We’ve had a misleading start to spring here in the Pacific Northwest. Mother Nature cooperated for our Easter festivities for about a full week of sunny, warm, blue skies with cherry blossoms and birds chirping. Sadly, we are now back to our notoriously wet weather.
The good news is that we never lack for colour here in Bellingham, even when the sun’s not shining! Bellingham Bay is always beautiful even in a storm, which inspired me to try and make a soap in all the gorgeous greeny-grey blues of a spring rainstorm over the bay. I would call the soap “Stormy Seas” and it would be beautiful!
Of course, even the best laid plans can go astray. Sadly, after about 30 seconds of mixing, this soap started to curdle and seize.
In the picture above, it’s formed a 1″ thick skin that’s almost completely solid! So what’s a soapmaker to do?
Step 1: Don’t panic. Seriously. Take 5 deep breaths. My initial instinct was to try and cram my soap into the mold in a panic, but that won’t work. In a seized soap, you won’t get an even mix of oil and lye and your soap is likely to separate, or have lye pockets in it. Not good!
Step 2: Grab your crockpot. If you don’t have one, you can use your stove like in this Soap Queen Hot Process Hero, but if your soapmaking space doesn’t have a stove (or you don’t have any soap-dedicated stainless steel pots) a crockpot is your best friend. (They’re also a snap to clean!)
Step 3: Pour, scrape and glop your batch into the crockpot and crank up the heat. All the lye and oil is still in the batch, it’s just not mixed properly yet. If it’s quite chunky and hard, break it up with a spatula. Don’t use a whisk; your soap will get stuck inside it!
Step 4: Add some color if you want. I find that liquid colorants work better than powdered colorants. For this batch, I used non-bleeding teal. Stir and chop the color into the soap.
Step 5: Keep stirring as your soap heats up. It will start to get smoother and less chunky. When the soap is a translucent paste, and there are no globs of oil separated out, it’s ready to mold.
Step 6: Glop your soap into a mold. I used our column mold. Whatever mold you use, be sure to frequently bang it on a hard surface to prevent air bubbles.
Step 7: Let it cool! Once your soap is all cooled down, it will technically be ready to use right away. But, there’s still plenty of excess water in the bars and the soap should be cured out for a week or two before using.
Step 8: Enjoy your rescued soap! It may not be what you planned, but you saved all your materials and will have lovely soaps.
I’m still not sure where this batch went wrong. Did I measure something incorrectly? Were my oils too hot? Did I somehow breathe soap gremlins all over this batch? I’ll never know. I’ve remade the same batch without any issue. I’ll be posting the results of the real “Stormy Seas” soap later this week!