Soapmaking Question and Answer 6

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?

Andee says: Figure about 20 to 22 ounces of finished soap for every pound of fat. If you cannot make your own wood mold then only buy what you desire for the final shape of your bars. Don’t look exclusively at the volume of the mold.

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.

Final Thoughts
My first day of soapmaking had mixed results. Two of my loaves of soap did not turn out to be a usable product. I did not mix the lye well and the product is a slippery mess. I even stuck my finger in it to show you what it looks like when the lye does not dissolve completely in the water. It is also important to note here that when using lye, please make sure that all fans are turned off and there is not a draft where you are mixing the lye. This can cause more steam with lye particles to disperse in the air.

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!


4 finished bars

2 bars where the lye did not dissolve completely

What a mess!

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6 thoughts on “Soapmaking Question and Answer

  • Mesha

    Bummer about those 2 loaves but it is a great opportunity to learn another needed skill- rebatching 🙁

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    • Tina

      We’re not letting Joy rebatch yet. Mastering the visual of what her hands are doing, when things look right, how to know it is ready to pour are all important steps. After the first 20 batches we will address rebatching. Anyone wanting rebatching help can find more info on this here in our blog. The first 20 batches will make a huge difference in the ability to see when a batch is ready to pour and when it is not. It also makes simple things, like stirring in the lye crystals sufficiently, a top priority. All the things to learn when starting a new hobby!

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  • Leilani

    Joy, congratulations! One of my first batches was also a lye mix disaster…lesson mix very well. I do a figure 8 with my immersion blender. Also try adding your lye mixture to the oils when they both reach around 110 degrees. I figure the lye completely dissolved by then and they seem to go together well.

    For Pat, I used to make soap when the kids were at preschool and during naps, the trick is to have everything ready, except the lye. And very important to put the curing soap out of reach, it is still caustic for a few days/weeks. Also I use palm oil instead of soybean in my recipes. It makes a great bar, remember to supper fat a bit, if you want a soft bar with extra oil for the eczema. There are a lot of recipes for eczema bars out on the web.

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  • Kathy R

    Good job Joy!

    That was a really great point you made about not having a fan on while measuring or pouring the lye!

    I do have one question though. You used Saran Wrap as a liner? I thought for sure that the raw soap would “eat” the Saran Wrap. Why not use freezer paper instead? You’ll end up with less wrinkles on your soap – and sharper corners to boot!! I have used shower curtain liners as well with great success.

    Can’t wait to see what you come up with on your next batches!

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    • Joy

      The Saran Wrap stayed intact. We usually use the Rubbermaid Draw Organizers for molds lined with Saran Wrap. These work fine for small test batches like we often do in the blog kitchen. That is a great idea about using freezer paper!

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  • Susie

    I recently discovered your blog and have thoroughly enjoyed reading the soap making posts. I’ve been making soap since 1998 and early on I found your Lye calculator. Thank you so much for this tool. I began making my own soap because I have oily but sensative skin. One of my friends gave me a bar of plain lye soap after that I was sold. My first soap was made with lard only. This was good but I wanted to try other oils. After experimenting with different blends I have a tried and true blend I make all my soap with. I use only essential oils because they are less irratating on my skin than fragrance oils. I shared my soap with friends and they suggested selling it in the hair salon where work. I sell Patchouli and Lavender & Rosemary. The Lavender & Rosemary has become a number one seller. I use olive oil, palm oil, coconut oil and soybean oil.Thanks again for the Lye Calculator!

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