Thursday, June 13, 2013

My first batch of coloured soap - fail

Hey folks sorry for the long break between posts. A combination of being sick and a lack of anything much to post about. But now here's an update on soap making. This time using one of my herbal infused oil colourants.

I made up a batch of plain olive oil soap (castile), see here for recipe details. I used about 3 tablespoons of the infused oil (alkanet for the colour purple), plus some lavender essential oil. The soap turned a pale shade of greenish-gray. Not quite what I was expecting but after further research on the net I discovered it does do this because of the pH of the soap, and will change as the soap cures. So I didn't get to worried about it. After all, this is only my 7th batch of soap, so I'm all fine with experimenting and seeing what the results are. However, as the days progressed and my soap started drying, the colour seemed to just fade right away! Since I forgot totally to take any photos of the newly made soap, you can only take my word for it.

Another thing that happened with this soap was that it was very sticky. I'm pretty sure I must have mucked up my oil measurement (interestingly I notice one of my earlier posts mentioned this too - see here if you're interested).

Anyhow, after the soap sitting, supposedly curing, although it didn't look very good, I decided I would remelt (rebatch) the soap and add in more colour (and a little more fragrance too). I chose the boil in the bag method which is supposed to be a bit quicker than using a crockpot or a double-boiler.

Sliced up soap soon to be chopped smaller - look at the lack of colour!

Unfortunately the soap was really soft and sticky so grating it (into small fragment to melt more easily) was not going to be an option. I decided upon chopping it up as small as possible with a sharp kitchen knife.

Then I put all the chopped up soap into an heat-proof oven bag:

I added the bag of soap (closed with a twistie tie) to a pot of boiling water.

 It took about 3/4 hour - 1 hour all up to melt the soap, taking it out every so often and (wearing oven gloves) giving the soap inside a bit of a squeeze.

Once it looked melted I added in another 3 tablespoons of colour and another tablespoon of lavender oil. Gave it a good mix and then plopped it out into my mold. Unlike the original batch it was not pourable so I had to press it into the mold using a spatula and then when it was cooler, I put plastic wrap on top and pressed the soap loaf flat with my hands. Then I left overnight before slicing up today (as it seemed hard enough to me):

Well as you can see it has some colour now, but is still a little too pale for my liking. Also because I couldn't grate the soap as it was too sticky, you can see little lumps of white soap throughout. I guess this is OK for an effect if had I wanted it! Also, whether I cut up the soap too early or it was just the consistency of it, but it crumbled very easily - as you can see in the 2nd photo above, the pile to the right.

I'm really tempted to try remelting it again and add more colour. Hopefully I should be able to grate it up now or at least chop it finer so there are no blobs of uncoloured soap in the finished product. Also I think I should have added a little water to the bag when melting the soap. May as well have a play around with it to see what results from the next experiment. Will keep you posted!


ms lottie said...

Sounds like you've been having fun experimenting. I like the chunky look of the last batch with the white bits in it - makes it look rustic. Will it harden up with time maybe?

Cabbage Tree Farm said...

Hi Ms Lottie
Yes it has been fun, and I now understand how addictive soap-making is! Just wish I had more time (and space) to practice!

I might leave one or two bars to see if they do harden up in time, will be interesting to see.