I have been making pumpkin soaps with fresh goat’s milk and real pumpkin puree for many years now. Usually they are plain brown with mica stamped pumpkins on the front. This year I was going to try something new and different. I made a three-layer soap with fresh goat’s milk and fragrance in all three layers, and added pumpkin to the top and bottom layers. I also added some brown mica to the bottom layer and a bronze mica line between the bottom and second layers, and added some orange mica to the top layer. The next day I planned to cut the soap, and found an oil slick on top of the soap. I decided to let it air out for another day to see if the oil would absorb back into the soap. It didn’t. So I wiped it off with a paper towel:
I took the soap out of the mold and cut into the top layer to see what was inside, and it wasn’t pretty:
My theory at this point was that the soap in the top layer had started to heat up and saponify in the pot before I poured it into the mold. By stirring it up, I interrupted the process and it started to separate. It had started to go into “hot process mode” but because I didn’t continue to heat and stir the soap, it got stuck in the separation phase. I don’t know the technical terms for the chemical process at this point, but it’s what you might call “applesauce stage” with hot process soap.
My solution to this problem was to scrape off the top layer and chunk it up in the crock pot with the hopes that I could spread it back over the top and salvage the soap. This was not a small batch, so there was no way I could put the entire thing in my crock pot, nor did I want to disturb the first two layers which appeared to be so perfect underneath!
The fresh soap melted down easily without adding anything to it. In fact, I started the crock pot on high for a short time, then switched it to low and stirred every hour or so until it was completely melted. I re-lined my soap mold, put the first two layers of soap inside, then spread the top layer back on.
The next day I was excited to see how my “salvaged” soap turned out. I lifted the soap into the cutter, and what do you know – the hot-processed layer separated from the rest of the log!
So I did what I had to do. I took the top layer off and cut it into mini soap bars to donate to a local ministry that helps refugees in Kansas City.
Once I decided to cut up the rest of the soap and re-batch it, I discovered that the bottom layer didn’t hold together so well either. I had to melt it down in several batches in my crock pot.
What did I end up with? Plain brown soap with mica stamped pumpkins on the front.
So why did the soap separate this year when it hadn’t in past years? My theory is that I used too much pumpkin. I used nearly the same amount of pumpkin in just two-thirds of the soap that I used in a full batch in previous years. It could also be the temperature of the pumpkin. In the bottom layer, the pumpkin puree was actually pretty cold out of the refrigerator. As I was pouring it into the soap, I realized that might not have been a great idea. So for the top layer (the one that separated a lot), I warmed it up before adding it to the soap. Obviously, the soap was already starting to heat up before I added the pumpkin – probably due to the goat’s milk. Normally, I would mix everything up and pour it all it once before it got too hot. With this soap, I was adding fragrance to each layer and waiting for them to set up before adding the next. Quite a bit of time had passed by the time I added the top layer, and the outside of the container felt pretty hot when I finally poured it.
Oh well. The rustic look isn’t so bad. Just wish I didn’t have to go through all the trouble to get there!