New at making soap

Fountain, CO

I would like to learn how to make soap and herbal bath products to sell - can anyone suggest how to start?

Cicero, NY(Zone 5a)

Yeah
how about a Soap making 101 for us newbies


pppllleeeeaaassseeee??????

Headland, AL(Zone 8a)

I found an article in the newspaper that is really easy. Prior to seeing the article, I had planned to make my own, but what I found online dealt with using lye and potash and boling them for a long time...Sounded like a lot of work, and it also sounded very dangerous! The article in the paper said to take some plain white bar soap, like Ivory, and shred it using a cheese grater. Then you take some boiling water and pour it over the shredded soap. Take some oatmeal and almonds and pulverize them and add them to the soap mixture, then add some more boiling water. Popur it into molds, or wait for it to cool some and roll it into balls. You can add fragrance or dye to it....or you can add herbs to it. This type of soap is good for exfoliating.

You can also buy soap making kits at Michael's. The kits are for opaque soaps or glycerin soaps, which are good for moisturizing. They come with everything you need; like molds, soap making stuff, dye, etc. Once your soap is made and dry, you can use rafia to wrap round it...or pick up some handmade papers to package it in.

Chariton, IA(Zone 5b)

I went online and found recipes to use. My daughter found a book of recipes that she ordered. You probably will need to have a web site and there are so many now, that I'm not sure how well a person could do. I'm trying to get Lori to come in here and give a recipe or two and maybe she could tell you how she started then. She is pretty busy, so we will have to see. I want to learn to make the soap myself. I saw Lori make a batch of it and it was very easy. About all I remember is that she took it outside because we didn't know what would happen using the lye. She used a stick blender and it whipped into shape really quick.

Cicero, NY(Zone 5a)

I've done the grating the soap.....wasn't impressed
I wanna try the old fashion way

Shirley
your daughters stuff is awesome....
that would be great if she could point us in the right direction
I just want it for me to use or maybe for gifts
Last thing I need is to start another business.....

Redford, MI

These are two reputable ways of learning to soap:

http://www.millersoap.com/

or pick up Susan Miller Cavitch's book "The Soapmaker's Companion"

Whatever you do, read everything there is about soapmaking before you set out. It can be very dangerous so do your research. The devil is in the details. :)


I've ran a successful soap business for 5 years now. I would have never sold a single batch I made in that first year of learning. It takes a lot of practice and experimenting before you know if your soap is not only safe, marketable and sustainable. Good luck!

Chariton, IA(Zone 5b)

I talked with Lori and her recipe book was at their cabin. As soon as she gets up there, she will bring it home and either send me recipes to post or come on here and post to you all.

Buffalo, NY

Please ,please,please listen to Glamoury. Soap making is not like borrowong a cake recipe from a friend. You must understand the science behind what you do. you must learn the safety guidelines. You need to have the proper equipment. I scale is a must. Everything has to be measured exactly.

It is very addicting and fun once you have researched and learned the basics at least.

Learning the terminology is important if you want to learn from experience soap makers. Again i encourage anyone interested in making soap to read, read, read. Articles in the newspaper will not cut it.

Headland, AL(Zone 8a)

I realize that making soap from scratch is an art...unfortunately, it is one that not all of us are able to do; in my case due to a disability, but others because they don't have the time, etc....but that doesn't mean we should be censored (or censured) for posting shortcuts that work for us. I posted the recipes that I found for shortcuts because I assumed there would be others out there who want to make their own soaps and bath salts, but for one reason or another, are not able to.



This message was edited Apr 26, 2006 2:40 AM

Buffalo, NY

BamaBelle,

And anyone else I might of offended, please accept my apology. It was not at all my intent to censure. it is my very passionate way of relating.
I was trying to convey my concern after reading many of the post in some of the threads.
I really did not want to see anyone harm themselves.

I watched a show on DYI a few years ago and they were making candles. As i watched the show i said to myself that looks easy enough. so i decided that I would make candles and start a business. So set out to find out how to make candles. i spent hours and days researching. I went to library and took out books on the subject. What i found was candle making also went along with soamaking. so I continued to research.

What I learned was making candles was not as simple as the show lent me to believe. it was very technical and was very specific. In my research i decided that i was going to use soy wax. I bega purchasing the things that i needed from candle supply sites because what is offered in Michaels was not professional supplies. Nor was it cost effective to manufacture large amounts of candles.

I also learned the various methods of soap craftiong and decided based on the information out there and the end product I was looking to make I choose to make cold process soap. Again i bought all of necessary equipment and supplies. I continued reading all of the material s i gathered and repeatedly gone back to the soap teaching sites. So the day I first made soap was spent going over the recipe, putting it through the soap calculator, and printing ut the material. I took the plunge. I weigh all of my ingredients and followed the steps to the letter. I then did the happy soap making dance that soapers refer too. I haven't looked back. Even now I continue to research and study ingredients . I have joined forums to reseach and ask questions of more advances crafters. I was blessed to join one group where a cosmetic chemist was a member. I was able to raise my skills further learning from him. He taught us about fda regulations, good formulating pratices, preservation systems, and the list could go on and on. I also learned so much from other crafters who have established successfull businesses. Many of the suppliers sites are also full of useful information as well.

So no i was not trying to censure anyone. i only wanted to make sure that folks were safe and that you all take advantage of the the sites that were given. Kathy Millers site was very instrumental for me when i was intially starting my soap crafting. I am no way an expert but i do have a firm working knowledge thanks to sites like kathy's and books like the soapers companion which i first got from the library.

BabaBelle I hear you regarding short cuts. My question to you is why not take the same effort and get sound formulas? I have met many disabled crafters. I don't know what your disablity is and don't want to assume anything. However, one young woman i know has ms. She has a wonderful business and she makes very fine products. In addition to that she has children and a not to stable husband although I think he is doing better and the family went into counseling. She is very talented crafter. Since the time I met her on one of my yahoo list she has now opened a supply site to her retail business. I admire her drive.

Lastly, I joined this forum because I am again researching and learning about growing herbs. I want to incorporate them into my products and i also want to learn how to properly grow them and harvest them. Additionally I am also researching how to use them ie... decotion, infusion, and tinctures. I also found that I want to use more fresh herbs in my cooking.

I spent time reading through almost every thread in the herb section. I learned a lot. I am also in the process of reading through the vegetable gardening section as well. i came across this section and thought well at least i can add to the discussions because soap and candle making is something i do know about and I always want to learn more about.

So I am looking forward to chit chatting with you all.

Headland, AL(Zone 8a)

Hmm...we sort of meet in the middle here. I started out candle making with my grandmother when I was about 8 years old. We made candles for years before she grew bored with candlemaking and started China painting....and always she had her gardens. First daylilies, then orchids...finally when she got too feeble to tend the orchids, she got into Christmas Cacti. She was an inspiration. I learned so much from her.

For the last few years I have not had a garden because I didn't have any land. Now I've got 1/3 of an acre and I'm growing thigns again. Among the thigns I'm growing or planning to grow is lavnder and patchouli....which I want to make into soap. Unfortunately between the lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multifocal avascular necrosis (my joints are all dying), degenerative disk disease, and artificial joints (to name a few of my disabilities), I'm pretty limited. I do my gardening sitting down. I only cook about twice a month. Even with a stool in front of the stove, it wipes me out to cook...so you can see where cooking up soap would not be on my 'approved list of acitivities'.

So, now you have an idea of what I am up against, I'd love to hear about any ideas you might have of how I can make soap and bath products for gifts for my family without spending a fortune (I mean, that is the idea...to be able to give Christmas gifts that won't bankrupt the disability check), and without killing myself.

Denver, CO

My goal for the last few years has been to make gifts too. I have bought wood, salts etc....but have never gotten around to it. I swear...I will this year!~

Buffalo, NY

Wow Marcie you are having a lot of health challenges. If soapmaking is going to be hard. after what you have described it might be. Growing herbs maybe a good starting point to making gifts. You could infuse culinary herbs in vinegar, once infused pour in to decorative bottles, tie raffia with cute cards that you can design(I understand you have graphic design skills), Also you can dry some herbs and make bath teas, As i mentoned before use dried herbs in making bath salts along with bath safe fragrances. So many things can be made without a lot of stress. Supplies can be purchased for these items without being very expensive. Let me know if you wnat to focus on any of them. Then i can help you with vendors for supplies. Also other may have good ideas as well. I'm getting excited. I am planning on making some of these items as well. I can't wait to start growing my herbs. This is a new venture for me. I am reading everything I can find. I have puirchased some comfrey, chamomille, and calandula dried to infuse in vinegar and oil. So I'll have some stuff to play with while I am growing my herbs. Ok enough. I could go on and on.
Rovenea

Millington, MD

I am new to making soap and I love it but I have made three batches of soap and non of them have come out with much of a scent and I added a lot of essential oil of two different kinds. After I get some experience under me for a good while I would eventually like to sell the soaps that I create if anyone has any suggestions please let me know.

Sultan, WA(Zone 8a)

Maria,
I'm assuming you are making cold process soap? What essential oils were you adding? Did you measure them? For cold process soap, I add 1/2 an ounce per pound of oils in the recipe for a very light fragrance.
When making soap, in order to get consistent and marketable results, you need to be very precise in all your measurements and keep a journal or take notes on each batch so you can compare your batches.

I have been making soap like a crazy woman for 3 years and I am just now creating batches of soap that I feel are of a high enough quality for selling. It will be another 3 or 4 years before I am actually turning a profit on my investment of materials.

I'm not trying to discourage you. I am always willing to be helpful! But I do want to impress upon you the idea that making soap is not a quick business model. You have some very tough competition out there!

Girard, OH

Hello!

I'm really much more interested in making soap for home use only, and maybe as gifts for family/friends. =) Is there a very basic veggie based recipe out there that is suitable?


NCG

Sultan, WA(Zone 8a)

HI!

Explaining these things is hard!

Soapmakers typically share the recipes they are done with. Because each soapmaker devotes a lot of time and effort to creating on that works well for them.

I would really recommend that you find a book written by a credible author. A very inexpensive one was written by a wonderful woman named Allicia Grosso called The Everything Soapmaking Book and she does a very good job of explaining soapmaking clearly and SAFELY!. Some books don't have very safe instructions. Her book also includes recipes she designed for beginners that are nice and will make good soap.

If you want your own, you can go to an online program called

http://www.soapcalc.com/calc/soapcalc.asp

You should ALWAYS double check a recipe in a soap calculator before you work with it. The one I recommended will also give you a good idea of what kind of qualities to expect in the finished soap.

Making soap is like baking. But all measurements are based on weight, not volume so you'll need a digital scale. I have made soap with a regular scale and it's hard to be consistent with your accuracy and accuracy is important to finished quality and safety.
You'll be working with lye and you'll need to know you be safe with it before you begin and what to expect.
Lye heavy soap will cause 3rd degree chemical burns. Lye still makes me nervous and it makes me even more nervous telling someone about making soap over the internet who has never done it before because it would break my heart if you got hurt!

So that's why I'm asking you to go find a good book and then find a good recipe you like and then find a good quiet two hours without interruption to try your first batch.

A very basic vegi recipe may have Coconut, Olive and Palm Oil in it. Coconut will contribute hardness, cleansing and lots of bubbles to the finished bar. Nourishing Olive oil with decrease the harshness of the Coconut and contribute mildness. Palm oil is the tallow of the vegi fat world. It will contribute hardness and conditioning to the bar as well as a creamy lather to stabilize the foamy bubbles of coconut. Properly balanced, the finished bar will be wonderful.

By Volume:
25% Coconut
35% Palm
40% Olive Oil

Then calculate your lye using a soap calculator. YOU MUST BE PRECISE. If the calculation calls for 2.27 oz. of lye, that's exactly what you put in there. Some soapers measure their lye in grams for more precision. Precise measurements = safe soap. The soap calculator will include a fat buffer (called superfat) of 5%. That means that 5% of the fat in your recipe will not be saponified (Saponification is the chemical reaction between the lye and the fats in your recipe) and this is a buffer against lye heavy soap. It also makes your soap gentler to skin.
Your water should be 35-40% of your oils to start. Worry about fragrance and colorant after you feel more confidence in your success with your first batch. I personally love a plain jane bar of soap.

Precision not only protects you from lye heavy soap, but it will make your batches of soap more consistent. I had several batches of soap fail when I first began and I couldn't understand why, the recipe was the same. Precision made the difference. A good digital scale is invaluable to a successful soaper.

Bryan, TX

These forums are great for soap and candle info.

google
Candle Tech
The Soap Dish Forum (this site is at a stand stil because the owner is changing servers. but you can still read the old posts.


Have fun!



This message was edited Jul 26, 2007 11:56 AM

Sultan, WA(Zone 8a)

The soapzine is up ( and some have gone over there temporarily) and Latherings has occasional visitors. If you join the soap dish, you can still search the archives for info you want on making soap.

I still think buying a good book is the best way to learn.

Los Angeles, CA(Zone 10a)

I agree with Renwings. I have been making soap professionally for over 15 years and non professionally since I was a child and still, there can be really bad mishaps from the slightest mis measurement, mismanagement of time or not being prepared for an accident or spill.

Please please remember that lye burns tremendously, not only with skin contact, but through inhalation of the fumes immediately after mixing the lye with water. The fumes can be so bad that when you inhale them, you not only damage and "burn" your throat, but also you lungs.

FYI- I saw a nice digital scale at Ross, so I guess they are instock for the season as they had a ton of them for $13 each.

Girard, OH

I finally found a source of lye after searching a zillion stores yesterday. They stock it at this rinky dink hardware place. =)

Ren, thanks for the info. =) I plan on being extremely cautious with everything, I don't even want my kids around the when I make it, lol.

I have book that's been collecting dust called " The Complete Soapmaker" by Norma Coney. She claims that milling the basic soap gives it a better texture. I'm wondering if it's better to add your fragrances/additives at trace or during the milling process...

Los Angeles, CA(Zone 10a)

During the milling process.

Sultan, WA(Zone 8a)

I have that book as well, it was the first that I bought and recommended. A couple of things I have learned:

-An early edition of this book tells you to add water to lye. NEVER ever ever ever ever ever do that. LYE is ALWAYS is added to COLD water. My copy has that typo fixed I guess.

-She recommend using powdered benzoin as a preservative for food additives in soap. Benzoin is sensitizer for some people.

-She recommends some suspicious colorants. Everything in your finished soap MUST be skin safe. Candle dyes, RIT fabric dyes are not skin safe.

-She recommends adding 75% water to your weighed shavings for milling (rebatching). THAT IS A LOT OF WATER! Your soap will be weeks and weeks drying out and will shrink significantly. If your soap is fresh enough just grate it up finely. The finer it is grated the faster it will melt. The oven, the microwave, a double boiler are all great ways to to melt your soap without adding any additional water.

-In the handmilled soap recipe section, I've discovered that 1/4 cup honey is WAY too much.

Honestly, I haven't come to feel that milling really does improve the texture using the method described in her book. French milled soap is not simply melted down and poured into a new mold.
Cold Process Soap has a very fine texture all by itself. If you don't have to rebatch your soap, it's just an extra tedious step IMHO.


Girard, OH

I'll definitely keep all that in mind, Ren, seriously. You've been so informative and patient, thank you so much. =)
I don't plan on using any colorants at all, but it's still good to know.

But since I'd be adding the "stuff" during the milling process instead at trace, it would be possible to experiment with several different kinds... like half with one fragrance, half with something else. As opposed to adding at trace for the entire batch.

Just throwing out random ideas, lol... forgive me. =)

Sultan, WA(Zone 8a)

I LOVE talking about soap. My DH is like, "Can we talk about something else, besides soap?" Nothing to forgive!

It really does my heart good to know that you are going to take this seriously and be careful! I don't meant to come across as preachy or like this is some "exclusive" thing. But it's not the kind of craft you can go to the store and throw together in an afternoon. I guess some people don't realize that and get offended.

Dividing up the batch is a great idea. Some soapers do that with CP as well. The great thing about milling is you don't have to worry about your soap accelerating when your back is turned! You won't feel rushed.

Ramona, CA

Hi to all, This is such a fab forum. To those professionals, a huge thanks for the valuable info, and links to sites. I too make candles and soap. I started making candles in the 70's. Using milk cartons, KFC chix buckets nearly anything I could find. And I still continue saving up stuff for the next once a year session. A few years ago I decided to make my own soap. First trys were with the glycerin store bought, cut and melted and re-poured. Then massive research on the internet for months, and printing out everything I could get my hands on, plus purchasing the Soap Making books that came highly recommended. Purchased scales, (antique stores, goodwill etc until I get the right one) and made my own wood box for a form to "put it too bed" or set up and harden. Then decided medical transporting styrofoam boxes were the perfect item to "put it to bed". This is about 1 1/2" thick with a good fitting lid. Your Doctors office will know or have 1-2. They throw them away, and can't reuse them. I will admit that from the idea of making the soap, to the actual conception of the first Lye Batch took me about a year to build up the confidence, and knowledge. Then with the careful calculations, and measurements, proper supplies and the confidence, prepared my kitchen for disaster. (Both my Husband and I are meatcutters (newly retired). I had my Hubby bring home 20 lbs of Beef Fat, of which I boiled down twice, per the book instructions. (Remember, this is the way it was done in the olden days utilizing any and all kind of fats saved up over periods of time to get the amount needed for the semi or yearly soapmaking process) I then used the forms, rubbermaid boxes, tupperware, etc for the fat after boiled to make the fat more manageable and to be able to be cut into blocks of 1lb size when it set up and hardened. (Individualy wrapped in Meat dept filmco and frozen until use. Also, for those newbies...potash is fireplace ashes, or the equilivent. That took me a long time to find that out. (I found that in an old 1800's book of information).)After prepping my kitchen, donning the protective eye wear, gloves etc, opening the windows, and I did use a small fan to pull any odor out the window that is over my kitchen sink, I began the process. NOTE: No tele whatsoever, no chance for child or hubby or animal interruptions, all fed, gone for the day, locked up, and unplugged. My first batch....well honestly I didn't know what TRACE looked like, I just hoped that the book took great pics, and it did. I did get very tired of stirring....and broke out my Stick blender....and in just a couple minutes it was done. I poured it and put it to bed. This was easy, and not difficult with the proper preparation, and measurements. I didn't use any potash, don't have to. I used beef fat, coconut oil, some palm ,and FO. To this day, the few bars I have left of that batch, does the best job of shinning up my pots and pans of anything i have found. And it is the hardest soap, geez it is hard. I have had to re-batch other soaps, adding dry milk, oatmeal and odds and ends experimenting. Some times I wrote it down and sometimes I forgot. Have given lots for Gifting, with requests for selling. But, time and busy life and part-time job hovers over that selling thing. Yes, retired, but have to work, both of us.
NOTES to NEWBIES: Be sure that when you buy the fragrance oils, essential oils, you make sure they are FOOD GRADE. You need the FOOD GRADE for SOAPS, SALTS, SKIN STUFF. Candles dont require them....but if you cross over into Soapmaking from Candles....be sure you remember, which is which. Skin irritations are not fun. I just buy the food grade and am sure. ALSO, 1oz of fragrance per 1 lb of soap, or 1lb of melted wax, is a good rule of thumb. Also, be sure you take the tare weight of the container you are using for either soap or measuring container, and subtract this or set the tare on the scale. As this can change your measurements. Boy, did I rattle on....sorry.....

Ramona, CA

Added note: I didn't like the crock pot method, took too long. Never tried re-melting in the oven, but, always used the stove. I have added too much H20 on more than one occasion, and waited for nearly a year for it to dry out and harden up. I have scorched and burned batches waiting for the H2O to evaporate, but, all was useable, and lathers up and cleans etc. One re-batch that scorched I made blue, and whatever I put into that batch is the best bar for my hair that I ever used. Another one I didn't write down. oops! Keeping a notepad and making notes for everything is a good good suggestion. My Son's Bosses Wife offered me $20.00 a bar for soap I gave to him for gifting last Christmas. She has very sensitive skin and said to him it was one of the only soaps she could use, and loved it. (He was giving a cash gift so I wrapped the cash around the soap bars, then wrapped that, someone at the party stole the cash, and she at least had the soap gift remaining...Everyone except the thief was shocked...and my son was so upset anyone would take the money, only $50.00 and more than he could afford to give) I made that batch (re-milled from other soaps) about 3 years ago. Again, no recipe. Re-creating it...seriously doubtful. Well, you all have a wonderful weekend....I 'm heading out garage SAILing.

Girard, OH

Newest soap debate at Casa De NCG.. what fragrance for the two boys here? LOL. I was tossing out different scent combinations, and I was getting the comments " Mom, that's too girly!"

We got the lye and the pot for the oils.. now I need to scour the area for the oils. Olive oil is the easy part, coconut and palm are more of a challenge. I'd like to avoid buying online as much as possible.

Getting excited and very nervous! LOL! Ren, I'll be using your recipe and will keep you posted on how it turned out.

Rock Hill, SC(Zone 7b)

NCG,

Walmart carries coconut oil in by the shortening. I think it is $2.76 for 30 oz.

I recently made soap for the first time after reading up online and in books off and on for years. It really took a lot less time than I thought it would. I spent more time measuring and checking temps and preparing my mold than actually stirring soap. With the stick blender it only took about 5 minutes to get to trace.

There are some great websites with fabulous instructions, tips and troubleshooting info.

Let us know how it turns out. My friends thought I was crazy when I told them I had made soap but they love it now that they have tried it.

Sultan, WA(Zone 8a)

The Palm Oil may be very tricky for you. I get it from a local soap supply shop that offers 35 lb. pails for around $45 dollars (and smaller quantities).

If you can't find Palm Oil, you can use tallow, such as lard to substitute. Lard makes a beautiful soap and I prefer it over Palm. But your soap won't be vegan anymore! Just remember to put your recipe back into the soap calc. again if you make any changes just to be safe.

For fragrances for boys . . . Are you using EO or are you buying FO?
Bramble Berry sells a FO called Pineapple Cilantro that is a dream to work with. Doesn't accelerate your batch or discolor at all. Smells absolutely heavenly! They also make one called Grass Stain that smells like . . .grass.
Do they like food fragrances like chocolate or fruit or dessert types? Ginger-citrus combinations smell more like the soap they are used to. Most men I've made soap for prefer cinnamon, peppermint, anise (licorice scent), vanilla and cirtus type scents that are simple and uncomplicated.

Girard, OH

I'll probably be using a combination of EO and FO. Some EOs are jaw-droppingly expensivefor our budget. The Pineapple cilantro sounds yummy. My son is apathetic, he just doesn't want to smell like a girl, rofl.

And we might be hitting the health food stores for the palm. There's a suburban wasteland south of us with all the "trendy" shops including a few of those New Age places. We'll ignore the crystal pyramids and head straight for the organic body care section. =)

Troutdale, OR

I don't remember where on the Internet I found some information on starting your own soap business but the statement was made that you should wait at least a year before going into business. During that year taking the time to learn your craft and see how your product holds up. If using a colorant it may fade and even the scent may change over time. In addition you will have to do research on whether you need a license to sell your product, labeling requirements and of course research to find out what is safe and not safe. You will need a place to make your product which is sterile and dust free. In addition you need to know how and where you are going to market your product. If you are going to be selling at a Farmer's Market then you need to figure in the cost of the booth and also will have to have someone committed to manning the booth. If through the internet you are going to have stiff competition and will have to figure in your shipping cost and the cost of your website. Also you will need to do research on where to buy in bulk the things you need to make your soap or other bath products. Be aware that something you enjoy doing could turn into a chore and you may end up losing money.

There are several places on the internet where you can find recipes for making different things as well as several good books out on the market. It will require research on your part and sometimes a lot of trial and error as some of the recipes I've tried have been disappointing. In addition some recipes which are great for home use will not do for marketing as they do not have a long shelf life.

If you plan to market your product you are going to have to keep detailed records because your clients will expect that the misty rain scented bath salt they buy today will be the same tomorrow. They will expect the sample soap of sunset rose and the full size bar of sunset rose to be the same. In addition you are going to have to spend time on developing new products and new unique scents.

If you are willing to invest the time in learning and have researched your market and still want to go into business then go for it. Best of Luck!

Berkeley, CA

No one has mentioned blender soap. This method really turned my casual home soapmaking around.

Basically, instead of stirring the soap for possibly hours or even days until it traces, you slowly pour it in the blender on low speed. You do have to be very careful to go very slowly, sort of like making mayonnaise, because the mixture will burn you. But it traces very quickly and allows me to be not so very accurate in measuring -- let alone doing any calculating.

You can get palm oil at middle eastern or Indian markets, something we have lots of in California.

Sultan, WA(Zone 8a)

I prefer a stick blender.

Littleton, CO

I'm new to the forum and had to throw out a 10lb batch of soap yesterday. I started making soap about 10 years ago, but not consistantly. I really want to get back into it, but having to throw out all those materials, not to mention the work and time involved. I used a recipe I've never used before, from "The Natural Soap Book" by Susan Miller Cavitch. In the past I've used the same recipe and always had great results. I'm at a loss at what I did wrong. When I went to unmold the soap, there was 1/2" of oil on the top. The soap didn't trace as quickly as it has in the past. I stirred for 1 hour and still didn't feel that it had traced properly. I guess I'll go back to my standby recipe, but I really would like to try something different. I'm going to try using a lye calculator to double check everything next time. Can anyone suggest a good source for lye. Can't get it at the store anymore.

Williamsburg, MI(Zone 4b)

I just bought 20 pounds of lye off of ebay cheaper than any of the suppliers I normaly use. You can buy smaller ammunts too. The cost of lye sodium hydroxide is going up as demand increases due to people making biofuel. I guess the stores quit carrying it because they use it to make crystal meth or some other insane drug.

I have used the same recipie for 12 years and every once in a while I still loose a batch. Sometimes I never do know why.(a lot of times it is the scent or essential oil that screws it up. Some react diffrently) You may be able to chop it up, add a bit of water and cook it on the stove (stir, stir and stir more) and pack it back in the mould. It never looks quite as nice as getting it to work the first time, but it works just as well and my customers don't seem to mind.

Toronto, Canada

Martha it sounds like you had separation in your batch from an insufficient amount of lye...are you using a digital scale to measure the ingredients?

Sultan, WA(Zone 8a)

Sometimes a batch just goes south. Even to the best soapmakers. 10 lbs of soap though, that is a crying shame.

Littleton, CO

Thanks for the suggestions. I do have a digital scale and double checked each measurement. I wish I had tried rebatching it, but was so dismayed that just threw it out. I just got more supplies, so, tomorrow is soap making day again. I will use my standby recipe and cross my fingers. Does anyone have a recipe for laundry detergent? I am trying to be as self-sufficient as possible and would love to take a wack at that. Thanks.

Sultan, WA(Zone 8a)

Homemade soap doesn't make very good laundry detergent, in my opinion!! But it you want to see for yourself, you'll want to use coconut oil. It's the best of all for cleansing power and formulate your recipe so that you are coming close to the 1% superfat range. You don't want excess lye and you don't want too much excess fat junking up your laundry. PLEASE use a soap calculator, like soapcalc.com to create the recipe when working with that kind of a proportion for safety sake.
So for example:
For I lb of coconut oil you'll use 2.9 ounces of lye (or 82.29 grams for those of us who like to measure their lye in grams for ultra precision!!)
This batch of soap will probably get warm in the mold and will be hard as a slab of granite. You'll want to cut it as soon as you can to make sure that you can! :) But I'd wear rubber gloves when you do. Let is cure and shred it as finely as you can to help it dissolve in the wash water.

Some recipes call for Borax and other such things to help in the wash. I think we had a thread on that a little while ago in the sustainable alternatives forum.
I wash all of my laundry with cold water and have found that the homemade soap doesn't dissolve well or wash well in anything but warm water. So I use detergent. You'll have to wash all you batches with some kind of detergent once a month or so anyway, since clothes washed in lye soap start to take on a grey dingy look.

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