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Hello! I’ve read through much advice here and I feel as though I’m prepared-ish to make my first batch of soap this weekend-thank you :) I plan to try hot process I believe. I was going to use a regular old loaf pan I have since it’s my first attempt rather than invest quite yet in molds. I will of course double check that it is stainless steel- my husband does sheet metal work so he will know! Question would be, should I line it if it’s non stick? I planned to but was just curious if it would be necessary. Also any advice for a first time soaper? I have a scale and will weigh, use protective gear etc. I was thinking to try a simple bastille recipe and will put everything in a soap calc to be sure. Any easy recipes anyone would suggest to start? I would love to try a castille as well but I have olive, coconut, sunflower, castor oil, coconut milk, on hand. I do plan to make vegan soap. I appreciate any advice! 

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I used to use sheet cake pans prior to purchasing soap molds when I first started. They were not made of stainless steel. They were cheap pans I bought at Walmart. I lined them with plain ole plastic garbage bags. I have also used freezer wrap. Either works great but garbage bags are really cheap and you can line several molds by cutting up a garbage bag to fit the cake pan. To hold the liners in place I simply used paper clips or clamps I bought from the office supply. I used this method for my first year of making and selling soap until I could afford to start buying professional production soap molds.

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3 hours ago, Candybee said:

I used to use sheet cake pans prior to purchasing soap molds when I first started. They were not made of stainless steel. They were cheap pans I bought at Walmart. I lined them with plain ole plastic garbage bags. I have also used freezer wrap. Either works great but garbage bags are really cheap and you can line several molds by cutting up a garbage bag to fit the cake pan. To hold the liners in place I simply used paper clips or clamps I bought from the office supply. I used this method for my first year of making and selling soap until I could afford to start buying professional production soap molds.

Thank you!! I appreciate that tip very much! I did end up lining it with freezer paper. I did hot process bastille-type soap recipe and everything seems to have gone well. I just wanted to try it out before I invest in fancy things. We will see how they turn out. I had silicone cupcake pan too and I filled three of those spaces. Not sure how that will work with hot process though.

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I love using silicone molds and have silicone liners for all my wood molds. I also use silicone baking molds for my round soaps. What I love about silicone is that soap pops right out of the molds/liners and they are so easy to clean.

 

I have not used them in the oven yet as I do mostly cold processed. But I have made hot processed soap in my crockpot and then when its done use my silicone molds.

Edited by Candybee
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Yes I did the crock pot method and they popped right out this morning no problem. I’m not sure how the oven one works I’ll have to look that up. I’m going to try cold process next with the same recipe just to compare. Seems like a nice, basic soap. I did unscented as a baseline too but not sure if I like the olive oil smell lol. We will see! All in all was very fun to make. 

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Olive oil does not give off a scent in soap. I wouldn't worry about it. I love unscented soap. Just a nice clean scent of soap.

 

Oven process is simply another heating source for making hot processed soap. That is all hot process means; using an external heating source to help speed up the saponification of the soap. Cold process is allowing the soap to heat naturally without the use of an external source like an oven, crockpot, double boiler, rice cooker, etc. The lye added to the oils starts the saponification process. Using a heat source like a crockpot speeds up the saponification in a matter of minutes. Depending on the recipe it could be as little as 20 minutes to an hour or longer. Using the cold process method can take one to three days for the soap to fully saponify.

 

What a lot of new soapers have a problem with is wrapping their head around the fact that no matter which method you use, hot or cold processing, the soap still needs to cure for a minimum of 4-8 weeks for the average soap recipe. Longer for castiles, solseife, salt bars, etc. You cannot get around the cure. Hot processed soap may be fully saponified within an hour but it still needs to cure to be mild, gentle, harder, sudsier, etc. 

 

So if you 'cook' your soap using an oven as your heat source you are simply putting the mold with the raw soap in it and using the heat of the over to speed saponification.

 

Crockpot uses the heat from the electric part of the pot to speed the saponification.  Most hot process soap makers tend to use a crockpot. I have used an oven to heat my salt bars. But you only want to do that if you are using a mold with dividers or separate individual molds so the bars will separate easily. Salt bars become hard and brittle very quickly and can be hard to impossible to cut. This is why I always use a mold with dividers or silicone molds with individual molds for my salt bars.

 

Hope this info helps you and gives you some more insight into soapmaking and how saponification works. As a soapmaker, you should be able to describe how soap is made and how saponification works if someone were to ask you. Even after years of soapmaking I still do a lot of research especially when I am working on a new recipe. I love making specialty soaps so I always research which oils, butters, liquids, additives, herbs, EO's, etc. are best for the type of soap I want to make.

 

Sorry I got a bit wordy here but I love talking about soapmaking. Will stop here.

 

 

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No way! I appreciate this so much! I have really only learned via YouTube and reading various old forums on here. I welcome any and all information anyone is willing to give me! I trust this forum much more than YouTube so I've been relying on it quite heavily. You really never know what's true and not on YouTube. 

 

I may have to try that oven method and see how that turns out. I want to try cold process as well. I'm just kind of in the experimenting stage. I am actually very pleased with how my first batch went. Salt bars sound very interesting. I'm not sure I know what they are exactly?

 

I think I understand about cure time as well. I learned that with soy candles. It's crazy how much different a candle is after being cured way longer than the recommended 2 weeks. I imagine it would be the same with soap. 

 

When I was home for lunch, I actually picked up one of the soaps I made yesterday and smelled it. It was way less olive oil smelling so I imagine in a few weeks it will be nonexistent. Which is great because I really like the olive oil! 

 

I, again, very much appreciate the insight. I didn't realize how much fun soaping can be so I'm excited to try different recipes and methods. It's fun to make something so useful. The goal would be to get enough items to do my first craft show maybe next year. We will see! 😎

 

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Good luck in your soapmaking ventures! and don't worry about soaping disasters, happens to the best of us and they can be useful in learning more than if it never happened. I have had some happy mistakes and others that have shaped the way I approach soapmaking ever since. 

 

My experience is start simple before you start using a lot of techniques or expensive oils or additives. that is stuff for a more experienced soaper. Once you are familiar with a small amount of oils then start expanding from there. 

 

Even after all this time I can say the best soaps are still the simplest with the fewest oils and butters. 

 

The trifecta of soaping oils is: olive, coconut, and palm oils. Practice with these to start then branch out. I started out buying all my soaping ingredients in town and not online. If I couldn't find it at the local grocers or walmart I didn't use it. I bought my lye at the local hardware too.

 

An excellent fat to try in soapmaking that you can buy cheap at walmart is lard or shortening. I used to buy their manteca brand lard in the plastic bucket. And walmart carries 2 different shortenings; one thats vegan (palm & hydrogenated soy,similar to the new Crisco) and one that's made with animal fats (tallow (beef fat) and palm. I hope I am remembering the right ingredients. Anyway, either one, shortening or lard make wonderful skin loving soaps. Every soaper should try making a soap using an animal fat. You would not believe the creaminess and wonderful suds they make! Unfortunately, customers like the buzz word vegan and that's what sells for me the most. I still have one soap I make with lard for acne and its a good seller and one of my personal favorite soaps because of the creaminess.

 

Also, try simple recipes with 1-4 fats. 

 

Example of 4 different recipes for a beginner to try:

 

1. Olive Oil 100% (castile) 

2. Olive Oil 90%, Castor Oil 10% (bastile)

3. Olive oil 50%, Coconut Oil 25%, Lard 25%

4. Olive oil 50%, Coconut oil 25%, palm oil 25%

 

I learned a simple formulary for making my own recipes when I first started out:

 

50% liquid oils

50% solid fats

 

This basic formula gives you a good balance of solid to liquid oils that works for many combinations of fats and oils. So if you have olive oil, shortening, almond oil, and coconut oil you can make a recipe by dividing you solid fats and liquid fats 50/50%

 

Examples:

Olive Oil 45%

Coconut Oil 20%

Shortening 30%

Almond Oil 5%

 

 

This recipe gives you 50% solid fats and 50% liquid fats/oils and will make a lovely bar of soap. Just make sure you would run it through a good soap calculator to get the proper amount of lye and water.

 

You can make a ton of recipes using the 50/50% solid/liquid split for formulating your recipes. Its perfect for a beginner because you can pretty much make a variety of soaps that will turn out great. Also, once you have the experience developing your recipes you can change it up. 

Edited by Candybee
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Candybee! Thank you so much for this well written and though out advice. That is a great place for me to start! I plan to try a castille soap this weekend and have read the cure is long, which is fine. 

 

I plan to keep my soaps very simple and likely keep them that way. I am one to overcomplicate but would like to keep this simple. The first recipe I made was 70% olive oil, 25% coconut oil and 5% castor oil ( I think, believe it or not I cant remember but I have it written down at home 😅) I'm letting it cure on a baking rack and it's interesting to watch it evolve. Even after a couple of days it already feels harder and more soap-like, for lack of a better term.

 

So far I have bought everything at the grocery store or had on hand and lye at the hardware store as well. Humble beginnings and I love it! 

 

I am going to print this off and keep this advice for future reference. I sincerely appreciate your insight! I am loving it so far and excited to have a creative outlet. 

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That 70% OO soap with the CO and castor should be awesome! Let me know how it turns out.

 

BTW-- I think everyone "cheats" a bit and tries a piece of their curing soap before it cures. I tend to try a piece after 1-2 days, then maybe a week or two later, and so on. It seems like every batch of soap I make no matter if it was my very first to my latest I always am fascinated by it since its something I made that actually tiurned into soap and came out so nice!

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Thank you, I definitely will! I did try a small scrap that was on the mold just to see and it actually lathered quite a bit! It left my hands soft and seemed pretty ok. I'll be really excited to see how it is after curing a few weeks as well! I may start using a bar and take notes at 1 week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks, etc. 

 

It is pretty fascinating to be completely honest. I feel like I'm doing a science experiment and get an extremely useful and chemical free product at the end. And it really was not hard. I see lots of suds in my future! 😊

 

Again appreciate your input so much! 

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@candybee I just wanted to update you that I went ahead and have been using a bar of my soap realizing it will get even better over time. I am thrilled with how it turned out. It's sudsy, smooth and very moisturizing. My skin has actually never felt better after only a few days of use. Safe to say I'm hooked! I made my first cold process castille as well and it's gorgeous. Going to wait much longer to even test that one out. But now I want to make all the soaps! Thank you so much for your advice to this newb :) I sincerely appreciate it! 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 7/14/2021 at 7:31 AM, Brotato said:

@candybee I just wanted to update you that I went ahead and have been using a bar of my soap realizing it will get even better over time. I am thrilled with how it turned out. It's sudsy, smooth and very moisturizing. My skin has actually never felt better after only a few days of use. Safe to say I'm hooked! I made my first cold process castille as well and it's gorgeous. Going to wait much longer to even test that one out. But now I want to make all the soaps! Thank you so much for your advice to this newb :) I sincerely appreciate it! 

 

Glad I had advice to give that was helpful to you.

 

It's really a good thing to test out your soap at various times during its cure time. It gives you the opportunity to observe firsthand the difference between soap that is brand new to soap that has had a long cure time and any in between times you test it out. My favorite is to test at 1-2 days old verses 4-8 weeks. I just take a bar out of my batch, try it, then put it away to test later. My fav soaps tend to be a year old or longer. So sudsy, moisturizing, and gentle.

 

Re how your skin feels. Now you know the difference between using a commercial brand soap vs handmade from scratch. There is no comparison when it comes to a well made cold process soap. Your skin can feel the difference and the comfort level of your skin using a cold process soap is so much superior compared to a commercial bar. I find commercial soaps like Dove to be drying. It also leaves a film on my skin, my skin feels dry, filmy, dirty, itchy, and uncomfortable using it. I only wash with my handmade soap as I can no longer tolerate commercial soap.

 

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3 hours ago, Candybee said:

 

Glad I had advice to give that was helpful to you.

 

It's really a good thing to test out your soap at various times during its cure time. It gives you the opportunity to observe firsthand the difference between soap that is brand new to soap that has had a long cure time and any in between times you test it out. My favorite is to test at 1-2 days old verses 4-8 weeks. I just take a bar out of my batch, try it, then put it away to test later. My fav soaps tend to be a year old or longer. So sudsy, moisturizing, and gentle.

 

Re how your skin feels. Now you know the difference between using a commercial brand soap vs handmade from scratch. There is no comparison when it comes to a well made cold process soap. Your skin can feel the difference and the comfort level of your skin using a cold process soap is so much superior compared to a commercial bar. I find commercial soaps like Dove to be drying. It also leaves a film on my skin, my skin feels dry, filmy, dirty, itchy, and uncomfortable using it. I only wash with my handmade soap as I can no longer tolerate commercial soap.

 

Yes! Thank you! I am already becoming spoiled by homemade soap. It's sooooooo much better, I had no idea or I'd have tried it sooner. I figure since it's my first batch and I didn't work too much on making it pretty I'd just use it as I go and note how long each subsequent bar has been used. I use to use dove and my skin is already better. It's kind of crazy actually. Much, much different. I tried a scrubby bar for my husband too as he likes to work on trucks. It was predominantly coconut oil and I added some apricot powder and a few coffee grounds to it. He actually really likes it! I just need to work on making them pretty and smell good too :)

Have a great rest of your weekend!

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