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Finding time in the early weeks in November for fun diversions is always a challenge. Midterm exams and papers are being returned. The end of the semester is now in sight, particularly as students anxiously wait for their spring course registration times, so that they can save their seat in a particular lab section, or ART 138 - Basic Photography, which most have to wait to take until their senior year because of it's strong popularity. Students are entrenched in what seems as though mountains of coursework and homework, while faculty know it is only a matter of time until the mountains are on their plate to grade!
Thankfully, this past week a group of 20 excited students and faculty found time and gathered to have some fun in the chemistry lab, making bars of soap. Students gathered after "chem sem," our weekly Chemistry Seminar course to take a brief respite and cook a mixture of lard and other oils in a solution of lye on a somewhat "larger than normal scale." Students also were able to make use of excess gycerine, a waste generated in the production of biodiesel, in the soap, which is an additive typically used as a moisturizer. Irv Levy, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Gordon College and fellow Green Chemistry Education Network Member, who developed this specific recipe, was on hand to help us with the large scale soap production.
Once the reactions were complete, students scented the soap with natural plant extracts and added raw uncooked oatmeal to serve as exfoliants as desired, and poured the mixtures into the bar molds. In roughly one month, the bars of soap will have cured and solidified and will be ready to use.
If you would like a recipe to make your own bars of soap safely at home in your kitchen there is a host of information you can find on the web. Check out the pictures posted soon.
Until next time!
Dissolving the lye (NaOH) in water - Soap Making
Stirring the aqueous lye with the melted fat
Mixing the soap, just before adding the coloring and fragrance
Ready to pour into the soap bar molds