Remember how I said a while ago that I knew someone with bee hives and I wanted to have one, but it turned out our backyard wasn’t suitable?
Well, she kindly gave me some beeswax to make soap with, so I googled to find this beeswax and honey soap. I used the basic soap recipe on the link, adding 2 tablespoons of honey. I think it was double the amount that was in the recipe but who cares?
It reached trace quite quickly, then when I added the honey the sugars in the honey were warmed by the lye/caustic soda and the soap mix turned a beautiful orangey colour, as you can see on the above photo of my stick blender. It was quite spectacular to watch the plain white mix turn orange. I knew that the sugars would keep cooking away within the soap as the mix gradually cooled, so I was curious to see just what colour it would end up.
It has a smell of honey and it looks just like creamy blocks of caramel. I swear, if I didn’t know this would taste terrible I’d have a big bite by now. (Must warn the kids…)
The texture is smooth and solid-feeling to cut through. I let it saponify for 18 hours before cutting it, as the recipe said something about the addition of the beeswax making it a harder soap to cut. At this stage I’m absurdly happy with it and if it’s nice to wash with I’ll definitely be making it again.
And just to prove that not everything goes easily and to plan in this new soap making world of mine:
On Friday night I decided to try Rhonda’s soap recipe that uses rice bran oil. People have been raving about how lovely and how easy it is, so I thought I’d whip up a batch before bedtime with my awesome Soap Making Skillz. After all, what could possibly go wrong?
*I’m making it plain here that there is nothing wrong with this recipe. I’m just an idiot, that’s all.*
It all went well until I started mixing it to trace. It immediately starting coming together in lumps instead of in a smooth custard-like consistency like the other soaps I’ve made. I stopped mixing by electricity and began mixing the stick beater through the soap by hand. Then the mix started looking as if the oils and lye were separating again, so I flicked the switch and mixed it like a madwoman. Then it went into lumps again. I was taken aback by this and almost certainly mixed it a bit too long, so instead of pouring it into the moulds I glopped it in. I was a little dubious about whether this batch was a success, but then I decided to throw my cap over the windmill and go for it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained! Live hard, die pretty! Get this done and get to bed by 10 o’clock!!
Yes, that last one doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it?
In the morning I unveiled it and there was some oil on the outside. I panicked and started a “Help!” thread on the down to earth forum, then decided to man up and rebatch (remelt and try again) if I needed to. I took it out of the moulds and cut it into bars, then left it with newspaper underneath in case the oil dripped on my bench and was still a bit caustic. (It didn’t. It wasn’t. I think I took it out of the moulds a few hours too soon.)
After a few hours, it all seemed to settle down. There’s one slight aesthetic problem though…. because of the thickness of the mixture when I plonked it in the moulds, there’s a slightly…. um…. rustic effect to these bars:
Ah well! Live and learn!