Thursday, March 7, 2013

Rebatching adventures

One of my recent batches of gardeners soap was not quite right.  The bars came out about 10% smaller than earlier batches (of the same soap recipe).  They were shorter in stature than anything else in my range and it was bugging me.  I like my customers to get a consistent product when they buy my soap.  I thought a good way to salvage them would be to rebatch them.

So, y
esterday I did just that.  What messy, squishy fun!  Rebatching is often done as a rescue mission to botched batches of soap  - the soap maker might have forgotten an ingredient, or their water/lye/oils ratio in their recipe might have been wrong.  Or, it can be done on purpose from the outset by some soapers in a technique called Hot Process Soaping.
I'll walk you through what I did so you can see how I ended up with that rustic, handsome bar in the first photo.

First the soap needs to be either chopped up or grated as finely as possible.  19 bars, and a few odds and ends and this is what I ended up with.
I decided to add extra exfoliants to make a super scrubby soap for dirty hands.  Think gardeners, bakers, mechanics.  The yellow powder is organic orange peel powder, and it has the most lovely aroma.  I also added ground walnut shell for extra scrubbiness.

A few spritzes of water to moisten the soap so that it can mix together more easily.
Everything in the bag and as well combined as possible.
Double-bagged to keep the simmering water in the pot from seeping into the bag of soap.
Once the soap starts to melt its important to move it around in the bag by squishing it together so that it melts evenly.  This ended up causing a tiny hole in my outer bag so I threw a third bag over the top just in case.
This bag of soapy sludge is what I was aiming for, believe it or not!  You can see that the bag burst in my last soap-kneading effort so it was time to cut my losses and get that soap into the mould as fast as I could.

As you can see, the soap was extremely thick, like dry mashed potatoes.  So different from cold process soap!  It started to set up as soon as it was off the heat, so I had to work really quickly to get it all into the mould.
It was never going to win any beauty contests  :)
The finished product.  The tops are a little rough, but the soap inside looks wonderful.  Smooth and soft, with lots of scrubby bits for hard working hands.  They smell great too - the essential oils have an almost aniseed scent to them, and the orange peel powder will hopefully come through when exposed to water.

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