Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Rebatching Soap Ideas


  There are a lot of reasons to rebatch your soap.  Maybe you don't like the color or scent.  Maybe it separated into a greasy mess or is lye heavy.  I always end up with a lot of shavings & end cuts that are not usable as they are, but are perfectly fine soap.

Basic Rebatch

You want to grate up, shave up, or chop up your soap into very small, fine pieces.  The smaller they are the easier they will melt.  Coconut oil soap, & probably some other extremely hard oil soaps are really difficult to work with in a rebatch.  The fresher the soap is, the easier it is to rebatch.  So if you have some old coconut oil soap, you have a challenge.  If your soap is fresh & ground up finely you can dribble some water or spray some water on it to dampen it & cook, right away.  If it is old hard soap you may want to cover it with water & let it soak for a few hours or overnight.  Pour the water off.  You can save it to add back in later, if needed.  I like to rebatch in my microwave in a 2 qt pyrex measuring cup covered with cling wrap, on a low power like 2 or 3.  You can rebatch in a crockpot, in the oven, or even in a double boiler.  The idea is to dampen the soap to soften it, so it melts faster, & then apply enough heat to melt it.  Stir the soap up as it is melting to get a more even melt.  Continue to melt until smooth or as lumpy as you like.  If the soap starts to get thick before it is melted just add more liquid & stir it in until it is the consistency you want.  Then color, scent, swirl.  Beautify to your taste & mold.

You do not have to use water in a rebatch, you may chose instead, another liquid like aloe vera juice, a milk, or even a fruit or vegetable juice.

Dry Soap Rebatch

Follow directions for Basic Rebatch, but add a bit of oil, too.  This can also be done if you forget your superfat or didn't add enough, & have soap that is drying on the skin.

Oily Soap Rebatch

Check your recipe.  If you are sure you added everything correctly, then the soap may have been molded too early or too hot, or in the case of CP, got too hot in the mold & separated.  The oily part is part of your recipe so make sure you add all, or as much as you can, back into the rebatch pot.  Sometimes a soap will be made with too much superfat that needs to be corrected.  his can be done by adding a bit more lye solution.  If you know the amount of superfat or extra oils that were added to the soap.  Take the amount of lye you added and rerun the batch with a lower superfat in the lye calc to get the new amount of lye.  If you added 2 oz lye, and superfatted at 15% & the soap is way too greasy, you want to adjust this.  There are a couple different ways to correct this.

1.  Run the recipe back through the calculator  at the % of superfat you want.  Lets say you want 5% superfat.  As an example, 2 oz lye gave you 15%, 2.7 oz is what you need for 5% so... you need to add 0.7 oz more lye.  Dissolve the lye in at least as much water by weight & add to your rebatch.  Heat & stir until you have no zap or pH test is in the normal range for your soap.

2.  Make a new batch of soap.  Add the shavings of the oily soap to it.  If the old batch has a superfat of 15% and you want 5% superfat in the total batch (both combined), then you need to make the new batch at a SF of -5%.  You have 10% SF you need to use leaving 5% in the old batch.  So making the new batch at -5% will give you 5% in the new batch, too.  -5 + 10 = 5.  You can adjust the superfat on the new batch to compensate for whatever superfat you need to thin out.

Lye Heavy Rebatch

You will need to add oil and water to this one!  If you were unlucky enough to add a lye solution where the lye was not completely dissolved, your rebatch may not be successful.  Lye is not soluble in oil so you need water to dissolve the crystals.  Once they are incorporated in the soap batter, it can be really difficult to get them to contact enough water to dissolve, or tell they are dissolved, but you can always try.  Better than tossing it out!  If the lye was dissolved but somehow it is a lye heavy soap, then it needs more oil so that lye can react with the oils you add & complete the saponification.  You can add oil to the melted rebatch a bit at a time until it no longer zaps or pH tests safe.  Make sure you add even more oil so the soap has a superfat.  Unless you know how much additional oil you need, try 1/2 oz ppo (per pound of oil) at a time.  Stir it in, give it a few minutes & test, continue until soap tests safe.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Body Butter & Lotion Bars

Sorry, you don't get pictures with this one :/  If you MUST see the stages, do a search for Body Butter tutorial and I'm sure somebody has some pictures up on their site.

These are really pretty standard recipes.  The proportions are kinda important, but there is a lot of room to play, to make it your own.

Body Butter
3 oz coconut oil
3 oz shea butter
3 oz cocoa butter
3 oz Rice Bran Oil
a few drops of vitamin E oil

You can also add 1 tsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder to cut the greasy feeling, too.
If you have an organic coconut oil & an unrefined cocoa butter the smells come through wonderfully!  Keep that in mind if you decide to add an EO.  The EO seems to be nice at 1/2 tsp for this batch if you choose to add one.

Melt your oils & butters, you can leave out the ones already liquid & add them after the hard oils are melted & cooling.  You can add the cornstarch/arrowroot any time before it is done, but it incorporates well in the oils.

When the oils are around room temperature stick them in the freezer (or outside in the winter if it's cold).  The oils will start to firm up.  When the oils are getting solid around the edges, use a hand mixer (with beaters or whisk) to beat it like whipped cream.  If it doesn't want to beat, stick it back in the freezer for a few minutes & try again.  You can also put the bowl with your oils in an ice bath to cool & keep it cool.  I beat mine to the consistency of soft peak whipped cream & pipe or spoon into jars.  Now, wasn't that easy?  And oh, what a lovely product!  If you whip it too stiff, the consistency is more like hard butter from the fridge.  Makes it hard to apply.  You can remelt it & go through the steps again to get the consistency you want.  Another thing to remember is that by whipping it the oils increase in volume, so have extra jars handy.

You don't NEED to use Rice Bran Oil.  Check out my "Lots o Links" page for links to info on different oils to determine their qualities.  I have also made a real nice butter with all mango for the butter portion & canola & castor for the liquid portion.  It's heavier/greasier, but some of us NEED that in the winter.

Basic Lotion Bars

These are a solid lotion that when applied to the skin, melt for easier application.  I have given these out & people come up with all kinds of things to do with them.  They make great lip balm, heel softeners, cuticle conditioners. These really need some kind of container.  I usually use small molds that will fit in those 3 1/4 oz deli cup things that salad dressing comes in if you order a to go salad.  Of course, you can put them in fancier containers, or even a plastic bag.

4 oz beeswax (the yellow unrefined smells wonderful!)
4 oz coconut oil
4 oz Rice Bran Oil (or oil of your choice)
1/2 oz vitamin E oil

Melt beeswax & coconut, stir & cool slightly then add the liquid oil & vitamin E, mix well & pour into molds.

Salve Base

So many things to put in salves.  Making your own Vicks type decongestant with EOs or Infusing coconut or Olive oil with healing herbs.  I've even heard of people making pine tar salves.

Use 2 oz coconut oil  (or olive oil)
and 1-2 oz palm oil (or beeswax)

Melt together, stir, add your EOs stir & put in a jar.  The salve solidifies to a vaseline like consistency.  Leave the lid off until it hardens to avoid condensation.  Water or water based liquids make mold & bacteria & you do not want that in your salve!

You can make a Vicks like salve with Lavender, Camphor, Peppermint, and Eucalyptus.  You will have to experiment with the amounts to suit your taste.  I listed the EOs in order least to most drops I like in mine.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Jewelweed Soap

  I made this soap with the Hot Process method.  CP would work, but who want to wait for a cure?

The first thing you will need to do is locate some fresh Jewelweed.  If you are unsure what you are looking for, please google, "identifying jewelweed" or something similar.  You don't need a bushel basket of it.  Although some people disagree with me, there is enough evidence in book & on the internet to convince me that the weed HAS to be fresh.  When you cut it, you want to use it as soon as possible.  The weed contains a lot of juice.  I have infused other fresh herbs in oil & not seen anywhere near the amount of juice you get from jewelweed!  The juice is great as it contains the active ingredients to relieve itching, rashes, ringworm, etc.  The juice is bad as it does not want to combine in the oil.  Unless you use a very small amount in your infusion you will have juice pockets that can make your oil mold.  I didn't mind the juice pockets as I was going to make my soap right away.  If you are making this infusion to use in the future I recommend refrigerating or even freezing it to keep it mold free.

Rinse the jewelweed to knock off any bugs or dirt & chop or tear the whole plant into small pieces that will fit in your pan.  I used about 1 part weed to 2 parts coconut oil.... well, maybe it was closer to equal parts, lol.  Anyway, make sure the weed is covered with coconut oil.  (You can use any oil you want.  Olive oil may not be a good choice as it can burn).  I used coconut oil since the soap is good for cases of poison ivy & I figured the cleansing (oil stripping) properties of coconut oil  would be perfect to combine with the weed to get that nasty poison ivy oil off your skin.  Do NOT boil the infusion.  You can simmer it to get done faster but it turns brownish.  I brought mine just barely to a simmer & let it cook for at least 3 hrs with a cover on.  It may have been longer.  Strain & discard the weed.

You're gonna need a little more jewel weed :)  Rinse to clean & tear it up, again.  This time add distilled water & simmer until the water turns a reddish brown color.  I made some extra so I could put it in mason jars & stick it in the freezer.

Let your tea & oil infusion cool.  The hard part is over.  The following recipe is for 1 lb + 4 oz of the infused coconut oil.  So, you are going to need 20 oz of the infused oil for the recipe.

These instructions are for Hot Process Jewelweed Soap.  Just modify the recipe if you are more comfortable with Cold process.  For HP soap you will make this at 0% superfat so you can add more of the infused coconut oil after the cook for the MOST benefits.

Take 16 oz of the coconut oil to make your batter (reserve the 4 oz as superfat.  This will give you 25% superfat)
6.08 oz of the jewelweed tea to dissolve the lye in
2.93 oz lye (Sodium Hydroxide)

Cook till done & then add your 4 oz of infused coconut oil as superfat & mold.
Coconut oil soap gets very hard pretty fast.  If you overcooked the above batch, you already know that.  You can unmold & cut as soon as it is cool.  If you wait too long it may be too hard to cut.  If you are using a wire, you may have to find a knife.
Coconut oil soap cooks very fast, so when it looks done & you don't believe it, it really is, lol.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Understanding Superfat

Superfat is literally extra fat that you have in your soap recipe that does not become soap.  It is NOT saponified because there is not enough lye in the recipe to make ALL the oils turn into soap.  The oil is kind of floating in between the soap molecules, so when you use the soap, not only does it clean, but it also deposits a thin layer of fresh oil on your skin.

This is a great cartoon that helps explain superfat & what is going on in the bowl/pot while you are making soap.
Bunnies & Wolves

In a Cold Process (CP) recipe the lye is not finished working when you mold the soap.  Unfortunately, that means that the lye gets to pick which oils it will saponify.  Maybe you want to add a rather expensive luxury oil as a superfat.  There is no guarantee in CP that the oil YOU want to make the superfat will wind up as the superfat.

In Hot Process (HP), the lye is finished working, as a result of using heat to accelerate the reaction, when the soap is put in the mold.  You can test the pH of the soap or do a "zap test" to make sure the soap is "done", completely cooked, & no lye remains.  The zap test is where you touch the tip of your tongue to a small bit of cooled soap.  If it "zaps" you like a battery would, then there is still active lye.  If it just tastes like soap, then it's done.  I f you DO get a zap, make sure you rinse out your mouth with some water & spit.  When the HP soap is done, there is no further reaction taking place between the alkaline lye and the acids in the oils.  The soap has finished the saponification process.  Now, if you add your superfats, they will not be touched by the lye because there is no lye, anymore.  The oils & lye have all been turned into soap.  You can add your superfat & be assured that it will remain intact as your superfat.  Whatever oil(s) you chose to add as your superfat you can believe that it will remain your superfat.  In other words, if you make a soap out of lard, but want apricot oil as a superfat, if you add the apricot oil after the cook it will remain the superfat.  There will be no sneaky action from the lye to turn your apricot oil into soap & give you back some lard as superfat.

Most soap calculators have a space for you to put in the superfat % you want.  This is based on the weight of the oils in your recipe.  In CP soap if you are using 16 oz oils and set your superfat % at 5%, the calculator will deduct 5% (0.8 oz) of oils from your recipe which will not be saponified.  You can see the difference in the lye amount if you run the recipe through the calc at 0% superfat, then change it to 5% superfat.  Soapmakers used to believe that if you added the superfat at trace in CP then there was less chance that the lye would saponify it.  Unfortunately, this is not true.  The lye takes the easiest oils it can grab onto for the chemical reaction.  Whatever the most difficult oils to saponify in your recipe are, will most likely be your superfat.  If you are making CP soap just let the calculator figure your superfat.  Put the percentage you want in the clculator & follow the recipe it gives you.
If, however, you are making an HP batch, you will probably want to calculate the superfat on your own.  Using the same example of a 16 oz batch.  There IS a way to calculate this so you wind up with 16 oz oils total, but it is not very easy & may make your brain hurt.  Here is an easy & accurate way to do it.  Remember I said that superfat was a percentage of the oil weight.

16 oz X 0.05 (also known as 5% or 5 hundredths) = 0.8 oz

Ok, so is it really a big deal?  You wind up with 16.8 oz, not 16 oz exactly.  So if your mold only holds 16 oz, put the 0.8 oz in a yogurt cup :D

I am not trying to imply in this article that 5% superfat is ideal.  It depends on YOUR skin or hair.  I happen to like 3% superfat in my shampoo bars, (recipe in link, below)
Liz's Shampoo Bars

I have older dry skin & prefer 8-12% superfat in my body bars.  Coconut oil makes a nice soap but is VERY cleansing.  That means it strips all the oil off your skin.  I don't like it, but a lot of people find it a fabulous soap.  It is usually superfatted at 20-25% for body soap because of the high cleansing of the bar.  Coconut oil makes a GREAT laundry soap.  You don't want extra oil (superfat) on the clothes you are washing so it should be made at 0 or 1% superfat.  1% is just to be safe & make sure there is a pinch of extra oil for the lye to saponify.  A safety net, so you don't have any lye left over.

Friday, July 4, 2014

How to Make Soap

  There are a couple of things I would like to recommend to you before you make your first soap.  No matter what you decide to make, the quality of your first soaps will be a bit wanting when compared to soaps you make in a month or more.  Test batches are GREAT!  All my batches are about 1# of oils.  That makes enough bars to test & a couple to give away or save to see how they develop.  No need to make big 5 or 10# batches.  You won't have enough space to make more! :D  The more you practice, the better you get.  You can resize ANY recipe you find using soapcalc.  If you enter any recipe it will give you the % of each ingredient.  Write them down & put the % back into soapcalc with the weight of the batch size that you want in box 2?.  I think that's the right box.

  You don't need a collection of expensive, exotic oils to make soap.  100% coconut oil makes great laundry soap & a lot of people like it for body soap when superfatted correctly.  Lard, Olive oil, Shortening, Canola, Corn, Soy, Palm are other oils easy to get at your local grocery or Walmart.

  You need lye.  Lye & drain cleaner are not necessarily the same.  It needs to be ALL Sodium Hydroxide or NaOH (same thing).  It is available in different areas at different places.  Hardware stores are a good place to buy your first lye.  I can buy 1# of lye at Ace Hardware for $3.99.  Rooto Crystals 100% lye.  It's good stuff & since I make those small batches, it lasts me a while, too.

  The BEST thing to mix your lye & water in is stainless steel.  Some people use plastic & some use glass.  The heat generated & corrosive nature of the lye shortens the life of both of these materials.  As a result, they may crack at an inconvenient time.  My first batch of soap, I used a tall plastic pitcher that had a crack in the bottom of it.  I didn't know it had a crack.  I was kinda scared of what the lye was going to do so I had the pitcher inside a plastic bucket.  Some people mix their lye in the sink, just in case.  I like to mix it on my porch or outside.  There are fumes, but not like a big chlorine gas cloud.  Try not to breathe the fumes (that's why I like to mix mine, outside).  The fumes dissipate quickly.  ALWAYS add your lye to the liquid not the other way around.  Stir until dissolved.  If you have crystals in the bottom the lye has not dissolved.  If you have scum on top of the liquid, that can be contamination in your pitcher (I used to get it from washing my pitcher with soap), or contaminants in your lye.  Just run it through a strainer if it bugs you.  A little dust or scum isn't gonna hurt my soap, so I usually just dump it in the oils.

Make sure you wear your safety equipment!  Eye protection or face shield, chemical resistant gloves, apron, clean work space, no dogs or kids underfoot.

Making soap is not rocket science.  Ok, maybe making the BEST soap is, but don't worry about that, yet.  You don't need a fancy education or pricey soap making course to make soap.  The more you educate yourself the better your soap will be, however.  You find that there is a lot to learn about such a simple endeavor, but you can still make a good soap on your first try.

Keep it simple!  I have been on Facebook boards long enough to see all the new soapmakers that want to start off with milk & beer for their lye liquid, add their favorite medications, in other words, add all kinds of things that will mask the basic experience of making soap.  You really will benefit by making a plain soap as your first batch to see how the soap acts.  If you are making HP (Hot Process) you want to know about how long it takes to cook & what stages it is going through.  I recommend this, as a lot of times a fluid different than distilled water for lye, or an additive as simple as milk will make the whole batch temperamental.  You need to know what "normal" is before you deal with problems like seizing, separating, not tracing, so you are better able to recognize that you have a problem & how to deal with it.

Do not use aluminum when making soap!  You can mold in almost anything.  Plastic butter, yogurt, cottage cheese cups, cardboard boxes, wooden boxes, PVC tubes, silicon baking molds.  Remember you have to get your soap OUT of the mold, too.  Lining the mold (see video link below) will make that real easy.  Plastic is flexible & that usually helps, too.  One of my favorite molds is the end cut off of a medium priority mail box.  Of course, you can purchase professional molds made for baking or soap, too.

If I think of anything else (or you have any suggestions)  I will add it.

Getting Started

Soap Making Equipment, what you need to get started

How to Crock Pot Hot Process Soap

Modern Procedures & Tips for Cold Process

Comparison of pH test strips used for testing soap

Primitive Soap Making

"The soap making booklet was originally prepared for Christians in Burma living in mountainous regions who for one reason or another were cut off from being able to use industrial chemicals, and needed to make soap to help stop the spread of certain common and tropical diseases."  By Paul Norman
You can download this 24 page booklet or read it in PDF on the web
Traditional Soap Making based on old Pioneer Recipes

Making Soap from Wood Ash Lye

Soap Mold Info

Perfected Method for Lining a Soap Mold with freezer paper

How to Make a Soap Mold out of Coroplast

Soap Calculators

Soap Calculator Directions
If these pages don't help you understand Soapcalc, there are LOTS of tutorials on youtube.  One of them is bound to help you figure it out.  It is very important that you learn how to use this tool (or at least SOME calculator).  It helps you check recipes you find to make sure they will work.  It will help you resize a recipe, allows you to design your own recipe & gives you all the information you need to analyze the qualities your recipe will bring to a bar, things like hardness, cleansing, conditioning, bubbly, etc.

Kim McNutt's video describing how to use Soapcalc

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Nice Simple Hair Conditioner That Works!

Unless you are making your own hair products (and even if you are) you are probably adding chemicals that cause buildup on your hair.  A lot of them are designed to do that.  For instance if you have dry damaged or chemically treated hair, you have probably been using shampoos & conditioners (and maybe other products) to counteract that.  It works!  At least, it LOOKS like it works.  Silicons in hair products are in there because they coat your hair.  All of a sudden you have sleeker, shinier, less frazzled looking hair.  It's kind of like putting make up on a zit.  The more you put on the worse it gets.  ANY film forming ingredient will cause some buildup on the hair.  See my post on making shampoo bars to see some of the ingredients that work really well in body soap you might want to avoid in hair soap.  I see a lot of posts on the internet about a period of adjustment your hair has to go through (where it just looks & feels like crap) before you start to see the benefits.  I believe that "period of adjustment" is not your hair getting used to the shampoo bar, but your hair giving up all the stuff that has been deposited on it that does not rinse off.  Seems like a nice clarifying shampoo before starting on the shampoo bar journey would nip this problem in the bud!  Hard water, or water with calcium in it can also cause buildup.  I have found that a diluted vinegar rinse (and rinsed OUT of your hair) can help combat the buildup problem.

I am going to recommend a simple, effective hair conditioner to you after studying everything I could find including Susan Barclay-Nichols of Swift Crafty Monkey fame's wonderful blog of highly detailed information.  She doesn't know how much she helped me, and definitely deserves some credit for this conditioner.   would also like to thank Evik at  Both have wonderful resources!

BTMS-50 main ingredient Behentrimonium methosulfate is a cationic quaternary compound which is made from Colza, a rapeseed/canola relative.  It's form is flakes.  It improves the feel of the hair, controls static & makes it easy to comb.  It is positively charged & your hair is negatively charged, so there is an attraction.  There are other ingredients containing BTMS.  You can find BTMS 25 & BTMS 225 (one of them is exclusive to Canada, I think it's the 225).  They all have different additives to cut down the naturally stickiness of the BTMS itself.  BTMS 50 is 50% BTMS, the 25 & 225 are 25%.
Some technical info on BTMS from Susan's site:

I do not like preservatives, but they are a necessary evil if you are going to store or sell products.  You don't want your beautiful concoctions to form big globs of mold, or worse contain bacteria or mold you CAN'T see, but it's there, anyway.  Any product that contains water needs a preservative!!!  You are on your own there.  I make tiny tiny batches & store in my fridge.  This recipe does not contain a preservative but you DO need one if you make more than you will use in a couple weeks & don't mind storing it in the fridge.

For a thick, substantial conditioner I used 6% BTMS-50 and 94% distilled water
Put both together in a jar & place that in a water bath & heat to 180 deg F.
The BTMS will melt & stir, froth, beat so that the water & BTMS are thoroughly combined.  I found a frother works great after it's all melted.   The cooling is kinda tricky.  You can place in ice or cool water bath & keep stirring until cool.  I have never had it separate back out, but I guess that's why you are supposed to keep it mixed up while cooling.

This was too serious a conditioner for me.  I went down to 3% BTMS with 97% water.  It's still a lot of conditioning.

Since I have hard, nasty water I sometimes use a diluted vinegar rinse.  Hmm, vinegar preserves pickles, right?  I wondered if BTMS would have any problem being dissolved in vinegar.  I used 97% vinegar & 3% BTMS and it worked beautifully!  I can apply this directly to my hair (in moderation) or I can put about 1/2 to 1 tsp in a glass of warm water & douse my hair.  No more vinegar rinse!!!

I have to qualify this.  It is summer time & I do not really need a conditioner.  My shampoo bar is working well.  The BTMS-50 conditioner is not new or a new idea, the vinegar/BTMS IS a new idea.

You can add all kinds of things to this conditioner.  Some people like to add conditioning oils, but be careful.  You might want to try it plain, first.  It works pretty good!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Lots o Links

Soapmaking Oils

Common soap making oil descriptions

Shelf life & description of carrier oils

Description and fatty acid properties of some soap making oils

Carrier Oil Comparison Chart by SwiftCraftyMonkey

Emollients - oils, butters & esters (lots of articles)

Fat content & composition of seed oils & usage rates

gardenofwisdom Shelf Life of Oils

Grapeseed oil

Pomace Olive Oil Info

Shea Butter Information & Properties

Natural Colorants

Not necessarily all soap safe

Fragrance Info

Soapqueen Vanilla content chart of various FOs

Are Fragrance Oils Good for the Skin?

Blending Essential Oils for Beginners

Soapqueen on10x orange essential oil

Robert Tisserand on re-distilled essential oils

Robert Tisserand. How to extend the Life of Your Essential Oils

Give Your Essential Oils More Staying Power

Understanding Essential Oil & Fragrance Guidelines

Common & Uncommon Essential & Carrier Oil Questions

Make Ingredients & Tools at Home

Making Mango Butter & other things to do with the seeds

Make your own Essential & Infused oils


Easy Apple Cider Vinegar Recipe

How to Extract-Lanolin-from-Sheep's-Wool

Plants & Herbs

Multi Herb/Plant

A Modern Herbal by Mrs M Grieve (read online)

Drying & Storing Herbs

Infusing Oils & a list of herbs & their uses


Carrots, Carrot Juice, Carrot seed oil, Carrot oil,




Health Benefits of Dandelion

English Ivy




Lavender, parts to use



Plantain weed



Skin Conditions



Ingrown Hairs

Other Additives

Add Salt to Your Soap to Increase Hardness

Troubleshooting on DOS


physicsforums on ash

Gracefruit Troubleshooting HP