Day 11: Hand cream
Decide for the first
half of this second day to repeat what we did yesterday, in an attempt
to boost our yield of lanolin.
goes to plan - sort of. As I start to reduce the solution down, the oily
lanolin comes floating to the surface. The trouble is, there doesn't
seem to be very much of it, and, what's more, it's a dark-brown
oil - not yellow, as I expected. The dark colouration's down to
impurities in the lanolin, and I suspect that I can purify it easily enough
by repeatedly washing our recovered oil with hot water - but why is there
so little of it? I then realize that I can force more lanolin out of solution
by adding lots of table salt (sodium chloride) to the pot. This will make
the water more ionic – something that organic fats and greases don't
like. Sure enough, when I add the salt, heat the mixture up, and cool
it down again, much more of the dark-brown oil floats to the surface.
By the end of Day
2, we still don't seem to have extracted very much lanolin though.
Then we realize that the wool that we'd been given looked suspiciously
clean. More often than not, when you see a sheep, its coat is really dirty
isn't it. We suspect this wool's been cleaned up, in which
case much of the lanolin had already been washed out of it before we got
to work on it. Ho hum! Still, we have enough of the impure, brown, oily
stuff to work with tomorrow, and Kate H didn't actually specify
how much hand cream she wanted. Just as well.
we have to purify the oil. It occurs to me that if I leave the pot containing
the oil/water out in the cold overnight, the lanolin might just freeze
out of the oil as a solid. The temperature here drops to minus 5 Celsius
overnight, so it's worth a try. I leave the sawmill feeling more
than happy with the way the second day's gone.