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.
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?
So, what have I learned from this experiment?
- Don’t bother putting dried lavender blossoms in your soap; the color all cooks out and they just look like brown flecks.
- 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.
- 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).