Rule number one of making soap is to wear all your safety equipment (long sleeves, gloves and goggles, at the minimum). Rule number two is to make sure you have all your ingredients. Rule number three (which is really the number one rule of soaping) is to always add your lye to your water, never water to lye. (I don’t know what happen, but the term ‘violent chemical reaction’ is enough for for me).
Want to know which rule I broke? We’ll get there in a minute.
First, a note about making soap with cider (or beer). You don’t want to use fresh beer. Carbonation bubbles = lye bubbles = soap volcano = not good. There are two ways to get rid of the carbonation. Either let your beer sit for a day or two until it is absolutely, positively flat or (my preferred method), boil it for about fifteen minutes, and keep a good eye on it when you do. It will foam up quite a bit, multiple times while it’s boiling. If you choose this method, make sure you boil more cider than you need, as quite a bit will boil off. I poured in two 12 ounce bottles and ended up a little more than half that, for my two pound batch.
Just in case anything went wrong, I added my lye in the sink in an ice bath. You can see the lye and cider turned a gorgeous red color, at least temporarily.
Once my cider-lye solution had cooled down considerably, I added it to my oils, stirred to trace, and split it up, coloring a part of it with red oxide, with the intention of doing swirled soap in my PVC mold, which holds almost exactly two pounds.
Yet, when I poured in the soap, there was a gap of a few inches between the top of the soap and the top of the mold. I looked back over my recipe and realized I had entirely forgotten my palm oil, which was nearly 20% of my recipe. I had not even measured it out in the first place! In a panic, I dumped my already-solidifying soap from the mold into my crockpot, turned it on warm, in hopes it would keep the soap thin enough to be workable, and I ran to measure out my missing oil. (Okay, admittedly, I had my husband run to measure out the missing oil, melt it for me and add it to the pot, because our tiny kitchen was getting overcrowded with dirty soaping dishes and I was starting to panic about what mold I would pour it into and where I’d put my spatula, etc.)
Anyway, he got the palm oil in the pot while I went and found a wooden box mold which was, thankfully, already lined (a good reason to pre-line your molds, even if you have no intention of soaping anytime soon). I made sure the palm oil was as well stirred as possible, since it was already at a thick trace and glopped the now pinkish-orange mass (bye-bye pretty swirls) into my loaf mold.
I then spent the next twenty-four hours wondering if I had saved my soap or if I would have to rebatch the whole damn thing anyway.
Not the best picture but, much to my surprise, the soap came out alright. I zap-tested every single bar I cut to make sure there was no lye heaviness. The color actually turned out a creamy terra-cotta and the applejack scent I used compliments the color of the soap perfectly. I’m looking forward to testing it out and seeing if I love hard cider soap as much as I love hard cider.
And you can bet I always double-check my oils now.