Lessons from soapmaking

It’s all about learning from your mistakes.

Soapmaking, I discovered, isn’t about celebrating success as well but about making mistakes and finding out what went wrong. One thing good and almost forgiving is that when a wrong batch of soap, you can do what some soapmakers do – rebatch. That is basically re-cooking your mistake soap. Most of the time though, if there is nothing wrong with the recipe and the error is mostly aesthetic, soapmakers turn their mistakes into potpourri chunks, soap balls, embeds or just live with it.

That was exactly what happened with Spring Breeze (SB), my cucumber-yogurt soap. I decided on a whim, after having bedded my Bubkins soap (75% olive oil), to soap SB at 50°C. My usual soaping temperature is around 30-40°C (depending on the recipe), I can relax as it takes some time to reach trace and I usually insulate my soaps which result in gelling. But this time around, no thanks to the fragrance oil, my soap reached thick trace faster than usual. I barely had time to mix in everything and pour it into the mould! Within 30-45 minutes, the whole thing gelled. I didn’t think much about it and kept it insulated – bad bad bad. That was when it happened – overheating and weeping (oil oozing from the soap). OHNO!

I quickly removed the insulation and hoped for the best. I was told by other soapmakers out there that it could still work since I removed the insulation – it would just look ugly on the top. If the oils get reabsorbed and there are no pockets (air or lye), I could just keep it as it is and trim off the ugly top.

After six hours of “drama”, SB has cooled down to the colour that it originally was and the oil that was oozing out is less – a sign that it is being reabsorbed.

I’m hoping that by tomorrow morning or noon, it would be just right when I unmould. If there are no pockets, I plan to just trim the top but if there are pockets, I might end up rebatching it or turning it into soap balls or embeds. I plan to remake this recipe again but with a different base since I ran out of shea butter (will use mango or cocoa butter instead).

But yes, it’s all about embracing errors!

In the meantime, my Bubkins soap is turning out just fine – it’s starting to gel just after 10 hours of bedding and I am keeping it insulated. Chances are I’ll only unmould it on tomorrow night at the earliest as soaps high in olive oil take longer to harden. There is a little something in my Bubkins soap but I’m reserving it for the actual soap post. Hehehe.

Now, back to work on assignments for pandora style bracelets and a quilt for Noah!

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