Bird in Hand Farm

Bird in Hand Farm is an imaginary place.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cate O'Leary's Cow Soap

Farmer Hoggett knew that little ideas that tickled and nagged and refused to go away should never be ignored. For in them lie the seeds of destiny.

Babe (1995)
Photo of Chicago after the fire from:
The idea of Catherine O'Leary's Cow Soap refused to go away.   I know the best way to get one of those nagging ideas out of my brain is to just go do it.  I made it with the Olive Oil, Coconut, and Lard recipe from The Everything Soap Book.  I added 2 spoonfuls of lanolin in honor of the knitters who may use it.  I also added half a cup of ground oats.  Do cows eat oats?  It is scented with a fragance oil named: Grass Stain.  That seemed appropriate.  I was originally planning a rosemary-lavendar-lemongrass combo but I must have used up all the lemon grass and rosemary last season. 
Photo from:
The trick with making milk soaps is to use frozen slushy milk.  Otherwise, the lye heats it up to much and it curdles.  You add the lye a spoonful at a time so that the milk heats and tempers slowly.  I know this and yet for some reason today, I dumped the lye in.  As I stirred, a bright yellow spiral appeared in the lye bowl.  I stirred faster.  It darkened to orange and then a caramel brown.  I stirred more.  The whole bowl turned orange and there appeared to be little white flecks of cottage cheese floating in it.  Crap. 

I should have taken a picture, but at the time I thought I needed to work fast.  I could have started over with a new lye solution.   But, I'm inpatient and I did not want to wait for more milk to freeze; so I dumped it into the oil pot and blasted it with the stick blender.  The blender obliterated and incorporated the curdled milk solids.  It traced fine and I dumped it into the wood mold.  I put a piece of wax paper over it and insulated with 2 dish towels.  40 min later it hit gel stage, and I took the towels off and put it on a rack for it to cool.

I cut it tonight and oil leaked out.  There are little caverns inside the bar.  It overheated in the mold.  I guess I did not catch it soon enough after the gel phase.  I tasted it to make sure it was not lye solution and there was no sting.  It was oil.  Milk soap is prone to this but is stinks.
I considered melting it down and starting over.  I decided instead to cure it.  I will chop it up and use it in a cobblestone batch down the road.

Damn cow. 
Image from:

No comments:

Post a Comment