Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cloudy Imperfection

This is my first attempt at a liquid soap, made one week ago. Technically, it's supposed to "sequester" (fancy word for "sit undisturbed") for two weeks, but I'm nothing if not impatient. I've used the stuff and it works well, it feels gentle, makes nice lather and cleans things: hands, dishes and counter tops. I'll give it another week, because that's what you're supposed to do, but I don't think it's going to change much at this point.

Although it's really just an aesthetic issue, home made liquid soap is supposed to be clear. My first batch is definitely on the cloudy side, not transparent at all-- which is fine-- but being a perfectionist I want it to be transparent. I'm assuming it's because I measured something incorrectly in this initial batch. I will admit to putting an extra dollop of coconut oil in, hoping for extra suds. What I got was cloudiness instead. Lesson learned.

So my second batch was measured much more carefully, down to a hundredth of an ounce. I cooked it extra long, tested a small batch for clarity and have my fingers crossed that this batch will be a lovely clear one.

Here it is so far: it looks like some kind of nasty porridge. It will take most of the day to get the paste diluted so that it is a uniform thickness without lumps. Once this stage is reached, I'll bottle it up and sequester it for 2 weeks, fingers crossed that it will turn out as it is supposed to!

Why go to so much trouble, when there are all kinds of different liquid soaps, something for each specific need? Shampoo, dish soap, hand soap, shower gel.... Aside from the fact that I simply enjoy it, the one thing all these liquid forms of soap have is that they are made with synthetic detergents. Homemade liquid soap contains only coconut oil, sunflower oil, water and potassium hydroxide (lye, which is not found in the final product, since it combines with the oils to make soap) I'm so intrigued by this process, it seems like magic to me, but it's really just simple chemistry.

Hopefully the next time I take photos I'll have a proper, clear batch.

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