|Today I wanted to go over some terms that I have wondered about as part of my introduction to soapmaking. Now that I have quite a few batches under my belt I want to learn more about what I am doing. Since I am using the same recipe on all of my batches of soap I am not including it again in today’s blog. Some of these definitions are taken straight from “When It’s Good To Be In A Lather” by Tina S. Howard.
Madea commented on yesterday’s blog that one of the batches of soap was going through gel phase, but the others had not yet started. This photo shows all the batches and the soap that shows gel phase is the first one I made that day.
Have you noticed the color differences in each of the batches? These color variations are because of the fats being used. Sometimes olive oil has a more yellow color than other times. Many fats and oils have changes in color from lot to lot. I have two more batches to go and I will have made my first 20 lbs of fat into soap. WOW! On Friday I will show you a Cure Card we use here to help us monitor when the soap is ready for packaging.
|Today I made another 6 batches of soap using the same recipe as Monday. I did these batches completely on my own without assistance. I felt a little more confident in my skills and took my time. Soap making requires more patience than making a batch of lotion or lip balm. There are more variables involved where you can go wrong such as not dissolving the lye completely or not mixing the lye and soap completely.
I have an update on the soap I made on Monday, October 22nd. One of the 4 bars of soap that seemed to turn out well looks a little questionable. When I cut the loaves this morning there was a lot of moisture on the bottom of the bar and it looked extremely splotchy. This comes from an incomplete mixture of the lye and soap. Oops. Patience is key here! I got a little impatient mixing the soap on my first round and this is what happened!
I am keeping notes on the loaves of soap I am making so that I know when they are done curing. I am weighing the leader bar (first in the row) of soap from each loaf everyday. When the bar stops losing weight I know that it will be done curing. Since this is my first time making soap I want to know exactly how many days it takes to cure the soap. This is kind of like how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. There is only one way to find out!
Notes: Did you notice that I used a thermometer today? Hurray! Today I felt a lot more prepared. I used a plate lined with a paper towel to set my immersion blender on between batches, I had a paper towel to set the spoon that was used to dissolve the lye in water, and I laid out all of my Saran Wrap properly in the molds. I like to be prepared and set myself up for success. All of my oils and lye were measured out, waiting to be used. I carefully inspected the soap as I was mixing it to make sure that the oils were mixed properly.
I remember when I was making my first few batches of lotion it felt really foreign to me. It was a new process and I was unsure of myself. I bought some materials, took them home, and made a whole lot of batches of lotion to get comfortable with it. My family and friends are very grateful for this, as they are the recipients of many, many jars of lotion.
My process is much the same with beginning lotion making. I am making a lot of batches this week to get the hang of it and practice, practice, practice. Today my mentor left me alone so I could think for myself instead of asking her, “Is it done? Does it look right?” I figured this out on my own today and tomorrow when I cut the soap I will know the official results. Stay tuned!
|There was such an overwhelming amount of comments and questions when I announced this week’s blog topic that I had to spend a day just answering questions. Thank you all so much for your support, thoughts, and questions!
Jamie Greer asked: Is there a general rule of thumb to determine how much fragrance to use?
Answer: Our website has a really great tool called the Fragrance Calculator that you can use for soap or any type of recipe. Because we offer such a wide variety of Essential and Fragrance Oils, some vary in intensity. Use this tool to determine how much fragrance to use per ounce or pound (you choose!).
Pat asked: Is there a safe and easy way to make cold process soap in a small apartment with a rambunctious 3-year-old? My niece lives with us and is very allergic to soy and has eczema. I’d like to be able to make soap for her that will help resolve the eczema and not aggravate it.
Answer: Andee says: Nap time! If the child still takes a nap then use nap time as your time. If the child does not take naps then use bed time to make soap. Be sure to store your supplies and freshly-poured soap out of reach. As far as soap recipes, any recipe without soy will help!
Peter asked: OK, my question is about the amount of soap. When my soap calls for x amount of pounds of fat, is that the total amount of the final product? I am trying to get wooden molds, and I cannot decide which one to buy. Also, do most of the “experienced” soapmakers get one “universal” recipe and then just change the fragrance oils and additives?
Production soapmakers generally have a few production recipes and then change up fragrance and additives. Household soapmakers tend to vary their recipes. Think of this in terms of efficiency. Restaurants have a set menu and household cooks handle all the requests.
My soaps range from 23.8 to 24.8 ounces. I’ll be watching them dry over the next few days.
My other 4 loaves turned out great. I mixed the lye well and paid more attention to detail. One thing to note, I did not completely cover the bottom of one of the trays with Saran Wrap and the soap leaked through. Whoops! I also allowed the Saran Wrap to fall into the poured soap while it was setting. When I pulled the Saran Wrap off after the soap set it pulled out some of the soap and the bar was not as pretty.
I hope that these have helped those that are just beginning to make soap. I recommend using a tried and true recipe before venturing out on your own and creating your own recipes. Our blog is a wealth of knowledge and dates back a couple of years so you can find a variety of recipes that have already been tested in our very own blog kitchen. As always, we are more than willing to help with recipes. We have a great technical support staff here at MMS that are happy to help answer questions.
If you have more questions, comment on this blog. I will answer them during this week and we can all pass the Beginners Soap Class together!
|The day has finally arrived when I get to make my very first batch of soap. I was a little nervous. I know the dangers of using lye, but I put on my goggles and gloves and was prepared to dive in. This week I am plowing through 20 batches of soap. Whew! Today I made 5 batches of soap using an MMS recipe that is an old favorite in the blog kitchen. I made them one right after the other to help get the hang of cold process soapmaking. You will notice there are 6 soaps in the picture, the first one was a visual demonstration and from there I was on my own!
When Julie Andrews played Maria in The Sound of Music she taught the children to sing and got right down to the basics. She sang, “Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.” I had this song running through my head as I was preparing to make the soap.
Today I am just covering how to make a basic batch of soap. How do you mix the lye? How do you know when you are done mixing the soap and it is ready to pour? What precautions do you need to take? These are all part of the basics of how to get started making your own first batch of soap.
Pour lye solution into the melted fats. Start mixing with the immersion blender. The lye and fats need to be mixed well. High speed is not necessary, but consistent mixing is important. I have heard there are times when the blenders were turned on HIGH and the liquid splashed from the container. Low speed is what I used on my immersion blender. When I stopped mixing to get an idea if my soap was ready to pour into the mold I was told to watch for a layer of slightly darker liquid on top. This is the unmixed fat. Tipping the immersion blend slightly will cause the whole mixture to go through the blades and make more efficient mixing. Be patient and keep mixing until the dark layer of fat disappears. Pour into mold. The soap mixture is very fluid at this point! Some of the items I have read indicate the mixture is thick. This was not a thickened or pudding-like mixture! I used a Rubbermaid Draw Organizer lined with Saran Wrap (this will help pull the soap out later).
Leave the soap to set for 24 hours. Remove the soap from the mold and cut into bars and allow to cure.
Notes: An extra precaution you can take while mixing the lye is to wear a mask over your nose and mouth, or to mix outside. Breathing in the lye steam will make you cough and I find this unpleasant. It is also important to note that the lye solution will leave a mark on your counter. Always set your spoons, immersion blender, and anything that has touched the lye or raw soap mixture on something which will protect the counter. If lye does come into contact with your counter top, wipe it up immediately.
|Today is the day! I am going to figure out this troublesome formula one way or another! Today I am going to trade the amounts of White Cocoa Butter and Coconut Oil used on Day 2 so that there is a larger percentage of brittle oils in the recipe.
Recipe: Yields 100 grams or 3.53 ounces.
This formulation worked well for me. I achieved the desired firm lip balm without fractionation. I also discovered the root of my problem with fractionation. There were 2 things working against me. One, I have not used soy wax before in lip balm. Soy wax comes in small flakes and needs to be melted thoroughly and stirred well. The smaller pieces give you a false sense of security. You may notice that I have not used a thermometer in my recipes. This needs to change so that I can make more accurate products. We can all look forward to that in the future! The second issue is that once you add color to a lip balm solution it is extremely difficult to tell when your balm is melted thoroughly. Enter the modern marvel we call the thermometer.
This lip balm feels rich and tacky on the lips. You may have noticed that today I used black lip balm tubes instead of clear. I decided to focus on just the lip balm formulation and not trying to do 2 colors at once, this helped me tackle the solution to the problem. I chose black tubes with purple and orange caps because it seemed appropriate for Halloween. I hope that this blog has been educational for the newbies out there like me. Happy Halloween!
|Today we are going to be working on changing the formula to firm up the lip balm. I am going to try to achieve this by taking out the Hemp Butter and using White Cocoa Butter instead. Part of my problem is that there are too many soft oils in this formulation. White Cocoa Butter is a brittle fixed oil at room temperature and this should help the formulation.
Recipe: 200 grams or 7.05 ounces.
This formulation is an improvement but it is still too soft. You may have noticed that I used Coral and Yellow Lip Balm Color today and this gave a more vibrant, brilliant orange color. Using Ruby and Yellow Lip Balm Color creates a softer orange. Who would have thought? I was careful to heat the mixture thoroughly and this time I did not get fractionation. Tomorrow I will tweak the formula again to get a firmer balm that is appropriate for lip tubes.
|Here we are with another fun Halloween recipe! This blog is inspired by some of my favorite Halloween memories as a child. I always enjoyed going out trick-or-treating and getting gobs of candy in my little bag. Then I would go home and dump out my bag and sort through what was the “good” candy and the “lame” candy and put them into appropriate piles. My mom always had candy corn out as a treat for us (my 2 brothers and I) during the Halloween season and we would grab a handful after we got home from school. After remembering the candy corn from my childhood, the wheels started turning in my head and Candy Corn Lip Balm was born.
I should warn you that this blog has truly been a trial for me. What was supposed to be easy and fun quickly turned into a mistake here and a mistake there. What was initially supposed to be a 1-day blog has turned into a 3-day blog. Arrgghh!
Recipe: 200 grams or 7.05 ounces.
Note: If you want to know how your color will turn out, do the plate test. This is achieved by using a glass or stoneware plate and pipetting a few drops of lip balm on the plate. Wait for it to solidify and then decide if this is the color that you want. You can also test the consistency of your lip balm by doing the plate test.
I also recommend melting and filling the lip tube with the white portion first before beginning to melt the 2nd 100 gram batch. By the time I finished filling each lip tube half way with the white solution, the orange solution had started to solidify in the melting container! It is best to do one color at a time.
This lip balm formula is too soft to be used in tubes and felt grainy on the lips, although it did melt after a few seconds of rubbing my lips together. This can happen when the lip balm is not melted completely. I did the plate test but I did not notice any problems with fractionation. I had already put color in the melted balm when I did the plate test. This is a good reminder to slow down and not test too many things at one time. I am new at using Lip Balm colors, particularly this intense, and I was in a hurry to get this project done. Whoops!
I ended up making a second batch of lip balm and poured it into jars instead. This worked better for the soft lip balm, but it was still fractionated and grainy. I really want to put the Candy Corn Lip Balm in a tube with a yellow cap because it looks better that way rather than in a jar. Tomorrow I am going to try to firm up the balm and fix the issue with the fractionation.
|Today I have a fantastic recipe for everyone. It is so easy that even I did it right the first time! I am not a baker by nature, I am a cook, and I tend to have issues with killing yeast in my breads. This recipe does not contain yeast. It whips up quickly and you can bake it while you make the rest of your dinner. My husband saw me making this recipe and commented that it looked like a giant biscuit and asked where the gravy was. Yum! This bread is meant to be served hot and fresh. It tastes great slathered in butter or dipped in soup. Traditionally this bread is eaten with soup or stew and meant to sop up the leftover liquid in the bowl. It is a very hearty, thick bread. Waiting to eat this bread even 1 day after it is made can be a detriment to the quality of the bread. Let’s make this together!
Recipe: This recipe yields 1 loaf of bread.
Separate the egg white from the yolk in a separate bowl. Whisk the egg white until just frothy. Brush half of the egg white over the top of the dough. At this point you can discard the egg white or use the other half for a second loaf of bread. You will not use the egg yolk for this recipe. Bake bread at 350 for 40-45 minutes. Cut, serve, and enjoy hot out of the oven!
OK, I don’t have a photo of this item as a finished product because it was already cut when I returned with the knife! So… please send in your photos! The blog team will give you credit, my blog will be saved and everyone can see what a gorgeous loaf this recipe produces.
This is an announcement: I am going to learn to make soap. Now that I am getting comfortable with lotion and lip balm recipes I need to focus on cold process soap. I have never done it before and it is a bit intimidating to me. I know the dangers of using lye and what it can do. It is time to conquer the fear and dive in! And really, who can work here at TheSage.com and NOT make soap? I am going to launch a full week of recipes focusing on cold process soap making. Are you a new soap maker like I am? What do you want to know? I have questions ready but I am sure I will have more once I start my lessons. I am going to be covering basic beginner stuff. Please send in a lot of questions before I get to my beginner week. We can have a good laugh at my expense when (not if) I make a mistake. I promise to take lots of pictures!My beginner week is October 22nd through the 26th. Send in questions in ASAP so I can start coming up with recipes and getting answers from the pros here at TheSage.com
|This year I am so excited about Halloween! My little one is 3 years old now and is really starting to grasp the meaning of birthdays and holidays. I can’t wait to take her trick-or-treating this year!In the spirit of Halloween I decided to come up with a fun lip balm. Zombie Lip Balm is about fun and function. One question that I get asked all the time is how to put some sparkle into lip balm. One way is to use iridescent glitter. This can get gritty and is usually meant for younger girls. I used Silver Mica because it is a great way to add some shimmer in an elegant way that women can enjoy too. This recipe can also be used year round without the color and shimmer, as it is very moisturizing. Let’s make this together!
Recipe: 100 grams or 3.53 ounces.
This recipe was very popular among the staff. It has a very creamy feeling on the lips but is tacky enough to keep the shimmer from the Silver Mica on the lips. I used a light amount of Silver Mica, but you may add up to 2 teaspoons in a 100 gram batch. Make sure you plate test in gradual amounts before adding in the entire 2 teaspoons to find the right amount of shimmer for you. Have fun trying out this recipe!