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Old 08-27-2012, 06:47 PM   #11
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Then, mix up your lye by putting into the water slowly. Make sure you are wearing your safety gear! And this will get really hot, really fast. My lye mixture is brown, because I used some beer as half of the water.

Set that aside to cool, to under 130 degrees.
dscn0646.jpg

While the lye cools, finish measuring any liquid oils and add that to your melted hard oils.
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Let the oil cool as well, until both the lye mixture and the oils are about 110-118 degrees. That's when it's time to combine them. Pour the lye liquid slowly into the oils as you stir well. You can do this by hand, but recipe with lots of oil olive can take hours to be ready to pour this way! You don't want to whip air into your soap, either, so I mixer isn't great. The best equipment I've found is an immersion blender. Go slow, though, as you don't want to either have the soap set up too fast, or burn up your blender! Give it a burst of 10 seconds, then stir with the motor off for 20 seconds.
dscn0649.jpg

You're looking for "trace"- when you drag a spoon through the soap and drop some back onto the surface, it should leave a trail (or a "trace") of soap on the surface. That's when it's ready to pour. It should thicken up, look like a runny pudding, and be more opaque. When you're at thin trace, add your essential oils or fragrance or color, pour into your mold:
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This is a bit different than that orange soap! I made two batches yesterday, and it's hard to take pictures once you start mixing as trace can happen in a few minutes. The second batch was a white soap with a chocolate swirl on top so it's different colors but you get the idea!

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Old 08-27-2012, 06:56 PM   #12
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Next, insulate the soap. I put mine in a box, with a towel over it. You don't want it to overheat, but you want it to finish saponifying, and to reach "gel stage":
dscn0651.jpg

You can peak, to see if it's getting too hot, but it should take about a day or longer to get hard enough to cut (depending on ingredients). Olive oil soaps may take longer, while palm and coconut oil soaps will be ready as soon as they cool. You can let it sit overnight, and then check by gently pressing with your finger. If it's firm, it's ready to come out of the mold.

It's easy to break soap trying to dig it out of the mold, so line the mold with freezer paper or use a silicone mold you can "pop" out like an ice cube tray:
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Put your soap on a cutting board (it's still fairly soft at this point). You want to cut it when it's firm enough to hold together but not rock hard because it'll crumble. This today felt like cheddar cheese. Firm, but easy to cut.

dscn0653.jpg

I use those cutters that I had on hand for other use. I made a variety of different sized bars, and thickness, as Bob likes small bars in the shower while I like longer ones and I give some as gifts. You can also use potato peelers to bevel the edges, and trim up the soaps to look nice, but mine are 100% "handmade looking":
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Set them aside in a dry place on a rack to cure for at least 4 weeks. Longer is better, as the soap will get harder and milder as it cures. Most olive oil soaps need 8 weeks to get nice and hard. The lathering improves as it cures as well.

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Old 08-27-2012, 07:06 PM   #13
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Thank you. This is awesome. I am a 27-year-old male who is now interested in soapmaking. What have you done.

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Old 08-27-2012, 07:09 PM   #14
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Once the soaps are fully cured, you can store them in a drawer or closet or box- but not wrapped in plastic. They will "sweat" if wrapped in plastic.

I've made shampoo bars, body bars, facial bars, laundry soap, etc, and the technique is all the same. You can vary the oils based on what you have on hand, and what you'd like to accomplish with your soaps. Some oils are really expensive (like shea butter and jojoba) so they are "special" occasion gift bars.

Milk soaps feel really nice on the skin, and they are worth doing. A couple of tips about milk, beer, honey- those have high sugar contents and will BURN easily when added to the lye. So, if using milk for your liquid, freeze it first and add the lye to it when it's frozen. It'll still get really warm, but not turn quite as brown as if it got up to the 170s if you didn't freeze the milk first. Honey is nice in small quantities, but not too much because the sugar in honey will burn plus make it sticky. Beer must be boiled to remove the alcohol (alcohol causes soap to seize) plus it must be flat before adding. Coffee can be added as is (cold of course, to keep the lye mixture from getting boiling hot), and you can use steeped tea as the liquid if you'd like.

There are some things to note about adding herbs and stuff- they turn brown and can get hard. I tried it with hops, and it was just "ok" because they turned brown and lost their fragrance. I"m not sure how to get hop aroma in the finished soap, as even the essential oils fade a lot. A friend made a lavender soap with chopped fresh lavender. It sounds lovely, but the herb got hard and scratchy. So, think about that when adding herbs and flowers. Steeping herbs in the oils and/or water is a nice way to add them, but they don't keep the fragrance after saponification. I use some herbal infusions, and then add a little essential oil when pouring the soap into the mold, to keep a bit of the fragrance.

That's all I can think of right now. I'll provide more information if I forgot anything, or if someone has questions!

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Old 08-27-2012, 07:10 PM   #15
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Thank you. This is awesome. I am a 27-year-old male who is now interested in soapmaking. What have you done.
Oh, it's as addicting as brewing! It's just one more hobby to obsess over.
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Old 08-27-2012, 07:17 PM   #16
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Oh, another thing I just thought of!

Commercial soaps have their glycerine removed during manufacture. The glycerine is then sold as a skin softener.

Well, when you make your own soap, you have the glycerine in there naturally. So, even though soap is NOT moisturizing, it can be conditioning. It can clean very well, but still not have that "squeeky clean" feeling due to the glycerine being removed. Bob has oily skin, while mine is dry. But we both can use the same soap in the bath with the same good results, because the homemade soap cleans without overstripping.

I make the shampoo bars with different ingredients, with more castor oil and jojoba oils, but my face and body bars are pretty much traditional soap.

My all time favorite recipe so far for bath/body soap is: Olive oil pomace grade- 30%; Coconut oil- 30%; shea butter- 20%; palm oil- 20%. That made a nice rich soap that cleans well and had nice smooth creamy and bubbly lather. The bar was nice and hard and didn't turn to goop in the shower.

For homemade soap, you need a soap dish that drains (or put the soap on a sponge on the little soap shelves in your shower) because the soap will melt if left in standing water. Probably due to the glycerine still in it.

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Old 08-27-2012, 07:30 PM   #17
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Just so I understand, no actual heating is required unless you need to melt additives? Lye added to cold water just creates heat chemically, correct?

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Old 08-27-2012, 07:30 PM   #18
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These fancy soaps are great and everything, but I want to hear about the soap you make from wood ashes and tallow from the rendered fat of game you've harvested!

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Old 08-27-2012, 07:34 PM   #19
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These fancy soaps are great and everything, but I want to hear about the soap you make from wood ashes and tallow from the rendered fat of game you've harvested!
Ha! The tallow, yes. Those deer have lots of nice chunks of fat to use.

But wood ash? Nope not me. I should do it sometime for fun, just to do it. We sure have a lot of hard wood ash in the fall from the fireplace, so I could give it a try sometime.

My friend told me she used her old brewpot (turkey fryer) for rendering the beef tallow she gave me. I think I may do the same but I can use my turkey fryer pot ontop of my gas range indoors.
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Old 08-27-2012, 11:50 PM   #20
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ok one question, what are the essential oils? as they seemed to be added near the end.

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