Thursday, March 10, 2011

Soap Making Part 3 ~ Handmilling

I am a beginning soap maker, so if you find this post, and are looking to make soap for the first time  You may want to go here to Kathy Miller's soap making page, she's been making soap for 30 years, and is the expert. I just found her site a couple days ago, and it's great.  This is my attempts to make soap from a book I have been learning from by Norma Coney.  I had some major challenges with my first few batches, and this is about my 4th and 5th attempts at small batch handmilling. 

If you want to learn along with me from some of the mistakes I've made, so you don't make them as well that's fine.  I just want to give a disclaimer here about my skill level... Newbie.  There is a learning curve to be sure in soap making.  You can read about all my soap making adventures in one spot, on the sidebar of this blog, there are chapters, just click on soap making, and you can see how I got to this point, and what I've learned along the way.

Weigh all your ingredients carefully, only as much water as the recipe calls for. 
The recipe I am using call for 12 ounces of grated basic soap, and 9 ounces of water.

 Blend the water well with the grated soap, so all of the pieces are covered, then set the pan onto the lowest stove top temp, and just leave it till you see a few bubbles on the top, then fold over carefully, this is not about stirring.   Heat for about 15 minutes, then fold over, then another 15 to 20 minutes, fold over, you may have to keep doing this for an hour.  I haven't tried a double boiler, but heard that recommended, so I may try that next time.

This is what the mixture looks like (below) after 35-40 minutes of melting, still kind of looks like mashed potatoes. I just went ahead and added my lavender oil and scooped it into the molds.  If you read my soap making post  about trials and errors, you will see that I never could get it to liquefy like it says in the book. 
I didn't have any special molds to use, but gathered these,
they are sardine cans, and plastic containers I found at Goodwill.

Not the prettiest bars of soap, but better than my last attempt that looked like tofu.

I made this batch on Tuesday, and had a little better success than Monday's attempts.  I am still not happy with the outcome.  I studied more on other soap forums, and learned from a few good sites.  I also went to the library on Tuesday looking for soap books, they didn't have any.  I came home, went online and put a hold on 5 books, one is Soap Making for Dummies, and the other books look good too.  They were all at different libraries, so I'll have to wait a few days for them to come in, and some were checked out so I have to wait my turn. 

Then yesterday I went back to the soap making supply store in Seattle and spent a couple hours looking at their books and supplies, and talking with the workers there who are very helpful.  I ended up coming out with a good basic soap making book, 4 large bottles of essential oils, a soap mold, and directions for making a couple wooden molds.  Plus I bought gallon jars of olive oil, palm oil and coconut oil.  I'm the type of person who kind of gets obsessed when I get into some new hobby, and want to learn everything I can, and get good at it.  My kids all know this about me, and inevitably learn along with me because they hear me talk about it everyday.  I will be trying some new recipes, and mold techniques soon. 

However today the sun has finally come out, the robins are singing, and my garden is calling to me.  I'm taking a break from soap making for a couple days, and will read and learn in the evenings after dark.  The next time I post about soap I hope I will have better results to share with you.


Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Hi, saw a visit from your blog on my blog stats, and just wanted to say HI.

And I wanted to say don't tear your hair out like I did trying to make those hand milled soaps from Norma Coney's book. I have to say I had been making cold process soap for years and when someone gave me that book, I fell for the beautiful photography and proceeded to drive my family nuts with all the soap activity. Arrggghhh. I gave up - and never did figure just what was wrong with those recipes that I had such failures with the milling part. I did have good luck with her shampoo recipes though. Hope you find a good recipe that works for you.

Jewel said...

Throwback at Trappers Creek, I love your blog, and all the great pictures and articles you write.

The Norma Coney book is beautiful, but the soap recipes have driven me near crazy! I'm not attempting them any more. My next batch will be to just mix everything all at the same time, pour into wooden molds, let it cure for 48 hours, cut and dry. Hopefully this method and my next attempt will work better.

Thanks for you comments about your soap making experience, and for visiting.