Improving soap ii

Yield: 1 servings

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Most soaps made at home will need to be improved before they are suitable for personal use. To improve soap, you might wish to remelt it and add more fats and oils. This process helps to harden soap and also makes it gentler to the skin. Naturally, you will need to keep everything in proportion. Too much oil might create a slushy, ineffective soap. The purpose of soap is to aid in removing grease and grime, not to leave a layer of grease on you, although a good soap will have a slightly oily feel to it.

You must add perfumes only after the soap has started to cool. Add them before the liquid soap is poured into molds, however, so that the finished bars have a uniform scent. Of course, you do not need to add fragrances to your soap if you prefer them to remain unscented. If you wish to color your soap, you can use a vegetable coloring. The colors will be more pastel and variable than those produced by chemical coal-tar dyes. The latter will produce uniform colors of a brighter hue. If you want bright colors, you can use food dyes. Be careful to not add so much color that it comes off as you wash, however. EQUIPMENT Your eyes are your most important body organ. Do not risk losing them. Goggles or hard eyeglasses are a wise investment. Some eye protection is desirable to protect eyes from lye fumes. It is better to be safe than sorry, or worse yet, blind! Protect your eyes before you begin to make soap. Rubber gloves will offer great protection from any accidental splashes of lye onto the hands. Lye is extremely caustic and can burn skin, so be extremely careful when handling it. Once a chemical reaction called saponification has taken place, the material will not be as caustic.

Wear a long-sleeved shirt or blouse, long pants, and hard shoes. Do not make soap in your shorts or bare feet. After you have equipped yourself with safety gear, you will need some equipment for the process itself. A large kettle and a large wooden spoon are critical.

Do not attempt to make soap in a small pan; use a large kettle. A large wooden spoon will be handy for stirring. Wood is preferable to metal because the handle will not conduct heat as rapidly. A metal spoon will quickly become too hot to touch. Be sure to use a large spoon. A small spoon could easily slip out of your hand and into the hot mixture. Retrieving it would be a very risky task. A small spoon also puts your hand much too close to the hot mixture. A large spoon gives you the convenience of distance and safety. A measuring cup is very practical for measuring out the ingredients. While you do not have to be exact as in a cake recipe, you still need to have some idea of the proportions that you are using. A successful recipe requires you to measure ingredients. "By guess and by golly" could mean a big mess and a tragic waste of time, money, and materials. You need not buy special soap molds. Although they are available, you can use almost any shallow pan for making soap. Cupcake tins are ideal.

They form nice, round cakes of soap that don't require cutting. Fill them up to half full. You also an use a large rectangular metal pan.

Shallow pans are preferable to deep-dish pans for soap molds. For one thing, the soap will be easier to remove from a shallow pan. Also, it will form a shape that is more in keeping with the standard size of cakes that you are familiar with. You will probably not want soap in one- or two-pound blocks. You will want to keep the pans and dishes you use for soap making separate from your regular cooking pans. If you do decide to use them in cooking, soak them completely immersed in hot water several times first. Then apply the "sniff and feel" test to be sure that there's not even a hint of soap left on them.


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