Ok so let's start with an in-advance prep step: preparing the beer solution
The other day I poured a can of cheap beer into a pot and heated that to boiling over med heat. I then turned off the heat and l let it come back down to room temp
This does two important things:
- totally flattens the beer by boiling off the carbonation (this is a safety thing! we'll be adding granulated lye to it and carbonation would cause it to foam up!)
- cooks off the alcohol, which can otherwise do weird things during saponification
After allowing it to cool overnight in the fridge, I measured out 200g of flattened beer in a nonreactive container
I then topped it up with enough distilled water to bring it to 240-243g. You can use all beer, but I find watering it just a touch improves "working time" (how long the soap batter stays pourable before setting)
This step is not necessary, it's just how I make my soap. Helps get bar hardened faster so I can cut it sooner and sea salt has "label appeal". Add 2 tsp coarse salt (has to be with no additives)
Now stir or agitate until all the salt is dissolved. If you forget to add the salt before chilling the solution or before adding lye, don't bother. It will not want to dissolve easily after those steps and you'll have salt crystals in your soap. I learned this by doing lol
Now we're going to put our salty slightly-diluted beer into the freezer to chill. We're not trying to freeze this solid, so every now and then you want to give this a little swirl, but getting some ice crystals or slush forming is actually good for our purposes
At this point I'm going to measure out my fragrance oil (bottle in back left corner). For a batch this size I like about 35g
This is another completely optional step. I add kaolin clay to all of my soaps because it gives a nice silky feeling. Supposedly it will also retain more fragrance in your soap if you mix it into the fragrance oil ahead of time and let the clay absorb it. 2tsp in here
I use between 2-4tsp in most of my soaps. I'm using only 2tsp here because I know this recipe tends to set up really quickly, and sometimes clay can speed that up even more. Which we don't really want, so I'm going light on it.
Anyway, stir it well, cover and set aside
Let's check up on our beer...
Getting cold but not there yet. Like I said, we're not trying to freeze it but we do want this to be really cold
Next we're going to move on to prepping our oils. Recipe formula varies from person to person. I would actually recommend watching @RoyaltySoaps YouTube tutorial series on soap making since her beginner recipe uses grocery/hardware store ingredients/equipment and sets up slower
Start watching this playlist from the third video for that beginner soapmaking series youtube.com/playlist?list=…
Anyhow, we want to measure all our oils by weight and then pour them into the container we're making the soap in. For solid oils (like this coconut here) you'll want to heat them up juuuuust barely enough to melt them in the microwave before pouring them in.
To avoid overheating the oil, I would actually suggest heating it just enough to melt *most* of it, and then stirring until the residual heat melts the solid bits
You'll notice I keep emphasizing the need to make sure the ingredients are not too warm. That'll become important in a few steps.
Now that all our oils are in the container, I'm going to give it a quick mix and then leave the stick blender in there. This will ensure the oils are homogeneous and remove air trapped under the bell of the blender head and then we can just let the bubbles rise and pop
Returning to the salty beer, we can see that it has become a sort of slush. This is great! We want this as cold as we can get it while not going totally solid before adding the lye.
Because dissolving NaOH in water generates a lot of heat (as does reacting with components of beer), it can "scorch" the beer if we don't keep the temp down. Furthermore, warm/hot oils and lye water will accelerate the soap-making reaction way too much en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_hy…
OK stopped for a quick coffee break but now we're back to business
Next we measure out our lye. I use this granulated pure NaOH I get from Windy Point Soap Making Supplies in Calgary. The exact amount of lye needed will depend on the oils you used in your recipe. Follow a trustworthy recipe or use Brambleberry's online calculator to get it right
Now we simply add our lye to our beer and stir to dissolve with a nonreactive spoon. NEVER ADD YOUR LIQUIDS TO YOUR LYE OR YOU WILL HAVE TO EXPLAIN YOUR MISTAKE TO THE ER NURSE
It will go cloudy. That is fine. Stir it a bit in a well-ventilated area and let it sit until it clears up again. I leave mine on the stovetop with the exhaust fan on to avoid fumes
it will darken a bit, maybe go a bit orange. That is totally normal. It will also heat up a LOT (see why we slushified it?)
I want to emphasize that there is a reason you don't see my hands in these shots and that is because lye is corrosive and will ruin your day if it spills on you. First aid is to immediately flush with cold water. I suggest wearing attractive safety goggles and also gloves
Once the lye solution has calmed down a bit and I see there are no visible solids, I am going to securely twist on this lid, wipe down the outside of the container thoroughly and place it in a fridge or freezer so it can cool down
We're not aiming for slushie here, just trying to get it down to around room temp or just below
While that could I have measured out pigments. The white will colour the "foam" layer at the top of the finished loaf and the yellow will just slightly tint the "beer" layer that makes up the majority. Titanium dioxide and yellow iron oxide
Last time I used no pigment in the "beer" and it still turned out close to what I wanted by the end of the curing time, so this is just a tiny adjustment. That's why there's actually a bit less of the iron oxide measured out, even though the volume it gets mixed into is higher
Also it was supposed to say "while that cools" a few tweets up
The last prep step before the soaping really starts is to mix up the pigments in something to disperse them (water for the titanium dioxide, sunflower oil for the iron oxide) and stir up the fragrance-and-clay mixture
Next, carefully pour the beer-lye down the shaft of the mixer with it on low. Blend until just emulsified and barely starting to thicken. It takes under 10s with this recipe. Do not overblend. I measured out about 1/5th of the batter and set it aside
Pour in your pigments, then the fragrance. I added the fragrance only into the main portion because I know it tends to discolour to tan and I want the foam white.
Stir the fragrance oil and the pigment into the main batch by hand. Use a silicone or plastic spoon/spatula for this. The lye will damage wood. Finish be re-inserting the stick blender and stirring briefly with it on low. Just enough to make sure it's all even.
Too much stirring will cause it to thicken and start setting. Working quickly, pour into your prepared soap mold. I forgot to take a picture, but pretend it's here. Gently tap the mold on the counter a few times to shake loose and air bubbles and get them out
With that done, turn your attention to the top layer. Again by hand, mix the pigment into the soap batter. It doesn't need to be perfectly white, as it will lighten a bit as it sits in the mold.
Now you'll want to very carefully pour the white "foam" overtop of the "beer" layer, careful not to break through the surface. Pour close to the surface of the soap and maybe pour it over the back of a spoon or spatula if you're worried.
After removing my gloves and washing my hands, I am lightly spritzing the top with 99% isopropyl alcohol. This will help prevent the formation of soda ash as it sets up. Soda ash is entirely just a cosmetic issue and not a big deal on white soap tops, but I'm doing this anyway
Now we just set this aside and let it set. If it's anything like the last batch I might be able to cut it tomorrow!
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If you find this interesting, consider following me. The more people seem into it, the more of these process threads I will be doing. You can also buy my soaps online on Etsy. #yeg-area shoppers can waive postage cost with code LOCALPICKUP! etsy.com/shop/SoapsAndS…

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