Admit it, if you can get past the ick factor, snakeskin soap does sound rather fascinating, doesn't it? And for those who do like these cold-blooded slithery reptiles, a soap made with snakeskin might be another cool snake-related item to have. After all, snakeskin boots, belts, and purses are considered a valuable high end product with particular appeal. Why not snakeskin soap?
Snakes shed their skin one to four times a year. This process, called molting, removes the old, worn skin to reveal a fresh skin underneath. The old skin is left behind and disintegrates or is eaten by other critters. Snakeskin is mainly composed of a fibrous structural protein called keratin, which provides structure to hair, nails, feathers, claws, scales, and hooves, and horns. The silk fibers that are produced by insects and spiders are also composed of keratin. Keratin is insoluble in water.
So what does this have to do with soap making? Many soap makers, including myself, add silk fibers to the lye water when making soap. The fibers are dissolved in the extremely hot lye water, but the keratin protein remains, and this protein adds a lovely silky feel to the lather of the soap bar. Silk in soap is a luxury ingredient. Snakeskin in soap is also a luxury ingredient, with its similar properties.
1. Tear off a piece, or use the whole snakeskin. I used a 12 inch segment.
2. Add the snakeskin to the amount of water needed to make the batch of soap.
3. Stir the measured lye into the water. Best to do this in a well ventilated area because melting snakeskin stinks. But it's no more stinky than when using goat milk.
4. When cooled to an appropriate temperature, pour the lye water through a strainer into the oils. This catches any visible dark bits of material that might show in the finished soap.
5. Stir the soap batter to trace and pour into a mold.
Easy peasy! That wasn't scary at all now, was it? And the results will have a definite high end appeal to some potential customers. Ophidian Forest handmade soap is scented with a fragrance oil with notes of wild cypress, ozone, makrut lime, sea salt, oud, elemi, leather, amber, ocean moss, and frankincense that is fresh, woody, and masculine. It will be available for sale in my little soap shop the first week of February 2021.