going to try to make soap!?

MakelaNJoe

Chirping
Apr 26, 2015
353
36
98
Northern California
Ive decided my next try at something would be to make my own natural soap! Im looking for anyone who can give me pointers or tips! Also i would love to hear everybody's soap combinations! My first attempt will be a castile soap and go from there adding scents and fresh herbs/flowers.
Thanks makela
 
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Wise Woman

Crowing
Apr 12, 2011
875
724
266
My Cottage
Hi. I am a long time soapmaker and had a bath and body business for 8 years. I don't claim to be an expert, but I will help where I can. Castile soaps are lovely, but there are two things to keep in mind. First they do not lather as well as soaps with hard oils such as coconut, palm or even lard. Second, they have an extremely long cure time and the longer they cure the better they get. I would cure them for 6 months to a year before using them. Some people love them and others don't because they don't lather up as well. Mine have a silky, creamy lather which is lovely and they are very gentle to the skin.

A good soap for first timers is the trinity. Olive oil, coconut oil, and palm oil. A third of each. You can also superfat with a little castor for a boost in lathering. A trinity soap makes a nice hard bar of soap that is gentle on the skin and lathers well. It is best to make soaps unscented while learning because many fragrance and essential oils can cause soaps to move quickly and a beginner won't be prepared to handle that.

Practice making different recipes and when you find one you like make it enough to learn how it behaves. How fast does it trace and so forth. Once you are confident with your recipe, then look for FO or EO that behave themselves in soapmaking and go from there.

Soapmaking has a huge learning curve, but it is so much fun. I have been a soapmaker since 2001 and it just never gets old. Even when I was making 200 bars a day, the process never failed to amaze me. Have fun!
 
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MakelaNJoe

Chirping
Apr 26, 2015
353
36
98
Northern California
I made my first batch it is still in the curing process. I decided to try simple so i used olive oil and coconut oil. I COMPLETLY messed up! I didnt have my recipe in front of me.. thought i had it memorized but only added half the olive oil i needed! Do you think this soap is unusable considering the lye ratio? Ive heard of doing a "zap test" after curing but this just doesnt seem like the best idea giving yourself a chemical burn on the tongue!!? I also rushed my process by adding scents before i established a good recipe. I technically still have a week of curing so i guess we will see what happens! I decided to try sugar scrubs and im loving the simplicity and all the different kinds!
 

Wise Woman

Crowing
Apr 12, 2011
875
724
266
My Cottage
The zap test won't burn your tongue. You just lightly touch your tongue to a bar of soap and you will know right away if it is lye heavy. I would suggest tossing it and trying again if you left out that much of the oil. It will be lye heavy and you wouldn't want someone to get a bar of lye heavy soap by mistake.

Might I suggest a soaping notebook? You should take notes each time you make a batch so you don't repeat mistakes. Also it is wise to keep your recipe in front of you while making soap because as you found out, it is extremely easy to omit an ingredient, get amounts wrong or make other mistakes. I highly recommend the lye calculator at Majestic Mountain Sage. You can make up your recipe and then print it out. It is good to have them as you can file them and go back to the ones you like.

Sugar scrubs are wonderful, but do not forget to add preservative. Even if your recipe has no water in it, remember that wet hands will most likely be using the scrub and will introduce water into the mixture and allow bacteria to grow. You can do some research online as to which ones you would prefer to use. I try to stay away from parabens myself.

For your soap, I would like to suggest you start with a trinity soap. 1/3 olive oil, 1/3 coconut oil and 1/3 palm oil. This will give you a nice hard bar of soap with lots of fluffy lather. Once you master that, then you can move on and create other recipes. Castor oil is very nice to add to a castile soap at a 95% to 5% ratio. Just remember that castile soap does not cure out in 4 to 6 weeks and can take months before it is ready.

When searching for fragrances, buy high quality from a reputable company like MMS or Brambleberry or some of the other online soap suppliers. Look for fragrances that do not accelerate trace. Lavender is a good essential oil to begin with and there are many fragrance oils that behave well in cold processed soap as well. Once you settle on a recipe and know how it behaves, then you can start working with trickier fragrances. Some essential oils, such as rose geranium will give you soap on a stick, so I would avoid that one until you are well experienced. Same with fragrance oils. Many of the water/spa types as well as a lot of florals will accelerate trace, so read the descriptions prior to purchasing.

Good luck and if you need any recipe help, let me know.
 

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