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cathyn: (Johnny!)
[personal profile] cathyn
(or "Wash or cut soap")

Had a hang-fire incident last week. I got a new job, which starts tomorrow (August 18, 2014, for those of you reading this in 2016), and decided to spend my "last week of freedom" doing fun stuff. So I got out the oils and tallow, the scale, all the gear, and started a batch of soap. All was well and good until I grabbed the jar of lye. Shake-a shake-a shake. "Crap! Almost empty." Went down to the Strategic Reserve. "Bugger! That's the last jar!" Everything comes to a FULL STOP. Scale and weighed oils pushed to the back of the countertop, and laptop activated to find lye online, since you sure as hell can't find it locally anymore (Thanks, in-home meth chemists!) Find a bargain, 10lbs for under $40. Now all I have to do is wait for delivery.

And wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Have I mentioned that I am not necessarily a paragon of patience?

And wait.

Eventually I check the Tracking Number, only to find it has already been delivered. 'WTF?' I think to myself? I look at the front porch, no box with bright orange "HazMat" stickers there... Look out at the mailbox, which has a special parcel box, which if you get one the postman locks, and sticks the key in your *TINY* mailbox. Hmmm. Grab keys and go open the *TINY* mailbox, figuring I should look there first before calling out the cavalry to figure out to which of my neighbors the postman has mistakenly delivered my ten pounds of DANGEROUS CHEMICALS.

Turns out the shipper has put five 2lb jars or lye into a single Flat-Rate box (I admire their efforts to save me money!) correctly labeled them with the proper HazMat stickers, and shipped them along. The postman then ignored the labeling and just crammed the box into the *TINY* (have I mentioned that our mailbox is quite small, at least when compared with the size of a flat-rate box stuffed full of dangerous chemicals?) mailbox. The box was quite damaged, but, fortunately for the postman, the jars are unbreached.


I finally have my lye, and soapmaking operations are resumed. While I trust all my measurements, every ingredient is re-weighed, everything goes into the pot, and soap is produced. I was going for a nice replication of Yardley's English Lavender, but two related obstacles appear: with these hot process batches, I've been striving to start with 5lbs of oils, and I simply don't have enough tallow. When I realized this problem (right before realizing I was out of lye) I'd thought to just add more olive oil, since true Yardley's is little more than tallow, olive oil, and fragrance. For some reason, when realizing my tallow problem for the second time, I got out the avocado oil instead of the olive oil, and added in about 1.5lbs, and carried on. I can categorically state at this time, without having unmolded the soaps yet, that I wish I had added more olive oil rather than avocado oil, for no other reason than true Yardley's has no avocado oil.

Anyway, like the last two batches, the hot process is very very fun to watch, pretty simple, yet a tad time consuming. When it finally had the look of a large quantity of oats in a small amount of oil, which is the immediate precursor to all the oats *VERY* suddenly vanishing and becoming thick soap-gel, which needs to get into the molds very soon, I added 2oz Lavender Oil, 2oz. Lavender Flowers, and a whole tube of commercially obtained purple colorant. I think this might be too much fragrance, but [livejournal.com profile] lifeofglamour reminds me that soaps lose their scent as they cure, so it should settle down a bit. I'll go unmold the soap, cut bars, and take some pictures to share in another post.

Thanks for following along!

Date: 2014-08-17 06:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joycebre.livejournal.com
If you look carefully, and read labels, you can sometimes find lye in the drain cleaner dept at Home Depot. Don't tell anyone it's lye, or they'll stop selling it. :) The chemical name is Sodium Hydroxide, isn't it?
(I miss Red Devil Lye)

Date: 2014-08-17 10:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] evil-macaroni.livejournal.com
Your postal carrier sounds about as smart as ours. Glad it didn't break!


Date: 2014-08-17 11:15 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-08-18 05:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thread-walker.livejournal.com

How fun!

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