Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Rendering Tallow for Soapmaking

Sometimes instead of using the usual palm oil as my major base oil in my soap, I will use beef tallow. Tallow makes a great addition to my soap, makes it nice and hard, and gentle on the skin, too.

It is also more cost effective than some of the other oils. I buy my beef suet for about 10 cents a pound from a local butcher and render my tallow myself. It's an easy process...I set aside an afternoon every couple of months or so, and render up a batch of beef tallow.

So, follow along, and I'll  show you how it's done.

Right here you see 10 pounds of beef suet in the pot after I chopped it up into little pieces. (Phew! What a job!) Do what I do now, and have the butcher grind it up for you when you order it.

Here is all that suet now in my big old canning pot, because 10 pounds of beef suet is a LOT of beef suet, and it just wouldn't fit in that other pot. Add enough water to cover the suet, and 1 tablespoon of salt per pound of suet. Then fire up the heat!

Here it is, bubbling merrily away! It doesn't smell like a meat loaf in the oven, but it can be kind of stinky, so put the fan on over the stove or open the windows if it's nice outside. Let it boil until all you see are bits of gristle and meat floating around in the liquid. 

Alrighty then, it's time to strain out all that crap! The picture doesn't show this, but I lay an old tea towel in a colander over a bowl to catch the liquid. I then pour it a second time through a clean old gauze diaper or layers of cheesecloth. This gives you a whiter, cleaner tallow. 

This what it looks like after being strained. Let it cool to room temperature, then put it in the refrigerator to harden. The clean tallow will rise to the top, and the impurities will sink to the bottom. 

Here it is, after sitting in the fridge overnight. Now to get that tallow out of the pot!

This was one stubborn batch to get out of the pot. I had to cut it in quarters to pry it out with a knife.

Once you get it out of the pot, rinse off or scrape any debris on the underside of the tallow. If you are still seeing little specks of meat in the tallow, melt it down again, and let it harden. Any remaining specks can then be easily scraped off. 

And that's all there is to it!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Vanilla in Fragrance Oils

Back when I was a newbie soapmaker, I made a batch of Nag Champa cold process soap. I added titanium oxide to make it nice and white. My soap smelled marvelous, but I was horrified when it turned dark. I thought I had done something wrong. I didn't know at that time that if a fragrance oil has vanilla in it, the soap that it's in will eventually turn brown.

Soap turning brown isn't necessarily a bad thing. With a little preplanning, you can turn soap turning brown into a design advantage. I can make my soap two tone just by adding a fragrance containing vanilla to part of a batch to turn it dark, and omit the fragrance (or add fragrance that doesn't have vanilla in it) from the rest of the batch to color or leave natural.

The following pictures show a slice of soap right after cutting where I used the fragrance oil containing vanilla in only of the batch and colored the rest. the second photo shows the same slice of soap after sitting for 1 week. Big difference, isn't it? And kind of a neat look.

But, you might wonder, how do I know whether my fragrance oil has vanilla as an ingredient? Some vendors, such as Wholesale Supplies Plus, will actually indicate in their overview for a particular fragrance, whether there is vanilla in it and what percentage. Often, a vendor will mention in the description if the soap will turn brown. Or you can contact your fragrance vendor, most are happy to tell you whether or not your fragrance oil has vanilla in it.

In closing, if you don't want your soap to turn brown, do your homework and find out before you make your batch to avoid an unpleasant surprise.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bringing the world together through music...

My musician boyfriend Ron turned me onto a cool website called Playing For Change. A group of musicians worldwide came up with the idea to have one person start a song, then pass it on to to other musicians around the world to build on it. The final results were astounding to say the least. Check it out!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Could it be...Internet soap?

I've been a soapmaking maniac for the last 2 years, and pretty darned soon, since my handmade soap has been selling so well locally, I will soon be launching my new website for my Little Hippie Girl Soap Company. Here's a stack of my soap...