How to Make Your Own Soap (Concluded)

This post is the third in a series of posts.  If you haven’t read Meat Day or How to Make Your Own Soap, you may want to go do that now. :)

  1. Empty carton upcycled
  2. Upcycle an old soymilk carton into a soap mold for your homemade soap.

Okay, maybe this isn’t the conclusion to my soap story.  However, for now it is.  I cured my bacon grease soap in the upcycled Silk carton soap mold over night just like I was supposed to.  I peeled away the carton and started slicing the soap into bars to find my soap fragile.  Crumbly.  In fact, it looked much like blocks of feta cheese: smooth-ish on the top and crumbly-jagged on the sides where it split when I tried to cut it into bars.

Tea Tree, Lavender Homemade Soap Bars

Crumbly batch of homemade soap.

I should have known to leave well enough alone.  I started troubleshooting soap flaws online.  I found that crumbly soap could be the result of a few things.  One could be too much lye.  Since I don’t have a very good scale, that was a possibility.  Or, crumbly soap could be caused by mixing the ingredients at the wrong temperatures, stirring too much, or not stirring enough.  I wasn’t sure which of these were the culprit, but from my research I determined that I could rebatch or remill my soap.

So, I ground the soap up and threw it back in the pan.  I added a little more oil (olive, ‘cuz that’s what I had) and some hot water and stirred it.  The soap looked like it was coming back together, so I dumped it into a  large, glass loaf pan.  I’d have used a milk carton, but I’d already used the only one I had.  It was at this point I saw my soap separating.  It hardened up fine, but there are holes where the unincorporated oil drained out.  Maybe I didn’t need that olive oil after all, huh?

  1. The bar I didn't remill.
  2. I should have just left the crumbly bars alone; they looked way nicer like this than they did after I remilled them.

So, what have I learned from this experiment?

  1. Don’t bother putting dried lavender blossoms in your soap; the color all cooks out and they just look like brown flecks.
  2. I need a good kitchen scale.  Accuracy is important in soap making.  I might’ve been able to avoid my remilling fiasco if I had measured more accurately the first time.
  3. Remilling is not for me.  The remilled soap is so ugly that I won’t even take a picture (and I’ve posted some ugly pics in the past.)  Once the ugly soap has cured and I’m sure it’s not too alkaline, I plan to grind it up into my laundry soap.  If I get a crumbly batch in the future, I’ll just grind it up from the start instead of wasting six hours trying to remill a lost cause.

This is not the true conclusion of my soap making, because I’ll definitely try again.  Now that I have all the kinks worked out, it should be much easier next time.  I will only use a quart of bacon grease at a time.  “Washing” the bacon fat takes WAY too long if you have to wait for it to cool between heatings.  I’ll probably also use a blend of oils to end up with a soap that is more balanced and better for my skin.

Check back soon.  I bet I’ll have enough fat in a few weeks; my bacon jar already has at least a half a cup of grease in it!

For a more succesful soap experiment, check out How I Made Homemade Soap (and Didn’t Screw it up).

9 Comments

Filed under frugality, green cleaning, green living

9 responses to “How to Make Your Own Soap (Concluded)

  1. Wow! I have tallow to render to make soap but never thought to use bacon grease. Did it smell like bacon? Because I don’t want dogs chasing me all over town. What a great use for it!

    • aastricker

      No, it didn’t smell like bacon. If I wouldn’t have rebatched it, the bar that I saved while brittle, cured nicely. I wish I would have waited. I talked to my soap friend and I think I figured out what I did wrong, so as soon as I refill my jar, I’m gonna try again.

  2. For some reason that is blowing my mind. Did the lye somehow dissipate the bacon smell? Or did I miss a rendering step somewhere that washed it out?

    • aastricker

      Well, I added lavender to mine, but it didn’t really smell meaty before that when I was cooking it. I’m sure the lye has soemthing to do with it, but did you read the first two posts? I did “wash” the grease and take a lot of the particulates (and probably the smell) out of it. My hubby actually thinks that bacon scented soap would be a good thing.

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