Search Results for: rebatching soap
The lore of children receiving a lump of coal for Christmas occurs in many cultures. While the origin stories are all slightly different, one aspect is consistent: bad children receive a lump of coal and good children receive a present. These Lump of Coal Soaps put a fun spin on holiday gifts. Your friends and family will actually want these in their stockings.
They’re created with rebatch soap base. Rebatching refers to melting grated cold process soap over low heat. The soap can then be customized with color and fragrance. The Luxury Grated Rebatch Soap used in this project contains a skin-loving blend of oils and butters such as shea butter and olive oil. It’s made fresh so it’s easy to melt down.
Rebatch soap can be melted using a few different heating methods. In this video, the rebatch soap is melted using a double boiler. You can also use a Crock-Pot, as shown in this tutorial. For this project we used a Presto Pot, which is similar to a fondue pot. The key is low, consistent heat.
Once the soap is melted, activated charcoal is added to give a coal-like appearance. Then Sandalwood Vanilla Fragrance Oil is mixed in for a sultry and delicious scent. The soap is allowed to cool slightly and formed into balls using your hands. Finally, a touch of Snowflake Sparkle Mica and a bit more activated charcoal are sprinkled on top. Because of the large amount of charcoal, these bars do lather gray.
Cold process soap requires patience. It needs several days to harden in the mold. Then, it needs to cure for 4-6 weeks to allow excess water to evaporate. Curing creates a firmer bar that lasts longer in the shower. All this waiting can be the hardest part of cold process soapmaking! But, what if your soap takes longer than usual to harden? If your soap is still soft to the touch after a week or two, something might be a little off.
Soap can take anywhere from 1-15 days to harden in the mold, depending on a variety of factors. Two to three days in the mold is average. There are several factors that determine how long soap needs to harden. The first is the type of oils in your recipe. The more soft oils (such as olive, sweet almond, rice bran, canola, etc.) the soap contains, the softer the bars will be. It may take more time to harden in the mold. The more hard oils the recipe contains (such as palm, coconut, cocoa butter, beeswax, etc.), the quicker the soap will harden. For example, if the soap is made with 100% olive oil, it may take up to two weeks to unmold. But if the soap is 60% hard oils, it could be ready to unmold the next day.
Using more firm oils and butters in your recipe will result in a firmer bar of soap.
Another factor is the superfat of the recipe. Oil that’s not turned into soap by the sodium hydroxide lye is called the “superfat.” An average superfat is anywhere from about 1-7%. The higher the superfat, the more “free-floating” oils in the soap. The terms “superfat” and “lye discount” can be used interchangeably. This is because in order to create a superfat, you use less lye in the recipe. Extra oil creates a more gentle bar, but it can also make the bar softer. If you used a large superfat (generally 7% or more) and the bar feels soft to the touch after a few weeks, the superfat may be the culprit. Personally, I use a superfat of 5% in most of my cold process recipes. I have found this to be a good balance between a firm bar that’s also gentle on the skin.
Speaking of “extra stuff” in your soap, let’s talk additives. Colorants and fragrance oils are the most common “additives” and they can make soap soft if too much is added. Dispersing powdered colorants in lightweight liquid oil is a great way to avoid chunks and streaks of color in the final bar. But, if you add too much dispersed colorant it can soften the bar because you’re adding more oil as well. In fact, you’re technically increasing the superfat! If you calculate your recipe to have a 7% superfat and add lots of dispersed color for example, you may end up with a soft bar. Usually, colorants are dispersed at a rate of 1 teaspoon colorant to 1 tablespoon lightweight liquid oil. If you want to add a lot of colorant, you may want to decrease the amount of oil in your dispersion.
Adding too much extra oil (like with dispersed colorants) can lead to a soft bar of soap.
Adding too much fragrance oil can also lead to a soft bar of soap. That’s where the Fragrance Calculator comes in! Simply enter which fragrance oil you’re using, what you’re making and how much. The calculator will give the amount of fragrance oil that’s safe for skin. The amount given by the calculator won’t lead to a soft bar of soap. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to measure your fragrance oil by weight; it gives you the most accurate amount of fragrance oil for your project. Adding more fragrance than recommended could lead to a soft bar.
Soap might be soft if too much liquid is used. The Bramble Berry Lye Calculator creates recipes with 22% distilled water in the total recipe. Other lye calculators might have a slightly lower or higher percentage. That’s because the amount of water in your recipe can fluctuate, and still be totally fine. Using less water in your recipe is known as water discounting.
Water discounting has several benefits including decreasing the chance of glycerin rivers and creating a bar that unmolds faster. Learn more about water discounting soap here. On the other hand, if you use more water than suggested, it takes longer for the soap to become firm. This also applies to adding other liquid additives like milk or purees to your recipe. Too much extra liquid (milk, purees, etc.) on top of the water in the lye solution causes soap to not harden correctly.
Water discounting soap reduces the chances of glycerin rivers, shown above. It also produces a bar that hardens faster.
The type of mold also affects how quickly soap hardens. In general, cold process soap made in silicone and plastic molds takes longer to harden and umold. This is because silicone and plastic molds create an airtight seal that doesn’t allow for any air to touch the soap. The more airflow, the faster soap hardens. Soap made in wood molds lined with freezer paper has a little more airflow, which helps the soap release faster. In addition, wood molds tend to promote gel phase. If soap goes through gel phase, it becomes harder faster.
If using a silicone or plastic mold for cold process soap, use sodium lactate. Actually, I recommend using sodium lactate for all your batches! It’s a liquid salt that can be added to cooled lye water at a rate of 1 teaspoon per pound of oils in cold process soap. It’s optional, but I use it in 99.9% of my recipes. It facilitates the hardening of soap, making umolding faster and a longer lasting bar in the shower. For example in the photo below, the soap on the left contains sodium lactate while the bar on the right does not. The bar without sodium lactate was softer, and did not unmold as cleanly. Click here to learn more about sodium lactate.
The bar on the left contained sodium lactate, while the bar on the right did not.
So, what can you do about a soft bar of soap? The good thing about soft soap is that it’s very rarely lye heavy! Lye heavy soap usually has the opposite problem; it’s extremely hard, brittle and crumbly. If your soap is too soft, chances are you added too much of something…but not lye. It’s usually too much oil, fragrance, liquid or other additive. The bad news about soap that’s too soft? It’s a little tricky to fix. The only real option is to rebatch the soap. To help firm it up, you can add shreds of a firm bar. This helps balance it out. Learn more about rebatching soap here.
What can you do if you want to ensure your soap unmolds within about 2-3 days? Check out my tips below.
- Use at least 40% hard oils in your recipe. These include coconut oil, palm oil, cocoa butter, etc. This post has a list of common soaping oils, with general recommended usage rates to aid in formulating your recipes.
- Stearic acid at 0.5% of your oils can be used as a hardening agent in cold process soap. It does speed up trace, so keep that in mind!
- Sodium lactate is your friend! Because I like to unmold my soap within about 2 days, I use sodium lactate all my batches. It’s a liquid salt that’s added to cooled lye water. It helps the soap harden more quickly, which helps it release cleanly from the mold. If I use sodium lactate, I can sometimes unmold my soap the next day.
- Water discount your soap anywhere from 5-20%. Just keep in mind the more you water discount your recipe, the faster your soap will accelerate. Generally, I don’t water discount more than 15% unless I’m in a huge hurry to unmold. If you’re adding ingredients like purees, I recommend water discounting to take the extra water in the puree into consideration. Check out this post for more info.
- Decrease the superfat. The more extra oil you have in your soap, the softer it will be. I have found 5% to be a good balance between firmness, and a skin-loving bar.
- Promote gel phase. When soap goes through gel phase, it speeds up the saponification process. This results in a bar that is firmer more quickly.
- Thicken the trace of your soap. Soap that is poured into the mold at a thin trace will need more time in the mold than thick traced soap.
- Using an accelerating fragrance oil helps your soap harden in the mold faster.
How long do you usually wait to unmold your soap? In general I always recommend 2-3 days, but sometimes you can get away with unmolding the next day if you use some of the tips above!
At the beginning of the month, we had a Share Your Favorite Soaping Tip Contest. The tip could pertain to soap, bath bombs, lotions, or any other bath and beauty project. We received close to 400 comments, and I was so impressed with all the tips. I definitely learned some new tricks! If you’re looking for more informational posts, check out the Tips and Tricks category of the blog.
Many of the tips had similar themes including have fun, stay organized, safety first and don’t get discouraged. These tips made me smile, because they really identified what the DIY journey is all about. Creating should be fun! To make sure it’s fun, it’s crucial to stay safe and it also helps to be organized. Click here to read all the tips in the comment section.
Most frequent tips:
1. Have fun. Don’t forget that soapmaking should be a fun activity. If it’s stressing you out, take a deep breath and relax.
2. Stay organized. Keep your soaping area organized and thoroughly read over the instructions several times. This will help the entire process go smoothly.
3. Safety first. If you are making cold process soap, take proper lye safety precautions such as wearing goggles, long sleeves and soaping in an area with no children or pets nearby. Click here to learn more about lye safety.
4. Don’t get discouraged. We all have an occasional soaping mishap. If your batch doesn’t turn out perfectly, don’t get discouraged and quit. Your next batch will be better. =)
There were so many great tips, it was hard to choose my favorites. Below are some of the tips that really stood out to me. Thanks to everybody who took the time to share a tip. The team and I had such a good time reading through them!
“I know all of you probably have at least one of the reheatable bags that your oils come in from Brambleberry. I actually cut the top off across one of them to make it a open bag. It works perfectly for rebatching soap in and works even better for melting your waxes in. I use the double boiler method and it is an awesome way to melt things down in. So never never throw away. They are really useful for this purpose.” – Kristie
“To process images for water soluble paper so that you get the best, most vivid images into your soaps, select the image in Microsoft Word (or use any image editing program). Increase both color saturation and contrast, and then lower your brightness or exposure just a tiny bit (to counteract the increased contrast, which can wash out some of the subtleties in the image). This will ensure that the images underneath the clear layer of soap don’t look so “washed out” (so to speak).” – Vittoria
“My house is kept rather cold (thanks, hubby), which makes getting a good gel on my CP soap a challenge sometimes. My secret? A cheap pizza stone! I pop it in the oven at 170 while I make my soap, pull it a few minutes before I’m ready for it, then set my mold on the stone (usually I put a thin towel between the stone and mold), cover with a towel, and let it go. The heat is enough to encourage the gel, but it dissipates just at the right rate–not too fast, not too slow, so I get a perfect gel every time. I use a cheap, thin stone since I wouldn’t want to ruin a high end one, and the high end stones tend to hold their heat longer, which I don’t really want.” – Lindsey
“If you stamp your soaps and have a problem with get soap getting stuck in the stamp, place a sheet of plastic wrap over the soap before you stamp. The impression comes out fine and no soap gets on your stamp.” – Debbie
If you have a couple soaps under your belt, you have probably encountered soap scraps. Whether it’s an end piece of soap that wasn’t quite perfect, or scraps from a soap beveller/shaver, they tend to build up over time. If you’re like me, you can’t stand to see even the tiniest bit of soap go to waste. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do with leftover soap.
Soapmaking is an art form AND a science. It requires precise measuring of properly selected ingredients to initiate the saponification process. Temperature and time are also important in the chemical reaction between sodium hydroxide lye, water and oils. Because of its precise nature, mistakes are bound to happen. I have experienced plenty of soapy mess ups and still learn new tricks of the trade when soaping. Soapy mistakes happen to us all! Luckily, there methods to prevent and fix these blunders.
Below are some of the most common soapy mistakes, and ways to fix them. Many of these fixes include rebatching the soap, which involves melting the soap with a small amount of additional liquid. To see this process in action, check out this Soap Queen TV video. Also, check out the Tips & Tricks section of the blog to see a wide variety of in-depth posts about these soapy problems.
Hand-milled soap is a fantastic option for crafters who prefer not to work with lye, but still love the look and feel of cold process soap. Hand-milling (also called rebatching) involves melting down pre-made cold process soap and adding a small amount of extra liquid. If you’d like to see this process in action, check out this How to Make Rebatch Soap video on Soap Queen TV.
For this recipe, rose water is used with pink Brazilian clay to give a light rosy hue. Topped with rose petals and scented with Ylang Ylang III essential oil, this Pink Clay & Primrose Hand-Milled Soap project is wonderfully feminine. This project would make a great gift for Valentine’s Day! These downloadable labels make packaging and giving to loved ones easy.
After Monday’s great overview post on tallow, our guest blogger Eric Vought is following up today with a tallow soaping recipe! Tallow is rendered animal fat, and it is the original fat used in soaping. Some soapers still choose to use it because it’s an excellent substitute for palm oil, has a stable lather and it’s usually readily available at the neighborhood butcher shop. Enjoy! — A.M. [Read more…]
Rebatching is a technique perfect for the novice as well as the advanced soapmaker. If you use essential oils to scent your soap, you can make 100% natural soap without having to work with lye.
Beginning soapmakers can purchase ready made rebatch base and make handmade soap without touching lye. It’s an easy introduction to choosing fragrances and colors. Many advanced soapmakers like to rebatch becasue they can make one large plain batch of cold process soap and then rebatch it into a wide range of colors and scents. The rebatching technique is also called French milled, hand milled, double milled or triple milled. It’s all the same process of heating up grated cold process soap and customizing it with your favorite colorants and fragrances.
This tutorial uses the Bramble Berry rebatch kit to show how easy it is to make rustic, handmade bar of soap.
Rebatching Soap – What is it and why would I do it? – Rebatching is another form of cold process soapmaking. You can either make cold process soap from scratch or buy a premade base, grate it up, place it over a heat source, either in a double boiler or in a freezer baggie as shown below, with a little liquid (water, beer, milk, teas all work well). This mixture “melts” down into a mushy mess that you add colorant and fragrance too. The reason people normally rebatch is to preserve the delicate scent or the healing properties of some essential oils.
Freezer Bags (must must must be heat safe)
Step One: Grate the soap. I’ve tried a variety of things (food processor, meat grinder, deli meat slicer) and all of the cutters have gummed up on me and not worked after a few ounces worth of soap grinding. If you have any great tips, please post them here and save us some time and arm soreage.
Step Two: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Fill a freezer bag (heat safe) with the grated soap and approximately 1/2 to 1 ounce of liquid. Submerge the freezer bag of soap in the boiling water. Be sure to use a large enough pot that the freezer baggie will not be squished up against the side of the pot. You don’t want to accidentally melt the plastic baggie.
Step Three: Once the soap has boiled in the large pan for approximately 20 minutes, the soap should be gelatinous and gloppy, sort of like mashed potatoes or thick soupy oatmeal. It will never “melt” and become water like.
Step Four: Using heat safe gloves (that soap is hot! wear gloves!), pull the soap out of the water. Knead it around to make sure the liquid is fully mixed into the soapy gloppy glory. Is it too thick? Add another 1 Tablespoon of liquid if needed and knead this into the soap. The key is to not use very much liquid. The more liquid you add to this process, the thinner the soap gets (true) but the longer it will take to dry and harden.
Step Seven: Add fragrance and color. Liquid color is ideal (mixing pigments into the gloppy soap is difficult). I use approximately .5 ounces of fragrance or essential oil per pound of soap. The colorant usage varies based on the color but start sparingly. You can always put more color in but taking it out is difficult. If the soap starts to harden up at any point because it is cooling, reseal the bag and toss it all back into the hot water. Make sure you wear heat safe gloves through this entire process. The soap is hot.
Step Eight: You can either spoon the soap into the molds or pour/push/squeeze the soap out of the baggie. Unless you are an experienced rebatch soaper, I would not recommend cutting off a corner of the bag to squeeze the soap out like frosting. It’s tempting but if the soap starts to cool too quickly, the open hole will not allow you to remelt the soap in the boiling water.
Step Nine: Take the mold you are using, close your eyes and give it a good wack on the counter to settle the soap and get all the air bubbles to the surface of the bar. When the soap starts to cool, feel free to use your hands and fingers to smooth out any bumps on the surface.
Wait for 2 to 7 days before popping the soap out. The key is to wait for all the liquid to evaporate. Yes, you can become impatient and freeze the soap but make sure the soap is entirely frozen (overnight at least) before trying to pop the soap out and remember that plastic is more brittle after it is frozen so be gentle on your molds.
Check back in the next few days for a tutorial on how to do rebatching soap via the double boiler method. This is my favorite way to do rebatch and you can do larger batches with the double boiler method.
Recently my friend Debbie wrote me on Twitter and told me she loved the handmade (cold process) soap I had given her for Christmas and wanted to learn how to make her own. She asked, “How do I start?” Since that’s probably a longer answer than 140 characters on Twitter will give me, Debbie, this blog post is for you!
1. Read this article on the types of soapmaking. The type of soap you want to make is ‘Cold Process Soapmaking.
|Rebatch Soap Cold Process Soap Melt and Pour Soap|
2. Watch the 4 *free* videos at SoapQueen.TV on Cold Process Soapmaking.
After learning more about the process, are you still interested in moving ahead?
If yes, keep going.
3. Keep educating yourself. TeachSoap.com is a great resource. The TeachSoap forum is helpful. All of the posts here tagged with “Cold Process” add to your knowledge base and the SoapDishForum is a fantastic learning opprtounity.
4. Order a beginner kit. It has everything you need to make your first batch of soap except the Lye. Order the lye along with the beginner kit. Beginner kit A is here. Beginner Kit B is here; Lye is here.
5. Make sure you have all your safety equipment – gloves, goggles, apron etc…
6. Get yourself to Goodwill to get a stainless steel bowl or glass bowl, a couple spatulas, spoons and invest $20 in a good Stick Blender.
7. Wait for your kit. Keep reading. Let your excitement build.
8. When the kit arrives, safety up! Goggles on! Gloves on! Cover those counters with newspaper. Lock pets outside. Children under 14 should be away from your soaping area. Find one hour of uninterupted time.
To cut my colorful rebatch soap, I used our Wooden Cutter for the 2 and 4 pound molds. This mold comes with the scraper/cutter below and a wooden removable spacer that allows you to cut 4 ounce bars instead of 5 ounce bars. In the picture above, I chose to cut my soap with my kitchen knife (Shhh. Don’t tell my husband).