Before I write about lessons learned, I wanted to thank everyone who entered my giveaway of the Eco Craft book. Janice of Flushing, New York won it. It will be in the mail to her tomorrow. Stay tuned for more craft book giveaways.
Also, we finally got rain last night – a whole inch! It was muddy harvesting this morning at the ABE Community Garden, but we’re so happy to have it. And with the rain came some cooler temps. Yeah!
But now about the soap. We’ve not made any in quite a while. It’s not that I’ve not wanted to, it’s just been so hot and there are so many other chores that need attention.
However, I have spent some time thinking about what I’ve learned from the five soaps and continuing my soap research. Here are some things I’ve learned.
- Always run any soap recipe through a soap calculator. Here is my favorite. Even if you decide to use my recipes. It’s good practice when you make your own, but also it never hurts to double check.
- Start with an easy recipe with three oils. My basic soap is a real easy one.
- Don’t use GSE (Grapefruit Seed Extract). I did in my first several because one of the books recommended it, as did a website. After much research, I found that it is not necessary. Save your money.
- I combined my oils and lye water around 95 – 100 degrees. I’ve found out that getting the temps of these two solutions exactly the same is not necessary. In fact, the lye water can be mixed up the day before. Some soapers even mix up the oils the day before! Not worrying about getting them exactly the same temp takes some pressure off making soap. But I would be careful about not combining them when they are still real hot, although other soapers do that. I’m not comfortable with high temps and I don’t mind waiting for the temps to come down to 100.
- Mix the lye water solution first. Since it gets hotter than the oils it gives the lye water time to cool down.
- Buy or make a good mold. We bought this one online that the sides have hinges so it’s easy to get the soap out.
- Line the mold ahead of time. Don’t wait until you are ready to pour or even mix to line the mold.
- Get a nice cheap tablecloth to cover your work counter. I bought mine at the dollar store. For $4 it’s worth the money, makes cleanup easier, and will last a long time.
- Lock up the pets and kids so you aren’t disturbed while soap making.
- Be sure to keep notes. I have a folder where I keep my notes and my recipes.
- Join some online soapmakers groups. I belong to both Southern Soapers and and soapmakers on Yahoo groups. I’ve learned a lot from some of these seasoned soapers.
I spend about 45 minutes getting the kitchen ready and probably as much time cleaning up and putting all of the supplies away. The actual heating, mixing, and pouring doesn’t take long at all. So all you need is a couple hours of uninterrupted time and you’ll have some great soap. That’s it for now. Our next soap will be a 95% olive oil and 5% castor oil. I’ve got the recipe all printed out and ready to mix. Now to carve out the time to make it.
Now I know what GSE means!!
Lynn, I should have spelled that out for you in the email! Looking forward to hearing about your soaping.
Your soaps look wonderful Lynda 🙂 What are they all (like, from top to bottom…the top one is the coffee citrus right)?
That’s a really good list and really, when you follow it, soapmaking is pretty easy! We have to spread the word and stop people from using that storebought liquid soap that isn’t even soap! Actually, when did people stop buying bars of soap? Or do they still use ‘real’ soap in the US? Here all I see is the liquid stuff and I get all nostalgic seeing a nice bar of soap somewhere 🙂
Kristina, they are from top: Citrus Coffee Hand Soap, Lavender Goat Milk, Chocolate Soap, Basic and Peppermint Oatmeal Honey. I don’t know when people stopped buying bar soap. I can’t remember when I did that. I guess the marketing of the liquid soap was so good that we all kind of got sucked right into buying it! However, most stores still carry bar soap, but you have to look for it usually on a lower shelf. But you almost have to go to specialty stores to find handmade soap. On our Florida vacation last January, we visited Tarpon Springs where the quaint shopping area had store after store of handmade soap. It was like being in soap heaven!
Thanks for the info. I have been reading and reading everything I can get my hands on (internet mostly) about soapmaking but I have not made anything yet. I’m afraid to try, scared I’ll mess something up. But, I’m gonna have to make a move soon, my family and friends are sick of hearing me talk about it. LOL
Yvette, I understand your fear – I felt the same way. Just remember to wear your gloves and goggles around the lye and you’ll be fine. Once you try it and have your own soap, it will be hard for you to go back to the stuff you are using now. Let me know how it goes.
They look so good, I can’t even pick a favourite…the Goat Milk Lavender and the Chocolate soap are so pretty, but I like the basic one as well…looks so pure and white and clean 🙂
And I definitely second your last comment…once you make your own soap it’s impossible to go back to storebought. I use my soap not only for washing hands but also for showering and I could not imagine using shower gel ever again.
So, go Yvette 😉
Kristina, I have a hard time picking my favorite. Hubby and I also really like the plain basic soap.
How do I get instructions on making soap. I would like to make oatmeal & honey. What do you line the mold with. I’m a first time beginner. Please help.
Wanda, You will see at the top of the page a link for Soap etc and there is a tab for Soap recipes. The newer ones are at the top. Here is the oatmeal and honey link: https://lyndaheines.blog/2010/02/20/another-day-another-soap/ We use freezer paper to line out molds. My soap recipe posts have lots of info on what we’ve done over the years. Also, this is a website that helped me when we first started: http://www.soap-making-essentials.com/ It’s a fun hobby, but I spent quite a bit of time researching before we made our first batch. Hopefully my posts help others not make the mistakes we made. This is my very first soap post that talks also about the books we read and shows you the mold with the freezer paper. https://lyndaheines.blog/2010/02/05/its-soap/ Have fun!
Thank you so much. I look forward to watching your video and reading recipes and ideas from you