Here it is – my attempt at the Dancing Funnel Technique for August’s Soap Challenge Club competition.
Doesn’t look too bad in the picture (apart from the fact that the design isn’t much of a dancing funnel!), but what you can’t really see from the photo is the dreadful opaque graininess that developed on all my bars (to prepare them for their close up, I trimmed these bars quite a bit!!).
I really don’t seem to be having much luck with my soaping right now! Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to make a second batch this month as we have been away from home quite a bit. But anyway, here’s the story of my soap …
I was determined this time to stick exactly to the instructions including Tatsiana Serko’s recipe.
It was nice to try some different oils such as Babassu and Macademia Nut. I even relented on my no-palm-oil stance since that’s what Tatsiana had used. (I did however buy organic palm oil which my supplier assures me is produced in a sustainable way – apparently they have visited the producers to check!).
Aware of how important it was going to be to avoid any acceleration in this recipe, I purchased my fragrance oil from Gracefruit as they give details about acceleration and discolouration for all their fragrance oils. I selected their Pomelo fragrance which is a lovely citrusy blend, and true to their word it didn’t accelerate or discolour at all. My colour inspiration also came from the pomelo fruit which can have pink flesh with a yellow rind, so I chose Burlesque Pink and Lemon Pop micas as pigments.
Hand mixing the batter to emulsion was the first challenge. And I suspect this is where things started to go wrong. I did think I had a stable emulsion – honest! – but soon realised I should have stirred for a while longer.
I got quite excited when the colours went in …
But, once I started to pour the design I realised it was just too thin: it was hard to control the pour and the batter constantly dripped out the bottles; the colours ran into each other and I struggled to get nice defined circles; and, I developed a layer of clear liquid on the top.
Undaunted, I popped it into the oven to gel. I set my temperature at 80°C /125°F, maintaining it for 30 minutes before letting it cool in the oven. If you’ve read my previous post you’ll know I was excited to be able to line my slab mould with a cat litter liner. I was worried that this would melt in the oven but decided to go ahead after testing a piece first.
On the left you can see what went into the oven … and on the right what came out! Hmm, not so pretty.
Getting it out the mould proved a challenge, especially removing the bottom liner. After leaving it a couple of days to harden I still couldn’t remove the bottom so I improvised with a piece of thread which I ran down between the plastic base and the soap. A few pieces stuck to the liner, but otherwise it actually worked okay. Think in future I’ll maybe just line the mould with paper and use the dividers.
Trying to pull the bars away from the dividers just tore the soap, so again a bit of improvisation was needed. This time I chopped up a store card to the same size and used it to push them out. This worked quite well, and stopped me getting finger impressions in the soap.
I had been a bit concerned that the bars would be too small but they turned out okay. I would say they were more toilet soap sized rather than bath size, but still, it was nice to get 12 identically sized bars.
Once out the mould, it seemed to be mainly the pink areas which were affected by the strange texture, although it could be it simply showed up more in the pink that the yellow. The opaque areas also had a grainy, almost crumbly, texture and this extended about a centimeter down into the soap.
I suspect it was linked to the batter not being properly emulsified. Then I got to thinking that perhaps these areas would be lye heavy so my soap may not be fit to use! Drastic action was required. Bring out the crock pot!
I chopped it all up (doesn’t it look like Spam 🙂 ) and re-batched it. Interestingly, the crumbly, opaque areas took significantly longer to melt down that the rest of the soap. In fact, I ended up putting it in the mould when it was still quite lumpy and you can see the speckling this has given below. To make it a bit more interesting I decided to add pencil lines using blueberry mica. The mica didn’t seem to want to stick to the re-batched soap as easily as it does to wet CP soap, but it has jazzed it up a bit.
It still smells gorgeous and the end scraps lathered very nicely. So, after a lot of phaffing about, I’ve ended up with a usable soap. Success!
The next challenge is a decorative piped soap. Hmmmm …