Adventures in soap-making continue: the stuff I already made has cured enough to use, and it's really nice! Well, texture/feel/lather-wise, anyway - I am still working on the aesthetics. The plain and simple cold process batch I made came out beautifully hard and creamy (which sounds rather obscene...) but it's in all sorts of odd shapes, because I used a round Tupperware tub for a mold and then had to cut it up into bars, so I have little half-crescent pieces, which do not satisfy my strict sense of bath aesthetics at all.
After that, I made two batches using the hot process method, because I am impatient - cold process soaps need to cure for 4-6 weeks before you can use them, to ensure that the saponification process is complete and all the lye is gone, but the hot process method cooks all the lye out at once, so that as soon as your soap is has hardened in its molds, it's ready to use (although waiting a couple of weeks to let it dry/harden a bit more is probably a good idea).
What has became evident with my hot process soaps, though, was that I cooked them a little too long, and parts of the soap dried out, so that these bars, although they work beautifully, look a bit like they're suffering from the heartbreak of psoriasis or something, mottled with some dry and flaky patches. (That's one of them, up there at the beginning of this post - doesn't it look sort of motley? Not that using Photo Booth to photograph it helps the poor thing. Oh, and I put coconut milk in it, which the lye cooks and carmelizes the sugar in, which is why it's that sort of unappealing tan color.)
So yesterday I thought I would try the cold process again, and I made what looks like it will be a beautiful batch of creamy soap marbled with cocoa powder (I scented the soap with peppermint so they will be Thin Mint soaps!) - that is, assuming I can ever get it out of the mold (AKA my pyrex loaf pan). (I should give it a few more days before I start worrying about getting it out of the mold, though.) It turned out so nicely that I decided I would make some more soap today. I would make a slightly bigger batch! I would make an even better swirl!
Well, it turned out that my "bigger" batch still wasn't big enough for the plastic box I was using as a mold, so if this batch works, it will consist of very flat little bars. And I had some tangerine essential oil, so I decided that to go with the citrus theme, I would make a nice sunshine-y yellow swirl using turmeric to color the swirled bits (it's recommended as a natural colorant). But I didn't really measure and I used WAY too much turmeric. So instead of a nice bright yellow, I got a dark pumpkin. And I colored way more of the soap than I really needed to swirl, so I ended up with huge glops of dark pumpkin instead of nice swooping swirls. And when I was cleaning up, the turmeric got onto EVERYTHING, the smallest amount turning everything it touched pumpkin-colored. So I now suspect that once this soap is cured, it will produce pumpkin lather. I was kind of hoping to make stuff I could give to my mom and my sister, but this may end up as another batch that only a mother could love. (We'll have ugly soap coming out our ears! But we'll be very clean. Even if we turn pumpkin.)