Monday, June 10, 2013

Epic Fail

If I was able to share a small victory yesterday, today must be given over to my epic fail.  Failure is not a word that I use often.  Things are all so relative and every experience is valuable in its own way and for more along these lines, please view Free To Be You and Me as soon as possible.

But this, darlings, is what failure looks like.

My very precious and rare jar of potash arrived.

So, that's potash...who would have guessed?
I assembled all my materials and consulted and re-consulted the instructions I found via the interwebs.  Note the big bottle of vinegar.  Potash is very alkaline and, once mixed with the water, it will be extremely corrosive.  The vinegar was on hand to neutralize it should any splash onto bare flesh.  The mere thought of it, right?

You can see that I was all optimistic and prepared for a helpful "how-to" blog post here.
I warmed the water and gently added the potash.  A chemical reaction happened with lots of heat and poisonous vapours.  It was very exciting!  Then it was time to add the fat.  One can use lard or Crisco but I chose olive oil.  You know, bump it up a notch.

Whaa-whaaaa.  Here it is - the moment when it all heads south.  After a consult with the blogless Janine, who (of course) makes soap all the time from both her own goat's milk and lard that she renders herself, I realized I made every mistake.  This seems to be a pattern for me.  I heated the potash solution too high.  I added the fat too quickly and I stirred it too much.  That yellowish stuff should not be there. Yet, I persisted.  I added the salt and hoped upon hope that it would miraculously heal itself.

A day later and the miracle cure did not happen.  I tried to reclaim it following Janine's advice but it never really jelled.  I did get something that seemed vaguely soap-like if you squinted and I attempted to put this into the pan I had ready to be a mold.  And that is when exciting chemical reaction #2 occurred. This one, however, was unplanned and sent me running to my bottle of vinegar.  Whoa.  A healthy, new respect for the alkaline.

I have one more chance to make a fresh batch and then my potash supply and time allotted will be finished (the soap needs to cure for a good, long while).  Since there are no guarantees in life, I did what any quick thinking artist would do - hello, etsy?  Fortunately, there are plenty of people out there who have made all their mistakes and now create beautiful bars of traditional soap for sale.  Just as a back-up, mind you.

To soften the blow, Lucy made delicious cupcakes.

And a neighbor brought us over a sample of each of his jellies and jams.  I made the mistake (or perhaps the clever calculation) of mentioning to him that we had no jelly last year and how it felt criminal to actually pay money for it in a store.  The next day, there he was with a bag of his finest.

It is a balm.  It strengthens one, you know, before reaching for that next jar of potash.

1 comment:

Be the BQE said...

Soap and cupcakes in the same blog post? Yikes.