Sunday, April 21, 2013

Homemade Cold Process Soap made with bear tallow.



In my freezer there has been a bag of rendered bear fat itching to be used.
Then on my sink I have this cast iron soap dish with a bear on it.  Just waiting for a bar of soap to grace it's presence.
Bear soap needed to be made!
All the signs were there!

It was a little tough finding a recipe with beef tallow(bear tallow is very similar to beef).
After some searching I found one.

Tallow Blend Soap (Kathy Miller)


44 oz. beef tallow
20 oz. olive oil
20 oz. coconut oil
12 oz. lye crystals
32 oz. cold water


When making soap it helps to have everything laid out and organized.
Here we have our lye, distilled water, equipment used only for lye which is labeled as such, and safety equipment.  While soap making is not hard you can never be TOO cautious with the lye.  Make sure you use gloves and safety glasses.  Wear shoes and long sleeves. 
Lye is a base so if you do get some one your skin rinse off with vinegar(an acid).  Lye will also react with aluminum, cast iron, and steel.  For this reason we use some plastic, probably picked up at the dollar store.


Here we have our oils all set up.  The zip lock bag is rendered bear tallow.  The pot and stick blender are only used for soap making.  You will also need thermometers for checking temps.  One for lye and one for oils. A scale is important for exact measurements.
If you are interested in making your own homemade soap, you are going to want equipment that will only be used for soap making.  Search your cupboards for bowls and pitchers you don't use anymore.  Hit up some garage sales and thrift stores.  It doesn't have to cost a fortune.
Like any hobby there is costs however this hobby will get you homemade soap that is better than any commercial bar out there!
   


Closer look at that bear fat : )  


Measuring out your fats and oils.


Pour oils into stock pot and slowly heat up.  For this recipe since the tallow is hard as is the coconut oil we found in order to melt all the fats down the oil heated up way past what we needed it at.  We then had to let it cool down.  This process took the longest.  For future note we will get the oil melted down well before we start the lye water.  


When the lye hits the water it heats up fast.  The goal is to get it to the temperature down to what your soap recipe says.  In our case between 110-115 degrees.  To help cool it down we will stick the pitcher of lye water into a ice bath.  Another option would be to measure out your water the day before and freeze it.


While I was setting other stuff up I had my pitcher of distilled water sitting in the ice bath already.


Measuring out the lye needed and where to find lye.  We have always had luck at Menards, and I haven't tried anywhere else.  If you can't find it ask, they don't always keep it on the shelf and if they do they only keep one bottle on at a time.  Lye is often misused for horrible purposes.  Also, make sure it says 100% Lye.


Equipment just for lye.


Our oils are melting down so we will wait a bit to combine the lye and water.  You should have an idea if you are going to add other stuff to you soap.  It's good to organize all that you need in exact measurements so they are ready.  You never know how fast things can move a long.  Better to have a little down time waiting on temps than being rushed and frazzled.  That's when accidents happen.

You can add some extra fats after the soap traces for superfatting.  You can add fragrance or other additives for texture.


One of our batches is to be a "gardeners" soap.  We added rosemary and lemongrass essential oils for the scent.  For the exfoliant we added a mixture of poppy seeds, caraway seeds, dried rosemary, and psyllium seed husk whole.   If one was to recreate this they could just pick one.  We happen to have these four ingredients on hand so decided to do a mixture with all.

Exfoliant for our gardener's soap.

Another thing to ready before you get started is a place to keep the soap for the initial set up.  It is recommended that your soap should slowly cool down.  Most instructions will say to wrap your mold in towels.  We also place our molds in coolers.  Just helps insulate a little better and it's safe from being bumped or knocked over.


You will need something to mold your soap in.
Miscellaneous containers we have found here and there is what we use for molds.  Soap is initially caustic so over time the soap you make will break down the molds.  Ours were cheap so we are ok with that.
I really love the silicone loaf pan.  It holds a little over 2 pounds of soap and the soap always comes out so easy.  If you are using old tupperware it helps to line with wax paper and grease it down a bit.
  


Back to the lye and oil.  The oil and fats have melted down and are now cooling so we now are going to mix the lye and water.  Always pour the lye INTO the water and slowly!


Make sure your gloves and safety glasses are on!


Stir it up and do not lean over it.  You could wear a mask during this step.  Make sure the area is well ventilated.  There will be harmful fumes.


Almost instantly the temperature gets to 150+ degrees.


Now we wait some more.  The oil is still cooling and now the lye needs to cool.  If your oil gets cooler before your lye just heat it up again.
When both reach desired temps pour lye water INTO oils.  Always.


Very quickly the oils start to thicken.
The process of the lye and oils combining is called saponification.

Follow this link, they give a good description of saponification.



If you don't have a stick blender you will need to stir by hand.  You will be stirring for a LONG time.  Time does vary based on the oils used, but it still takes a long time.  The stick blender is.a.LIFESAVER!
For this recipe I think we stirred with the stick blender for about 20 minutes.


You stir until the soap reaches trace.
Trace means the oils and lye have combined.


Now we have soap.  Add any other additives at this point.

What combination of fats and oils makes a good soap?
Here just a couple links I found that explain the different characteristics commons fats and oils used in soap making.
.


In a nutshell soap making directions.
  1. Collect ingredients
  2. Weigh ingredients
  3. Get fats/oils to desired temp
  4. Get lye water to desired temp
  5. Add lye water to oils
  6. Stir until trace happens
  7. Add any additives
  8. Pour into molds
  9. Let sit for about 24hrs
  10. Take out of molds, if hard enough, and cut.
  11. Cure for 4-6 weeks
  12. Always use caution when working with lye.



I will end this post here.  In a few days I will post again showing you the outcome of our soap adventure!


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