Author Topic: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?  (Read 47857 times)

Offline Sister Wolf

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Re: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?
« Reply #90 on: July 10, 2010, 06:41:18 PM »
Me too me too.  I wanna learn from the ever amazing ebon.  :)

Offline ncjeeper

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Re: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?
« Reply #91 on: July 11, 2010, 12:46:05 PM »
Oooooooooooo me too.

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Re: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?
« Reply #92 on: July 11, 2010, 06:05:41 PM »
wood ashes contain lye.  best to use only hardwood ashes.  you need a lot of sifted (no charcoal) ashes.  get a large container with a small hole in the bottom and plug it with cotton.  add a very small amount of distilled or rain water at a time.  the liquid you collect must be boiled in a nonreactive container.  boiled down until "black salts" form.  at that point keep cooking it down until you get lye crystals.  none of the research i have seen really gives enough detail for me to try it.  too bad i guess we chalk it up to another lost skill.

Offline TheDude

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Re: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?
« Reply #93 on: July 12, 2010, 04:10:22 AM »
I'd like to check it out too, if you please. It sounds like it would be a handy thing to learn.

Offline swainer

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Re: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?
« Reply #94 on: July 12, 2010, 04:47:11 AM »
Would love to learn how to make soap.  Thanks so much

Offline Mullers Lane Farm

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Re: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?
« Reply #95 on: September 02, 2010, 10:17:08 PM »
I see there is no reply from OP on this.

I have a web page about soapmaking (pictures included) that also has recipes, suppliers, et al. 

I've been making soap since 1999 and am very willing to answer questions.


Offline Sister Wolf

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Re: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?
« Reply #96 on: September 02, 2010, 10:33:10 PM »
WOW.  What a website!  You had me at the photo of your two Belgian beauties.  *drool*

Soooo... Are you planning on selling more yarn anytime soon?  I'll bookmark your page and hit refresh daily if you say you'll sell more.

And... Do you have a belgian breeding program?

And... Why haven't you updated your tour schedule since 2006?

And... If you need some help with your site, shoot me a PM, and we'll work somethin' out.  :)

Offline Mullers Lane Farm

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Re: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?
« Reply #97 on: September 03, 2010, 08:26:16 PM »
Woa!!!  slow down Sister!  LOL!

The pictures on our site our old.  The team that is shown on the web site was 2 teams ago.  We sold our last Belgian team a year ago.  We have a great relationship with the new owners though ... we can use them any time we want and they feed them!  Can't ask for better than that!

Tours are still the same .. give us a call and we'll arrange one to fit the folks coming by. 

My biggest 'problem' with selling my yarns online is getting the pictures taken and putting them up.  I sell them at an indoor farmer's market which means I don't have to bring them home all the time.  I've been camera-less the past year.  I do have a different camera now, I just need to remember to bring the yarns home and get them photographed.

The BIG reason we even put up a website is the Lessons in Homesteading page.  We're real big on teaching others how to be more self sufficient.

Offline Mullers Lane Farm

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Re: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?
« Reply #98 on: September 03, 2010, 08:37:24 PM »
p.s. I just posted some pictures of some of my handpainted roving for spinning in the fiber/knitting/et al forum


jsut saying ......  :-*

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?
« Reply #99 on: September 03, 2010, 08:38:09 PM »

The BIG reason we even put up a website is the Lessons in Homesteading page.  We're real big on teaching others how to be more self sufficient.

wow - I love the soap tutorial.  I teach soap making around here, but I only soap for my own enjoyment and my family's needs, so I am still a relative novice even after 4 years.  I learned so much from that!  Your website is going on the list of sites to check out on the handout I pass out at all my classes (about every quarter to a few women from church).


Offline Mullers Lane Farm

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Re: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?
« Reply #100 on: September 04, 2010, 06:36:23 AM »
Thank you Sunshine.  We've tried to make most of the pages to the point and with pictures.  I mean, we're not writing a book so we don't need a lot of extra words.

I'm glad you enjoyed it and were able to get something from it.

Offline nelson133

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Re: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?
« Reply #101 on: September 04, 2010, 08:30:16 AM »
There are a ton of good resources for soap making on the net.  I hadn't made soap in about 25 years, but a month ago my girlfriend said she had always wanted to make soap, so I offered to teach her.  I went looking for current info and found out that it has gotten much easier with modern technology.
I had always made cold process soap and got it to trace with hand stirring, this took 1 to 1&1/2 hours and that is an awful lot of work and ties up way too much time.   Stick blenders are a God send, you can get to trace in about 5 minutes.  At that point you pour into a mold, cover it for 3 days, cut it (wearing gloves as the lye may still be active) and let it air dry for a month and you have soap.
If you have my level of patience, you can do hot process in a crock pot, microwave, or double boiler and the soap can be cut in 12 hours and  used right away, drying for 3 days would be better. 
Lye is getting harder to find, a local hardware chain carries it in 2 sizes, 1 pound and 6 pound containers.  The higher volume container is cheaper by the pound, but it doesn't dissolve as well.  So I have stopped using it. 
BTW the reason that the old timers had hard soap wasn't because of the wood ash lye, but the materials they used.  Straight animal fat makes a hard bar, adding other vegetable oils will soften the soap ans make it lather better.  Soap recipes are a lot of fun to play with, you can play junior mad chemistry professor and try all sorts of things.  There are on line and downloadable soap calculators that work really well. 
Straight castile soap tend to be tricky as the olive oil doesn't blend terribly well and may separate and require remixing.  It is not a beginner's soap.  I make castile soap with 80% olive oil and 20% coconut oil and works great.  I just sent a few pounds to my Brother who is expecting another grandchild.  It is a very gentle yet cleansing soap perfect for delicate skin.
The are several reasons to make soap, there is some cost savings and with the stick blender it isn't too time consuming.  It can be a source of income, though because it isn't difficult you would need great marketing skills to really make any money.  More importantly, having a store of soap and the skills and supplies to make more, could be as important as food in a serious crash.  The ability to clean yourself and your clothes  would be both a sanitary necessity, and an advantage in looking for scarce jobs in a bad environment.  Soap would be a very good item of barter in bad times also.  If you dry soap thoroughly, it has a long shelf life.  On the farm we made soap when we butchered in the fall as we used bars that were several years old with no loss in quality.  The best reason to make your own soap is that it is so much better for you. 
I had forgotten how much difference real soap make in the years since I used any.  Modern "soap" isn't soap and hasn't been since the shortage of animal fats and natural oils during WWII.  Companies developed artificial detergents for soap, found them cheaper from a business sense and never went back.  The problem is that these detergents dry out your skin, and are hard on delicate skin.  I work in the medical field and have to use various cleaners and disinfectants on my hands constantly, and have had problems with dry and cracked skin on my hands.  I've bee using our hand made soap for about a month and really notice the difference.  Natural soap cleans without removing the bodiy's natural oils and doesn't dry out the skin.  I have given samples to staff and patients and all report improvements in the condition of their skin.  A number of our patients are diabetics and they really find it useful.
Several of the staff requested that they be taught to make soap, so my girlfriend took minimal equipment to one of their houses and taught them in a short time.  She is thinking about doing training classes as a sideline and wanted the experience.
The equipment needed to make hot process soap isn't much.  A crockpot (garage sale)  a scale that is accurate to .1 ounce ($20 at a local big box store)  stirring spoons (stainless steel or plastic, DO NOT USE ALUMINUM IN LYE), various plastic containers (dollar store) and a stick or immersion blender (garage sale, thrift shop, big box store, etc.)  I have built a couple of simple wooden molds, but a cardboard box lined with freezer paper works very well.  A large knife is great for cutting the block into bars, if you want to get fancy a $5 dollar plastic miter box will make even bars easier to cut.  A 6 inch putty knife slide right through the slots and there is a ruler on the top of the box to measure the bar widths.
Cold process doesn't require a crockpot, but you will need 2 thermometers as the lye and fats need to be the same temperature when mixed.  A stainless or glass container can stand in for the crockpot.
Soap materials can be gathered locally or ordered via the net.  I have found coconut oil for $5 for 2 lbs at a big box store.  Soap doesnot require extra virgin super duper organic oils, after all you are running them through a chemical process to alter them completely.  I use olive pomace oil rather than regular olive oil, I would not use it for cooking but it makes great soap.  Canola oil id=s cheap and available, I buy lard in bulk at stores that cater to Mexicans  Vegetable and animal fat shortenings work well as does saved grease from bacon.  If you butcher livestock, not only lard but beef and sheep tallow are good for soap.  Soaps work best as a blend of various kinds of fats.
There is a lot more I could say, but I have to go get chicken breast for canning, slice tomatoes for drying and hit the farmer's market to see what is available at a reasonable (cheap) price.  Being a 2 finger typist uses up a lot of time.
There are a lot of soap making tutorials on the net, google and youtube are your friends, watch and read several because they all leave something out.  The biggest hole I found was a good description of when the hot process soap was ready to pour. While I don't have the time to write an entire tutorial,   I check back to these forums now and then and would be happy to answer specific questions.  If you are in SE Michigan, Sue would probably be willing to do a soap making class, You'd have to work out the price for time and materials with her.

Offline Mullers Lane Farm

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Re: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?
« Reply #102 on: September 05, 2010, 05:09:55 PM »
There are a ton of good resources for soap making on the net. ......  I went looking for current info and found out that it has gotten much easier with modern technology. ..... Stick blenders are a God send, ....  that point you pour into a mold, cover it for 3 days, cut it (wearing gloves as the lye may still be active) and let it air dry for a month and you have soap.
 ..... you can do hot process in a crock pot, microwave, or double boiler and the soap can be cut in 12 hours and  used right away, drying for 3 days would be better. 

Yes, there are tons of resources now that weren't out there 25 years ago.  The Lye Calculators are the best friends a soapmaker could have.  These tell you just how much lye is needed for the specific oils you are using in your soap recipe.  My favorite online lye calculator is Soap Calc. A lot of lye calculators will tell you how much lye is needed, but Soap Calc adds in the information about the fatty acid of each oil and will let you approximate how your soap will turn out.  My lye calculator excel spread sheet was the basis for this online lye calculator.  The author of SoapCalc asked me if he could use this information for a more user friendly web app.  I told him "Sure! As long as you keep the calculator FREE and not charge for the soap calc."  He has honored that request the past 5 years and I am grateful.

Stick blenders are marvelous for making soap.  If you don't know what a stick blender is, check out my soapmaking site (in my above posting).  It has pictures of a stick blender (or SB in soaping terms).

I do disagree with the previous posters remarks about having to leave the soap in the mold for 3 days before unmolding and cutting AND that there will be active lye in the soap at that time.  If you insulate your soap mold (blankets or towel) after you pour, your soap will heat up.  It is the chemical reaction between the acids (oil) and the base (lye) called saponification .  Once the insulated  soap has cooled down (usually within a 24 hour period), you can safely unmold the soap IF you have calculated the correct amount of lye for your recipe.

Hot process soaps (using a crock pot,  double boiler, direct heat, et al only speeds the saponification time, allowing your to mold the soaps more quickly.  You still need to wait for the soap to cool before unmolding.  At that time, the 'drying' or 'curing' time is the same as cold process soap.  Both can be used right away but both get better with age, as the excess moisture evaporates out of the soap, leaving it to lather better and last longer.  Since you actually use More water with the hot process method, I hav e found that iHot Process (HP) takes a longer time to dry out compared to Cold Process (CP).

Quote
Lye is getting harder to find, a local hardware chain carries it in 2 sizes, 1 pound and 6 pound containers.  The higher volume container is cheaper by the pound, but it doesn't dissolve as well.  So I have stopped using it. 

I buy my lye in 40 lb increments from a semi-local (within 120 miles) chemical company.  The lye I buy is fresh and it dissoves very well. As with most everything in today's time, you have to know your supplier and develop a relationship.  I do resale the lye I receive, allowing myself a small profit  for the time and supplies it takes to weigh and repackage the lye.  You can ship up to 2 lb of lye through the US postal services without paying a hazmat fee.

Quote
BTW the reason that the old timers had hard soap wasn't because of the wood ash lye, but the materials they used.  Straight animal fat makes a hard bar, adding other vegetable oils will soften the soap ans make it lather better. 

The soap made from wood ash (providing that hardwood ashes were used), actually made a very soft soap since potash (the lye made from hardwood ahses & water) is more chemically equal to KOH (potasium hydroxide) rather than NaOH (sodium Hydroxide). To get the soap harder, salt needed to be added to the mis.


Animal oils do crate a very hard bar of soap, but the additon of some vegetable oils (such as coconut, palm kernel oil) will create the lather that folks are after. 

Quote
Straight castile soap tend to be tricky as the olive oil doesn't blend terribly well and may separate and require remixing.  It is not a beginner's soap.

Again, I disagree with the previous poster.  Straight Olive oils soap (made with a stick blender) is a wonderful soap for beginning soap makers.  It creates a hard bar that is very, very mild.  It does take a 2-3 month 'cure' period to make it longer lasting & having a better lather.

Quote
Modern "soap" isn't soap and hasn't been since the shortage of animal fats and natural oils during WWII.  Companies developed artificial detergents for soap, found them cheaper from a business sense and never went back.  The problem is that these detergents dry out your skin, and are hard on delicate skin.

Although a lot of what the consumer world thinks are soap, they are actually NOT labeled as soap, but as 'Beauty Bar' or 'Deodorant Bar'. Soaps are actually out there and are labeled as soaps and they do contain animal oils such as tallow (labeled sodium tallowate).  Commercial soaps can extract the glycerin that saponification creates.  Something the homemade soap makers cannot do.

Offline nelson133

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Re: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?
« Reply #103 on: September 05, 2010, 08:29:27 PM »
My personal experience is that the hot process soap cures enough to cut within 8 hours and is usable right away, though letting it dry a couple of days doesn't hurt.  All other authorities I have read on cold process soap recommend curing from 3 to 6 weeks for the lye to finish working, certainly the cold process soap I made way back when needed several days to cure and still had active lye until completely cured.   I haven't done much with cold process currently because hot process works so well.  If you don't find this necessary, more power to you.
Again if you are able to get good results with 100& olive  oil, good for you, I have had much better luck using 80% olive and 20% coconut.  I try to super fat the soap by 5%, do you super fat your castile soap?
I stand by what I said about modern "soaps" not being soap, you can buy real soap but it costs several dollars per bar.  Making your own is truly much easier that you would think and you can learn to make  basic soap in quite a short time, with the product far superior to anything but the specialty soaps. 

 

Offline Mullers Lane Farm

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Re: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?
« Reply #104 on: September 05, 2010, 11:01:45 PM »
Nelson, in more recent years, the 'authorities' have proven (via pH strips) that cold process soap that has gelled, then cooled is ready to unmold and use.  Since a CP soapmaker can discount the amount of liquid used for their lye solution, there is less liquid to evaporate out of the bar.  With HP soap, you need a higher level of liquid so the soap will be more managable.  Since more liquid is used in the process, there is more left in the soap to evaporate out.  The 'cure' time of homemade soaps is to allow excess moisture to evaporate out leaving you a bar that is harder and lathers better.

A 100% Olive oil soap is harder to manage if you are hand stirring with a spoon or whisk.  With a stick blender, the process is a snap!  Your recipe of 80/20 olive/coconut is a good one for a more abundant lather.  Yes, I super fat all my soaps except for the ones I make for the specific purpose of laundry or household cleaning.

Offline TwoBluesMama

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Re: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?
« Reply #105 on: September 06, 2010, 08:28:50 AM »
I see there is no reply from OP on this.

I have a web page about soapmaking (pictures included) that also has recipes, suppliers, et al. 

I've been making soap since 1999 and am very willing to answer questions.



Thank you thank you thank you!  So excited to get more into this and appreciate the tutorial.  Blessings TBM

Offline Mullers Lane Farm

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Re: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?
« Reply #106 on: September 06, 2010, 08:44:43 AM »
From my website (listed in a previous post), if you click on 'Lessons in Homesteading', you will get a page of various skills that will lead you to pictorials of how we do things.  For the soap making, there is a page on cold process milk soap and another on hot process milk soap

So glad you enjoyed what you viewed so far.

Offline Alpha Mike

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Re: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?
« Reply #107 on: September 06, 2010, 10:41:06 AM »
I made my soap.  Cold process.  Just need to slice it up and let it cure.


Not too hard at all.  Just don't over-engineer the soap molds.  

Next time, I'll try hot process.

(edited to fix pic link - Alpha Mike)
« Last Edit: September 09, 2010, 09:33:37 AM by Alpha Mike »

Offline LvsChant

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Re: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?
« Reply #108 on: September 07, 2010, 08:36:41 AM »
This is something I really want to try when we get settled in the new place... Thanks so much to the experienced soapers sharing all their information!

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?
« Reply #109 on: September 07, 2010, 09:52:44 AM »
From my website (listed in a previous post), if you click on 'Lessons in Homesteading', you will get a page of various skills that will lead you to pictorials of how we do things.  For the soap making, there is a page on cold process milk soap and another on hot process milk soap

So glad you enjoyed what you viewed so far.

Cyndi, I'm looking over your site and one thing struck me was that you are using frozen milk.  What's the reason for that?  Maybe a heating through chemistry thing or just to store the milk until you are ready?

Thanks

Offline Mullers Lane Farm

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Re: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?
« Reply #110 on: September 07, 2010, 10:51:30 AM »
one thing struck me was that you are using frozen milk.  What's the reason for that? 

Milk contains a lot of natural sugars.  When you add lye to liquid, the solution heats up greatly (close to boiling point).  If you add lye directly to liquid milk, you will be burning the milk sugars (turning the lye solution a very stinky orange color). Also with the milk fats, your saponification (reaction between the lye and the fats in the milk) will start taking place.  You then end up with a coagulated stinky orange mess that is harder to mix in with your other oils.

This is why I also suggest that you have all the oils melted and ready to go before you start mixing the lye with the frozen milk. Once your milk lye solution is ready, pour immediately into the waiting oils, not allowing the milk lye solution to heat up.

I freeze my milk flat in gallon ziplock baggies (you could also freeze the milk in ice trays, then store in freezer bag).  When I'm ready to make soap, I get out all my ingredients.  Weigh the oils & have them waiting.  I chunk up the frozen milk into about 1" cubes.  I weigh the lye, then dump about 1/3 of the lye amount onto the frozen milk cubes and stir like heck with a whisk.  When the frozen milk has started to melt, I dump about half the remaining lye.  Again stir well.  Then dump the remaining lye into the lye solution and stir well again with a whisk.  I then take my trusty stick blender and blend to break up and melt the remaining milk cubes.  Make sure your SB is completely submerged!  Then pour the lye solution immediately into the waiting oils.

Some milk soapers add the lye very slowly, but I've found out you're taking a larger risk of the milk sugars burning and saponification beginning if you add too slowly.  Likewise, if you dump all the lye into the the frozen milk, you may not be able to dissolve all the lye.  I go with the happy medium.

please wear eye protection from the time you open the lye container until you have your soap molded and placed where you will keep it until you unmold!

Offline nelson133

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Re: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?
« Reply #111 on: September 17, 2010, 05:58:45 AM »
I tried insulating a cold process soap for 3 days and then cutting it for use.  It worked just fine.  Thanks, you learn something new every day.

Offline Mullers Lane Farm

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Re: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?
« Reply #112 on: September 22, 2010, 09:33:07 PM »
Glad to help Nelson.

Put by 56  lb of soap yesterday & today, but ran out of milk!  ARGH!  2 more gallons are freezing now.  I'll make up another masterbatch of oils tomorrow morning and should be able to get another 36 lb in molds tomorrow afternoon.

Offline summer98

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Re: Would anyone like to learn to make their own soap?
« Reply #113 on: October 03, 2010, 05:45:04 AM »
Muller's Lane: Wow, 56 lb of soap at once? I wish I had the need to make that much!
Nelson, if you have lye left in your soap after a couple of weeks, something has gone wrong with the process. As Miller pointed out, the purpose of the curing is to let them dry out, not finish using up the lye. That should be gone about 24 hours after making the soap. You can speed up the drying process by heating the bars at low heat in the oven, but it shortens the shelf life, though that isn't such a factor if you heat the whole loaf. You can also throw the mold in the oven on low heat right after pouring it, heat it for 2 hours, and then cut it 24 hours later. (Sorry, I'm a trained chemist, so I have an incorrigible desire to experiment).

Most CP soaps are ready to come out of the mold and be cut about 24 hours after pouring, but it does depend on the recipe.

Regarding the old-fashioned way of making lye, I don't recommend doing it while you can get standardized lye so cheaply. There are lots of website that sell it. I buy mine in bulk. If you ever do need to do it, use a barrel with a spigot. You do NOT need to precipitate out lye crystals; you merely need to heat the ashes and water until they react. You might want to need salt. I think I have a recipe for it somewhere. If you ever do make lye this way, be extremely careful; there is no way to tell how strong or weak the resulting lye will be. You also need a source of either distilled water or rainwater -the water must be fairly pure, to prevent any other reactions from taking place.

I sold quite a bit of my soap at a craft show yesterday, so I'm really happy right now, even though I feel that I didn't do as well as I should have for the size of the show.