A Brief Digression Into Disaster

Sometimes things go really wrong in the lab.




Oh yeah.




A few days ago, I posted about a soap I’d made using a technique called “tiger stripe.”  I was trying to reproduce some of the colors, scents and the the overall sensory dazzlement of an Indian cultural dance called “Kathakali.”  I posted the picture of the end result:

“Kathakali Dance.”

But I also dropped some hints in that post that my first attempt at this soap was a nearly unmitigated disaster.  It thickened, almost to seizing, at an absolutely lightning rate. I was digging and blopping and slamming things around even to get it into the mold.  I unmolded and cut it and then abandoned it on the cure rack, where I tried to avoid looking at it every time I went into the Lab.

But you know, they’re still your babies.  After four weeks (which is as early as I’ll try a soap in cure), it smells wonderful. It behaves beautifully, lathering and conditioning superbly. But it also, still, and will eternally, look like something scraped off a wet barn after it escaped from a Monsanto lab.

I figured it would only be fair to show you exactly what my first attempt looks like.

Glop, air bubbles, resolidifying oils, weirdly morphing yellow: what didn’t go wrong with this?

Every soapmaker has Those Soaps We Only Use In The House: the “Uglysoaps.”  They might be some of the best-performing soaps you’ll ever use, but if your first instinct is to recoil in fear and protect your children when you see them — well, that’s not such a great marketing feature.  I’m afraid this guy is an Uglysoap, but he’ll have a home (and a use) simply for being such a terrific instructor in the value of trying again.