|Our R&D team tests lots of fragrances in cold process soap. Well, we had such a collection of soaps that we were running out of room on the testing lab shelves! So…we cut these soaps into small sample bars to send out with orders. We have over 100 sample soaps in a variety of fragrances.We are sending out soap samples scented with one of the following fragrances; Apple Blossom Queen, Vanilla Yogurt, Bayberry, Gardenia, Tassi Lavender, Tea Leaf & Papaya, Intense Almond, OR Lilac.
Each sample is labeled that it is a test soap as well as the name of the fragrance used for that batch of soap. Like all test batches made in our R&D lab, we follow our Basic Bar Soap Recipe!
Want one of these samples? Request one with your next order and we will try to include one for you! Don’t delay as I know these samples will fly out of here!
Archive for the ‘Soap’ Category
|If you remember, last week I posted a teaser photoof my first batch of rendered lard. I had so much fun with this project and I haven’t even gotten to make soap yet!I referenced our Soapmaker’s Forum as well as Punk Domestics and A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa. All three sources were extremely helpful in this project and I thank them for their help!
To begin my project, I started storing the fat that came with the pork meat I purchase on a “almost” daily basis for our meals. Here in China, the butchers block of any grocery store is open to the customers. Unlike grocery stores in the USA that have the big enclosed cases, grocery stores here allow you to sort through and pick your favorite cut of meat. Using wooden “tongs”, you can simply pick up and examine each piece of meat before deciding to keep it or not. (It has taken me a while to get used to this process and some days I still can’t buy meat!)
The most common meat pieces that I purchase are pork loin with the backfat and skin still attached. The Chinese feel that the best meat is something that has a a fair amount of fat. I trim most of the fat (and all of the skin) off our meat and instead of throwing it away, I bag and then store it in the freezer. When I ran out of room in the freezer, I had 2-1/2 gallon-sized freezer bags stuffed with pork backfat.
Time to render! I began by pulling the bags of fat and set them on the counter to defrost. It took about 2 hours for the backfat to thaw enough for me to cut it up easily. Once the backfat had thawed, I started cutting the slabs into small chunks. I used a Chinese style meat cleaver and a small paring knife on my bamboo cutting board. It took me 2 hours to cut all of the backfat into small-ish chunks and I had a few blisters by the time I was done. I think a meat grinder would make this task easier.
If you are going to render your own fat, I would HIGHLY recommend grinding into small chunks or if you purchase from a butcher to have the butcher grind the fat before you take it home. I promise it will save you time as well as your hands! As I can’t communicate well with my butcher so I chopped up the fat by hand.
When all the backfat was cut up I had a completely full pot, and silly me, I forgot to weigh the backfat and skin before I started the rendering process. I estimate that I had around 5 to 6 pounds of back fat when I started. I added 1/2 cup of water to the pot and turned on the stove. Since my gas stove has three options of heat (hot as Hades, “I’m thinking about medium-low”, and “Oh! I’m on?”), I turned the heat to what my stove considers medium-low.
As this was my first time rendering, I was nervous about things turning out right. I stayed in the kitchen working on other projects while the pot heated and slowly, the lard began to melt. I stirred approximately every 15 minutes while the lard melted. When I could see and scoop out the liquid lard, I began to do so. I poured the lard into a glass water pitcher that had a brand new knee-high nylon hose stretched across the mouth of the pitcher. This allowed me to filter the liquid lard easily.
I reached a point where it seemed that only the biggest chunks were left and the stove wasn’t “quite” producing enough heat. I pulled out my stick blender and used it in the pot to help break down the chunks. Once the chunks were tiny pieces, I stopped blending and let the stove continue working on the smaller pieces in the pot. The process seemed to speed up and the lard floated on the top easily.
The overall time spent cooking on the stove was about 4 hours. I used a total of 2 pairs of brand new nylon hose to filter all my lard. (I really don’t care about that since I rarely wear nylon knee-high hose and I keep it on hand more for cooking than wearing.) I ended up with 75 ounces of rendered lard once the process was over. I didn’t keep the “cracklings” because I had the last portion of lard filter by gravity over night by hanging the filled hose over a clean pot to drip the last of the lard.
Now on to the questions!
Reader: What is the purple coloring on some of the pieces in your pictures?
Reader: What exactly is the difference between lard and tallow?
Reader: After rendering, are you going to soap with your lard?
Reader: I love using soap made with lard, but I can still smell the “piggy” odor and I can no longer use my soap due to the smell. Any suggestions?
Reader: What benefit does using animal fats in soap have over not using animal fats?
I also got a lovely e-mail from Dianne P. with tips from her experiences of rendering lard. It was so nice, that I just had to share the whole thing with you!
I just thought I would share a tip. I render my own lard & also buy some. When I render it, I keep it in the freezer as it spoils faster. I start with ground fat (not chunks). I use a big roaster, outside, as it is smelly. I probably do 15# at once. I keep stirring it off & on. When the “cracklings” are brown, we strain the lard in cheesecloth. It will be a nice white color. Makes a big mess (when I do it)!
I guess the “store-bought” kind is sterilized or something to keep it fresh. I keep it on my shelf.
I enjoy your blogs & posts!
Do you have any questions about rendering lard? Do you have questions about soaping with lard? I would love to hear your questions and help you find answers! Even if you just have a comment to share, I would love to hear them!
|I wanted to try my hand at a soap with silk. A soap with silk entails that you put some silk fiber into the lye solution prior to mixing your soap. The lye causes the silk to dissolve, allowing the silk protein to move throughout the entire soap. I am not sure if the silk adds anything to the soap besides great marketing. Come join me in the kitchen for some silk soap!
For this recipe, I used our basic soap recipe for testing. We use Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Coconut Oil and Olive Oil. I find this results in a nice firm bar that has wonderful lather. After all, why fix something if it isn’t broken.
In this recipe, I tested using Cultivated Silk. My local yarn store help me choose some different fibers and also explained the difference. Cultivated silk is where the silk worms have been raised in a “farm”. Silk worms that are harvested from the wild produce what is called Tussah Silk. I think it might be interesting to compare the two, but for today we will stick with the Cultivated Silk.
Weigh all of the oils into a microwave safe container. Heat gently until liquid. Add the Sodium Hydroxide to the water to form a lye solution. Add the silk to the lye solution. Allow the oils and the lye to cool to a lower temperature. We do not want to have the soap overheat and volcano. Mix the oils and lye solution and blend until trace is achieved. Pour into a mold and allow to sit for 24 hours. Cut the soap. Allow the soap to cure. Longer curing time will result in a harder bar. Enjoy!
Note: When I added the silk to my lye solution, I had to stir in order to get it to dissolve. I would recommend that you cut the fiber into smaller pieces prior to adding it to the lye solution. This will make it easier to dissolve, however, I expect it will still need to be stirred.
Yesterday, I started the Empty Cupboard series with my basic equipment and containers. I’m really beginning to enjoy looking at what I consider necessities and what I consider fun additions. Handmade soap is one of those things I can’t bring myself to live without so I put together a soapmaking ingredients wishlist!
Let’s take a peek at my soapmaking ingredients wishlist!
Required Oils: These are the oils that I feel are the important base oils for any soapmaker. I feel these oils make great soaps without severe expenses.
Coconut Oil: Due to marketing efforts over the years, people have been taught that unless soap has lots bubbles their bodies aren’t getting clean. To give a soap this desired lather factor we use Coconut Oil. Want a dual purpose oil? Coconut Oil also will make a very hard bar of soap. We typically use between 20 and 30% of Coconut Oil in a batch of soap, however, not all soaps we make will have this percentage range as Coconut Oil.
Palm Kernel Oil: In the blog kitchen, we use Coconut Oil and Palm Kernel Oil interchangeably because they give the finished bar of soap similar lather, color and firmness. Palm Kernel Oil will make a very hard bar and does not contribute any color to the finished bar of soap. I have used both Palm Kernel and Coconut in a bar of soap and found that recipe was my favorite, but you don’t have to use both oils in the same recipe.
Palm Oil: This oil is one of the more universal oils and contributes firmness to soap along with a straw color. Many people refer to this oil as vegetable tallow and frequently use it as a filler oil. Many luxury soaps use Palm Oil because it gives soap a special texture and color.
Hydrogenated Soybean Oil: I regard Hydrogenated Soybean Oil as one of those oils that help reduce the costs of the ingredients as well as an oil that contributes to the hardness of the final bar of soap. The soap will be firm, white and have a creamy texture.
Olive Oil: We recommend Olive Oil in soaps for many reasons. It is easy to find in most kitchens and grocery stores so you can make soap at 2 in the morning if you desire! It also contributes a dense “cream” to the lather that helps give a stable foundation for the large bubbles from the Coconut or Palm Kernel Oils. Olive Oil is a slow to trace oil that helps slow things down without making a soap prone to stalling so it can extend the working time of the raw soap. Soaps made with Olive Oil are also noted to be mild and soothing on skin which makes it a favorite ingredient of many soapmakers.
Luxury Addition Oils: My choices are just two of the many potential oils that I feel can give a soap a little extra “Oomph.” I only add a small amount of these luxury or splurge oils to a single batch of soap so they are still a cost effective addition to soap.
Avocado Oil: Most of the soapmakers on our staff recommend Avocado Oil as a luxury oil because soaps made with this oil are dreamy. The smooth glide, gentle cleansing and the creamy lather is a great addition to any soap. I particularly like this oil in any baby soap recipe! We recommend a small amount of this oil per batch, 3 to 12.5% per batch which is 0.5 to 2 ounces in every lb of fats.
Lanolin: I think any soap made with Lanolin is just fantastic on the skin. Lanolin soaps give my skin a moisturized feeling that just can’t be beat! Lanolin is actually a wax that is quick to saponify so we only recommend using a little bit of Lanolin per batch. Usually we use 1/2 to 1 ounce per pound of fats per batch of soap. Lanolin contributes a dense lather and a silky feeling to the skin when used as a luxury oil in a soap.
Tomorrow we will take a look at the basics for making lotions and creams!
|I had really enjoyed making the Liquid Soap Foot scrub but I wanted to make a liquid soap that you could put in a pump and place at the sink. A more traditional liquid soap so to speak. I also wanted to make this soap using the cold process method. (I still find the hot process method intimidating.) I was really pleased how my first liquid soap turned out and I figure if my method isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Come join me as we make this quick liquid soap!
In this recipe, I used Coconut Oil for some lather. I have found that many people have this idea that if there is not any lather, the soap must not be working. Lather seems to be a requirement for any “cleansing” product. It is a good thing Coconut Oil is here to the rescue!
I also used Olive Oil in this formulation. Olive Oil is reputed to be mild on the skin which is part of why 100% Olive Oil soap is so popular. Olive Oil is also an easily found oil in the kitchen. I wanted this recipe to be simple and easy for many soap makers to obtain or even use the ingredients they have on hand.
Recipe: Makes 20 oz of Soap Paste or 40 oz of Liquid Soap
Weigh the oils into a container. Heat until warm. Add the lye to the water to for a lye solution. Start with very warm temperatures just after heating and mixing lye into water. Mix the oils and lye solution and blend until trace is achieved. I let the soap sit in my beaker while it saponifies. 2 -12 hours after the soap has gone through gel phase, I added 20 oz of water to my soap paste. Mix well. Pour your liquid soap into bottles. Seal, label and enjoy! After all, you just made your own liquid soap!
|Soy milk is a major part of Chinese life. Unlike life in Utah, soy milk can be found EVERYWHERE! I’m not even talking about shelf stable cartons of sweetened soy milk found at the grocery store. Here in China, soy milk isn’t worth considering unless it is fresh, hot and steaming. Want sweeter soy milk? You can add your desired amount of sugar right from a big bowl of sugar.
One of my favorite soaps while I’ve been in China has been my batch of unscented soy milk soap that I made before coming to China. I decided to remake the batch of soy milk soap with one change. This time I decided to add a little bit of Elements of Bamboo Fragrance as it is a nice scent that appreciated by my friends and family who come to visit. I decided to use a light usage rate so it wouldn’t overwhelm or offend any of the noses of my visitors.
Collect needed items:
Weighing time: 8 minutes
1) Calculate the amount of lye and liquid needed for the oils you plan to use.
2) Measure all of the oils and set aside to heat gently.
3) Measure the lye and set aside.
4) Measure HALF of the needed liquid as water and set aside. Measure HALF of the needed liquid as soy milk and set aside. Milk should be room temperature, not frozen or hot.
5) Add ALL of the lye to the water. Stir well. No crystals should remain on the bottom of your mixing vessel. When the temperature of this lye solution is within 110° F to 130° F, (cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, cooler for large batches and warmer for small batches), add it to the oil mixture. Blend with an immersion blender until you estimate you are halfway through the mixing process. This will happen with most oils in about 1 minute. The mixture should NOT be thick or viscous. The mixture should be very fluid, like water.
6) Now steadily pour the milk into the batch. Use the immersion blender to finish the blending so there is no chance of separation.
7) Add fragrance. Pour into prepared SHALLOW molds (1 inch deep or so). Milk soaps can get very hot and shallow molds help the excess heat dump into the air. This will prevent the milk sugars from interrupting the saponification reaction.
|Recently my husband was teaching me how to make Tomato Eggs, a Chinese dish that is common for lunch or dinner. As I learned to cook a new dish, I couldn’t help but wonder how a soap would turn out if you added an egg. Would it affect the lather? Make a bar of soap pamper the skin more? Make a better shampoo bar? To answer these questions, I decided that I should make a batch of soap with an egg.
Since I know eggs mix really well with oil due to my experience baking, I decided to remove 2 ounces of oil to mix with my egg. This mixture I will add when light trace begins. By adding the egg at this point, I prevent the burning of the egg proteins and acceleration of the soap.
Weigh all of the oils into a microwave safe container. Heat gently until liquid. Add the Sodium Hydroxide to the water to form a lye solution. Remove approximately 2 ounces of oils from the melted oils. Add the egg to the removed oil and mix well. Allow the oils and the lye to cool to a lower temperature. We do not want to have the soap overheat and volcano especially since we are adding a temperature sensitive ingredient. Mix the oils and lye solution and blend until a light trace is achieved. Add the egg and oil mixture and mix well. Pour into a mold and allow to sit for 24 hours. Cut the soap. Allow the soap to cure. Longer curing time will result in a harder bar. Enjoy!
Note: When you cut the egg soap it will have a stinky egg smell to it and we noticed a greenish discoloration in the center. This smell will go away after allowing the soap to cure! The color in the center of the soap will also go away.
|There is an early morning market that happens daily in my new neighborhood. Everyone gets up and goes to the market to get fresh vegetables, fruits, eggs, grains, tofu, meats and even spices. The Chinese want the freshest products they can get, so it is easy to find produce that was picked just this morning. The prices are very reasonable. I got 1500 grams (3.3 lbs) of green beans for only 5 RMB! This is less than $1 US! It is fun to go to the market to pick the produce I want to use to make dinner each evening.
When I saw the spice vendor, I was impressed by the HUGE pile of Star Anise that was for sale. Anyone could buy as much or as little quantity as wanted. They were having a special sale because they had just brought in a new crop of the Star Anise. Spend 3 RMB ($0.50) and get 50 grams or spend 10 RMB ($1.60) and get 200 grams. Seeing this pile of Star Anise inspired me to make a batch of soap for those hunters and fishers as it is in the middle of summer. Come join me in the kitchen to make Chinese Star Anise soap!
Measure fixed oils on your scale. Warm the fixed oils on the stove or in the microwave. I melted the oils in the microwave. Add sodium hydroxide to the water. Mix well. Combine oils and lye solution. Mix until thin trace. Upon light trace, add the Chinese Star Anise Essential Oil. Stir well. Pour soap into the desired mold. Allow to sit until soap is firm. The next morning cut into bars. Stack to allow good air circulation. Allow to cure for several days before using. Longer curing will result in a harder bar.
Note: We noticed that the cut soap had a beautiful white swirly color to it when we first cut it due to the stearines in the fats.
|Yesterday, we made a liquid soap paste. Today we will turn that base into a nice scrub for the face. You can even use this method to create a mask! Let’s head to the kitchen!I added water to the soap paste to make it softer and smoother but I also wanted a very thick and viscous scrub. Traditionally when making liquid soap, for 16 ounces of oils, 24 or more ounces of water are added. I only added 14 ounces of water.
I added Ground Apricot Seeds for the exfoliant. It is very fine and at a lower usage rate, it perfect for a face or even body scrub.
Collect Needed Items
Scoop the soap paste into a plastic bag. Add the Ground Apricot Seeds and two ounces of water. Close the bag and knead until the water is completely mixed in. Add the water a little bit at a time and mix it in completely. Repeat until all of the water has been incorporated. Package into containers. Enjoy!
|I wanted to make a face scrub that would be perfect for cleansing and exfoliating the face. I could have used one of our bases but I wanted to dip my toes into the world of Liquid Soap. I have seen a lot of people make their soap using the Hot Process method but I wasn’t feeling ready for a complete revamping of my soaping style. Today we will be making a liquid soap using the cold process method so we can prepare for this scrub. Come join me!
I chose some oils to create some lather. I wanted the base to have some lather when you rub it into the skin. These are some of my favorite types of face scrubs. One of the first oils I chose for this soap base was coconut oil. Coconut oil is a wonderful oil to have in your soaping cupboard and mine in the blog kitchen is no exception! It adds lather to your soaps and great tactile properties to lip balms, scrubs and lotions.
I also used Olive Oil. Olive Oil also contributes a smoother moisturizing feel to the soap. When making a product for the face, it is important to be gentle to the delicate skin of the face. It is also important to moisturize to keep the skin soft, supple and healthy.
We will make this liquid soap paste today and then tomorrow we will use this base to create a nice scrub for the face.
Collect Needed Items
Weigh the oils into a container. Heat until warm. Add the lye to the water to for a lye solution. Allow the lye solution to cool. Mix the oils and lye solution and blend until trace is achieved. I let the soap sit in my beaker while it saponifies as tomorrow, we will be adding to it. Cover your container with plastic wrap and allow to sit until the oils have completely saponified.