I would like to try making soap just for myself. Can anyone suggest a good book on soap making? Easy and not too complicated? I want to make some herb soaps as I have all kinds of mint and other herbs growing in the garden. Do you grind the herbs up in a blender so they don't stop up the sink when used in soap?
Millersoap is a great place to start! One of the best things she suggests is to use a stick blender - easily worth what you pay for it (check second-hand stores first).
You can infuse herbs in either the distilled water (cool it completely before adding lye) or in the liquid oils (strain before using). Also, parsley will stay green and calendula will stay yellow, but yes, both should be finely ground - otherwise, you'll be picking or rinsing the herbs off and possibly scratching (not exfoliating) your skin. If you want the soap to smell like herbs - use essential oils. However, STUDY them before using them.
Start small with your recipes - that way if one of your trials doesn't work, it's not such an expensive loss.
Check your library for soap making books. As it sounds like you are just beginning, I would suggest starting out with cold process, at least until you feel you have a good understanding of the art of soap making. Then, if you want, you can progress to hot process. (I've done both, and personally prefer the smooth consistency of cold process bars.)
One more thing - you don't have to have all the fancy or exotic oils to make an excellent bar of soap. The more oils you use, the more expensive it is to make. Yes, they are nice and many can be used in small quantities. Olive oil, canola oil, corn oil, coconut oil are all good, and not as expensive as say - emu oil or even avocado oil. However soapmaking is completely personal - that's why I like it - I actually have CONTROL over one aspect of my life!
Thank you Moms_Garden for the excellent advice. I did get some soap making books from the library, as you suggest, and am now studying them before I get started. Yes, I agree, it will be nice to have some control for a change. I've read that store bought soap is full of all kinds of bad things.
After using hand made soap, I decreased my lotion use immensely, but now I make my own lotion as well. :)
On my web site, I have step-by-step instructions for soap making, plus a recipe that uses oils that can be found in most grocery stores. I have found lye at our local Ace Hardware. Make sure it is 100% lye. Hope this helps. http://www.lofthousegardens.com
THANKS Moms_Garden...a great and helpful web site. Have you ever made soap in a slow cooker? I have a 2 quart that my son just gave me but that would be too small wouldn't it? I don't know if I should invest in a larger one...looked at Goodwill but they didn't have any. They usually have lots of them.
Yes, I have used a slow cooker. I personally don't care for it, but my sister loves it, so I make soap for her in the slow cooker. (Not that I don't like the soap, just the texture.) However, it is a quick way to make soap and probably easier if you want to use fancier molds. I think my slow cooker is a four quart and I used 32 ounces of oils. Your 2 quart would work for a one pound batch.
A great book for the hot process soap (using the slow cooker) is "Handcrafted Soap" by Delores Boone. She has three ways to make the hot process, plus plenty of recipes and other useful information. I use her book for ideas for my cold process soap.
Don't know if you've made soap yet, but I hope you have fun doing it. Not every batch may work, but don't let that discourage you from trying. Also - once you start, you are not going to want to stop! :)
Thanks, Kim. As of today I am retired from my job and I finally have time and am ready to make that soap! I will look for those books. I checked some out of the library and the recipes seem to have so many ingredients. I just want to try making simple coffee mint soap(with the grounds as an exfoliate), orange mint soap...maybe chocolate mint too.