If life throws you the (protective) gauntlet….

If life throws you the (protective) gauntlet….

pick it up and make some soap!

Soap Challenge Club meets Superbini…

Once upon a time, our budding soapmaking talent came across a club in the depth of the world wide web. Even not being the typical club(wo)man, she decided to join.

Intrigued by beautiful pictures on the web, encouraging words of fellow soapmakers and the tempting prospect of meeting other like-minded people from all over the world. “Not feeling competitive? Join for the camaraderie!” were the words which finally tipped the scales.

When she found out that the three-months subscription was more favorable than the “Oh, I will try once and see if I have fun”- version, she went for the June to August-membership. Penny pinching and soapmaking normally do not go well along together, but hey! – life is short. There are no pockets in a shroud, and, as we know, keeping your body clean with soap maintains a good health. Win-win-win situation.

The Soap Challenge Club has different topics each month

. For the June challenge, it’s called the “one pot wonder”. Some of you might have heard of the “one pot pasta”. Pasta and salsa and other stuff are not cooked separately as usual, but you throw all ingredients in one pot and boil it until the pasta is al dente and the liquid has been soaked up by it.

picture courtesy of Soap Challenge Club

The Soap Challenge Club’s one pot wonder soap works slightly differently. First of all, we do not cook soap. Well, yes, there is a way of making soap called “hot process”. This is indeed kind of cooking soap, but in our case, we stick to the cold process method.

Oils and lye and perfume and colourants are mixed together, poured in a mould and let to rest until the whole mixture has saponified silently and turned into a solid bar of soap.

First step is to decide what kind of soap recipe to choose.

Depending on the technique, it may require to stay more liquid or to get solid easily. I did not want to risk anything and opted for a recipe I had used before and I knew would stay fluid quite a long time. It is called “Seidenglatt” which means “smooth as silk” and it is from Claudia Pazdernik, who runs a beautiful blog with even more beautiful soaps on it.

This is a snapshot from my working environment. You can see containers of lye and melted oils in the background, and obviously I was in the process of weighing out my colours .

Schwarz – gold -rot

I wanted to create one soap with strong colours, and as it was June 17th when I made the first batch, I chose the colours of the German flag – black, red and gold. The elder among us might remember that before Western and Eastern German reunited again, the 17th of June was a German national holiday .

The other batch was supposed to be with pastel shades. I chose violet, pink, white and “just add glitter” to the four portions of batter.

The one pot wonder soap’s layers are achieved by pouring all the differently coloured soap batters in one pot and then pour the whole lot along the sides of a log mould.

I had currently participated in a “swap your surplus soaping accessories” in a German speaking soapmaking internet forum. One of the ladies there had offered a silicone mould which would qualify as “tall and skinny” . Tall and skinny describes a mould which is higher than its diameter. This kind of mould would be perfect for the Soap Challenge.

And it always reminds me of the fabulous Lisa Cunningham from “I dream in soap” – in order to see why, have a look at her bee soap video – the crucial part begins at 0:19. Lisa’s tutorials were some of the first I devoured on youtube (there are lot of other great videos, too, but as you might or might not know, I am totally fond of British English, that’s why I love listening to her so much).

So here I was, with my tall and skinny, 1.4 litre soap mould.

Because I wanted to make several batches with different colourings, I kind of blocked it in the middle with a piece of cardboard packaging material from IKEA and reduced the volume.

(Un)fortunately I am no octopus, and therefore there is no picture or even video of me pouring the mix in the mould. But there are a lot of pictures of the final results of the whole thing:

Once the loaf of soap has saponi- and solidified, it is unmoulded

and can be cut in slices. I use a soap wire cutter from a German company called Lumbinigarden . Actually, these loaves were the first ones I cut with my soap cutter – whohoo… Champagne!!!

I chose a width of 2,5 cm for each slice of soap. That gives a reasonably sized bar which is still good to handle. No need for too tiny pieces of soap which would only drop and clog the drain. Or too big ones which must be held with two hands or a crane.

I let them dry for a few days before unsuccesfully trying to plane the sides and bevel the edges. But I still think they are quite lovely – and, which is more important – they are made with love and handmade by me!

And they even have kind of a face – or am I (as usual) the only one seeing faces in her soap?

I have no idea if any of my soaps will win a prize. But I loved experiencing with the colours, the scents and the technique.

The German soap is scented with Gin & Tonic from Gracefruit, by the way. For the pastel one I have created a mix of nutmeg, ylang-ylang and lavender essential oils.

Update – June 29th, 00:32 local time Smallville…

I decided to do a third batch, and used a different recipe this time. It contains 25% each of coconut, safflower, apricot kernel oil and shea butter. In order to avoid the batter to trace too fast, I only used a whisk for blending it all with the lye. And whisked. And whisked.. I know how Popeye got his muscles!!!

It spent a night in the oven (we had what the weather people call “tropical nights” – means, the temperature does not sink below 23° C) and still came out soft the next morning. I let it rest 24 hrs and unmoulded. Still felt soft. I used words which had prompted my late granny to wash my mouth with that soaft soap and put it back into the oven. After some more hours in the freezer I could cut it without crumbling.

I got soda ash on the top and sides, so I decided to plane that off. Which was, at least I do think so, a good idea as now the wavy structure of the intertwining colours are better visible.

The rules of the Soap Challenge Club say that we have to submit our competition soap until Monday noon (I haven’t found out which time zone CDT is…), and then the poll starts. So to make sure I do not miss the deadline, I submitted my isobaric chart soap half an hour ago!

The winners will be announced on July 4th. Which is pretty cool, as it might seem that the USA will celebrate the winner of the Soap Challenge Club!!!

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