transparent m&p soap
|when i first approached soapmaking, i started by using |
|• the theory|
then, i found this "recipe" for making transparent soap from existing bar soap ...a kind of rebatching. this immediately spoke to me, since it was in keeping with my soapmaking practices -- (i rebatch all my bar soap). accompanying this recipe were the details from several people who'd used ms. failor's book to make transparent soap from scratch.
the "bar soap conversion" recipe is very general, and although the "from scratch" recipes do give some details of the various processes, none give any insight into the procedure, except to simply suggest that it will take some "practice" to get it right. however, the comments from this
after that initial trial [and failure] at converting bar soap, i decided to go the whole route and make it from scratch, since after reading "the book" several times, i could see where converting bar soap and making it from scratch are pretty much the same process.
but, i still didn't have access to everclear, and i didn't want to use the 70% ethyl rubbing alcohol, (which i had used in my first attempts), so, i purchased the perfumer's alcohol from
this attempt wasn't a total failure since the resulting [opaque] soap was usable, but i'd failed to produce a transparent soap base that could be easily remelted. my difficulties centered around the solvent. even if i did have the proper strength of etoh, the crucial step in this process is "dissolving completely" the cooked soap into the solvent. this requires a considerable amount of stirring and trying to do this while using alcohol only allows the alcohol to evaporate, which rendered the soap less inclined to go into solution. conversely, if you keep the soap "covered" to prevent evaporation, you can't give it sufficient agitation and you still end up with a lot of undissolved soap. i wasn't interesting in either the "plastic tenting" or the other "mixer" option that c. failor suggested in her book. i needed to find a substitution for the alcohol.
i was further encouraged to replace the alcohol because during the curing process, a lot of the alcohol (along with the water) evaporates, making the soap less suitable for re-melting [after it's been cured]. also ...and i'm making an assumption here... wouldn't the alcohol remaining in the soap have a drying effect (?), countering the whole reason for using a glycerin soap in the first place.
in formulating my recipe, i took my cue from the ingredients lists from the last time i bought commercial
being consistent with that ingredients list, i also substituted sorbitol for the sugar, although i suspect sugar would work just fine. again, i based the amount used on the proportions suggested by c. failor. -- most all the commercial bases that list sorbitol as an ingredient make a point of stating that the product does not include any sugars. since sorbitol is more expensive than sugar, there must be some advantage to using the sorbitol, but what? pound for pound, does it cause less sweating ... does it have superior clarifying properties? perhaps [some future] side-by-side comparisons will answer these questions.
the soap, after considerable stirring, all went into and stayed in solution (including all that "soapy gunk" that formed on top). i added the sorbitol solution to the resulting "water-thin" soap, and tested it by placing a few drops on top of a chilled glass bowl. the sample hardened and remained clear. so i went ahead and poured my soap into a form to make one slab of clear* transparent
after the soap [base] had completely cooled and hardened, i measured off the desired amount, and [very easily] remelted it in the same manner i had with the commercial bases. after incorporating my additives, i molded it, put it into the freezer for one hour, let it rest at room temp for 10 minutes, popped it out of the mold, and voila! i had a beautiful transparent bar.
unlike commercial bases, which have already been cured, this bar can't be used immediately. it has to cure for [at least] 2 weeks. i suspect that i could cure the base for 2 weeks and then, when i formulate it into a bar, that bar would be immediately ready for use.
these conclusions are the results of my intital success with but the one recipe. however, in the future, i do plan to experiment with other oil combinations and different solvent proportions. for now, i'm just pleased to have finally succeeded.
|• the process|
|the following outlines my procedure for making transparent soap from scratch and from bar soap: -- (see "soap recipes" for the quantities and ingredients used in these processes.)|