Monday, December 12, 2005

out with the soap flakes, in with the snow

The mad scientist returns, with more failed attempts at soap dough. It's too late to make it for Christmas now, so we're hanging it up for the year.

I tried microwaving bars of soap to soften them, instead of grating them.

First attempt: added 2 tsp water, 1 tbsp glycerin, 2 tsp shortening.

Second attempt: added 2 tbsp glycerin.

Third attempt: added 1 tbsp shortening to the 2nd attempt.

All three attempts managed to be crumbly and sticky at the same time, as shown above. Perhaps in January we'll try again...

To console ourselves (and since we were too sick to attempt baking day), Chickie and I made shrinky-dink snowflakes, starting with a hexagon about 4" wide, and ending up with something 1 to 1-1/2" wide, as shown above.

They'll make nice presents - Christmas ornaments - but I need to keep Chickie from claiming all of them as her own.

We also made paper snowflakes awhile ago, now hanging in our front window. The other morning it was fun to see their early sunrise shadows on the wall.


Anonymous kim said...

On the soap dough: (don't read this until next year if it will mess up putting the idea away for now, LOL) ...

I found a recipe for a soap "finger paint" that was half corn starch (well, it called for laundry starch, but I don't have any) and half "soap flakes" and a lot of water ... I decided to head that direction with the dreft, since you'd said it didn't work well with your soap-clay recipe. I tried to pay attention to my random mixing, but didn't really. It was somewhere between 2:1 and 2:2 dreft and cornstarch and then boiling water to make a dough.

I kneaded extra dreft in like flour into bread dough at the end, and for awhile it was a perfect soft pliable dough. It was great! An adult working quickly could probably form a lot of cute somethings. Kids playing found it got drier and crumblier as it cooled (and dried, I guess) ... reheating briefly in the microwave restored some pliability and stick togetherness, but was dangerous with hot spots. Perhaps a little oil (or glycerine?) might alleviate the drying and crumbling?

The finished pieces are sitting out to cool/dry/harden, and I am not sure if they will "work" for soaps or if they will just crumble into dust. But the cleanup was great, even with the "evil" Wilton's paste food coloring there was no hand-staining (me, I accidently stuck my finger right into the dye) ...

Anyway, that's the AndFam First Report on Soap Dough :-)

I took pictures in the early kid-play stage, I'll see if I can get them posted ...

i love the snowflakes. Did you just eyeball the shrinky-dinks or did you use paper ones as templates? Maybe I'll pick up some shrinky-plastic tonight ...

12/12/2005 5:41 PM  
Anonymous kim said...

hm, today they're looking pretty cracked and crumbly, I don't think they'll hold up to anything, but I'll try them out.

I went to the craft store and looked for the Shrinky Dink plastic -- all they had was THE name brand, but they did have white, so I got some so we can have a snowflake day. Too bad I don't have a cool think of punchers like you do, though. I should start a puncher collection. :)

12/13/2005 4:36 PM  
Blogger kelly said...

thanks for the idea, Kim! maybe I'll try Ivory soap and cornstarch-gel after Christmas. That sounds promising.

Dad said don't even bother trying with detergents... actually he said

"Now the “long answer” (It’s OK to roll your eyes and say, ‘There he goes again’).

Laundry detergents are only 8-10 percent “detergent”.  All the rest is detergent “builder” (such as sodium silicate or sodium carbonate).  Oh, there’s a bit of perfume, and a small amount of non-chlorine bleach, and a bleach activator, and some colorant, and an optical brightener, but all these combined usually comprise less than 3% of the weight.  

The builders work like “dispersants”, that is, they help put charge on dirt particles in a manner somewhat similar to the detergent, and help keep them from re-depositing.  Actually, sometimes they include a more pricey polymeric anti-redeposition aid.  

By technical definition, a “soap” is a metal salt of a naturally occurring fatty acid.  Sodium stearate, for example, or sodium palmitate, or oleate.  Ivory is just about the only remaining true ‘soap’ on the market.  

“Detergents” are a bigger an broader class, mostly the “synthetic detergents” like Sodium lauryl sulfate (used to be known as Dreft detergent in the ‘40’s).  Modern laundry detergents still use a lot of “SLS”, but with much larger amounts of builders.  I can go on for another 20 pages, but you get the idea.  

The builders do not cooperate in any way with your plan to make soap-dough.  They don’t dissolve, and if they did, they’d recrystallize on cooling.  Furthermore, these are fairly caustic materials, which would tend to burn sensitive skin after a while. "

So your Dreft re-crystallized on you when it got cool, basically, and I'm guessing that's what made it crumbly. But Ivory and cornstarch might be promising.

BTW, my cool punchers didn't work great with Shrinky Dink plastic, they were too hard to punch. All Chickie and I used were the big (regular, 1/4") and little (1/8") circle hole punches, and I guess Chickie used the teardrop punch. Stars, triangles etc were just too hard to punch.

And FWIW, Nasco sells bulk shrink film, though of course you have to wait for delivery...

12/14/2005 11:26 AM  

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