Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cotton Pickin' Cotton or Cactus Jack

Well, if you were a cotton boll like one of the many millions in the field across the street from us, you might have thought that you were going to live forever. After all, you dodged the bullet with that last tropical storm that never came. You might have even been thinking that you had  nine lives like that proverbial cat with nine lives.

But, you would have been  wrong, because today the cotton pickin'cotton picker GOT YA! Sorry about that. So long, fellas...

But that reminds me...Today the choice of the day we make Cotton Pickin' White soap or Cactus Jack soap? I thought that in honor (memory) of the Cotton King bolls that were, we should have opted for Cotton Pickin' White soap, but I got overruled.

So, this day turned out to be Cactus Jack Soap Day...not a bad day to have, though...Cactus Jack soap is a lot of fun to make...and even though I wanted to put simulated "spines" on top and got overruled (again) and had to put cumin seeds instead, it was still a fun experience.

So, the first step was to measure the lye and mix it carefully with the water and let it cool down. While we waited for the lye mixture to reach the appropriate temperature,  we hunted for the elusive prickly pear cactus.  We scouted around the desert brush for hours, found some cacti, whacked off some pads and brought them home. We got a million cactus splinters all over our body, but...

OK, we didn't really do that...We went to the store and bought nopalitos (cactus) already despined, washed and ready to go...ho hum...But one day, I do want to go scouting around in the desert brush for hours and whack down some cactus...but I'll skip the part about the million cactus splinters all over my body...or maybe I'll have just one splinter... for effect...I don't know...No, on second thought, I'll just skip the whole splinters all over the body part.

So, then the cactus was pureed in a food processor and added to the lye/water mixture.  We left them both in the bowl together to fight it out awhile...They started out a little rowdy, but after awhile, they both calmed down...and there was peace in the cactus lye valley.

 Next, it was time to color the soap. This is one of my favorite parts.
We were trying to keep the soap as natural as possible, so we wanted to use a natural ingredient for coloring. We chose nettle powder. Nettle powder turns the soap a nice shade of green plus it has the added bonus of being good for the skin...

So, into the pot went the nettle and we blended it up. I really like the shade of green that it produced.

Next, we mixed the oils/butters. This particular recipe had olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, canola oil and lard. We heated the oil mixture to about 100 degrees.
Last, we blended everything together and added the fragrance. We choose bay/pepper/lime for this loaf. It really is a nice combination, an interesting treat for your nose..

We poured the creamy green concoction into the loaf mold and put the soap "to bed" to gel. The next day we cut the soap and placed it on the curing racks to cure. This soap was such fun to make and I really love the way it came out. I can't wait to try it!

Update: 4/2013
By the way, we did finally make the Cotton Pickin' Cotton soap, too!


  1. Pretty cool process, even without the hike through the desert!