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hellkat

1st go at soap using M&P

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So I had my 1st go at any type of soap making this morning. I decided to start with just the basic M&P starter kit that comes with everything needed. After seeing all the different designs that could be done with soap I knew I was going to ditch the last steps and risk trying the ying/yang design in the pringles can. When I pulled the center out there it was dripping and smeared the top so I have no idea how the center turned out. Since it's just for me I won't be too upset if it doesn't work, I'll just do the next batch in the mold it came with and maybe try the swirl. But since I made it early this AM I will cut it later tonight after dinner. 

 

There a few thing I don't like about the M&P. It's possibly user error or I'm using the wrong type of soap for the effects that I like. The 1st  thing I didn't like was using the microwave. I use the double boil method when and make my candles and it seems much easier than zapping and stirring, zapping and stirring. I also noticed it would skin up very quick during each step even though I had everything prepared and right at my finger tips. I don't know if that's just the nature of M&P or I possibly under/over zapped it. There was no mention constant skinning in the directions except at the very in and it was in regards to cleaning the skin out of the pitcher.  So on my 2nd go I'll use the double boil method so I can get a nice melt. I'd like to try a CP batch but my space and time for that space is very limited. I normally have to do my candles at the end of the night or in the early mornings so nothing is in my way and the dogs are in bed rather then at my feet constantly. 

 

If they turn out I'll post a pic. if not I'll see how the next batch goes!

 

 

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The 'skin' on top of the M&P is from few possible scenarios that I know of; 1) the base is old, 2) the base is too dry, 3) the base is cheap, 4) the base was overcooked or 5) the micro heat setting too high

 

Skin doesn't normally form on top of M&P until after it starts to cool. So if you have skin formed right after you take it out of the micro there is something wrong that needs to be addressed.

 

My initial guess is to make sure you cut up your base into 1" pieces and place in a microwavable bowl. Don't use glass or pyrex glass as it can shatter in the micro.

 

Flash your chunks in the micro starting with 30 seconds flashes and adjusting from there. My micro could safely flash my base in up to 1-2 minute intervals. Not all micros are the same and some are hotter than others. Your melted base should not ever be over 165. And many plastic Milky Way type molds require the heat of the liquid soap to be about 135-140 degrees F before pouring into the mold.

 

So first check your heating method and adjust if necessary.

 

If that still doesn't work I would say its your base. Easiest answer is to try another base.

 

Also, you don't have to use a microwave. I used a rice cooker for years. You can also use a presto pot. Just get a good thermometer to check the heating temp of the base. I can liquify 8-10 lbs of base in a large rice cooker in about 20 minutes and the base temp will be about 155-165 degrees F. I pour at 140 into plastic molds, higher for metal, silicone, bakeware, or harder material molds.

Edited by Candybee
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Thanks Candybee! I'll try the double boil melt on the next go round and watch the temp to see if that makes a difference.  I have no clue as to how the base is other than it was goats milk base in a plastic tub - just cut and melt. 

 

It did set up and cut nice - but that ying/yang pattern I was going for was no where to be seen *shudder*.  The pattern ended up a merge/blend  with just blobs of color all the way through ha-ha . At least it's still usable...I think?? I'll try again but aim for something more basic until I figure out what I'm doing. Either way it was still fun.

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Tried the 2nd batch this morning using the double boil method.  Didn't try anything fancy, used their mold and tried for a 2 layer soap using what they sent. Ocean Blue dye with Caribbean Teakwood FO. It melted a lot nice this time and I was able to watch the temp making sure it didn't go above 165.  But as I was pouring the 1st color by the time I got to the 3rd square the skin started forming and clumping. I set it back in the water to let it warm up a bit and stir back to all liquid before trying to finish the rest off. I was really disappointed and just finished the top by zig zagging the cream colored part so it would look like it had some sort of character.  

 

I just don't get it. I've watched videos and it seems they just let the melted soap sit right there in the pot with no clumping or skinning as they make their designs. Of course they are making huge loaves compared to just 4 bars,  so how does that happen when it's only been sitting for a minute?  I'd like to give it another go and try a different supplier and different bases to see if that makes a difference. I see Brambleberry (I thing is the name?) mentioned a lot but if anyone has had success with a few suppliers any info would be appreciated. 

 

Oh and I was looking at my pringle can disaster, I mean design this morning and I swear there's one that looked like an atomic mushroom cloud....maybe that's a sign this craft may not be for me lol. 

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It's hard to make swirls using M&P. The soap tends to work against you and do its own thing. It takes a lot of patience and a learning curve to get any decent color swirls so don't give up. The great thing about M&P is its versatility and there are lots of beautiful artsy M&P soaps you can make with it.

 

Here is a link to some M&P techniques that make some really pretty soaps: http://www.craftserver.com/topic/106292-first-official-soap-making-day/

Edited by Candybee

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I've watched a lot of his videos and love the designs! I imagine that mold he uses holds about 3-4lbs? I've already been looking at several vendors to see which has the better shipping option since I'll be ordering a few different bases this time and a loaf mold. 

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Where did you get the soap base from? Like Candybee mentioned, some brands are just junk. I tried a batch of Nature's Garden melt and pour base once because it was cheaper than my normal base. It was total garbage. It got all lumpy and stiff before I poured all my molds.

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I used Candle Science.  I did find a local supplier the Ponte Vedra  Soap Shoppe which is only 20 min from me so I can pick up directly from there with no shipping costs and be able to have it  by Wednesday.  The prices were about $1-$2 more per 2lb base but sill worked out better $$ wise not having to pay shipping so I was able to buy a variety of bases to test. Wish I could find something that close for my candle supplies. 

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Every soap base will cool a little faster or slower too which can be aggravating. Goats Milk and Shea Butter bases tend to cool really fast so simpler designs or re-heating them every once in a while can be necessary. Some other bases, you may find you get more working time from them before they start to skin and harden on you. I recommend trying several different bases as you get started and find the ones you like. I usually choose a white and a clear that I prefer to keep on hand and then play with other bases depending on what purpose I am trying to achieve.

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If it helps some suppliers I have tried bases from that I like are: Essentials by Catalina, Brambleberry, WSP, Candles & Supplies (my personal fav).

 

Here are some brand name M&P bases that are also popular: Stephensons, Crafters Choice and SFIC

 

 

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16 hours ago, hellkat said:

I used Candle Science.  I did find a local supplier the Ponte Vedra  Soap Shoppe which is only 20 min from me so I can pick up directly from there with no shipping costs and be able to have it  by Wednesday.  The prices were about $1-$2 more per 2lb base but sill worked out better $$ wise not having to pay shipping so I was able to buy a variety of bases to test. Wish I could find something that close for my candle supplies. 

 

I've never ordered from them before so have no idea of the quality. Unfortunately they don't list the manufacturer either so its hard to tell who made the base they sell.

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I just got a 5lb block of MP from Candlewic. It looks like their brand is Soap Expressions? I haven't done anything with it yet, but I am definitely going to peruse that thread @Candybee shared!

I do agree with @Faerywren, the MP from NG is pretty bad. Not that I'm an MP expert, but poor quality is poor quality.

I personally find working with MP frustrating, but I love how versatile it is, and how you don't have to worry about your FO doing crazy things! And I have a very dear friend who needs extremely mild soap, and CP is just too harsh for her even with a generous superfat. MP gives me so much more flexibility depending on the ingredients in the base and what I can add to it.

This has been a timely discussion for me, thank you!!

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CP soap is normally very mild and since its made from scratch it doesn't typically have some of the skin drying chemicals some M&P bases have. If the CP soap your friend uses is harsh it could be from a variety of reasons and not simply how its superfatted. I just wanted to clear that up before anyone reading this may walk away thinking CP soap is harsh compared to M&P.

 

All soaps whether M&P or CP vary widely depending on ingredients and recipe used. So it is up to the soaper to produce a bar that carries the qualities and benefits you are looking for.  So either method may produce a mild soap.

 

However, getting the base right is essential when it comes to M&P since that is your main ingredient as it were. Bases vary widely and some are much better than others. The difference from one base to another can be huge.

 

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1 hour ago, Sarah S said:

And I have a very dear friend who needs extremely mild soap, and CP is just too harsh

I find just the opposite to be true. I cannot use M&P bases as a whole, single bar, because it dries me out and makes me itch, no matter which base I use (and trust me, I've tried almost all of them). I can use it as embeds in CP as long as they are small embeds, or if it's a drop swirl in CP. But as a general rule M&P is really just too harsh for my skin. 

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21 hours ago, Candybee said:

Here are some brand name M&P bases that are also popular: Stephensons, Crafters Choice and SFIC

 

This was the Stephenson's Goat milk base.  Even though working with it was a pain I did use some last night and in spite of all the skinning and clumping - it lathered really nice, felt smooth and smelled great. So at least it works, I was worried it would dissolve as soon as it hit the water but it held it's shape. So now I'm wondering if it has to do with the way I'm melting it? Could it be done in a crock pot I assume without the lid so water doesn't drip in? I know that I have 2 large ones and one small that we never use so that would be perfect. 

 

21 hours ago, runner14jc said:

Every soap base will cool a little faster or slower too which can be aggravating. Goats Milk and Shea Butter bases tend to cool really fast so simpler designs or re-heating them every once in a while can be necessary. Some other bases, you may find you get more working time from them before they start to skin and harden on you. I recommend trying several different bases as you get started and find the ones you like.

 

Since I found a local supplier I ordered 4 different MP bases: glycerin clear, cocoa butter, honey and white.  Looking at their website I think they make their own bases.  I know they make their own CP and MP soaps they sell and have seen them at our local markets. But I ordered enough to play around with and hopefully make something that will actually turn out a nice design when cut vs just a plain looking soap. 

 

The biggest plus for me is not having to pay for shipping. I always cringe and feel guilty when I look at the shipping costs since it's more of a hobby. When I ordered the started kit the shipping was either $15-$18 - so this way I get more bang for the buck. Unless it turns out I just suck at soap lol. 

 

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I've used Stephenson's bases many times and never had the 'skin' forming on the top problems you described. I am guessing it has to do with your melting method or the bases themselves may have been sitting on the shelf to long and dried out.

 

I was once gifted some M&P bases that a friend of a friend didn't want anymore. Since they were offered free I accepted. When I melted them the bases were so dry they all formed a thick skin on top and were not usable. I had to throw them out.

 

Re crockpot, you can use that to heat your base. Just pay attention to the heating temp and periodically check the soap temp when its melted to make sure you are not overheating it. Once you know how your crockpot works with melting your base then you will know how to set the temp and leave it. Also, once your base is melted you can lower the heating temp to keep the base warm and fluid. This you will need to learn to do if you plan to get into soap production.

Edited by Candybee

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16 hours ago, Candybee said:

CP soap is normally very mild and since its made from scratch it doesn't typically have some of the skin drying chemicals some M&P bases have. If the CP soap your friend uses is harsh it could be from a variety of reasons and not simply how its superfatted. I just wanted to clear that up before anyone reading this may walk away thinking CP soap is harsh compared to M&P.

 

All soaps whether M&P or CP vary widely depending on ingredients and recipe used. So it is up to the soaper to produce a bar that carries the qualities and benefits you are looking for.  So either method may produce a mild soap.

 

However, getting the base right is essential when it comes to M&P since that is your main ingredient as it were. Bases vary widely and some are much better than others. The difference from one base to another can be huge.

 

 

15 hours ago, Jcandleattic said:

I find just the opposite to be true. I cannot use M&P bases as a whole, single bar, because it dries me out and makes me itch, no matter which base I use (and trust me, I've tried almost all of them). I can use it as embeds in CP as long as they are small embeds, or if it's a drop swirl in CP. But as a general rule M&P is really just too harsh for my skin. 

 

Oh gosh, I wasn't maligning CP soap, sorry if it sounded that way! 😶

I totally agree a well made CP soap is lovely and light years better than anything out of the average store. I've been making CP for about 20 years now, and have barely scratched the surface of all the things I can do with it! Yes, so much of any soap's qualities depend of the recipe and thought that the soaper puts into it! Both CP and MP!

My wording wasn't the clearest perhaps, my friend has always used a liquid bodywash, and I assume what she refers to as "mildness" is more of a skinfeel provided by the surfactants in the wash and the various viscosity builders and conditioning ingredients the companies put in their washes. Unsurprisingly, the MP base she prefers is a detergent base with a high percentage of propylene glycol and glycerine, and unsaponified stearic acid. Very similar to liquid body wash ingredients. So it could be an expectation of a certain skin feel, or possibly it's a PH issue, since MP can get a little closer to neutral than CP, or maybe her skin just does better with detergents.... Or maybe it's all in her head. 😉 

I know the issue can't possibly be with the CP soap, because I made it!! 😂😂😂

I'm just grateful my skin is happy with whatever, and I get to use ALL the goodies! 😆

 

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Sarah you reminded me of something from when I first started making soap. I was making M&P at the time and when I first started washing with it it made my skin feel weird like it was dry or something. I was not used to the squeaky naturally clean feeling. I had always used Dove soap so what was happening was that my body had to get used to using a more "natural" soap. Took me a few days until my body was acclimated to the new soap.

 

Since then (and I have retold this story a lot) I once pulled out an old bar of Dove I had been keeping in my closet. I went to shower with it instead of my M&P soap. After about 5-10 minutes after my shower, I had to jump back in and wash off with my M&P soap. The Dove had left my skin very itchy, dry, and and feeling a gunky type residue from it. It was so horrible I never washed with a commercial soap again.

 

Later, when I started making CP soap I again found I needed a short period of a couple days for my body to get used to the feel of the soap on my skin. I never got that dry, itchy, gunky feeling like I did from Dove thou.  My skin felt clean, fresh, and moisturized.

 

My point is I think some of us need to go through that adjustment to acclimate ourselves to a new soap we use. I know I did. To this day I cannot use commercial soap. I still use only CP soap because that is what I make. But having made M&P for several years and using that I know that made my skin feel clean and comfortable as well.

Edited by Candybee
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1 minute ago, Candybee said:

Since then (and I have retold this story a lot) I once pulled out an old bar of Dove I had been keeping in my closet. I went to shower with it instead of my M&P soap. After about 5-10 minutes after my shower, I had to jump back in and wash off with my M&P soap. The Dove had left my skin very itchy, dry, and and feeling a gunky type residue from it. It was so horrible I never washed with a commercial soap again.

That is exactly how my body feels after washing with M&P soap, no matter the base. Some is worse, but all do it to me. I have to use it in very very small doses, and usually with CP soap (as an embed or part of the CP) or my skin just crawls and I feel like I am being tortured. 

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I was just looking over CS and they carry the Stephenson bases and a really nice selection of them too. Some I have never seen before like the argon oil base. Those are very good bases, they lather great and accept additives very well unlike some others I have tried. I would feel confident buying from them.

 

Stephenson bases also carry the clearest clear base of any I have tried. Clear bases show off embeds beautifully and can add a lot of creativity to your soapmaking.

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7 hours ago, Candybee said:

I was just looking over CS and they carry the Stephenson bases and a really nice selection of them too. Some I have never seen before like the argon oil base. Those are very good bases, they lather great and accept additives very well unlike some others I have tried. I would feel confident buying from them.

 

Stephenson bases also carry the clearest clear base of any I have tried. Clear bases show off embeds beautifully and can add a lot of creativity to your soapmaking.

 

I buy my candle wax from them and never had an issue. I love their FO's!! But comparing the new soap bases I picked up today they look totally different then the one from CS however none were the goats milk. The CS one came in a Tupperware like container (handy for now storing my EO's and dyes) but after seeing these I would have to say it looked like the CS one had melted some at one point and had a bit of a dry but frothy look on top? Or is that the nature of goats milk? It didn't seem rubbery at all and cut really nice both before and after. 

 

The ones I picked up today were nice and solid and in a shrink wrap smooth as glass. I was surprised when I walked inside expecting to see more soaps for sale or something along the lines of a candle shop. Instead it seems to be more of a processing/supply store but very few ready to sell soaps like they have set up at the markets. But they carry a supply of everything possible for soaps and B&B stuff, shaving creams, sugar scrubs, bath bombs, lotions, EO's and FO's etc. And in the very back were rows and rows of racks of premade soaps. So I assume they make to order and then for the markets and the rest is wholesale to the public. She did give me a sample of their oatmeal CP soap and it looked and smelled so nice!  One day when I have more space to work with I'll try my hand at the CP. She does offer a 4 hour CP class where you make 4 different loaves and teaches you how to do the imbeds etc. So if I cant get the MP down I may try the CP later down the line.  

 

 

 

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On 2/28/2018 at 6:44 PM, hellkat said:

 

 The CS one came in a Tupperware like container (handy for now storing my EO's and dyes) but after seeing these I would have to say it looked like the CS one had melted some at one point and had a bit of a dry but frothy look on top? Or is that the nature of goats milk? It didn't seem rubbery at all and cut really nice both before and after. 

 

 

 

 

 

I've been told that the frothy look on the two lb trays of Stephenson's base is caused by the pouring process. As the manufacturer pours the base into the trays, it can cause that frothy look at the top from a little bit of air getting incorporated. I've never had it interfere with the performance of the bases though. My favorite Stephensons base right now is the Triple Butter!

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I worked on my 1st loaf today - I tried to copy the ocean layered soap Hawaiian Breeze layered design. While my colors are off and I still need to work on my swirls at least I learned how to layer.  Hopefully the pic didn't come out huge....

beachsoap.jpg

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Nice soapie for your first try! Looks like you had a bit of soap bleed going on with the top layer mixing into the clear. That is just a timing issue and can be easily resolved with more practice. Same with colors.

 

What colors are u using? When you get more into soaping you may want to try some rich colored micas. I love buying my soap colorants from TKB Trading or Nurture Soap Supply.

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@hellkat, that looks great! Very ambitious for a beginner, great job!

 

I second the suggestion to check out some micas if you've caught the soaping bug, they're so much fun to work with. Nurture Soap has a really nice sampler with generous sizes.

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