Author Topic: Anyone make soap?  (Read 20284 times)

regulator

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #50 on: September 23, 2015, 08:04:46 PM »
Mostly I just like the idea of knowing exactly what's in there and making a premium bar at bargain cost.

Funny, I plan on trying to sell soap, but if all it turns out to be exactly what you describe that is fine, too.  I costed out my soap per bar.  I can make lavender-shea butter soap for about 70 cents per bar.  100% coconut oil soap with 20% superfat and citrus/lemongrass EO comes out at less than 50 cents a bar.  Compare that to what DW has been paying L'Occitaine for tiny bars of soap the last few years...

TomTX

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #51 on: September 25, 2015, 12:33:49 PM »
Bars with coconut do lather gorgeously!

20% superfat would be lovely for the hands! Maybe not the hardest though.

Pure coconut/20% superfat cold process gets plenty hard.

jollygreen23

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #52 on: September 26, 2015, 08:42:01 AM »
Bars with coconut do lather gorgeously!

20% superfat would be lovely for the hands! Maybe not the hardest though.

I use normal kitchen equipment, but same as TomTx it's all stainless and pyrex anyway. I tend to leave my stainless steel stockpot for a day or three after making soap in it, wait until it turns to soap, then clean it out. Much less bother.

Best recommendations on the web I've found:

Soapcalc  has a fabulous calculator: http://soapcalc.net/calc/SoapCalcWP.asp
Down to earth's post- note she uses copha blocks (hydrogenated coconut oil) as a lot of people do as it's much cheaper http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com.au/2011/08/how-to-make-cold-processed-soap-v-2.html
Humblebee and me. She often adds sodium lactate to help bars harden up: http://www.humblebeeandme.com/category/the-basics/basics-articles/

I second the soapcalc! I live and die by this thing, when making soap. I'll use what I have on-hand, but a cheap olive oil (not extra virgin), coconut oil (both of these bought at Costco) and shortening are my go-to fats. Shortening makes a hard, but creamy bar and it's super-cheap!

HappierAtHome

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Hi friends!

I'm about to try cold process soap making for the first time and despite reading a million instruction articles online I find that I still have questions. I am sure that there are plenty of kickass people here making their own soap, so maybe one or two of you will be willing to answer my queries?

Additionally, it might be nice to have somewhere to share soap making successes, failures and ideas!

HappierAtHome

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Here is my first question, cross-posted from my journal, basically asking whether I can use cheap vegetable or canola oil:

Cold Process Soap Making

[Friend who lurks on the forum] and I are FINALLY going to give cold process soap making a go tomorrow. I've previously used melt and pours as my baby step into this.

I've read all the safety precautions approximately one million times. We will definitely be adding the lye to the water, and not the other way around ;-) and wearing safety goggles, gloves and masks. The deck has a power point (can I say again how much I love the previous owners of my home?) so we will most likely do the entire process out there, or if the rain is coming in too hard, we will at the very least do the lye-water bit out there and the rest of it in my very well-ventilated laundry.

I've been playing with lye calculators, so I know that I will need to calculate my lye and water again after I finalise my oil choice, even though I am following a basic beginners recipe.

The bit I am getting caught on is which oils to use. Even the beginners recipes suggest using a mixture of olive oil and coconut oil. Thing is, as it's our first batch I'd rather experiment with cheaper oil - basic canola oil from the supermarket would be my preference. I know that there is a guy on the Down to Earth forums who uses basic, cheap vegetable oil in his soap, but I cannot for the life of me find his blog now.

Why would it be a bad idea to just go ahead and use canola / vegetable oil, assuming that I adjust the lye and water for that oil type using a lye calculator?

HappierAtHome

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And another question: according to what I have read on the internetz, I should scrape the container in which I have mixed the soap clean once the remaining soap mix has solidified. Then I can wash that and the other equipment in hot, soapy liquid with some vinegar added.

Is that what you guys do with the utensils and equipment? Including the lye measuring container and the container you've mixed lye and water in?

Additionally, do you reuse your gloves or throw them out after each use?

neophyte

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Then I can wash that and the other equipment in hot, soapy liquid with some vinegar added.

Is that what you guys do with the utensils and equipment? Including the lye measuring container and the container you've mixed lye and water in?

I've only made soap a handful of times (I actually think I prefer hot process, I'm too impatient for cold), but that's basically what I do.

I use nitrile gloves and just throw them out, but if you are using reusable gloves they'd probably be fine as long as you rinsed them off with vinegar.

I don't know about the canola oil but I'm curious what happens if you try it. I like to use some lard or tallow. I find it makes the soap easier for me to work with.

backyardfeast

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Hi Happier,
We've been making soap at home for years; ask away.  I posted our basic technique in this thread last year:

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/do-it-yourself-forum!/anyone-make-soap/

But if you have any specific questions? 

HappierAtHome

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Hi Happier,
We've been making soap at home for years; ask away.  I posted our basic technique in this thread last year:

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/do-it-yourself-forum!/anyone-make-soap/

But if you have any specific questions?

Thanks for that - I've asked mods to merge the threads :-)


Mod Note: Merged Topics.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2016, 11:34:15 PM by arebelspy »

HappierAtHome

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Then I can wash that and the other equipment in hot, soapy liquid with some vinegar added.

Is that what you guys do with the utensils and equipment? Including the lye measuring container and the container you've mixed lye and water in?

I've only made soap a handful of times (I actually think I prefer hot process, I'm too impatient for cold), but that's basically what I do.

I use nitrile gloves and just throw them out, but if you are using reusable gloves they'd probably be fine as long as you rinsed them off with vinegar.

I don't know about the canola oil but I'm curious what happens if you try it. I like to use some lard or tallow. I find it makes the soap easier for me to work with.

Thank you for answering my questions! I'm curious - just how long does it take for the lye-water to cool down? You say you're impatient which implies it takes a while...

stripey

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #60 on: August 26, 2016, 05:18:14 AM »
Might take an hour in high summer, without aircon on. Do the lye water step first, then heat the oils up second. Alternatively you can use much cooler temperatures which means trace takes longer to achieve but you don't need to be quite so attentive as to when to combine: http://www.humblebeeandme.com/cinnamon-swirl-soap-shampoo/

I re-use my gloves and to be honest use my normal kitchen utensils for the soapmaking. I do cleaning up the lazy way by ignoring it for a day or so, and when the mess has turned to soap, rinse it out with copious amounts of water in the laundry sink.

onehair

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #61 on: August 26, 2016, 07:32:17 AM »
Am going to restart mine for Christmas sticking to melt and pour until I can take off and do the whole lye thing...

neophyte

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Thank you for answering my questions! I'm curious - just how long does it take for the lye-water to cool down? You say you're impatient which implies it takes a while...

It's not even that. I don't like waiting for it to trace (sometimes mine seems to take forever, I think either my scale is a little off or my lye has absorbed some water) and I like to be able to use the soap basically right away.

HappierAtHome

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #63 on: August 27, 2016, 06:03:06 AM »
Done!!

I guess it'll be a while before I know if it's worked :-P

I used the simple four ingredient recipe from Down to Earth, which stripey posted. Added mandarin essential oil.

Most annoying bit was that the lye-water cooled down rapidly so we (my friend and I) had to put the oil in the freezer for a while to bring it down to a comparable temp. We expected to wait around for the lye to cool, not the water.

Nemesis.

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #64 on: August 28, 2016, 08:37:00 PM »
Following.
Would love to try this some day.

HappierAtHome

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #65 on: August 30, 2016, 12:26:48 AM »
Friends. My soap did not get hot since I made it on Saturday. Some recipes say that it has to randomly heat up in the days following its creation as part of saponification; others are silent on the issue.

Did I stuff up? Will it still be safe to use later on or is the lye un-neutralised and lurking in the "soap" to burn me / other humans?

stripey

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #66 on: August 30, 2016, 03:43:46 PM »
It doesn't always get hot in my experience.

stashgrower

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #67 on: October 16, 2016, 03:16:07 AM »
HappierAtHome - Looking into this for a future DIY. Do you mind if I ask where you got your lye? Thanks ;)

HappierAtHome

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #68 on: October 16, 2016, 03:20:16 AM »
HappierAtHome - Looking into this for a future DIY. Do you mind if I ask where you got your lye? Thanks ;)

Bunnings! In the paint aisle, of all the weird places.

Moonwaves

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #69 on: October 16, 2016, 05:25:43 AM »
Need to come back and read this thread properly when I have time. Soapmaking has been on my list of things to do/learn for far too long now. It's time I actually did it!

TomTX

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #70 on: October 16, 2016, 05:27:23 AM »
HappierAtHome - Looking into this for a future DIY. Do you mind if I ask where you got your lye? Thanks ;)

Around here it's the plumbing aisle for unclogging drains.

stashgrower

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #71 on: October 16, 2016, 06:48:13 AM »
Thanks! Bunnings makes it easy.

sparkytheop

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #72 on: October 19, 2016, 08:35:25 PM »
I'm also posting to follow.

I've made melt-and-pour soap, but I love both cold and hot process.  I figure it will go along well with all the other DIY stuff I do.

Fireball

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #73 on: October 20, 2016, 10:38:51 AM »
Posting to follow.

Eedad

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #74 on: November 12, 2016, 06:58:10 PM »
I am bumping to subscribe as this is something I've wanted to try for awhile now and there's good info here.

stashgrower

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #75 on: November 15, 2016, 09:14:19 PM »
Wondering how soap-making scales down: Is there a limit to the smallest batch size? I guess the chemistry is the same, but are there practical limits? E.g. I want to make one or two bars (instead of ten bars) for my first attempt.

mustachepungoeshere

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #76 on: November 15, 2016, 09:30:50 PM »
Posting to follow! This sounds like a really fun, Mustachian hobby :-)

+1

backyardfeast

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #77 on: November 15, 2016, 09:49:02 PM »
Wondering how soap-making scales down: Is there a limit to the smallest batch size? I guess the chemistry is the same, but are there practical limits? E.g. I want to make one or two bars (instead of ten bars) for my first attempt.

Stashgrower, most of the "1 batch" recipes I've seen make 1 loaf pan's worth, which really isn't very much, although still ten bars rather than 1-2. :)  You could scale down the ingredients to a point.  I think the smallest ingredient is the lye, which in our recipe is still a couple of tablespoons, iirc, so you could go down a bit.  You would need a mold to fit a smaller recipe, but maybe a silicone muffin tray would let you make a few smaller bars?

That said, I'm not sure there's any advantage to scaling down.  The recipes are really straightforward, and although you can make really nice or less nice soaps, there's not really a way you end up with an unusable product if you're following the instructions, even if you don't know what you're doing. If you were worried about wasting ingredients and wanted to do a test batch, I would just start with a super-simple recipe and get the hang of the process.

The only thing we've ever had go wrong was that the smells fade or we don't like a particular additive (like oatmeal or orange zest or something scratchy).  But we still used the soap up; it was still soap. :-)

stashgrower

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #78 on: November 17, 2016, 06:35:51 AM »
thanks, backyardfeast :)

TomTX

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #79 on: November 17, 2016, 07:14:07 AM »
I use silicone muffin tins. No need to slice bars afterward.

Carless

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #80 on: November 20, 2016, 04:03:38 PM »
Wondering how soap-making scales down: Is there a limit to the smallest batch size? I guess the chemistry is the same, but are there practical limits? E.g. I want to make one or two bars (instead of ten bars) for my first attempt.

Remember that as your batch size goes down, the precision of your measurements needs to go up.  A lot of electronic scales are 1 or 2g.  This is fine in a large batch, but could mess up your lye measurement completely with a small batch, and give you a nasty result.  If possible check the accuracy of your scale and make sure it's suitable.

stashgrower

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #81 on: November 21, 2016, 01:56:01 AM »
Good point, thanks carless. I'll be sure to double-check.

I thought about the backyardfeast's comment about a normal size batch producing about ten bars. It would take me a while to get through that amount. ummm what is the shelf life of soap? If all the oils react with the lye, then does that mean there isn't anything to go bad unless it's super-fat???

backyardfeast

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #82 on: November 21, 2016, 09:55:58 AM »
We make two of those loaf pan batches and they last us about a year.  It's an amazing thing to spend an evening once a year making soap and then never have to think about our supply!

There isn't really a shelf-life, I don't think.  Basically, as soap ages, it dries out, which makes it harder.  When you make your batch, it needs to cure for a couple of weeks before you use it, just so it doesn't turn to mush in the shower.  But you'll find that it's very soft and lathery and disappears more quickly at first.  At this time of year (we're just about out of last year's batch), it's perfect.

Remember that homemade soap also makes very nice gifts, which is why it's not usually too difficult to go through your bars... :-)

GreenSheep

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #83 on: November 22, 2016, 12:10:19 PM »
Posting to follow! I've just started with melt and pour, to make some quick and easy Christmas gifts, but I'd love to get into cold process soap making, too.

Fireball

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #84 on: November 22, 2016, 04:36:17 PM »
Wow. Well, I went down the rabbit hole a bit on making soap. Made several batches over the last few weeks using a variety of different ingredients - avocado oil, safflower oil, goat milk, sunflower oil, honey, etc. Hot process and cold process. Essential oils, blah blah. It's a lot of fun!

stashgrower

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #85 on: November 22, 2016, 11:53:42 PM »
Perfect, thanks backyardfeast. Hmm too late for Christmas gifts this year? Maybe they can age with friends :)

HappierAtHome

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #86 on: December 06, 2016, 06:33:28 PM »
So I've FINALLY popped my soap out of the moulds and it has a white powdery layer on top. Is this okay? Did my soap saponify properly? Will it burn my loved ones if I give it to them??

Vertical Mode

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #87 on: December 06, 2016, 07:00:21 PM »
Made a couple of batches of soap a year ago. First was a castile soap (except not really because I added a bit of coconut oil as someone suggested it would be too soft without it). That one gets really gloopy and slimy when sitting in water. The other I actually made as a shampoo bar, which is much nicer (has shea butter, cocoa butter, almond oil, jojoba oil, olive and coconut). Works out about the same price or a bit cheaper than the cheapest supermarket soaps. But they're unscented (better for sensitive skin) - my understanding is the real cost comes from scenting oils. You have to use a lot for the scent to be noticeable.

I think I have enough from those two batches to last another 3 years!

That was my experience with castile as well. It was actually a very hard bar, but if it sat in water it got a little goopy. I think I will try that recipe again with some lavender essential oil to see how that works.

Another idea I've had was to try one with with activated charcoal and sea salt (and that lavender EO again) - anyone have any tips or suggestions, or tried such a thing and can share what kind of results they had?

Thinkum

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #88 on: December 06, 2016, 07:48:12 PM »
So I've FINALLY popped my soap out of the moulds and it has a white powdery layer on top. Is this okay? Did my soap saponify properly? Will it burn my loved ones if I give it to them??

The white ash is okay. If I am remembering correctly, that has to do with impurities in your water. The thing you need to check is the pH balance. If you let it sit for 3-4 weeks, it should be fine, however an inexpensive pH test would help you know for sure. You can order them online or get them at pool supply shops I'm assuming. Good luck.

Carless

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #89 on: December 07, 2016, 07:40:15 PM »
Yeah, just scrape the ash off, or give the bar a light rinse and then dry it.  As for the goopification issue with soap, I bought some lee valley surgical nail brushes, and put the soap on those beside the sink.  That lets it drain after each use as any trapped moisture = goo.

stashgrower

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #90 on: December 10, 2016, 10:04:13 PM »
Happier: Is the white powder like this?

"When soap is on the cooler side, soda ash can form on the top of the soap. Soda ash occurs on soap due to the natural process of unsaponified lye reacting with carbon dioxide in the air. The result is a thin white layer on the top of the soap. While perfectly safe to use, soda ash can be considered an aesthetic issue."

https://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/tips-and-tricks/back-to-basics-how-temperature-affects-cold-process-soap/

HappierAtHome

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #91 on: December 10, 2016, 10:21:38 PM »
Happier: Is the white powder like this?

"When soap is on the cooler side, soda ash can form on the top of the soap. Soda ash occurs on soap due to the natural process of unsaponified lye reacting with carbon dioxide in the air. The result is a thin white layer on the top of the soap. While perfectly safe to use, soda ash can be considered an aesthetic issue."

https://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/tips-and-tricks/back-to-basics-how-temperature-affects-cold-process-soap/

Ding ding ding! I think we have a winner! Thanks stashgrower :-)

stashgrower

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Re: Anyone make soap?
« Reply #92 on: December 21, 2016, 07:55:24 AM »
I began with the DTE recipe as was recommended above, and made some changes (3/4 batch, lower temperature). Doing it outdoors was helpful for the extra ventilation, just more hassle running to and from the kitchen so next time I'll remember to bring extra gear out with me. The day ended safely.

After 48 hr I lick-tested my soap - no zap. It feels nice but I haven't used it yet. Aesthetically the top side has a little bit of soda ash, guessing uneven temperature while in the moulds, and next time I'll smooth the surface. Now curing!