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Home > Features > Living Well > Eco-Tips > Soapmaking Q and A: June 9, 1999 - October 26, 1999

Soapmaking
Questions and Answers

Archives: June 9, 1999 - October 26, 1999

Disclaimer | Post a Soapmaking Question, Tip or Answer | Back to Current Q & A's

March 1 1999 - June 9, 1999

| Use on dark clothes? | Benzoin uses | Important to wrap? | Soap from lye and meat skin | Ugly greenish/brown colour | Glycerine for kids | Bombs crack | Amber, not clear | Weigh oil? | Where benzoin in NZ | Best oil for lather | Use food coloring? | Setup and cure | Use loaf/bread pans? | Grainy texture, smells fatty | What happened to the colors? | Too soft to grate | Why use goat's milk? | Use candle scent? | Where buy glycerine soap blocks? | Where benzoin? | Large bubbles, dew drops | Need liquid with powdered Goat's milk? | Like clearasil | Water softener problem | Shiny bath beads | What does triple milled mean? | No suds, bubbles or foam | A very damp climate | Removing oil residue | Saponification values | Shower gel? | Soap sweats | Bees Wax Soap Recipe | Liquid bath gel | Glycerin Soap Chunks Supplier? | Old soap turned rancid | It S E P A R A T E D! | Measuring Soap Weight | Using Coconut Milk | Baking Soda Soap | Crumbly soap | Came out like mush | First Batch, lots of Q's | Goatsmilk recipes | Inexpensive scale? | Where to buy lye? | Too much lye? | Glycerine Soap Loaves | Small Recipes | Clay recipe | Bumpy rebatch | Soap with a greeting | Soft enough to cut? | Gel stage good/bad? | Eo's retain properties? | Essential oil vs. fragance oil |



Use on dark clothes? ~ Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999

I recently bought a bag of homemade Laundry Soap---Made with home rendered lard and lye----My question is---Can I use it on colored dark clothes??? Or will they discolor? I use it on my whites and they come out so WHITE!!! Please get back to me asap!!!

Thanks

BET ---

REPLY:

Do you have something you can test first? Not knowing if there is anything else in the soap(that may not be listed on the label), I don't want to ruin an entire wash.

z

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Benzoin uses ~ what can i use benzoin powder for? i have it thinking i could make tincture of benzoin and now i do not know if it is going to be useful for making splashes, lotion or salve as its preservative...can you help me out?

deb ---

REPLY:

I usually use vitamin C for anything besides soap. I have seen benzoin used, but like the addition of the vitamins. I also use wheat germ oil which is Vitamin E. I would think the concentration used to preserve the salves or lotions could possible be too high for most people and could cause a reaction.

z



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Important to wrap? ~ Date: Mon, 25 Oct 1999

I have another question: How important is it to wrap the newly poured soap to keep it warm? I have tried with and without a blanket and it doesn't seem to make any difference to me. Am I missing something?

Thanks.

Paul ---

REPLY:

I have too and gotten the same results both ways - the key - I live in San Antonio where the weather is warm/hot year round(we have the ac on at Christmas most of the time).

The reason for wrapping the soap is to keep it warm and let the mixture cool slowly. Any sudden temp changes will change the chemical reaction of the mixture.

z

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Soap from lye and meat skin ~ Date: Sun, 24 Oct 1999

When she was a child, my mother helped my grandmother made lye soap. Mother does not remember the process. Can you give us the recipe for making lye soap?

I know this probably sounds pretty strange, but the soap my grandmotherused a big black wash pot, meat and meat skin, and lye. Mother would like that recipe for sentimental reasons. I hope you can help.

Have a great day.

Barbara ---

REPLY:

Hi,

All the recipes on this website are for lye soap. If just depends on whether you want all vegetable or lard or a mixture.

z

I'm not aware of the recipe you mention. Probably she cooked the meat and skin in water to separate out the fat, then skimmed the fat and cooked it with lye to make the soap. It could all have been done in a black, cast-iron pot. You might want to take a look at the link below. It has some info about older ways of making soap.

Here's the page:

http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/paul_norman_3/soapmake.htm

-Alan

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Ugly greenish/brown colour ~ Date: Wed, 20 Oct 1999

It's great to know I'm not the only one bumping along this soapmaking adventure. I took a soapmaking class (veg-soap), and of course my soap "set and cured" a perfect off-white colour, we used ground lavender w/essential lavender oil. Well, this weekend I tried to recreate that perfect moment ......all seems well with the exception of the colour, instead of off-white I have a very ugly(in my opinion) greenish/brown colour. What can cause this? the olive oil?

I appreciate your insight.

O. ---

REPLY:

It definitely could be the oil. I have different results with different brands of oil. Unfortunately, it is a trial and error sort of thing. Let the soap cure, it probably will change colour in the process. If you can contact the teacher, ask what brand of oil she used.

If you substitute liquids, the soap will turn colours - I made a buttermilk/lavender soap and the soap started out as a really horrible reddish beige, but turned a beautiful tan/beige color.

z

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Glycerine for kids ~ Date: Fri, 22 Oct 1999

I am attempting to make glycerin bars with novelty toys encased in the soap. Could someone provide a novice set of instructions and helpful hints? Also, would this be an activity appropriate for 6-8 year olds,(with adult supervision, of course)?

Suzanne ---

REPLY:

The liquid is too hot for 6-8 year olds to handle, but adding the toys to the mold would be okay. Just fill your mold half way, insert the toy, let set until thickened slightly and the finish filling the mold.

z

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Bombs crack ~ Date: Fri, 15 Oct 1999

Why do bath bombs crack when drying. Are they too dry or is there too much of a particular ingredient?

Thanks

Lynette (theboyles@nf.sympatico.ca) ---

REPLY:

They probably dried too fast, keep them is a cool place and I do some reshaping as they dry.

z

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Amber, not clear ~

Hi there,

A friend and I have graduated to transparent soapmaking. Even though it's an all day process, it's very rewarding. In it's natural form (prior to adding coloring and fragance), it has a light amber shade making it difficult to color. We haven't been able to find a recipe that will give us a clear soap.

Melt and pour is clear. How do they do that?

Thank you,

June ---

REPLY:

The recipe probably doesn't have enough sugar. Try adding more sugar and see if that helps.

z

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Weigh oil? ~ Date: Tue, 12 Oct 1999 I have a very accurate scale (to 0.1 gram) and use it to weigh my oil and lye. Most of the recipes I have seen say to use one third as much water. Does this mean to weigh the water in grams too? I have recipes that give the water in milliliters and the oil in grams. How do grams compare to milliliters? Paul Detrixhe ---

REPLY:

Yes, the mililiters need to be converted to grams, but I will have to look up the conversion.

 * Volume
                 1 gallon = 4 quarts = 3.78 liters
                 1 quart = 2 pints = 946 mililiters
                 1 pint = 16 fluid oz. = 473 mililiters
                 1 cup = 8 fluid oz. = 236.5 mililiters
                 1 liter = 33.81 fluid oz.
                 * Weight
                 1 lb. = 16 oz. = 453.6 grams
                 1 kg. = 2.2 pounds
                 1 oz. = 28.35 grams
                 1 gr. = 0.035 oz.
                 * Length
                 1 inch = 2.54 cm.
                 1 foot = 12 inches = 30.48 cm.



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Where benzoin in NZ ~ Date: Mon, 4 Oct 1999

Hi great site,

look i need help with finding benzoin powder and benzoin tincture, i'm in new zealand if any one can help that would be great.I would also like to know of a good soap moulding site or some great ideas thanks heaps.

justine NZ! ---

REPLY:

If you search on soapmaking supplies, there are many who might have what you are looking for. In particular Majestic Mountain Sage is a very useful site. Also, here in the U.S., I have found it in health food stores, so you may want to try that.

z

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Best oil for lather ~ Mon, 27 Sep 1999

What oils make a better lather? Suggestions please.

dmileeto (dmileeto@aol.com) ---

REPLY:

Coconut is the best, but never use more than half because it is extremely drying. Rule of thumb, I only use 25% max.

z

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Use food coloring? ~ Date: Sat, 25 Sep 1999

Greetings from Michigan!

Thanks so very much for responding to my question. I am just getting in to this, doing all kind of research, but I haven't yet tried to make any soap.

When people mention coloring, is it a special coloring or is it food coloring that you buy at the grocery store?

Connie ---

REPLY:

Hi,

You can only use pigment or candle coloring. The lye kills the food coloring and you may end up with a dirty grey bar of soap.

z

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Setup and cure ~ Date: Sat, 25 Sep 1999

How long does it take for a bar to set?

Connie ---

REPLY:

It takes most soap 24-48 hours to "setup", but 3-4 weeks to cure. You can't use the soap until it is fully cured.

z

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Use loaf/bread pans? ~ Date: Sat, 25 Sep 1999

I have seen a company called Bubble and Suds that makes decorative soap and sells them by the loaf to retailers in all kinds of designs. Can I make it in a loaf/bread pan style to slice or is that a pain?

I am so sorry to "pick your brain" but I want to be certain about everything.

Again, thanks for your input. I really appreciate it!

My best,

Connie ---

REPLY:

You can use bread/loaf pans only if they are glass or ceramic.

If you have never made soap, I wouldn't start out with glycerin soap. If you want to make presents, you can get molds, bars of glycerin soap, coloring, and the insets at Michael's. You grate the soap, melt it, add color, fragrance and pour into the molds.

z

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Grainy texture, smells fatty ~ Date: Fri, 24 Sep 1999 Hi!

My first batch of soap was the soap essentials bar II from Susan Miller Cavitchs' book, "The Soapmakers' Companion", and it turned out wonderful! For my scent, I used 3 tsp. ambergrois f.o., 3 tsp. lavender 40/42, and 2 tsp. of maychang. The soap turned out a solid, dusty white color, and it hardened almost immediately out of the molds. I was really encouraged by the results, but the next time I tried to make the same recipe, after putting it to bed for 24 hrs., it was still rather soft, and it had a grainy texture to it that I didn't care for, and it was more opaque. Worst of all, after 4 weeks, it smells more fatty than pleasant, and is still kind of soft. What could I have done wrong? I'm sure I measured right I may have gotten a little impatient with the trace, since I used a hand blender to mix it for 15 min., I thought I saw a trace, but I cant be 100 percent sure. People want more of my nifty soap! Please help if you can. Thanks!

Lee (Venbear@aol.com) ---

REPLY:

Are you using a scale to measure? It really sounds like the fat to lye ratio is off. It could also be the trace, but more than likely, you have too much fat for the lye used.

z

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What happened to the colors? ~ Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999

I'm new at soaping. I made a batch of calendula and at first it was beautiful. It was a wonderful yellow color without adding any colorant. The problem came after it started to dry. It started to turn sort of dry and discolored on the outside edges. Also made lavender and it turned brown and dryed. Can anyone tell me why?

Jamie ---

REPLY:

Are you using the flowers? If so, the lye is doing them in. Also, when using the essential oils make sure you mix thoroughly with the soap base. I've had the same results when not mixing cinnamon oil properly.

z

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Too soft to grate ~ Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999

When I make glycerine it does not get hard before I have to remelt it. the recipe I have says to wait 3 days and then grate and remelt. Mine is too soft to grate. Why?? Am I doing something wrong?

Help...

Crystal (seacaster@yahoo.com) ---

REPLY:

If you make all vegetable soap, it will be very soft

z

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Why use goat's milk? ~ Date: Sat, 18 Sep 1999

Hi, I'm wondering why people use goat's milk in making soap? Don't want to sound stupid, but.....

(no name) ---

REPLY:

You don't sound stupid - it's an good question

Goat's milk has a lot of butterfat(cream), which has the same results as using using a little(1-2 ounces) cream at tracing time, or adding glycerin or lanolin at tracing time to a regular batch. A bar of soap that is very smoothing to the skin.

I have tried to substitute cream or milk, or buttermilk for the water with 3 different batches and the end result was a wonderful soap that left my skin very soft, but the bar was so soft because of the butterfat that it didn't last very long.

Like I said above, I have achieved the same results adding glycerin or lanolin at trace.

z



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Use candle scent? ~ Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999

Can I use candle scent chips (wax-based) or liquid candle scents (oil-based) to add fragrance to my soaps ?

Deborah ---

REPLY:

Deborah

You can, but the lye is probably going to kill most of the scent. Like with essential oils, it is an experiment to find which will stay and which won't.

z

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Where buy glycerine soap blocks? ~ Date: Mon, 13 Sep 1999

I used to purchase the 2lb glycerine soap blocks from Walmart (manufactured by Surrey Inc.) They are no longer available. Does anyone know where I can purchase this or something similar in Toronto, Canada?

Susan Thomas (susant@ccp.ca) ---

REPLY:

Susan

There are lots of companies on the web - one is Majestic Mountain Sage (http://www.the-sage.com/) another is Sunfeather (http://www.sunsoap.com/), but also you can do a search for soap supplies or soapmaking supplies.

z

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Where benzoin? ~ Date: Tue, 7 Sep 1999

I would like to purchase benzoin powder. I live in So. Calif. Any ideas on where to purchase it in my area?

Raelynn ---

REPLY:

Raelynn

I would look up on the web and see where in Southern California to buy Benzoin powder. I have found it in health food stores, so you may want to try that.

z

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Large bubbles, dew drops ~ Date: Sat, 4 Sep 1999

I made my first batch of soap, followed the directions to the rule, and ACCURATELY weighed ingredients. I got some bubbles of lye. The book said small bubbles are okay, large ones are not. Large and small are relative concepts! Also, the soap is curing and has a few small dew drops of liquid on it. I am afraid to have someone get burned, what do you think?

Christine ---

REPLY:

Christine

How much of a trace did you have? Large bubbles usually means the soap base wasn't stirred enough and you have pockets of lye. Another possibility is that the lye wasn't totally dissolved before pouring into the fats. The dew drops could be the EO wasn't mixed thoroughly into the soap base.

z

REPLY:

z

I had a definite trace, like a merangue or whipped cream with stiff peaks if you would drop some on the surface with a spoon.

Thank you so much both for your generosity of your website and your time to write me! You have a good heart!

Christine

REPLY:

Christine

Thanks for the kind words

The only thing I can think of is the purity of the tallow mixing with the lye. I have had this happen with lard and had totally forgotten it until I saw you used tallow.

Let it cure and then you can do 1 of 2 things

Test the soap on the inside of your arm or you can purchase PH strips from most pharmacies.

You can just wipe off the dew

Hope this helps

z

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Need liquid with powdered Goat's milk? ~ Date: Tue, 31 Aug 1999

I have one pound of soap noodles and a pound of powdered goat's milk. I've only been able to find recipes that use liquid goat's milk. Do I need to add a liquid (water) when using powdered products or is the moisture in the soap noodles enough to thouroughly blend it?

Chonkiz ---

REPLY:

Interesting - what are soap noodles?

Normally, I just mix the powder with some of the liquid soap

z

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Like clearasil ~ Date: Sat, 28 Aug 1999

I am looking for a formula to make a soap like clearasil.

Any suggestions, please let me know at SandersMFg@AOL.com\

Thanks,

Willard ---

REPLY:

Willard

Lavender soap will help with an oil problem, but there really isn't an herbal formula that will act as clearasil.

z

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Water softener problem ~ Date: Mon, 23 Aug 1999

My soap turned out all crumbly with alot of ash after 24 hours in the mold. I am POSITIVE I measured the lye correctly - 12 oz by weight. The batch was made with all vegetable oils (crisco, olive and coconut). I am also sure that their weights were correct. I don't think my problem is too much lye. I have used this recipe 3-4 times with excellent results. I started having this problem when our water softener started working - my water is extremely soft now. Could this cause the crumbly soap problem ?

Deborah Shugerts ---

REPLY:

Deborah-

Your water is definitely the problem. Only use distilled water. The chemicals in your water are the culprits.

z

REPLY:

z

Thanks for the quick response. I tried using bottled water and the soap is turning out perfectly !

Deborah

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Shiny bath beads ~ Date: Thu, 19 Aug 1999

How do you make the shiny, store bought kind of bath oil beads? All the different places that I have asked this question agree on two things It's done by machines & chemicals. But WHERE do you get these? I've asked around everywhere. Nobody knows, not even the pigment lady. Is it that much of a secret? What about recipes? I know you use gelatin, oils, etc., but in what amounts? Someone out there HAS TO KNOW SOMETHING.

Linda (dfarnam@msn.com) ---

REPLY:

I've never inquired because you would:

1. have to buy the product from a chemical company,

2. probably have to buy in anywhere from 10 gallon-100 gallon minimums, and

3. I prefer to make all natural products. You could get the address of one of the companies who make the shiny beads and write them.

The natural beads are very pretty. If you want the shine, why not wrap them in lame and tie with satin ribbons? The beads aren't shiny, but the packaging is.

z

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What does triple milled mean? ~ Date: Thu, 19 Aug 1999

I've read the existing questions and answers about milled soaps and re-batching. What I still need to know is - what does triple milled mean? What is the benefit of a soap that has been milled six times? Is it better and why?

Kate ---

REPLY:

Triple milled is rebatching 3 times and it does no good. It is largely a marketing gimmick. Everytime you rebatch, you add more water which shortens the life of the soap. It becomes so soft it doesn't last.

z

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greasy olive oil soap ~ Date: Sun, 15 Aug 1999 Two days ago, I used the hot press procedure to make olive soap. During the cooling phase I noticed a grainy foamy substance accumulating at the top seperating from the oils. I then began to whip rigorously using a hand mixture at medium speed. This procedure appeared to have worked. The soap poured like pudding into the mold, no lumps, clumps or grains. I then covered with plastic wrap -- insulated with a towel and stored. The next day, I uncovered the soap to proceed rolling into 4 oz. balls and re-store. As I am rolling out the balls, the soap is getting softer from the heat of my hands. I took off my gloves to test for lye [caustic?] content with my bare hands. There was no burning or itching sensation or smell of lye. The soap on my hands had the consistency of lard, when wet, it reminded me of grease. There were no suds, bubbles or foam. In your opinion, what do you think happened? Should I discarded or continue to allow the soap to cure? Debbie (dambey@bellsouth.net) ---

REPLY:

I'm not familiar with the hot press method - what is it?

z

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No suds, bubbles or foam ~ Date: Sun, 15 Aug 1999

Two days ago, I used the hot press procedure to make olive soap. During the cooling phase I noticed a grainy foamy substance accumulating at the top seperating from the oils. I then began to whip rigorously using a hand mixture at medium speed. This procedure appeared to have worked. The soap poured like pudding into the mold, no lumps, clumps or grains. I then covered with plastic wrap -- insulated with a towel and stored.

The next day, I uncovered the soap to proceed rolling into 4 oz. balls and re-store. As I am rolling out the balls, the soap is getting softer from the heat of my hands. I took off my gloves to test for lye [caustic?] content with my bare hands. There was no burning or itching sensation or smell of lye. The soap on my hands had the consistency of lard, when wet, it reminded me of grease. There were no suds, bubbles or foam. In your opinion, what do you think happened? Should I discarded or continue to allow the soap to cure?

Debbie (dambey@bellsouth.net) ---

REPLY:

Debbie-

I'm not familiar with the hot press method - what is it?

z

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A very damp climate ~ Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999

I have read almost all of your website and really appreciate your willingness to share so much valuable information.

I am quite interested in making some soap, but have gleaned that the curing is an important step in the process. I live in the Pacific Northwest, a very damp climate all year round. It rains and is overcast here a lot, but doesn't get very cold and we don't use much heat. Is this going to effect my soap making and what precautions should I take?

Thanks for your help,

Robin(fraggle@jps.net) ---

REPLY:

It may take 4 weeks for the soap to fully cure(which is better anyway) than 3 weeks here in San Antonio. Your soap will be fine though.

z

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Removing oil residue ~ Date: Sun, 8 Aug 1999

I am looking for a recipe for removing the oil residue and smell from massage towels. I have a front loading washing machine so I would need a low suds powder.

Thanks

Liz from Aus. ---

REPLY:

Any recipe to remove oil will be abrasive and will shorten the life of the towels, but you can make the lard soap and add cornmeal and borax. Let dry in a very hot place(I put mine in the garage), then grate to a powder.

z

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Saponification values ~ Date: 8/4/99

Where would be a good site to find a list of saponification values of different oils and fats? Blondelll@prodigy.net ---

REPLY:

Try:

http://waltonfeed.com/old/soap/soaptabl.html

http://www.rainbowmeadow.com/soapsap.html

Good luck with your soapmaking!

-Alan

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Shower gel? ~ Date: Thu, 5 Aug 1999

Hi there, does anybody have a recipe for making shower gel? Is it fairly easy? Judy

Judy (kntry5@aol.com) ---

REPLY:

You can email Majestic Mountain Sage (http://www.the-sage.com) and Tina can send you the instructions. It is no more difficult than regular soap, but the lye is different and unless you have access to a chemical company must be shipped. The lye is considered a hazardous product and there is a fee tacked onto the freight.

z

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Soap sweats ~ Date: Sat, 31 Jul 1999

The M&P soap book I bought said that after the soap was out of the mold for 24 hours to put it in a celphane bag to protect it. I did but then the soap sweats and gets soft. What am I doing wrong? Is there any soap supplier that you recomend for overall quality and price? Cynthia Lawson (glenlawson@aol.com) ---

REPLY:

I can't imagine why they would instruct you to put it in a cellophane bag. After you pour, you can cover with plastic wrap, then a blanket. The plastic wrap keeps the air out and lessens the soda ash produced on the cured soap and the blanket keeps the soap warm to finish saponifying, but I take it off after 24 hours.

I normally don't buy soap since I make it myself. Check the Sunfeather or Majectic Mountain Sage websites and email them for a soap supplier.

z

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Bees Wax Soap Recipe ~ Date: Wed, 28 Jul 1999

Thanks for your site it is the only one like it I have found.

My question is this - I have heard of bees wax soap but have been unable to find a recipe. Can you help me? I am just learing soapmaking and would be gald to get help from experenced people. Cynthia Lawson (glenlawson@aol.com) ---

REPLY:

I just add 1-2 tbs of the melted beeswax after trace. Be sure and mix thoroughly.

z

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Liquid bath gel ~ Date: Tue, 27 Jul 1999

I wanted to make herb scented liquid bath gel and there doesn't seem to be anything about it anywhere. I was wondering if it just wasn't done??

Mimi Ohashi (mimiohashi@usa.net) ---

REPLY:

It can be done, but I have unfortunately lost my recipe and instructions - try the Majestic Mountain Sage (http://www.the-sage.com/) website and email Tina for the instructions.

z

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Glycerin Soap Chunks Supplier? ~ Date: Mon, 26 Jul 1999 10:55:30 -0400 (EDT)

I am having a hard time locating glycerin soap chunks, ready for melting. Our preschool would like to make some interesting soaps for a Christmas Bazaar we're having but none of our local craft stores carry these bars. Any tips on how to buy re-sale (I have a re-sale license)? I have been searching the internet for suppliers but only find companies selling their already made soaps. Any ideas on how to locate this product on-line?

Thank you,

Dana

Thank you for this great site! ---

REPLY:

Dana-

Majestic Mountain Sage (http://www.the-sage.com/) or Sunfeather (http://www.sunsoap.com/) should have it.

z

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Old soap turned rancid ~ Date: Sun, 25 Jul 1999

I am "very" new to soap making. I have some old soap that was given to me from the lady that used to make it for this company and it has turned rancid. I've tried remilling it and i'm not quite sure what happened. It never hardened. When i touched it it crumbled. Did i maybe use too much water? I did get it turned to white, i just can't figure out how to get it hard.

Shelly (MRF871@aol.com) ---

REPLY:

Once soap goes rancid, it best to through away. There is not much you can do with it, even remilling.

z

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It S E P A R A T E D! ~ Sent: Monday, July 19, 1999

Hi Zenda

Thanks for taking the time to help me out with my goofy questions. I'm happy to say that the batch that I made today looks good and I am keeping my fingers crossed that they will look just as good unmolded. I made last night...and it S E P A R A T E D......I don't know what went wrong, substituted water with 18oz expresso coffee as water, canola-8oz, coconut 10oz., olive 20oz., veg ghee 10oz., lye 6oz. temp 95 for lye and 100 for fats. Stirred and stirred and stirred, finally used the blender and blended for 15 mins. continued to stir what felt like forever and still the oil just floated. Gave up and poured the stuff into a tupperware container. I would really like to try to salvage this batch, if possible.. any tips??? By the way the soap has set firm and I have unmolded it, looks like a nice big chocolate cake, and there is a layer of about 5cm oil floating. Help..:{

thanks lizz

ps. is there another lye calculator apart from the MMS calculator. The MMS calc. does not have a columm for shortening.

Tks lizz ---

REPLY:

Canola oil is to be used for superfatting only. I've never seen a recipe using vegetable ghee. You need to keep the soap recipe simple - olive oil only or a mixture of olive oil and vegetable shortening, or vegetable shortening and coconut oil, ect. These are tried and true recipes. When you start substituting other oils that really should be used for superfatting, your batches will not work properly even with the best lye calculator. Each oil has it's own properties and will effect the soap base differently. The oil layer happened because the soap didn't trace before pouring. Also, with canola oil, you are going to get a very soft soap that doesn't last long.

Since you are a beginner - stick with the simple recipes. Once you have gotten favorable results, then venture out.

z

Try:

http://waltonfeed.com/old/soap/soaptabl.html

http://www.rainbowmeadow.com/soapsap.html

-Alan

04/11/01: NOTE from a reader:

FYI: Vegetable Ghee is just another more common term for palm oil.

-Bunny (caprilepids@excite.com)


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Measuring Soap Weight ~ Date: Fri, 17 Jul 1999

Another quick question: When the recipe makes reference to 1lb soap/3lb soap for adding additives like herbs and stuffs, how do I gauge the weight of the soap??

tks lizz ----

REPLY:

The second is the weight of the liquid soap, the first is the weight of the cured soap.

z

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Using Coconut milk 1 ~ Date: Fri, 16 Jul 1999

Hi Zenda,

Just a quick question..I'm keen to use coconut milk for my soaps. If coconut oil is drying, then should I substitute coconut oil with something else when I use coconut milk?

tks lizz ---

REPLY:

I would only use maximum 2 ozs coconut milk and only at trace. The coconut milk doesn't act as a moisturizer. Lanolin and glycerin will accomplish that. The coconut oil gives you the suds. Also, since the coconut oil is drying, the coconut oil should never be more than 25-35% of your total oils.

FYI - you can't substitute oils without readjusting your lye amount.

z

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Using Coconut Milk 2~ Date: Fri, 16 Jul 1999

Hello Alan & Zenda

Tks for taking the time to help me with these problems. I'd be making another batch this weekend and would like to use milk and or coconut milk (its cheap and freshly squeezed, the coconut milk, I mean) because of the remarks of how smooth is feels. Can you give me any tips for this?

Like...

1. When should I add the coconut milk in? At trace?

2. How do I calculate the liquid? If the recipe calls for 2 cups, can I use 1 cup water to mix the lye and then add the remaining substitute at trace?

3. VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION: When the recipe calls for 16oz water, do I WEIGH 16oz on the scale? or use the measuring cup and fill up to 16oz? And what about the oil? How should I weigh them?

4. When I do substitute half the liquid with milk or coconut milk, would the lye amt be the same? If not, how do I make a calculated adjustments for the lye?

5. What exactly happens when the soap is lye heavy? I'm sorry to sound so dense. I'm just starting out on soapmaking and I just want to make sure I get everything right.

tks so much lizz ---

REPLY:

1. When should I add the coconut milk in? At trace?

A: I wouldn't use coconut milk except in small(1-2 ozs) amounts and add only at trace. The plain milk, you can either add with water and lye or at trace, but for instance if the recipe calls for 2 cups and you add 2 ozs coconut milk at trace and 1 cup milk to mix with the lye, you would use 6 ozs water with the milk to mix with the lye.

2. How do I calculate the liquid? If the recipe calls for 2 cups, can I use 1 cup water to mix the lye and then add the remaining substitute at trace?

A: If you add at trace, it shouldn't be more than 1-2 ozs. Just subtract the 1-2 oz from the water/lye solution.

3. VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION: When the recipe calls for 16oz water, do I WEIGH 16oz on the scale? or use the measuring cup and fill up to 16oz? And what about the oil? How should I weigh them?

A: I always use the scale. It is the only way to accurately measure for soapmaking.

4. When I do substitute half the liquid with milk or coconut milk, would the lye amt be the same? If not, how do I make a calculated adjustments for the lye?

A: The lye would be the same, but again, I would add the coconut milk only at trace and no more than 2 ozs.

5. What exactly happens when the soap is lye heavy?

A: It is very caustic to the touch and will cause burns/rashes on the skin



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Baking Soda Soap ~ Date: Thu, 15 Jul 1999

A friend of mine gave me a bar of Baking soda soap that she had baught on vacation in Tenn., It was a commercial bar, but it was wonderful at getting that green stain off of your hands after gardening. I've been making homemade soap for a short time, and I'm addicted. But I've been unable to find a recipe, or instructions on making Baking soda soap. Does any one have instructions/recipe?

Kim ---

REPLY:

Kim-

The only recipe I have found is to add the baking soda (for a small batch - 1/4 cup) to the water when remelting. Have you tried adding cornmeal or a little sand to your garden soap at trace time?

z

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Crumbly soap ~ Date: Wed, 14 Jul 1999

Help! I made soap w/lard, water and lye when it started to trace I added oatmeal , it lost its trace and after an hour I finally poured it in a wooden mold. it set up --but is real crumbly and has a lot of ash on top. I have it melting in a crock pot now, I have addined more lard and water , I do hope I have done the right thing. I would appreciate any advise anyone has Thanks in advance ---Brenda Brenda (wbaker@highland.net) ---

REPLY:

Brenda-

The crumbly soap means you have too much lye. Are you measuring with a measuring cup or a scale.

The soap may come together in the crock pot, but with the excess lye, it may be too caustic to use.

z

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Came out like mush ~ Date: Tue, 13 Jul 1999

Hi there

I am new to soapmaking and am really struggling with making my first batch. The first 3 batches I have made came out like mush with some oils and liquids at the bottom of the mold. I had to throw it out. Can you tell me what I've done wrong?

Thank you for your reply

Mary ---

REPLY:

Mary-

More than likely the soap wasn't stirred enought and didn't trace. Make sure you have a clear trace line(even if it only stays on top of the soap mixture a second or less)

z

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First Batch, lots of Q's ~ Date: Tue, 13 Jul 1999

I made my FIRST batch today.. and there were so MANY boo boos.Just so I don't do things wrongly..can you help me with some things.

1. is palm oil in reference to veg shortening ?(I use margarine as this is the closest I can get for shortening)I'm sorry to sound so dense, but the temperature to mix is at 100F? I did a batch of soap today and read the instructions 5 times, made my mixture and couldn't get the temperature up to 90. (Mix lye in at 70C/oils at 90C) Then when my husband got home, I ask him and he checked the thermometer and saw that the readings are in Celcius. So, I guess I boo booed here!!.

2. Still, I got trace and poured into the molds. I am wondering if you could tell me if I will still get soap?? And the temperatures for all the recipes that I have found online doesn't say Celcius or Farenheit. Can you recommend a way for me to figure out? Are they usually 100F.....or 100C. Help!

3.After pouring the soap into the mold, silly me forgot about the caustic soda and used my finger to wipe the drips. Of course I washed it immediately as soon as I realised what I was doing. Will I live??? Will my finger be still intact tomorrow??

4. I couldn't follow the recipe exactly when I realised that I didn't have enough coconut oil, so the ingredients are as follows: 16oz water/6oz lye/4oz sesame oil/4 oz olive oil/4 oz coconut oil/ 20z shortening(I used margerine) Then this evening, I check the lye calculater from Vicoria and it looks like I had too much lye and water for this recipe. Oh and by the way, it smelled awful. So, I added 3 tsp of lemon thyme (dried herbs from my kitchen) and 2 tsp of eucalyptus oil. Pls tell me frankly how bad it will be, ok?

5. By the way, I don't think I like the smell of sesame oil, so I would like to avoid any recipes unless the soap turns out ok. I think I'd settle for milk or coconut milk. Any recipes for this?

6. My husband thinks this saopmaking hobby is dangerous. Can anyone help me and tell me at WHICH point does the lye stop being dangerous. And where do you wash your utensils after soapmaking? Is it safe to wash in the kitchen sink? What about the container that I stirred the lye in? How do I ensure that that is clean from any toxic that could harm humans and animals.

6. I'm hooked and wish I have more oils so I can make another batch again, but it looks like I will have to wait till the weekend and try to replenish whatever this week. Please send me any recipes for a good smelling soap without all the eo's. My initial cost of buying the hardware/ingredients has exceeded my month's expense. (spent a total of $400.00 to date just getting the basics) Please everyone, pardon my hysterics. I promise to have less hysterics in the coming batches. Appreciate any kind advice. lizz

Lizz ---

REPLY:

Lizz-

Take a deep breath -

Using margarine is the first problem. Use only Crisco for vegetable shortening, but you can't substitute exactly for any other oil, ie 6 oz vegetable shortening will not substitute equally for 6 oz palm oil or olive oil. You have to follow the measurements exactly.

Yes, the temperatures are Farenheit. Look at my A HREF="http://www.greensense.com/T_SOAP.HTM">recipes on this website. Any of them smell fine without the fragrances.

There is really not much you can do if you have too much lye. I would throw this batch away and start over.

First - Try a soap recipe with olive oil and vegetable oil. The coconut oil only adds a lot of suds. For beginners, the Castille or olive oil recipes are fine. I bath with it every day.

Second - Look at your thermometer and determine which color is for Farenheit.

Third - Don't try a fancy mold, stick to a plain flexible plastic mold. A Rubbermaid or Tupperware container works beautifully.

Fourth - I bring my oils and fats to 90 degrees, then pour. Your finger will be fine - rub it with some aloe vera juice or gel

This hobby is not dangerous, you just have to be careful

As for the spoons, containers, ect - I always rinsed everything with vinegar before washing. I also have separate items for soapmaking and don't keep them in the kitchen.

Once the soap has cured for 24-48 hours, the lye is saponified and is not caustic. If you have a white powder on top of your soap, you have soda ash which is the last remnants of the lye. Just cut it off before using the soap.

Try again this weekend, but keep the recipe simple, make sure you have all your ingredients before starting, make sure you have your molds greased before starting, and make sure you make soap during a time when there are no distractions. You must give soapmaking your undivided attention. And lastly, keep all children and pets away from the soapmaking area.

Hope this helps.

z

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Goatsmilk recipes ~ Date: Sun, 11 Jul 1999

I have really enjoyed looking through all of the helpful info you have given to people in need. I am in need of a recipe that would include goats milk for soap AND lotion. Would you happen to have such a recipe? I have a neighbor with an abundance of goats milk and I just hate to see it go to waste. Please if you could be of any help I would truely be grateful!!!

Shelly ---

REPLY:

Shelly-

To find out how to use goat's milk in soap check out this link:

http://www.greensense.com/T_SOAP.HTM# tips

For lotion look here:

http://www.greensense.com/soap_q_a.htm# goat_lot

If you have more questions, just let us know.

Good luck with your soapmaking!

-Alan

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Inexpensive scale? ~ Date: Mon, 12 Jul 1999

All the soapmaking pages and books say to use a scale that measures tenths of an ounce. Where does one find such a scale for not too much money?

Pat in denver (brit7@dnvr.uswest.net) ---

REPLY:

Pat-

You can look on the internet or can get small ones at kitchen stores for $40-$50 dollars.

-z

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Where to buy lye? ~ Date: Sat, 10 Jul 1999

I have searched every hardware, grocery, drug, farm equipment, craft and coop store in my area of Northwest IN. I cannot find lye for my soap making efforts. Where is it? I have looked at the bottom shelves near the draino, near the soaps, and I have asked. No one seems to know where it is or where to find it? PLEASE HELP!

Cinda Daniel (cdaniel59@hotmail.com) ---

REPLY:

first thing I would do is ask the manager of the largest grocery chain near you if they can order Red Devil lye for you. Next in line - go to the Sunfeather Soap Company website(www.sunsoap.com) - they should have lye

z

If all else fails, you can order directly from the manufacturer. Call 1-800-456-9477.

-Alan

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Too much lye? ~ Date: Fri, 9 Jul 1999

All my recipes call for 12oz lye. Red Devil is now making 18oz jars! I made some soap the other night and am afraid I may have to much lye. I used my glass measuring cup and poured to the 12oz measure mark. Is the 12oz measure mark in the glass cups the same as 12oz on a scale? If I used to much, is there a way to save it? So far it looks good, but I don't want to hurt anyone with it. It is vegetable soap (all liquid oils) lemon EO with crushed, dried camomile flowers. It smells really yummy.

lori

P.S. I tried blue cornmeal for a coloring agent for lavender soap and all I got was natural beige with specks of darker cornmeal. It is pretty, but I read that you can get a pretty purple from this. I added it at trace. Doea anyone know more about this? Thanks a bunch. ---

REPLY:

I've done the same thing and the soap was fine. No the 12 oz on a scale and the 12 oz in a measuring jar are different, but I used the measuring cup before I acquired a scale and the soap was fine. Before using, try a test area on your arm.

z



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Glycerine Soap Loaves ~ Date: Tue, 6 Jul 1999

I am trying to find a recipe for making glycerine soap loaves.I have seen these loaves in stores with all different types of decorations inside. Does anyone know how to make these beautiful loaves?

Ang1333 (ang1333@aol.com) ---

REPLY:

There is a recipe for glycerin soap, or you can buy the already made and melt it. The decorations are nothing more than soap that was poured in a candy mold. As you pour the glycerin, you can add the decorations, waiting for each layer to harden.

z

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Small Recipes ~ Date: Sun, 4 Jul 1999

Hello,

I have been looking for recipes that make only 1 or 2 bars of soap. The reason being is I would to test different recipes first and find one that I like. I like the idea of rebatching and a recipe with that in mind would be great.

Thanks

M.Hull

---

REPLY:

I can get you recipes that make 5-7, but I don't have anything for 1 or 2.

z

Here's another suggestion-

To reduce the recipe to one bar, you could divide each ingredient in the recipe by the number of bars the recipe makes. So if the recipe makes 12 bars, divide the fat by 12, the water by 12, the lye by 12, etc. You might have to convert everything to units that are easy to divide- cups to ounces or teaspoons, etc. and make sure that you measure each ingredient in your divided recipe the same way it was measured in the original recipe i.e., if the original ingredient was measured in volume (cups or fluid ounces) measure it in cups, teaspoons, tablespoons or fluid ounces in the divided recipe. If it was measured by weight (pounds, ounces, grams), measure it in pounds, ounces or grams in the divided recipe. Many cookbooks have tables to help you convert different types of weights and measures.

If you try this, please let us know how it works for you- there are probably a lot of other soapmakers out there who would like to hear about your experience.

Good luck!

-Alan

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Clay recipe ~ Date: Fri, 25 Jun 1999 Hi, here in Australia there are a lot of clay based soaps being sold,easy to find the clay etc to make them but cant find a recipie anywhere.Can you please help me out with this?? Many thanks Natallie Robb (jnstraloe@telstra.easymail.com.au) ---

REPLY:

Natallie

Just take 3-4 tablespoons of the clay and mix it with a cup or so of the base just before pouring. Add the clay mixture to the rest of the batch, stirring to mix well and pour.

z

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Bumpy rebatch ~ Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999

Whenever I rebatch my soap, the outside is always bumpy like orange peel. Is this normal, or should I be doing something differently? I also have to pour off excess water from it before I can unmold it.

Alida ---

REPLY:

Alida

Rebatching is a very tricky process and sometime it works and sometime it doesn't. I have gotten the lumpy and I have gotten smooth. The excess water is normal. Are you rebatch plain soap?

z



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Soap with a greeting ~ Date: Mon, 21 Jun 1999

I would like to know how soap with a greeting is made. I have seen these in gift shops with Happy Birthday in them and the greeting last the life of the bar. Does anybody out there know how to do this? I have never made soap before and would assume that the melt and pour glycerine would be the easiest to start with? Thanks for all replies.

Pam ---

REPLY:

The easiest way is to cut out the message of one soap that has cured for a day, place it in the mold and pour liquid base around it until the liquid just comes to the top of the message.

z

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Soft enough to cut? ~ Date: Thu, 17 Jun 1999

What combination and percentage of oils would make a good soap log that you can cut easily in months to come?

Belinda (betboys@aol.com) ---

REPLY:

Unfortunately, to get a soap that stays soft enough to cut months down the line doesn't last very long and the soap is very oily. I have made buttermilk/lavender soap and it stayed soft to cut, but the soap lifespan was half of normal. If you're selling your soap this isn't good.

z

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Gel stage good/bad? ~ Date: Thu, 17 Jun 1999

Was also wondering if the "gel stage" the soap goes through sometimes is a good thing or a bad thing and why does this occur?

Belinda (betboys@aol.com) ---

REPLY:

It is not a real bad thing, but it's not good either. It could be one of 2 problems - the base wasn't stirred enough or the ratio of fats to lye is too high.

You can scrape the gel off and let the soap finish curing or you can stir the gel back down into the soap base.

z



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Eo's retain properties? ~ Date: Thu, 17 Jun 1999

I was wondering if when adding herbs and eo's during the soapmaking process, do these herbs and eo's retain their healing / medicinal properties once they are mixed with the lye or come in contact with the lye?

Belinda (betboys@aol.com) ---

REPLY:

The lye pretty much destroys the herbs and eo properties. In fact, the lye destroys the fragrance in a lot of eo's. I have had good luck in retaining a lot of the fragrance from the dried herbs or cucumber, etc., by slowly heating the fats with the dried herbs. The fats encircle the herbs or vegetables. As for the eo's, I would add as late as possible before pouring.

If you want to retain the medicinal properties, you should make the soap base, then rebatch. The lye is fully saponified, so you can add colorants, herbs, flowers, eo's, fo's, etc. without worry of the lye destroying them.

z

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Essential oil vs. fragance oil ~ Date: Tue, 15 Jun 1999

Great site!!!

Could you please tell me what the difference is between essential oil and fragance oil. Can you use fragance oil in soap?

jodi ---

REPLY:

Essential oil is made directly from the herb, plant, root ect. Fragrance oil is just that, concentrated combinations of scents. You can use either one. The essential oils tend to be stronger though.

z

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