Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Complexity of Oatmeal and Honey

Having a number of batches of soap under my belt (well, actually curing in my office), I decided to try an oatmeal and honey soap.  This variety is an old standby, and for good reason.  Since one of my kidlets has very sensitive skin and eczema, the thought of turning my hobby into a useful solution that benefits my family was really appealing.  I used this recipe as a guideline, but changed the types and amounts of oils to make my own version.  With colloidal oatmeal, organic honey, and homemade almond milk, it's almost good enough to eat!  Well, if it didn't have extremely caustic lye in it.

First, I had to make the almond milk to use for part of the liquid in the recipe.  I'm a huge fan of almond milk (especially in my morning coffee), but I've never actually made it myself.  Most of the methods I've seen for making almond milk involve soaking almonds overnight, which I have zero patience for.  I thank my lucky stars for Google every day, because a quick web search revealed that you can speed up this process by soaking the almonds in very hot water for an hour or less.  It worked like a charm!

Quick soaking the almonds in hot water made the skins come right off.
I then blended the skinned almonds with filtered water (three parts water to one part skinned almonds) and strained out the chunks.  Apparently the leftover meal can be dried and used for baking, which would be handy if you're doing a paleo or gluten-free diet.

Squeezing the almond milk was kind of fun.

I measured out the organic honey and diluted it in a little bit of filtered water so that it would be easier to stir into the soap.  The next step was to grind up some oats in my coffee grinder.  Grinding up oats into an almost flour-like texture makes it into colloidal oatmeal.  Who knew?  So the next time you see an expensive beauty product that boasts colloidal oatmeal as an ingredient, just know that it's just run of the mill (ha ha, see what I did there?) breakfast oats, but ground up.

Who knew that breakfast could be so good for your skin?
I proceeded with my recipe, poured my soap into the mold, wrapped it for insulation, and waited. And waited.  Okay, I really didn't wait that long, but it felt like a really long time.  After a few hours I peeked in on my soap to find my soap in a really intense gel stage (that means HOT!).


I nervously checked on it every few hours, hoping that the soap would fully gel.  The natural sugars in the honey and almond milk cause the natural chemical reaction to be pretty intense, and that extra generated heat can sometimes lead to disastrous situations (like the ominous soap volcano, which I haven't had the pleasure of experiencing yet).

Luckily, the next morning the soap was a lovely, even texture.  I used my new wavy soap cutter to trim the individual bars, which are now curing nicely in my office.

The finished product.
This batch was intense, not only because of the many steps involved, but also the apprehension that I had miscalculated the more scientific aspects of the recipe.  This soap is a little softer than the others I've made so far, so it might need to cure a little longer (maybe 6 weeks or so).  On to the next recipe!