Belgian Chocolate Soap


This is what it looks like when soap “traces”



As those bottles of Dr. Bronner’s warn: “Health is our Greatest Wealth.  Don’t Eat Soap.”  This soap will smell good enough to eat, but don’t do it.

A consequence, or benefit —depending on your point of view, of barbecuing briskets is that you end up with a lot of beef fat.  I hate the idea of throwing it away.  At first, I placed it out of reach of dogs and let the birds eat it.  I rendered it into tallow and used it for French fries. Tasty, yes, but that did not seem to be a healthy use, and there was just too much to use that way.  I mixed the tallow with bird seed and made my own suet blocks.  That works well in cool weather, but as soon as a warm day hits, the neighborhood dogs are all under the feeders eating the melting fat and seeds.

Making soap is a better option.  Homemade soap is great on the skin.  You can make any number of scents or combinations of fat to your own liking.  Hard soap, soft soap, big bubbles or fine lather – you control the product.
It’s also very easy thanks to an on line lye calculator available at The Sage website.  This calculator computes the amount of water and lye you need based on the saponification factor of the fats you use in your recipe.  They also sell a variety of scents, soap molds, and other items to make soap.  The only thing that is hard to find is lye.  Remember when you could get cans of Red Devil lye at the grocery store?  Those days are gone.  These days, I buy it from on line sources that serve biodiesel makers.  Look on Amazon.
I will put up some instructions soon about how I cook a brisket.  The first step in my brisket prep is to trim off all visible fat.  A whole brisket may yield 4-5 pounds of fat scraps.  I usually cook two at a time, so the fat piles up.  I keep it in the freezer.  When I have several bags taking up too much room, I run the frozen fat through a fine plate meat grinder.  Put the ground fat in a large stock pot (preferably one that can go in the oven), pour in a quart or two of water, and bring it to a boil on the stove.  If the pot fits in the oven, then place it in the oven at 200-250F for 3-4 hours.  If not, then just simmer on the stove.
Pout the contents of the pot through a strainer into a large container (I use an 8 quart Cambro), and chill it down.  Once the tallow is hard, run the sides of the container under hot water to loosen the block.  Turn the block out on a cutting board.  Remove any jelly or tallow that is speckled with any solid particles.  Cut the pure white tallow in blocks about the size of a pound of butter, wrap them and freeze or use right away to making soap.
Today’s soap is Belgian Chocolate at the request of my son.
Weigh out the fats.  My mold holds up to a 6.5 pound batch.
61 oz. Beef Tallow
12 oz. Avocado oil
8 oz. Coconut oil
7.2 oz. Shea butter
6 oz. Callebaut Dark Chocolate (I assumed about 30% is Cocoa butter)
2.4 oz. Beeswax
The lye calculator says for this mix of fats I need between 11.96 and 12.35 oz. of lye.  I opt for 12.1 oz.  This will give a slightly firmer soap.  It also says I need between 23 and 35 oz. water.  I used 25 oz. so the soap will have to cure less time, and be ready to use sooner.
Melt the fats in a large pot over low heat.  When they are melted, I also added ½ cup of Hershey’s cocoa powder.
Measure the water into the stainless steel bowl of a stand mixer.  The mixer comes in handy for stirring, but you MUST make sure you have a mixer blade that is not uncoated metal or it will get ruined by the lye. (I learned this the hard way.) Sprinkle the lye over the water.  Do this outside and stand up wind.  Wear gloves and goggles!
Now, wait until the lye mixture and the oils are between 100 and 125F. Combine the mixtures and stir.  Do not splash.  Stir until you see a trace.  This is when drops of the mixture from a spoon settle on top and do not immediately disappear.  If the mixture does not trace, then let it rest for several minutes and stir some more.  Repeat until it traces. (See the picture at the top of this post.)
Prepare a mold.  I have a tray that makes 24 bars.  I spray it with a silicone release agent.  Pour in the soap mix and let the mold sit for a day or two to set up.  Turn the soap out of the mold and cut into bars.  Store them in a place where air can circulate around them to finish curing.

I took this picture to show a bit more of the consistency of the soap.  After I took it, I jostled the mold to smooth out the top.

Two warnings about the chocolate soap: (1) People will come up to you and ask if you smell a cake, (2) The suds are brown, which seems counter-intuitive for soap.

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