Welcome to my blog about Soapmaking and a little bit of other stuff! Please visit my etsy shop, Soap by Em!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hints, Tips, and Tricks for Homemade Soap (hot process soap cold process soap)

I wanted to share some things that I have learned in making soap the past 6 months.  In no particular order:  

  • Do not bother paying anyone for a lye source.  While it may be hard to find locally, it is easy to get online via soap suppliers or my favorite, The Lye Guy.  Locally, I buy lye soap at Rural King.  However, don't ask for lye, the sales people will look at you cross eyed.  Go to the plumbing section and look for Roebic Crystal Drain Opener.  I have looked at other stores and Roebic is the only drain opener I have found that is pure enough to use for soap.
  • Have a budget!  Soap supplies can get pricy.
  • Shop around for the best deals.  Compare prices at soap suppliers and make sure you consider pros and cons.  For instance, Brambleberry includes a free sample of fragrance with every order.  Nature's Garden includes a silk flower that has been scented with a fragrance.  As fragrances can morph in soaps, the actual product is more useful to me.

  • A silicone bread pan makes an awesome soap mold for beginners. 
  • Only use fragrances that are safe for use in soap.  Some candle fragrances are not soap safe.  Make sure you check before you buy.
  • I bought a crockpot online after goodwill was not fruitful.  I wanted one with a removable crock.  I wish I had gotten one with a warm setting in addition to low and high because it would give me more temperature options.  Don't bother looking for a crockpot with a timer.

  • Two pounds became my size of choice.
  • MEASURE, Measure, measure!!!  Precision matters!  You could end up with a soap that is lye heavy or not soap.
  • Have patience.  Soap needs time to cure.
  • Clean your workspace before and after you make soap.  I keep a bottle of vinegar water with a little essential oil that I use.  This is to prevent cross contamination of soap (and food).  Also, the debate, "is that lye or is that splenda?" sucks and isn't worth it.
  • The few lye burns I have had were mostly caused by poor glove safety.  Wear gloves.  Wear goggles.  I have only had one lye burn caused by static and I also decided to use a flat spatula to transfer lye as opposed to a spoon.
  • The lye burns I have had all started with a pleasant warm feeling that changed into a burning sensation.  So if you feel a pleasant warm feeling, don't wait for the burn!  Rinse it off!  I have read that vinegar is not safe to wash off lye because it will create more heat, and that you have to use vinegar to rinse off lye.  In my experience, the vinegar stops the burning.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Flock of Little Birds Contest Entry

I was thrilled to read about SJ Tucker's contest with art inspired by lyrics to a new song, "Little Bird."  I'm fairly certain I will be the only contestant to use soap as a medium!  The lyrics that struck a chord with me were "Little Flame" and "Little Thunderstorm."  So here is my little flame and little thunderstorm soap!

I used Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Sunflower Oil, Vitamin E, and shea butter, and added them to distilled water and lye to create the soap base.  I scented the soap with essential oils of litsea cubea, orange valencia, and peppermint.  Finally, I added oxides and some charcoal to color the batter and poured it into my mold.  The technique I used created drops of water in the flamey portion.  It smells minty and spicy.

Flame and Thunderstorm

Beauty Shot

flame and thunderstorm
I love the drops of water!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cutting Flower Power

I cut flower power!

I love all the different colors, but next time I will not do the two vertical lines through the soap.  I think that they take away from the overall look.  Also, I will try to use smaller glops of soap or fewer colors- it ended up very busy.

Find it on etsy here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/160453140/flower-power-handmade-patchouli-cold

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Flower Power

Today I made lotion bars for the first time that I hope will turn out well.  I also made a batch of Patchouli soap.  I used a variety of oxides to color the soap (I think I used every color I had) and glopped it in similar to the spoon technique.  I did a little decorating on the top and two strokes all the way through the soap.

I really liked the spoon swirl technique look and I hope the swirling I did helped.  It was hard to stop swirling! I was having fun but I did not want it to get muddy.  Not the look I was going for.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dinner Rolls

I found this recipe via pinterest and decided to tweak it for my own needs/ wants.  


1 cup + 2 tablespoons warm water (hot tap water is usually the right temperature for yeast, but you might want to check yours if you don't frequently bake)
1/3 cup oil
2 teaspoons yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 1/2 cup white flour + more for kneading

1/3 cup flax seeds
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup old fashioned oatmeal

Combine water, oil, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer.  While it proofs, pulse oatmeal in a [clean] coffee grinder until ground (optional).  Mix flours, flax, oatmeal, & salt. 

Add dry ingredients and egg to yeast mixture.  Use dough hook and knead until it does not stick to the sides.  I had to add a little more flour.

Cover the top with oil and a hot damp towel and let rise for about an hour.

Break into 16 spherical rolls and let rise again.  (Optional: freeze portion of recipe for fresh baked rolls later.)

Bake at 350 until done (about 15 minutes in my vintage oven).  

If you don't have time for the double rise, definitely check out Koti Beth's version linked above as it is a quick rise recipe.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Celebrate Christmas in July with coupon code JULYSNOW to save 15% until July 22 at my etsy shop! http://www.etsy.com/shop/SoapbyEmily

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bastille Soap

This morning I experimented with a Bastille (mostly olive oil) Soap.  I based it on this recipe from the magnanimous Soap Queen, but used goat milk in oil and infused my oils with calendula and chamomile.  I left it unscented to be really gentle and superfatted it at 7%.

Since red mica turns peachy orange, I did a swirl on top with it.
Here is a before pic:

I had a lot of leftover red mica and it was difficult not to use it all up.  But I stopped swirling when it was pretty.