Friday, September 06, 2013

Scoring the Soap

Due to a refrigerator malfunction, I've been on a soap-making binge here the last week.  The frozen tallow (which usually lives in the fridge's freezer) was taking up space in the deep-freeze.  In a bid to make more freezer space, I determined to make enough soap to rid the freezer of tallow.  (The lard gets to stay frozen for the sake of tortilla-making.  Thank you, Glenda!)

First lesson: do not score the soap too soon.   Soap recipes usually instruct you to let the soap sit for 12-24 hours before scoring/cutting.  No!  I did that once.  Scoring the soap was an atrocious job that time: the soap had hardened too much by the time I tried to cut it.  So I fell to the opposite extreme -- scoring the soap as soon as it would hold a shape (maybe after 60-90 minutes in the soap-mold).  I learned this week that the soap is much smoother and prettier when I wait 3-5 hours before scoring. 

So far I've done three regular 3# batches (27-30 big honkin' bars) and one small batch of olive-oil soap.  Two batches to go, and I'll have all the old tallow used up.  That should be enough soap to last me and Maggie four years!

Besides my standard lard/tallow, I've made soap out of Crisco before, but never anything else.  Due to the aforementioned refrigerator malfunction and its drips, my tiny little deep-fryer had water mixed in with the fat.  Dangerous!  So I washed the fat several times.  Then I found an awesome chart for how much lye and water to use when you're making soap out of oddball fats.  In a few months we'll be able to try a bar of olive-oil soap and see what we think. 

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