Friday, June 05, 2009

Adventures in Soap Making

Yesterday was a soap day... We were going along smoothly in our usual soaping groove. Our latest batch had been finished and tucked in for the night. I went into the house for a few moments and when I came back out, Tina said, "what is that?"

I became aware of a hissing sound and then we both noticed that the lid of that most recent batch of soap was hovering about 2 inches above the soap.

I removed the lid and this is what we saw (Notice the normal, well-behaved soap next to it.) : Just under the little oval shaped "bloop" in the front, steam was escaping, causing the hissing noise.

We've (just recently) had soap over heat before, but that time there was no sinister spitting and hissing noise.

I stabbed it a few times to try to release any more steam, but by that time, the damage was done. Unlike the goats milk soap we dealt with before, this one never collapsed into itself. It was set up and solid in no time at all.

We somehow hoisted the steaming hot mold and soap onto a cart and wheeled it out into the garage bay next to the studio so it could cool down a bit before we even tried to deal with it.

After we were finished with the rest of the uneventful batches of the day, we brought it back in and took it out of its mold:If you notice, the freezer paper we use as a release became brittle from the heat and also stuck very solidly to the soap so it is now "part" of the soap! This shows the "cavern" on the side - one of many as it turns out. And in case you're wondering what it looks like close up, here's the "gaping maw":Scarey, huh? There seem to be crystals inside. I haven't tasted them, but I'm pretty sure they aren't lye!

And when we set it up on it's side and cut, we saw there was no salvaging this one:We aren't sure what caused this. The only thing we can figure is that it was a new bottle of fragrance oil and the formulation had been changed somehow. It doesn't smell at all like it should, I'll say that!

One other possibility is that the water we use as a carrier for the marbling colorant wasn't mixed in thoroughly(and I mixed it and know it actually wasn't), became trapped in the soap and as the soap heated up, it turned to steam...

I'm hoping it's the latter because this is a popular variety and I'd hate to have to stop making it because of the oil change.

Just goes to show you, no matter how long you have been making soap (we've been making it since the early 90's) there's always something new that can surprise you!


Leann said...

Cathy has a couple of pics of this on her site- I've know it as "Alien Brains Syndrome" and usually it's form overheating but probably also due to the FO.


Leann Blackey said...

Whoopsie forgot to add the link for you: