Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Watermelon Slice Soaps!

Today, I show you how you can make your own Watermelon Slices! Yay!

I love these things.

You'll need a large (or small) rounded rectangle loaf mold, clear glycerin base, opaque glycerin base (find your choice of bases here), Watermelon Fragrance, I like to add just a touch of Strawberry Fragrance to my formula, your chosen colourants (I use FD & C colourants, however, there are large varieties of colourants available for you to use - some folks don't like the FD & C because they are messy, but I use pipettes that I wash out and reuse and have very little trouble), isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) in a small spray bottle (like this one), and some black sesame seeds.

Also, use some cheapie tupperware-type containers for mixing your scents, etc. You will need three for this project. They should be fairly decent size, you have some room to mix gently. Get a set of something like these in assorted sizes, and dedicate them ONLY for soapmaking. (If you try to use them for cooking after using them for soaping - BLECH! The voice of experience, people!) Alternately, old butter tubs, yogurt containers, etc, is a great way to reuse. Just be sure they are completely clean before starting your project.

First, let's start with the clear base glycerin. You'll need to melt ~1.75 - 2lbs of base to start. Melt it down in your preferred method - I have a soap pot, which I like because once it's melted down, I flick the switch to low and keep the cover on, and then I always have melted base, ready for use. Mine came with a ladle, so, bonus. However, if you're quite careful, you can melt your soap in a reusable tub in the microwave. The trick is not to overheat it - when it overheats, it stinks and doesn't seem to hold the scent as well. I go in short increments, like melting chocolate chips, if I need to use the microwave method.

When throughly melted (stir gently and ensure there are no solid chunks lurking in there), pour into a plastic tub, or, if it's already in a tub, add your colour and fragrance. I need about 2oz of FD & C Red 40 to get it the red I like - go by feel. As someone who does paint matches for a living, my recommendation is ALWAYS to start on the lighter end, then add colourant to the point you are happy with. You can always add colour, but you can't take it away! This, happily, isn't an exact science, and as long as you get it to look reasonably red, who's going to care? ;)

When adding fragrance, I use the same rule of thumb: start slowly, add to your preference. It's going to smell strong right out of the bottle; it will tone down as the soap sets. I like to add about three capfuls of watermelon and a half a cap of strawberry - your measurements will be different, depending on how you measure them out. Now, throw in a very scant handful of those black sesame seeds, and gently stir!

You'll notice at first that the seeds keep floating to the top. Be patient, let your mix cool a little tiny bit. Stir every now and then to keep a skin from forming. You don't want to throw it in the fridge to hurry it up - that skin will form and pull, adding weird chunks to your soap. You just want it to cool slightly - as the soap cools it will thicken up enough to suspend those sesame seeds a little better. Now, we're ready to pour a little into the mold.

A word to the wise: these molds often need some sort of support on either side to keep it from tipping. I tend to prop one end against my bread box and put something heavy, like my bottle of olive oil (though in this picture, I think I was using my cornstarch tin), on the other side to hold it steady as I pour and it sets.

Now, just pour a little in:

Spray that layer with some isopropyl alcohol to get rid of any bubbles or foaminess. Let that layer set up a little bit - it will set up faster than the stuff left in your tub because there's less of it. Keep gently stirring the stuff in your tub to keep a skin from forming. It shouldn't take longer than about five minutes or so, and then give the layer in the mold a spritz with the rubbing alcohol and pour the rest of your mixture in - or until the mold is a little over 3/4 full. What I'm doing with this is attempting to keep all those seeds from floating to the top, making it look more like a natural dispersion of seeds.

I'll grant you this batch, I hurried a bit, and so it didn't work perfectly. It still looked very nice!

If, after reaching the 3/4 mark on the mold, you still have some leftover mix, I like to use smaller molds, like my cute little maneki neko molds, to make guest-sized soaps. Yay, watermelon lucky kitty!

Now, unfortunately, my camera crapped out on me and as I was working fairly quickly with other soaps, I didn't get it back again until the finished product. Bear with me.

Once your red, seeded layer has set up (usually about an hour, hour and a half) - it won't be ready to unmold, and may still feel warm and a little soft to the touch - that's perfect. I like the layer to be not-quite set up when I add the next layer.

Melt about 1/4 pound of opaque base soap. Gently stir, check for lumps, let it cool off about five minutes, stirring occasionally, as always, to avoid it forming a skin. I don't add any colour or fragrance to this layer - there's really no need. Spritz your red layer with rubbing alcohol (this provides adhesion between the layers - don't be shy when using it! Spritz away!), then pour your white base on top of it. When I did this batch, I didn't allow the white base to cool quite enough, and it remelted a bit of the red base - and a few seeds released and made their way to the surface of the white base. Oops. See them here:

Now, your white layer won't take as long to set up as the red layer - there's less of it. About 1/2 hour, 45 minutes, touch it and see how it feels. If it does set up a little more, there's no need to panic. Your next layer should still attach just fine - I just like to have my lower layer a touch softer and springier, as I have less adhesion troubles this way. (If you've seen my neopolitan slices from the previous post, and take a close look at the pink and white layers, you'll see where I left the pink layer to set for too long, and had adhesion issues - the layers just break off.)

Melt a little bit more than 1/4 of CLEAR base now, or however much you think you need by eyeballing how much space you have left in your mold. Melt it, tint it green (I use ~1.5 oz FD & C Blue No. 1, and ~1 oz FD & C Yellow No. 5), add a little more fragrance (you don't need as much this time, as you have much less base to add to - I use about a capful of watermelon and forgo the strawberry altogether at this stage), stir gently to cool, spritz your white layer with rubbing alcohol, then pour on your green "rind" layer. Fill to the top of your mold, being careful not to spill over - no big deal if you do, but you'll have a little trimming to do later! Spritz out the bubbles or foam with your alcohol, and let the whole thing set, undisturbed, for about 24 hours. These are deeper molds, make large soaps, and so need a longer time to set.

Go torment your cats.

Maybe that's just me. Either way, go do something else. Or make more, smaller soaps!

Ah, finally, 24 hours later (my, but that was fast!) - turn your mold upside down and gently press it out to release. If you have trouble with the release, set the entire mold in the freezer for 5 or 10 minutes, and it should release with no trouble.

Hooray! You should now have a lovely loaf of watermelon soap! Cut into slices about an inch thick, and enjoy!

With patience (read: the patience of a SAINT), you can use this layering technique to make Rainbow Soap, as well.

However, I won't promise that it won't kill you.

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