Powder is Not the Same as Dry Extract
Sometimes, the use of a single incorrect word can lead to a failed formula, miscommunication, frustration, foot stamping, and hair pulling.
This particular example took somewhat longer than I'd like to admit to solve, but it finally did get solved, and it was in large part due to a very helpful and informative manufacturer.
Pictured above: soapnut (or soapberry)
Today's lesson: soapnut powder and soapnut dry extract are not the same and will produce 2 vastly different results.
For as long as I can remember, it has been my policy to ensure I had more than one source for any given ingredient.
Breaking Rules and Making Mistakes - Not the Best Start
In this instance however, I made 2 major mistakes:
1. I assumed what I was looking for was commonly available
2. I asked for the wrong thing
The asking for the wrong thing part is kind of my own fault for not speaking enough languages and having to visit some sites through Google Translate.
But determination (or is that stubbornness?) kept me going.
After much searching and unsatisfactory samples from a few sources, help presented itself via a contact on social media – I was put in touch with a producer of soapnut products.
And then everything started going in the right direction.
I learned soapnut was produced in numerous forms, among these: powder and dry extract. It wasn't long after that samples of each arrived at my doorstep.
Testing the Difference Between Powder and Dry ExtractOn the left is the ingredient I started out with. It has a markedly lighter color and more pungent, vinegary scent than either of the samples to the right.
When I asked the producer about the color and scent differences, I was enlightened as to their production processes and quality requirements for the different products they produced.
A sensory test (rub between fingers) did not reveal much. The feel of these 'powders' seems close to identical.
But there is a marked difference in how they behave:
- A powder will not dissolve completely
- A dry extract will
To test this, equal amounts of 'powder' were drizzled into 1 dl of distilled water and allowed to sit for a few minutes. The jars were then agitated (swirling the liquid around for a few seconds).
The liquids all produced approximately the same amount of suds, but pouring the liquid out revealed the main difference between powder and dry extract.
The residue in the jar on the right shows why using a powder instead of a dry extract will leave a gritty, sandy, and unpleasant feel.
Finally!It's amazing how a single incorrect term could have caused so much misunderstanding and frustration, but on the other hand, it is this kind of situation I consider a friendly reminder that there will always something new to learn.
And as for the helpful manufacturer, please stay tuned to meet him and learn about his world of beautiful, organically grown ingredients.