Oh, and soap! But I'm in a bit of a rush at the moment...City Boy needs my help getting the car into town; something about a new muffler today. So once again I leave you...but I shall return! (Mostly because I want to check to see how many of you come and read you barn comments! Keep 'em coming!!!)
City Boy's car is now getting an updated muffler...and I'm back in blogland where I can unviel the soap! So, you recall how the soap looked in the mold, just before we covered and insulated it? Pretty gold in color, eh? Well....
Look at it now! I sprinkled glitter over the top just before insulating it, which is the shiny bits you're seeing. You'll also notice that there's a bit of white; this is because the color wasn't stirred completely into the raw soap, but left with a bit of a swirl.
The method of soaping I use is called Cold Process; it takes a day or two for the lye to settle and become completely neutralized (occassionally, a batch that's been mis-measured can take a bit longer.) There is always a bit of excess moisture that will evaporate out of a batch of soap, which will shrink it but also make it harder and create a longer lasting bar. But typically, if the lye has neutralized, the soap is safe to use; it will just melt away quicker in the shower. I tend to slice my soap the same day it comes out of the mold; some people wait another day, but it often depends on how hard the soap is.
How do we know if the lye is neutralized? Well, you could take the cowards way out and use a pH strip. Or, you can grab one of your kids and have them perform the tongue test. Perhaps your most gullable. If you can't get them to do it (because you've used them for this task before, and they're gun shy), then a different child. They may turn you down, though, because they've seen the gullable child's reaction to lye heavy soap. Find your City Boy and ask him to demo for a photo. If this fails (because he's laughing too hard over the memory of the gullable child attempting to eat a bar of soap that looked remarkably like a brownie), you'll be forced to do the tongue test yourself.
You can either stick your tongue directly to the soap, as pictured, or just wipe a wet finger across the bar, then touch it to your tongue. If you feel a zap or tingle, your soap may have a little lye that hasn't quite fully saponified (in other words, it hasn't completely neutralized yet.) However, this should not be considered lye heavy. Lye heavy leaves no doubts; think of a tongue on a battery, or electric fence...the shock will send you reeling backwards. I highly recommend doing the tongue test with a big, comfy chair behind you to break the fall :)
All that's left to do is package up your soap!