Finally taking the time to share some of the soap making process. I have always had the habit of trying to be efficient in most everything I do, I really try to minimize waste. During these extraordinary times when we are all trying to make the best of our current situation, I feel even more keen about not being wasteful. Although you may not realize it but a main ingredient that has always been used in making soap is beef tallow (rendered beef fat). Personally I have never used it before as most of my soaps are vegan, however cooking more than usual and making the most of our groceries we recently got a whole 17lb. brisket to cook down leaving me with something to work with. If you've never had a whole brisket before, it's quite large! Prior to cooking it needs a great deal of fat trimming.
After the fat is carefully trimmed, it gets cleaned of any remaining meat to prepare it for rendering.
The fat was rendered at a low heat for about 5 hours leaving a very clean, creamy tallow.
Enough tallow to fill this quart jar, ready to be used in soap, the appearance of the tallow is so clean and pure.
When getting ready to make soap, I like to get all of my ingredients in order methodically, not unlike when you are preparing a meal, especially something like a stir fry with different ingredients prepped in different ways to be added at different points. Like a stir fry, once you have things going, there is no time to waste, everything must be ready because parts of the soapmaking process must happen very quickly.
Tallow has many benefits for the skin including being very gentle, it's moisturizing and has plenty of nutrients. I have made 2 loaves of soap with it so far. One of them is more conditioning and one is more bubbly.
Before I start creating any soap I come up with a color scheme/design, then choose my recipe depending on the design and finally a fragrance plan to tie in. I made a plan for a "fancy tallow" conditioning soap that would have a contemporary look using only brazilian rose Kaolin clay. Using a conditioning recipe with a lot of fluid oils allowed me to create smooth fluid lines with the clay.
The ingredients in the rose clay soap are extra virgin olive oil, beef tallow, coconut oil, rice bran oil, shea butter and avocado oil.
Now I will share the simple "bubbly" recipe I made using only 4 ingredients: Extra Virgin Olive Oil; Beef Tallow; Coconut Oil and Castor oil.
The whiter on the bottom is organic coconut oil and above it the creamy colored is the beef tallow.
The first thing I like to do is prep my lye water so it has time to cool down while I prepare my oils. I measure out my distilled water here then slowly and carefully add lye to the water. In seconds it often reaches a temperature around 190 degrees.
Yup, that's what it looks like, not too exciting however, it is caustic and I am wearing gloves, goggles and keeping the area well ventilated.
The next thing I like to do is to while the lye water is cooling is to weigh out my hard oils (hard oils are oils that are solid at room temperature).
Coconut oil and beef tallow melted down to a liquid.
Weighing out then adding olive oil and castor oil, then in the middle adding them to the melted hard oils.
Being in Los Angeles while we all quarantine we have been able to see the impact on the air here. Wanting to capture that crisp freshness I chose these mica colorants, a beautiful, cool blue and white along with this awesome fragrance that is simple yet complex, makes you feel really good and wanting to keep going back to enjoy the scent.
I blend the colorants with a touch of sweet almond oil and have them ready to mix into the soap as soon as I reach the correct temperatures to mix the lye water with the oils. Ideally I soap when they are within 10 degrees of each other.
Using an infrared thermometer, look at that! I'm going to go for it. Soaping warm today so I keep my hard oils liquid, sometimes I go as cool as room temperature.
Immediately after slowly pouring the lye water into the oils I stick blend some to get an emulsion.
25% of the soap was blended with the white colorant and the remaining 75% with the cool blue.
Ready to pour into a 9" mold
Here I layer blue sky and white clouds and the second to last one shows a grey wire which I dip in and drag through to get some loose swirls. The last photo is just a little top swirl to finish it off.
And there you have it, a bar ready to cure for 4 weeks!