I have now completed my first batch of soap. It was an arduous experience, in which I felt like a witch presiding over some insidious brew and a chemist, complete with goggles and gloves. I followed some basic advice for making milk soaps, that is to stir the lye into milk which is frozen until slushy and resting in an ice bath. This helps to keep the temperature from rising enough to scald the milk, or curdle it, or some such catastrophe. My sources were mixed on exactly what would be the dreaded outcome. Does coconut milk even curdle? Hmmmm....
I had to stir it for an hour and twenty minutes. No joke, and my hair kept getting fuzzier and curlier the longer I stirred, my face redder, my arms and shoulders sorer. I understand getting a stick blender makes it significantly faster, but I am currently trying to limit my initial start up costs, as per a stern dictate from my husband. Eventually, my soap mixture reached trace, which is when it's thick enough for a dribble trailed over the surface to remain visible. It was a lovely pumpkin pie color, which left me thinking I should have added some cloves or something to make it smell spicy. However, I was soon to find out that as it set in the mold it changed colors to a creamy ivory color, with little brown flecks. I think it's rather pretty. I let it set in the mold for two days, and this morning cut it up into smaller bars, some four ounce and some two ounce, to distribute amongst my testers (namely, my family). It was very odd, having the superficial look and feel of regular soap but the texture of homemade fudge. Now it has to cure for several weeks, and I'm quite impatient to try it. However I will wait, as I don't want to burn my skin off with caustic, premature soap. Here are some pictures!
pumpkin pie colored
faded to a creamy color
all sliced and ready to cure