Archive for November, 2009

Fall colors in Mexico

Fall color in Mexico


Unbelievable quality of picture with my canon rebel

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DumDum handmade soap

Dumdum handmade soap

dumdum handmade soap

My sites to calculate

Soap Calc :


My husband came back with the request of creating a soap that effoliate his beautiful skin without scratching it so here is my creation, a private collection for sure :

Fragrance oil : patchouli, sandalwood

Cumin seeds

Canola, linseed and corn oil

Hard oil : peggy fat

20 oz recipe in the small wood mold

Hardness 42, Liquid 5oz and lye at 5%

Process used : CPOP, dodo baby dodo overnight!

That soap traced so fast, I could not do some colors with mica.  I had to spoon the remaining of the colored soap on top, no pouring here.  200F for one hour, oven off and dodo covered with a blanket in the oven, overnight.

It is already a beautiful and hard soap.  The smell is so manly.

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Un gâteau francais-chocolat on the edge

chocolat on the edge

Ok, I am done in reading  ‘Mastering the art of french cooking’ by Julia Child.

I have kept two recipes on the side, to make them at my out most leisure time and one of the two is ‘un gâteau francais’.

Oh but what a cake.  I have know that to make a true gâteau francais, I don’t have to use leveling agent but rather the whites of eggs do the job of getting the cake up!

And just that my friend, in my mind takes a whole day to make a cake like that so today, it was the day to make it.

Well, to my grande surprise, it took 20 minutes to make the cake, 35 minutes to bake it and voilà, here is mon gâteau!

What a cake, so light and wonderful to the touch and the taste!!!! Like a feather in the sky, a very nice cake and so easy to make.

gateau francais

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Just a collection of pictures taken last Saturday night, on our way around el centro Querétaro, always full of activities and people!

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Handmade soaping 101

Pink Petitcoat

The difference between commercial soap making and handmade soap is that extra fat is used and the glycerin is not removed. Though it might give the skin a greaser feel after bathing, handmade soap is generally better for conditioning the skin.

Handmade soaps go through a similar, though more organic, process as commercial soaps. “Soapers” (as handmade soap makers are called) use on the average six ounces of water for every 16 ounces of fat. After they add the lye and it neutralizes, the soap mixture thickens and changes color. It is then poured into molds – usually wood, plastic or other molds in various shapes – to harden for 24-36 hours.

Soapers cut the hardened soap from the molds and place it on drying racks for four to six weeks to “cure,” meaning excess water is allowed to evaporate. The hardness, lathering capacity and transparency of the final product will depend on what kind of fats and what kind of alkali (or catalyst like lye) is used in the purification process of soap making.  Also the time frame will depend of which method is used to make the soap.  Soapmakers have developed different ways to speed up the process, like using the crock pot, the oven, the top of the stove and even the sun outside, to dry faster the water inside the soap to have it ready for the market sooner.  Still, a good soap is better if left to rest for a few weeks, just like a good cheese!

dumdum handmade soap, private collection

The animal fat used in most soap is tallow (beef fat). Some soaps use lard (pork fat) like me and by combining an animal fat with an alkali salt, like sodium hydroxide, you get soap.  Today, most of the fat coming for the animal has been through away because there is no market for it.  The fashion is to eat lean and people are getting fatter!  So, by using the fat coming from the already processed meat of the animal (we just need to eat), we make soap.

So far, my own experience here, my best quality of soaps are made with animal fats.  My soap often lasts about twice as long as conventional bars and is extremely moisturizer and soothing to the skin.

I prefer to use the fat coming from the pig, simply because it is already available in the food markets around me.  Pork fat ensures a thick and lasting foam, the soap is soft and soluble.

Mexicans people use every single part of their animals and pigs are a big market of meat around here.  There are also a good quality of fat coming from the chickens but I have yet to experiment with it.

In the current international environmentally friendly movement, soaps made from vegetable fats like olive oil are gaining popularity.  A trend again that will pass…

To date : this soap is by far the best one I have made over the 3 years experience I got so far : Bum Bandit.

bum bandit handmade soap

I had 9 bars of this one and little by little they all moved away from my inventory.  You see, for most of my soaps, it is all given away to people stopping by and smelling my house full of those little wonders of mine.  But this Bum Bandit got them all by the nose…  And like anything else that is so good, I cannot reproduce this soap because it was a rebatched soap, meaning that a full container of left over handmade scraps of soap was used to make this one.  To the melted process, I added cardamom spice and few dark mica colors and finished it up with a fragrance oil of pumpkin.

This Bum Bandit soap is so hard, it is unbelievable.  It will last 2 weeks in the shower, counting 4 showers per day.  It was left as a ugly looking soap, very dark in appearance and today, it is even darker now.

What makes this one stands up more than all the others?  The strong smell of it, the hardness of this piece, the feeling of yet softness of the fat used to create it, the colors, the respect I get when I have it in my hand.  When this soap is wet, the amount of bubble coming out is endless to the hand.  It leaves the skin of the face with a freshness that only expensive creams can compete with it.  It does not stain the towels, does not stain the skin and stay very hard even when wet.  This Bum Bandit is part of special brand by itself.  And you what?  All the left overs used here for this soap were coming from ‘lard’ recipe, yap, pork fat.  There is a difference using Lard versus Veggie grease.

What a soap!

Now this is a calcul done with MMS lye calculator on-line.  This is a recipe I use when I use those oils and fats.  My lye is always calculated at 5% and I use the minimum of water they recommend and never use their maximum, my choice.  But over the years, I came to the conclusion that even a small .00 something can change the whole recipe.  The use of a good kitchen scale (digital even better) is very important here.  I lost some batches just because I had .06 of too much lye in my soap and it took forever to lose the lye after the process was done.  When the lye stays alive in a soap, just throw it away and begin again.  Lye burns the skin and you don’t want to play with fire here.

Fats & Oils

Fat Amount
(oz wt)
% in
Canola Oil 6.95 17.14
Corn Oil 10 24.66
Soybean Oil 3 7.40
Lard 20.60 50.80
Total Weight 40.55

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Soriana handmade soap with pig fat

Soriana handmade soap

Liquid Oils : soya, linseed, canola, corn

Solid oils : pig fats (at 50.8%)

Water : solo 10oz

Lye : 5.29oz

Paprika for the orange color, cardamom for the spice

Fragrance : orange and vanille

HPS at 225F

Fragrance oil :

The name of Soriana because I had found the lard there, the purest to date that I could get my hand on around here.

I have also decided to use the minimum of water required here to see how the soap would beheave in the HPS.  Usually we would use the maximum of water, to preven the soap to burn.

Soriana handmade soap

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Hands up!

*This soap was made November 24, 2008, one year ago :

 Fragrance oil : pure patchouli
Rosemary leaves, dried
1/3 water, 2/3 milk
20oz recipe, wood mold

hardness 36
Cleansing 19
Condition 59
Bubbly 42
Creamy 40
Iodine 61
INS 153

I am trying with this one, to replace 2/3 of the liquid for milk. So the way to do this : take the total of liquid and divide in 3 – parts. Mix one part of the liquid (here plain water) to the lye. Mix 2/3 of the liquid (here milk) to the oil, warming it a bit to let the lard to melt by itself. Then, add the lye mixture to the oils. By doing it that way, I don’t have to freeze up the milk. I just use the milk directly from the fridge.
Using milk in soapmaking should produce a nice creamier bar (a darker one to be expected here as the milk will turn it). I can tell right now, this one smells like heaven, all over the house and on the balcony. Must be the Patchouli… making its way to Peace Land!

Update : I ran into a bit of a problem with this one, this morning when I got it out of the oven. The soap had a thin layer of crusty oil on top. And I could smell lye in th oven. My mistake was yesterday : the oven temperature was at 350F for baking and I turned it down for the soap baking (200F) but I did not wait long enough and the soap overheated.

Because in my mind no soap is lost unless it is burned to the ground, I rebatched the whole thing this morning, resulting in this one. White shredded soap was added to it. Now, I am not out of the wood yet, as the tongue test is positive and there is still lye in this soap. I will let it cure for a while before using it. There is always a way to salvage, always a way…

Update one year later : November 21, 2009

This soap is extraordinary, in color, in hardness and it smell.  It got even darker wth those months.  It still surprised me how a handmade soap is aging, just like a good wine!

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