Tag Archives: Lard

Job’s Tears and Calendula Soaps

As much as I enjoy making soaps with fragrance oils and pigments, my first and true love has always been natural, therapeutic soaps. I get really excited discovering and experimenting with new ingredients that may offer any kind of skin benefit.

I have been soaping like crazy since I came back from Taipei two weeks ago. I made mostly fragrance oil-scented soaps, but I managed to make two all-natural ones using some of the ingredients I stuffed my suitcase with.

With so many choices, it was hard to pick which ingredient to use first. I finally settled on calendula, a very popular herb among soap makers, but it was my first time to use it.

Dried Calendula Petals

Dried Calendula Petals

Instead of steeping the petals in oil, I made a concentrated tea and let it steep overnight. Since we don’t have calendula in the Philippines (maybe we do, but I am not aware of it), I didn’t want to throw away the petals.  I wanted to use everything so I separated most of the liquid and proceeded to blitz the remaining calendula with reconstituted goat’s milk powder.  I mixed all the liquid with the blended petals into my oils – coconut, olive, palm, rice bran and cocoa butter – before adding my master-batched 50% lye solution.

To intensify the yellow color, I used 2 parts blood orange e.o. and 1 part litsea cubeba, totalling 4.2% of my oils. Next time I will increase the essential oils to at least 5% because at 4.2%, the scent is barely there. I wanted to add some interest so I tried doing a pencil line for the first time. I really like the effect but I think I was a bit heavy handed with the activated charcoal.

Calendula 2

Calendula and Goat's Milk Soap

Calendula and Goat’s Milk Soap

The second ingredient I decided to use was Job’s Tears powder (coix lacryma jobi). It is also known as Chinese pearl barley, but it has nothing to do with the common pearl barley that most of us are familiar with.  In China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan, it is eaten as a grain or cooked into a drink.  It is also used in traditional Chinese medicine for its cooling and anti-cancer properties, and for its stimulating action on the spleen, kidneys and lungs. Beauty-wise, it is reputed to remove blemishes and make the skin softer. (Click here to read more on the benefits of Job’s Tears)

Job's Tears powder

Job’s Tears powder

Job's Tears in Chinese

Job’s Tears in Chinese

I still have some lard that I carefully rendered with salt and water a few months ago. I plan to just finish what I have and no longer use it in the future. It is just too tedious to make and I don’t think it would appeal to people even though it makes for a gentle and hard bar of soap.

I needed the extra hardness for the facial soap I had in mind, so I incorporated a little bit of lard into my recipe containing coconut, olive, avocado, rice bran, pili and castor oils.  I also added 2% salt and 1.5% sodium lactate, less than what I used for my Charcoal Neem Soap.  For a richer and creamier soap, I used coconut cream, and to keep it all natural, I used essential oils of blood orange, rosemary and tea tree. I mixed the essential oils with Job’s Tears powder along with kaolin clay and turmeric powder to anchor the scent, before adding everything into the soap batter at light trace.

Job's Tears & Coconut Cream

Job's Tears 2

Job's Tears 5

Job’s Tears & Coconut Cream Soap

I love that the soap is completely ash-free and the texture is so smooth and creamy.  I think the powders, partly acting as anchors for the essential oils, worked, because I could smell the blood orange amidst the strong tea tree. I hope the scent stays after cure!

Porky Dog Soap

Lard supposedly makes a good soap for dogs (and humans too).  I was not too crazy about the idea of rendering pork fat, but since there is a pork shop (literally called The Pork Shop) near where I live, it stared at me everyday until I finally gave in.

As soon as I got home, I immediately placed the 1 kilo of freshly ground pork fat in a heavy duty pot, and left it to render on a low flame.  I got busy doing other things and soon forgot about it, only to return to a pot of boiling oil!  Oh no!  This was what I was NOT supposed to do!  It definitely reeked of pork. Too late.  I strained it, let it cool, then chucked it in the fridge to deal with it another day.

So what did I do with a tub of lard?  I have nothing against it – in fact I love pork – but I had no intention of cooking with it, and it looked so innocently white I could not bring myself to throw it out. So back to plan A. Once it became a cold solid mass, the porky smell was actually diminished, or so I wanted to believe.  I also wanted to believe that the saponification process, with some essential oils thrown in, will somehow zap away the porkiness.

I used a milk carton as my mold.  Since my kitchen is warm and the milk box is squat, I insulated, or more like draped, a kitchen towel over it.  This would have been okay, but I let the mold sit directly on my marble countertop.  When I unmolded the soap, the bottom inch was a bit soft and a more solid-looking white than the rest of the soap.  It wasn’t a big problem though, but next time I should take into consideration the temperature of the marble.

Right after cutting the soap, I detected a porky smell amidst the peppermint and eucalyptus.  Maybe it’s just me because I know what’s inside? I’ve been sniffing at it everyday, checking for any hint of porkiness.  It has been two weeks now and I think my soap is safe. Whew!

Dog Soap - Lard

Chewie

Chewie

Lard Dog Soap

  • 638 g.  Lard (58%)
  • 275 g.  Coconut Oil (25%)
  • 165 g.  Castor Oil (15%)
  • 22 g.    Stearic Acid (2%)
  • 152 g.  NaOH
  • 325 g.  Distilled Water (+2 Tbsp beer leftover from my beer & egg soap)
  • 15 ml   Lavender
  • 15 ml   Eucalyptus
  • 15 ml   Peppermint

This is my first soap with stearic acid.  Just like the sodium lactate, I am not sure if it has made the soap harder.

May 28, 2013

This evening, as I was doing my daily sniffing routine, I somehow felt it was time to try my porky dog soap – on me.  It has cured for a mere 16 days, but it was quite hard already.  My whole routine on picking up the soaps, examining, smelling and pressing to test for hardness, feels no different from picking out a perfectly ripe fruit. Ok, I can’t say this soap is perfectly ripe, but at least good enough.

I had my apprehensions that there might be a lurking porky smell once I used the soap.  Surprise, surprise!  This is an amazing soap! It feels silky, lathers well, the scents of the essentials oils actually stayed, and no hints of porkiness.  Lard is known to make for a hard soap, but I also believe that the stearic acid helped, considering that this soap is still very young and has a high percentage of castor oil.

Will this be a good soap too for what it was intended for? Will post on that once I’ve put it to the test, but it won’t be that soon because Chewie just came from the groomers.