Sunday, February 17, 2013

Saponification Sunday...Pass the Salt

Salt bars emote feelings of great depth. Soap makers either LOVE them or HATE them. Rarely is there any Switzerland when it comes to salt soap bars.

I have always loved them. First as a consumer for the simple reason that nothing smooths out my rough edges better than a good thick bar of salt soap, unless it was a wee shot of Jamison.  They are great for using after you've been gardening or to remove all the dead skin from the bottom of your feet.

I made my first bar almost two years ago, a disaster, then tried some more over time and I am finally at the point, that I still don't know what I'm doing with salt bars. I do have fun though.

This last week I attacked the salt monster again. Starting with a basic 100% coconut recipe (32 oz) plus lye dissolved in water and 16 oz of coarse sea salt, I mixed and poured. As always it got very hard and hot very fast. I unmolded at 3 hours and the end bars cut like a dream. The middle bars were gooey.

I let the batch of 7 bars harden fully. I kept the end bars and then chopped the remaining 5 bars into little cubes. I made another batch of salt soap, planning to mix in the cubes and cut just an hour later. I colored the new batch  with some indigo powder (1/2 tsp) for a pretty grey and poured the batter (same recipe as the first white salt bar) over a few of the white cubes.

I then promptly forgot about it.

Hey! Get off my back. I was tired and even though I fully intended to stay up until midnight so I could unmold and cut at the perfect time I chose to take a short nap.

12 hours later in NOT the perfect time. This rebatch was brick  solid. I could've easily built a root cellar with blocks like these. The light blue color was nice though. Just what every root cellar needs, light blue foundation bricks. To unmold I had to slam them on the kitchen floor.

What to do? What to do? Hey I know! I'll just rebatch the rebatch. Taking a potato grater I started the exercise program of my life attempting to shred those salty soap blocks. It took a LONG, strenuous time (never in my past have I broken a sweat using a simple grater) but eventually I ended up with tall fluffy piles of grated salt soap. And a very sore arm.

Now what? Well, it seemed obvious. I made yet another batch of soap, this time without any salt and using my basic 13 recipe. 13 oz of Olive oil, 13 oz of coconut oil, 3 of Castor and 3 of Sweet almond. I colored it with two tsp if indigo for an even deeper blue and added more peppermint essential oil.

When it came to trace, I threw in more white chunks of salt soap from the first batch, and poured the fresh liquid soap over it, about 1/2 way up the trusty diaper wipe mold, my old standby. And then I took four big handfuls of the very light blue shredded remains of the second bar of salt soap, and mixed it with the remaining darker blue newer soap.

All of THAT got poured into the mold. Then I walked away for just a little while. Really, only a little while this time. 30 minutes later checked on it and the whole thing was rock hard on the outside but so HOT on the inside it was bubbling up through soap cracks like THE THING came up through the ice skating rink. Remember that treasure?

So I did what any sane soaper would do, I threw the whole science experiment in the freezer and went to bed. I figured it was a goner.

Well, the soap fairy came during the night and saved my concoction. After letting the really hard really frozen soap thaw out, I cut it. Or tried to. With the wires of my soap cutter stuck half way through the soap I could neither push them father in (so afraid the wires would break) or pull them out. SO I walked away again deciding I would never make another bar of soap as long as I live. I would just cut the wires of my soap cutter and give them to brother Tom the guitar player in our family.

Fortunately, before taking a hack saw to my soap, and soap cutter, I tried pushing the wires through one more time, very worked!  Salt bars came out in one piece, looking freaky weird and I LOVE them. Considering the amount of work I went through to birth them, and the fact that they are indeed One-of-a-kind I will be selling them for slightly more than my usual soap bars.

The first $59.95 will get you your own  very special "Ice Capades" Salt Bar. Of course postage and shipping is extra. You don't expect me to give away these bars do you?


  1. OMG you're funny. I'm letting my second today, laundry detergent soap batch cool a little before putting it in my slab mold. It's hot process. This is what you shredd before adding borax etc. for the laundry. Never tried salt bars. May never after reading this! My family is hooked on this laundry soap, it performs so well. Soft, CLEAN clothes.

  2. Anon I make laundry soap too. If fact since I started making soap over 2 years ago we have eliminated all store bought laundry detergent, shampoos, dish detergent and general household cleaners (Except THE WORKS for toilets. I can't get our hard water toilets clean with anything else) Thanks for reading my blog!