So Happy New Year to you all - I sincerely hope that 2011 brings you all the happiness and health (and hey, wealth too, might as well go the whole hog here) that you wish for.
People are talking about setting goals and plans for the year and, to be honest, I'm in such a brain fog right now that it's as much as I can do to decide what I want for dinner. Oh yep, I've been VERY lazy indeed over the Christmas period. We had a friend stay for a few days and we all did very little, watched lots of DVD's and had lots of laughs. I'm not excusing any of that at all because I obviously needed it. I keep finding that, by the time my holidays hit, I've worked myself up into a state of tension and exhaustion and I obviously need to unwind and just veg out for a while. Plus, with visitors coming and going, it's not always possible to get time to work on anything, even if my brain had allowed it.
Yesterday, 1.1.11 (what an auspicious date!), I decide to do "something". What that something was took the form of a facial cleansing/conditioning soap - I had worked on a formula that I wanted to be extra conditioning but didn't lack a bubble factor and didn't fall apart in my hands either (when you up the conditioning factor, you often lose out on the hardness factor and I didn't want a slimey ball of goo to clean my face with, no matter how good it might have felt).
I had a window of opportunity where there was no-one around and set to it. I thought a very conditioning bar with silk (naturally, I can't do without this because I really believe it brings something magical to soap), I wanted to use pink clay because it has a ton of lovely goodies for the .. ahem... more mature skin and I wanted to try sodium lactate too in order to help counteract the reduced hardness factor (plus it is a natural humectant).
So I got everything ready - I decided to hot process this soap as I wanted to see the results sooner than 6 weeks from now (because I leave my cold process soaps at least 6 weeks before testing). I weighed out my oils and butters, got them melting in the crockpot. I weighed out my water & lye, adding silk, sodium lactate at 2% of the oil weight (though I've been told 3% of the oil weight works well too) and I included a teaspoon of sugar to help with the bubble factor [again, when you up the conditioning, bubbling can so bye bye too so I've read that a little bit of sugar helps restore that] - so I included 1 teaspoon for 300g oil weight).
I kept back some of my liquid oils for the superfat (7%) and mixed that with the pink clay, a dash of pink mica and essential oils. I decided to use Lavender, Mandarin and May Chang - sort of a summer meadow vibe and God knows we need something to counteract the dank winter we have going on here.
All perfect so far - yay the soaping fairies are off bugging someone else. Well now, why the hell did I think that for God's sake??!!! Talk about inviting them in! So, I got my oils all melted and put in my stick blender and whizzed just to see and then realised I didn't have enough of the liquid to stop it from splashing all over the damn place. The bell part of my stick blender has holes in it and, if the liquid level isn't enough to cover them, whatever your blending splashes everywhere. Greattttt.... not. So ok, all is not lost... I poured in the lye water plus goodies and covered the bowl with a cloth leaving just the arm of the stick blender out and blended, all splashes container by the cloth. Of course, somehow the wire of the stick blender knocked against the spoon in my superfat & essential oil mix and knocked it all over! So now I have a pink oil slick on the worktop. ARGGGHHH! So okay don't panic, I leaned over to get my spatula to scoop it all back into the bowl and OUUUUCCCHHHHH I burn my arm on the side of the hot crockpot.
Close up of my poor burnt arm!
So ok, stop screaming & swearing cos I still have a pink oil slick to worry about and I'm damned if I'm going to lose all those lovely essential oils anyway. So I spatula up all the oils (basically by manoevering it all to the edge of the worktop and catching it all in the bowl). Even though I wiped down all the worktops before I started, now I'm sure there's some random toast crumb in there too! Oh well, this is just for me and it'll add exfoliation right?!
So, the bowl with the half stick blended lye is still sitting there and, despite the burning sensation on my arm, I finish blending it, brave solider that I am. I like that it's produced a very liquid batter but suspect that's because I have a higher level of liquid oils than usual plus the sodium lactate is probably doing it's thang too. So I pop the bowl back on the crockpot and cover it and allow it to cook away whilst I go about cleaning up the mess everywhere.
It didn't take too long as it was a small batch (too small in hindsight, next time I'm going to do a batch of at least 500g oil weight) and it was cooking nicely. I kept checking for zap and zing which I got but then checked again and again til I had no zing and took it off the heat, adding in my superfat oil/clay/essential oil/random toast crumb mixture and mixed. Once off the heat it sets up rather quickly (I have no clue how people do HP in those intricate moulds because my mix is never liquid enough to show off the detail - anyone has an idea on that, I'd be glad to hear) so I poured it into my awaiting silicone mould.
So here it is in it's mould:
Apologies for a rubbish picture, it is actually pink and not some random pinky yellow and I will admit I do NOT like the tops of HP soap (if anyone has a remedy for that other than cutting them off, help me out here!)
And here it is cut about 6 hours later (I could do this so quickly because it was a very small batch, a normal sized batch I wouldn't have thought to cut til the next day at least but, in hindsight, I was probably better waiting):