. Two pounds is 32 ounces. I had far too much soap, and nowhere to put it. Luckily, it was so gloppy that I could just pile the extra on top of the bars and trust it not to slide away. It made for some weird little muffin tops.
The part inside the mold isn’t winning any beauty contests, either. The gloppiness made it more or less impossible to get a smooth surface. I’m not sure how real soap makers get around this one.
Ugly as it looks, it is soap! It works up something of a lather, and it doesn’t burn my skin off. It smells just like olive oil, which is a little strange, but that must be what all Castile soap is like.
I hope it dissolves quickly. I have a lot of this stuff.