|As you know now, we are working on a basic formulation that has slight changes to determine WHAT effect an ingredient has. Today’s recipe is this:
6 fl oz Black Tea (yes, the type you would drink)
2 TBSP Bentonite Clay
Make your tea. Set aside to cool. When cool, add sodium hydroxide and stir well. The color will look very strange compared to what we have been doing.
Heat the oils. When all oils are liquid, add the lye solution and stir. Midway through the blending process, add the clay, and stir well. You may have noticed that I placed the clay in the soap solution and pushed it down with the immersion blender. This is to cause an immediate mixing through the blades of the blender. I will repeat this process later in the week when adding color.
Mix until a light trace; pour into molds.
This batch took the same timing as yesterday’s blog, except making the tea in advance. Here it is for your convenience.
Weighing time: 8 minutes
Adding the clay didn’t change the process much, nor did it add much to the blending time. The soap was thicker, not only due to the clay but also due to the extra mixing time of 2 minutes compared to yesterday’s 90 seconds. We do NOT want the clay to settle to the bottom of the mold.
What changes could you make to this batch?
What can you expect when you pour into the mold? Should you wrap it in lots of blankets?
Here is a photo of the three soaps we have made this week. You can see the neem soap is heating up and going through gel phase. What is gel phase? It is a process of heating; the soap is creating the extra heat which is melting the soap. We expect to see this happen. We WANT to see this happen. If the batch of soap is wrapped up in blankets and you cannot see it, you will miss this exciting event. Unless you have curious cats or children, we suggest leaving the mold on the counter to watch the process. It is as gratifying as watching the cookies bake in the oven.
If you don’t have the oils on hand which are the basis for our testing – olive, coconut and hydrogenated soy – then please choose some oils which will add lather and make a decent batch of soap. They should be arranged in this format (6 oz, 5 oz, 5 oz). Then one oil can be reduced to 4 ounces and a single ounce of an exotic oil, otherwise known as a conditioning oil, can be added. This makes a 1-pound fat batch, which can later be scaled for any size mold.
Today we have talked a bit about trace. What is trace?
Trace is a somewhat vague term. It is used in every soap book, yet trace is far more fluid than every beginner expects. Trace is an indication oil will no longer rise to the surface when mixing is stopped. If you aren’t sure if you have achieve trace, then stop mixing, go get a glass, and fill it with water; do not drink it. Come back to your soap. Is oil floating on the surface? Oil is floating if you see a dark appearance to the top and it appears very slick. A quick press of the button on your immersion blender will tell you if oil has risen. A dark swirl appears on the top of soap close to trace, but not quite there. Keep blending if you see this happen. If the soap looks homogeneous, pour it into the mold.
Trace is sometimes explained as having the ability to hold an impression on the surface of the soap. This is true if you have a light across the room and you can see its reflection on the surface of your soap. Gently touch the surface of the soap with a spoon and draw a star or heart. If you can see the raised impression left on the soap from your spoon, you are at trace. Pour into the mold.
Trace is not about being as thick as a milk shake or about being thick at all. If you could see the mixture we pour into the molds, you would be surprised that our soap looks more like pouring skim milk than it does look like cream or a milk shake. Think fluid!