Project Pancakes

Gall bladder... air bladder... what's the difference? "Pancakes" is the sole surviving betta fish of a needlessly multiplied, classic grandparent's gift: three half-gallon animal torture chambers. No longer able to set his depth, he surfaces for food, or to display to his caretaker (me) that he is hungry. Gills protruded means it's been too long since a water change... he's almost got me trained.

But it's a long way from a Vietnamese mud puddle. I overheard someone at the pet store ask for bottled water, and learned too late that hard water is known to be terrible for bettas. Classic failure of commercialism -- I always just used the "betta safe" drops that came with his kit. They have "organic chelating agents," but "neutralizes chlorine" sounds like the formula for a city fish.

So Pancakes, with possible mobility to gain, became the first test subject for wild spinach extract, and project mascot, when a large drop was flipped into his bowl from the tip of a pot strainer. He swam up to smell it better, and though he sank back to the bottom, as always, I think I saw a little extra glide. No gill protrusion, anyway... not like bleach, which quickly suffocates fish. He was still alive in the morning. Roger that -- human trials are go!

I prepared a blue silicone pop for the relatively dark, primo leaf extract, and purple for an extraction from waste material. Waste was actually the greater amount, and reserves were put up in freezer jars so that an approximate whole-plant extract can be reconstituted later. Any of these will henceforth be referred to as "Pancakes," short for "Project Pancakes Formula," aka spinach juice. In the following, only the blue (leaf-derived) popsicle was used.

Experiment 2 - That Bruised-looking Thing

"Ecchymosis" is the word for bleeding into the skin, which I guess is what happened on my shin, possibly worsened by pumpkin juice. It's also a nice, safe place to see what the new juice does to my skin. Oh, joy: there's some kind of wart nearby, too.

Method: popsicle applied directly to skin at bedtime. Result: nothing definite, maybe the brown was more "even" looking, in the first lesion. The originally flesh-toned tumor next to it is now darkened, like it suddenly got a blood supply. Eat 'em up, immune system!

Experiment 3 - Coiffure Test

Method: I've taken to a new way of handling my juice pops, leaving the ice attached to the cap instead of pinching it up out of the sleeve. It makes more sense for short pops, when I leave them out too long and have to refreeze them, but it can be done with the long ones, too. I swept this over wet hair, after a shower, like a comb, then combed it in.

Result: The dry look. Hair compacted, but did not aggregate into larger curls like it does with pumpkin juice. I'm concerned it might cause breakage, but it doesn't feel weak when tugged upon. It also seems to be holding its compacted form better than pumpkin juice. More like hairspray.

Experiment 4 - Turn Ivory into Pre de Provence

If Williams is basically a potassium version of Ivory with some chelating agents, maybe using Pancakes to wet the face, and using Ivory as a shaving stick, would be more satisfactory compared to the typical, life-draining results of using Ivory as a shaving soap.

Method: Pancakes applied directly to shaving area. Well-used bar of Ivory (not square, not flat) applied by the short edge to the wet face, using WTG strokes. Water applied by synthetic shaving brush to produce lather, then scooped up for a pre-shave rinse. I chose to ease my return to sharp blades with a Baili in the Parker 87R.

Result: I could already tell by touch that the hair was insanely erect, like what happens with Pre de Provence No. 63. The hair was definitely not softened, but still cuttable with high tension, for a shave very close to my new standard, a DFS by any account; but more evenly cut, I suspect, than most shaves of that designation. One might have hoped that the very erect hair would retreat back into the follicles, but no: not so much.

Irritation during the shave, and the numbness afterward that are typical of Ivory, were completely circumvented by Pancakes. I still wouldn't advise this lather for a beginner, though, because it was not the easiest to handle. Even a bit thinner than Williams. The postshave skin is just a bit stressed, trying to regenerate moisture, but I could as easily attribute that to the Brut-like aftershave I used.


I don't clearly remember what a normal Ivory shave does to hair. I think it was always pretty hard. Sodium, also present in PdP, may account for that effect. But I do remember what it does to skin. Irritation during the shave gives way to a numb sensation, as if the essence of life itself was washed away. Oxalic acid seems to steel the skin against osmosis by chelation, in the way PdP is my most tolerable high-glycerin soap. High glycerin and sodium lye are both fundamentally detrimental to shaving soap, but have redeeming qualities that can be balanced by knowledgeable craftsmen.

Unlike larger, one-sided carboxylic acids, oxalic acid does not enable lamellar reorganization or pop desmosomes apart, the further step that seems necessary in order for water to be absorbed in greater volume, and enlarge the hair cross-section. That is what we perceive as hair softening.

As its lather effect was not detrimental, and toxic effects practically inconceivable, I would recommend that artisans (amateur soap makers, for the uninitiated) immediately adopt "green chelation." This would at least allow them to compete with traditional shaving soaps in the "grizzly old men" demographic, which is not easily impressed by marketing appeal.

No comments:

Post a Comment