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Friday, 11 May 2012

Bacon Soap and Cosmetic Recipes

I recently had an unusual request for a soap. Bacon is a popular item in the marketing world right now. Flavoring for such products as lollypops, muffins, mints, cigarettes, etc are common place. Here are some fun URL's to check out.. 1- Bacon Lollipop
                                      2- Bacon Mints

I don't know why exactly, but I have the urge to explore the possible savory cosmetics I am able to formulate. I'm testing recipes for bacon soap, lip balm, lippy salt scrub and lotion. Who is my target consumer? Men who love BACON! Surprisingly enough, I have testing subjects that are happy about the prospect of being enlisted in this venture. So before I start giving out recipes lets see if bacon is a good cosmetic ingredient in the first place.


Lets start a discussion about some of the history of soap making. Pork fat has traditionally been an economical soap ingredient. Pioneers made soap with fat rendered from animals such as pigs, cows and deer. Today a very nice soap can be made with lard (pig fat) and coconut oil. Lard soap on it's own has few bubbles but it is very creamy. With the addition of coconut oil lots of cleansing bubbles balance the creaminess of the lard. Soap from scratch is very high in glycerin. In times of war, large soap companies were legislated to extract that glycerin as a separate product. That is one reason that most commercial soaps don't last as long as a bar of handmade soap. The glycerin binds the bar and also extends its lather life. As I explained to my class last week: fats + oil + sodium hydroxide + water = soap + glycerin + water . This  bacon soap recipe may also have traces of meat.

About 15 years ago I made about 100 pounds of lard soap for a fundraiser that celebrated my pioneer heritage. The young women in my church were involved in grating, scenting and molding the soap. It was a lot of work and even though the soap was made 2 weeks before we 'finished' the soap with carnation fragrance, there were a couple of 'tingly' itches that had to be seen to during the manufacturing process. When making cold process soap or any other formulation for the skin with young adults or children make sure to not give them too much responsibility. They are just not mature enough to understand the dangers even if warned about the caustic nature of the process. Keep in mind that a single flake of lye about the size of a grain of salt can cause 3rd degree burns in a matter of minutes. I've actually experienced first hand this type of burn and it is the size of a grain of salt and black. It is very painful during the healing process. Keep a bottle of lemon juice or vinegar while working with lye to use for first aid. The acid in the juice will help neutralize the caustic base and help minimize a burn. Wash with LOTS of water as well. Never ignore an itchy or tingly spot on the skin when making soap from scratch. Wear your safety gear!

Ordinarily I would NEVER use bacon fat as a soap ingredient. In fact I have warned my students in the past not to use leftover bacon fat in their formulations. Why? Because whatever quality ingredients you use will affect the end result. If you use bacon fat the soap WILL smell like bacon no matter how much lavender essential oil you add. Is bacon particularly good for the skin? Um ,no. Is it particularly bad for the skin? Not really. Does it smell good? Yup. Is there a market for bacon scented soap? Maybe, like I said it has been requested (by a hoard of Cub Scouts and one of their leaders--they also wanted hamburger scented soap but I refuse to go there at this time).

I made this Bacon Soap using the HOT process for soap making. I wanted to try it out right away instead of waiting for a month using the COLD process. Make sure you use a deep stock pot for this soap because the soap will boil up and rise very high---often as much as 4x the volume. This is a result of hurrying the saponification process along.  Even cold process soap goes through this 'gel' stage when covered by layer upon layer of insulation to prevent ash. Hot process soap isn't as pretty as cold process soap but it works just as well and it is nice to be able to use it right away.

Bacon Soap
500 g. lard
100 g. bacon grease (strain the meat and cracklings out with a coffee filter while the grease is hot) 
250 g. coconut oil

122 g. lye
220 ml water 

Assemble your tools:
Deep stainless steel cooking pot 10 litres or more
Rubber gloves
1 gallon ice cream bucket
2 Plastic stirring spoons
Hand Mixer (a.k.a. stick blender)
A good kitchen scale (one that measures in standard & metric as the recipes differ & also the results will differ widely)
Plastic soap mold (square plastic food storage containers work well--use a casserole or deep large size)
Lemon juice or vinegar—first aid precaution in case skin comes in contact with lye. If you feel an itch or burn anywhere splash the skin liberally with lemon juice or vinegar to counteract the basic nature of the lye. Rinse well with water.

Assemble ingredients:
Oils /fat/butters
Distilled water
Sodium hydroxide (lye) (look in the cleaning supplies or plumbing supply aisle in your local grocery store.)
Fillers Fragrance/essential oils

Put on safety gear:
Goggles or glasses
Rubber gloves
Long shirt sleeves or smock (lab coat works very well)
Long pants Shoes
Socks (Don’t laugh, I got burned by not wearing socks!)

Carefully volume measure your water and pour into small plastic bowl. Using the scale measure the sodium hydroxide. In a well-ventilated area (such as outside), carefully add the sodium hydroxide, a little at a time. Stir after each addition. Stir until  all crystals are dissolved. Be sure to avert your face to avoid inhaling fumes. The fumes can burn the lungs and cause damage to tissue they come in contact with. Wear a mask if you are unable to avoid inhalation of the steam from the lye-water reaction. The mixture will become very hot. Cover and allow mixture to cool in a safe place away from pets or children.

Weigh your oils and melt on the stove over medium heat until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Both the lye and the oil mixtures should be approximately the same temperature when combining.
Pour sodium hydroxide mixture (still quite hot) a small amount at a time, into the melted oils (hot). 

Over medium heat bring mixture to a boil. Use a stick blender to mix while the soap heats. It will go through several stages. The first stage is a creamy stage similar to custard or pudding...

In the 2nd stage the oils and soap separates. It looks like oatmeal and oil. It has a lumpy uneven texture. Keep using the stick blender.

In the 3rd stage the mixture will become uniform and start to bubble up the pan. Remove from heat to prevent overflow. Continue to cook at a lower setting.

During the 4th stage the soap is chunky and appears almost transparent in places. This is the gel phase...

The last phase (soap is back to opaque) is when you test ph. Using a large plastic mixing spoon is best during this phase. Have a spatula ready for pouring time. When the ph is 9  (sage green on lithmus paper) or less the soap is skin safe and ready to pour into a mold. Make sure the mold is thick enough to take the heat. It must be flexible for easy removal as well. The soap will be lumpy so pack it in well with the spoon. If your measurements were accurate your soap will get milder with time but be usable right away.

Here is an easier recipe for those who don't want to work with caustic chemicals...

Bacon Soap
200 grams white melt and pour soap
2 T. bacon grease
 a few drops red soap tint.

Chop the soap into cubes.

Melt in the microwave at 30 second intervals until most of the soap is melted. Remove from microwave and stir until all of the soap melts.

Stir in the bacon grease. Make sure it is fully incorporated into the soap so there are no fatty pockets in the finished soap.
Pour into a square 5 x 5 mold. When cool, trim edges with a fluted knife and use the pieces to decorate your finished soap by dipping the sides in red tinted soap to make it look like 'bacon'.
It's kind of tricky, good luck.
And here is the finished soap... (pics to follow)

Here are a couple of other recipes for you bacon lovers to try...

Bacon Lip Balm
1 tsp bacon grease
1 tsp almond oil
1/2 tsp beeswax

Melt beeswax and add the oil and grease. Makes one lip balm.

Bacon Lippy Salt Scrub
1/2 tsp bacon grease
1/2 tsp coconut oil
1 T. salt
1 tsp. sugar

Melt the oils and add the salt and sugar. Store in a glass container. To apply: wet lips, apply very small amount of scrub. Scrub GENTLY (you don't want to make your lips bleed) with the lippy salt scrub. Finish with Bacon Lip Balm or other favorite gloss.
***Usually I use sugar for a scrub for the lips, but this is BACON. You can substitute 100% sugar and it's oddly yummy.

As with all preparations for the skin, allergy test it on a small portion of skin before applying it to large areas of the body such as the entire face. Inside of the wrist application for 15 min then checking for redness or itch is an easy test to perform before using a new product.

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