Tuesday, January 31, 2012
The Great Salt Bar Experiment
Since the day after Christmas, I've been involved in what I think of as "The Great Salt Bar Experiment". I don't know if you've ever heard of salt bars, or salt soap, but I've been intrigued by them for years. I started off with a pretty basic recipe, just coconut oil, sea salt, and lye. I did the first attempt with 15% superfat, and hot processed the soap with a full 40% water usage. I added the salt (equal to the weight of coconut oil) after cooking the soap. Interesting, and very nice results! I expected it to either be greasy from the extra oils, or drying, because coconut + salt. What a surprise for me! I unmolded & sliced that first batch after just an hour in the mold, when it was cool enough to handle. It was already very, very hard, and crumbled a bit. The lather wasn't the normal bubbles - more of a creamy foam. It left my skin very soft, but not greasy. After the first use, the bar was very smooth, and rock like. When I used it a second time, I was about to be disappointed, no lather! But then it suddenly burst into foam, yay! I tweaked my formula, adding castor oil, rice bran oil, and cocoa butter, and made several loaves, some hot process and some cold process, and a couple of CPOP. While the soap itself is the same regardless of the process, my favorites were the cold process soaps - they looked the prettiest, but did have to go through four weeks of cure time.
I also tried these out as a shampoo bar - with the high coconut content, I thought they might be a winner on hair. Too much coconut for my hair, which is really fine. After washing with one of the caramel bars, I could tell immediately it was a fail for me, a little oily. So, I lathered up with one of my normal shampoo bars (lemon rosemary), and rinsed. OMG - it felt like I had used a conditioner, even though I hadn't even spritzed with vinegar, very soft, no frizz :) Kind of a weird thing, to use conditioner before shampoo, but it works! I've made more of these since the initial experiments, so there will be more variety in the shop in the coming month(s), but the first ten varieties are ready and available now. On the curing rack, I have blueberry, mango and bay rum that will be ready after Valentine's, and will be adding new scents throughout the Spring.