Friday, July 23, 2010

Dopey Soap

Well, my my my. Looks like a batch of vanilla fudge, doesn't it?


It's my latest batch of soap. And dang, it was soap making experience.

So I've been excited to try this recipe. It seemed that it should make a really luxurious bar with shea butter, avocado oil, coconut oil, palm oil, and lemongrass essential oil in the recipe. The morning was cool with a light breeze. A perfect soap-making day.

After hopping myself up with a couple cups of coffee, I rolled up my sleeves and headed out to the garage climate controlled storage area for my supplies and dragged the boxes into the house. I should have suspected that perhaps the soap-making stars were not aligning when I peered into the box and saw that a half a bottle of lye crystals had leaked from the bottle into the ziplock bag it was sealed in. Thank goodness it was in the bag, but ewww. Lye is nasty stuff and I didn't want even one teensy crystal landing somewhere it shouldn't. I put my rubber gloves and safety goggles on and cajoled every single bit of it back into it's bottle.

Allrighty, then, I thought. Let's get cookin'.

After lining up everything on my kitchen counter, I started mixing and melting. And halfway through the process, noticed that my kitchen scale's batteries had died.


Lye mixed up in a pitcher, and sitting on the counter. Half of the oils in a pot melting on the stove, with the remaining ones unmeasured. Drat.

I'm sure that a more experienced soap maker than I could probably have used another method of measurements, but not me.......I want to know without a doubt that every molecule of the lye is successfully bound to a molecule of oil. I really needed that scale to be functioning accurately. How hard could it be to replace a simple battery?

Let me rephrase that. How many Sjoggies does it take to replace a simple battery? Certainly more than one brainfogged Julia Sjoggie. After twenty minutes I found the batteries' hiding place in the scale and removed them, assuming that they would be a size that we have on hand.

Well. Of course they weren't.

I don't believe in Murphy's law.......I don't believe in Murphy's law........I don't believe in Murphy's law.......

After turning off the stove and covering all the ingredients, the schnauzers and I made a flying trip to Wal-mart for the weirdo sized batteries that my scale required. Which were located in the most illogical part of the store, I might add. Of course by then, I was soggy with sweat, and brain befuddled. Logic? What logic?

We headed home with Mags and Lulu's snouts poking through the partially rolled down windows and snuffling madly. They love an outing.

I am not going to waste all these expensive supplies, I told myself. This batch of soap WILL be wonderful. The best ever. Spectacular. So after smashing the stupid batteries into the dopey scale I resumed my measuring and melting. Hm. Now what temperature should this melted stuff reach? I rummaged around and plucked the little battery operated thermometer out of my soap supply box and turned it on.

ERROR, it said. Well, of course that's what it said. What ELSE would it say??? I pounded it against the countertop and turned it on again. Woo hoo! It began to register! The numbers were followed by a big letter C. I have no idea how to read Celsius. My recipe only gives F instructions. After flipping it off and on several times and getting the same results, I figured it probably was reading inaccurately regardless of what scale the numbers were and I tossed the darned thing in the garbage.

I don't believe in Murphy's law......I don't believe in Murphy's law......I don't believe in Murphy's law......

A frantic search through one of the utensil drawer finally produced an old fashioned glass candy thermometer. Whew.

Yeah. We're back in action. Once everything was at the proper temperature and melted and stirred and traced and whatchamahooied, it was time to add the essential oil.

An essential oil is highly fragranced and very concentrated and is intended to give the soap a lovely aroma. I chose lemongrass, and had carefully measured an ounce into a small dixie cup. As I picked up the cup, I noticed that the oil had saturated through the bottom of the paper cup and had seeped fully 3/4 of the amount all over my countertop. And scale. And kitchen towels. And everything else that was left in the vicinity. Even though I have a really rotten sense of smell, I could tell by my watering eyes that the lemongrass was waaaaay too lemongrassy for words.

At this point, John walked in the door. "Hey, Babe! I'm home for lunch!" he cheerfully called. Then stopped dead in his tracks. This guy really has the darnedest sense of timing.

"I see that this isn't a convenient time for me to be in the kitchen......" he carefully said while backing slowly away from his wild-eyed wife.

Smart man.

"Well, then. Mostly I stopped in just to say hi. I think I'll just head back to the office and grab lunch on the way there...." and quickly made a retreat.

Very smart man.

I had to unclench my jaws before giving him a good-bye smooch. He wasted no time in dashing out the door.

I don't believe in Murphy's law........I don't believe in Murphy's law..........I don't believe in Murphy's law.....


Geez, I hope the neighbors weren't home since I really was shouting by this point.

I dribbled the remaining bit of essential oil into the batch of soap, which had by this time unbelievably began to set up into a lovely, creamy, thick soapy concoction.

I was suspicious.

I checked it again. Yes, the consistency was perfect and color beautiful. I carefully poured the raw soap into my prepared molds, and didn't spill a drop. The batch filled the molds perfectly and began to firm up right on schedule.

I tentatively covered the filled soap molds with a terrycloth towel as instructed, and began to tidy up the equipment. After twenty minutes, I couldn't contain my curiosity. I lifted the towel and peeked. Yup. Perfect.

Boo-ya! WooOt! Take THAT, you pile of saponified garbage! Victory IS MINE! I exhausted the last bit of my energy reserves on a very undignified celebratory dance around the kitchen. Yeeeeeaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!

I collapsed quivering and dripping onto the couch. And sent Terese a text message which calmly said, "made some soap today".

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