Fumbling Towards Soap: Adventures in Melt-and-Pour Soapmaking
A Soap Semi-Blog by Aviva Rothschild
Recently, in an effort to find something to do to distract myself from the twin problems of having been laid off and having to put my mother into an Alzheimer's care home, I went to Hobby Lobby to find a craft. I had some vague idea about candlemaking or rock tumbling. Instead, I discovered that all their melt-and-pour soapmaking items were half off. Thumbing through a craft soap book, I was struck by how easy and cool the whole hobby was. Also, I love chunky soaps, and the thought of making my own was very appealing. So I spent about $40 on soap, scents, dyes, molds, the soap recipe book, and so forth. I would later come back and buy another batch of stuff, and since then I've picked up many other things at the ARC Thrift Store (they have knives like you wouldn't believe, and plastic ice cube trays with interesting shapes), Hobby Lobby again, and Michael's.
I read the two craft soap books with great interest. It all seemed so easy! However, reality intruded when I made my first batch. I encountered all kinds of interesting little problems. And when I checked the Internet for tips from more experienced soapmakers, I discovered that there is relatively little information about this particular hobby, especially the nuts-and-bolts part. It's one thing to tell the newbie to melt the soap, add things, and pour it into molds. It's another when the soap hardens too quickly, or the scent evaporates too rapidly, or the spoon becomes too coated with soap to use, or the damn soap won't unmold. There's a decent amount about true homemade soap (the lye & fat kind), but that's not what I'm doing. Thus, I'm creating this semi-blog in an effort to alert newbie soapmakers to the problems they might encounter, and (hopefully) to stimulate discussion, tips, and help from other soapmakers.
I have a couple of craft soap books: Soapmaking 101 and Soothing Soaps and Scrubs. Although I bought 101 first, the other has turned out to be more useful. 101 is mostly recipes for chunky and "hand-milled" soaps, while Soothing has all kinds of natural bars that don't require too much imagination from the beginner, just the right ingredients.
- 2/12/03: First attempts (white glycerin soap base)
- 3/21/03: Cornmeal soap (olive oil soap base)
- 3/30/03: Witch Hazel soap (clear glycerin soap base)
- 4/3/03: Aloe soap (clear glycerin) and Calamine soap (white glycerin)
- 4/5/03: First chunky soap attempt (olive oil)
- 4/14/03: Oatmeal soap (clear)
- 4/29/03: Rosemary soap (olive oil)
- 5/7/03: Vaseline soap (clear)
- 5/8/03: Vitamin E soap (clear)
- Useful Links
Pictures coming soon!
Time to experiment with soapmaking basics: melting, stirring, adding dye, adding scent, pouring into molds, unmolding.
I used opaque white soap to startglycerin soap may act differently. Ill try that later.
It takes a lot of scent per batch1 to 6 drops of scent PER OUNCE. Thats per one little square. Looks like if we go commercial, scent will be our biggest expense.
Soap hardens quickly, so it should be quite hot when it comes out of the microwave, so that it stays melted long enough to play with. The entire batch should be melted (but not boiling). Stir frequently. Obey the every 10-15 second rule and stir well after each heating. [3/30/03 NOTE: No, stir as little as possible to avoid making bubbles.] This is, I think, the crucial stepthe soap MUST be liquid. Hardened soap is a bitch to deal witha scum forms on top, and the spoons or whisks get coated in ever-increasing layers of soap.
Soap bits that stick to the sides, the spoon, etc. do not easily melt back into the main mass.
Its easy to clean up!
The dyes are very concentrated and can easily be overused, especially when using a whole drop on a small piece of soap (e.g., dropping a drop into a tiny leaf mold).
The dyes spread out amazingly when a drop is dropped into the soap.
Your hands feel tacky very quickly.
Metal spoons are probably not ideal for stirring the soap. You need at least 2, as well, one to scrape the hardened soap off the other. [3/30/03 NOTE: Craft sticks work MUCH better!]
I think it was OK to repeatedly remelt the soap. I did it once or twice and probably should have done it more often.
Lightly swirled drops of color will combine more thoroughly if the soap is remelted.
Have different melting containers for different colors of soap, though I didnt have too much trouble with red soap bits melting into a new batch (see above).
Very small molds are hard to pour intomight be better to spoon the soap into those molds.
Scrape off any dots of soap that splash onto the molds"chaff" looks funny on the finished product.
I now have a shitload of bars of soap!
Adding hardened soap into semi-molten molds (to fill them up) seems to work, sort of, if you squish molten soap over the hardened bits to cover them. When I unmold the tester, Ill see what it looks like. (Looks crappy as of this moment, when its still not hardened completely And it looks crappy unmolded.)
If a soap is over-dyed, will ones hands get colored when one uses the soap? Will find out. (Answer: No, but you end up leaving a lot of colored water/foam in the soap dish when you wash your hands with the soap and then put it down.)
I must say, after having washed the splattered soap off my hands, my hands feel nice and smooth! Good stuff!
I tried putting a drop of color into a mold and then pouring in uncolored soap. Well see what results. (Nice splash pattern.)
The soap should be even in the mold, and should fill all crevices. Be generous. Half-filled soaps look stupid and flimsy when unmolded.
Use a toothpick to draw soap into tiny crevices.
Toothpicks are good for lightly swirling drops of color.
The dye is very water-soluble. It comes right off the fingers.
Unmolding takes a deft touch in order to avoid wrecking the mold (if its made of flimsy plastic).
DONT USE CANDY MOLDS. They bend way too easily.
Opaque soap layers are noticeable.
Little bubbles appear in some of the soaps. Is this preventable?
What am I going to do with all this soap?
Later: Some of the littler, skinnier soaps (from the candy molds, feet- and hand-shaped molds) curled up somewhat. Ugly. This probably wont be a problem if I immediately add semi-hardened shapes to bigger bars, but I have to try it. (Found on a website that the reason for this is that the soap lost water. Aha. Don't know how to prevent that yet.)
Me: I liked the soap, but I think I'm allergic to too much dye. The soaps with too much dye aggravated my skin.
Attempted Cornmeal soap from recipe. Olive oil soap, honey, cornmeal, scent.
The soap called for yellow dye as well, but the soap had such a nice yellow-brown color when I mixed in the honey and cornmeal that I didnt bother.
I learned that six ounces of soap fills about one and a half soap-bar-sized molds (one and a half of the "massage" bar molds from Life of the Party).
The recipe called for a 3" hexagon mold, but the LotP molds arent marked, so I just found a hexagon in the "massage" mold set and used that.
I used peach scent, putting in 3 drops per ounce of soap. It didnt smell like anything much while I was making it; maybe itll smell OK when its cool and I can hold it up to my nose.
Olive oil glycerin soap melts MUCH more nicely than the opaque white.
I made sure the soap was very hot this time. Nevertheless, it stuck mightily to the spoons, and I had to reheat it several times to remelt the globs of stiffened soap that I scraped off the spoon.
I think next time Ill try to reheat it JUST before pouring it into the mold. That might make life easier.
I reheated the soap with the cornmeal, scent, and honey in it, and nothing seemed to go wrong. Of course, I only heated it for three ten-second intervals.
Well-heated soap does take some time to harden sufficiently to unmold. Its also possible that the glycerin soap takes longer to cool, or that the cornmeal/honey mixture had an effect in some way.
I wish I had some way to know in advance how many cubes of soap will fill a particular mold.
I found a recommendation that one spray molds with PAM or something similar to make things easier to unmold. (Actually, they recommend an oil mister rather than PAM.) I'll try that next.
Another recommendation: Pour excess soap into Dixie cups to make cute guest soaps. I would also suggest having some small molds ready in case you have, like I did this batch, an amount of soap obviously too small for a normal-size mold.
Yet another recommendation: I need to get a mister and some rubbing alcohol. Apparently one is supposed to mist little soap bits that you insert into liquid soap, and also the bubbles I noted earlier will apparently go away if I mist the top of a newly poured bar. Also, over-stirring will add bubbles to the soap when you're melting it.
Aha! Didn't realize that the olive oil soap chunks were half the size of the white soap chunks. Serves me right for not reading the packaging. So I made the recipe with half the soap. I'll try again tomorrow with the full amount of soap.
Dad: He liked it, but wasn't enamored of the cornmeal; he wasn't sure of its purpose. When I explained that it was "scrubby" soap, he sneered at me. I think I'm going to have to rescue the bar from him before he throws it out.
Me: I had a mass of this soap stuck in a mold. I tried to dissolve it out by letting it sit in water. Because there was too much cornmeal, the soap got all slimy and old-cornmeally. Ugh.
Well, I didn't redo the cornmeal soap yet. Instead, I went for Witch Hazel soap, as I had just bought some.
Ingredients: 6 oz. clear glycerin soap, 2 oz witch hazel, scent (peach), color (blue), molds. I also added some glitter to see what the effect would be.
I actually doubled the recipe so I could make more than two bars.
I took care to cut more soap than I needed (about an extra chunk worth--probably should have used a tad more) and to cut up the soap into smaller chunks for ease of melting.
I also used a craft stick rather than spoons, and I took care not to stir the soap much while it was melting. The craft stick turned out to be a GOOD idea. Hardly any of the soap stuck to it, and it was too skinny to possibly over-stir with it.
The soap melted very nicely, though I had to do many 10-second zaps to get it all to melt. I got it hot enough that it didn't all freeze to the side of the measuring cup, either.
I added the glitter just after I took the soap out to cool, and the witch hazel, the scent (36 drops), and the color (3 drops) just before I poured the soap. I stirred it with the craft stick until it was all mixed, but I took care not to over-stir.
I probably didn't use quite enough glitter--there were no suggested amounts on the packaging--but it looked neat both in the clear soap and in the light blue soap that three drops created.
The soap poured very nicely and almost filled four hand-sized bar molds--one was slightly below the edge. These weren't the recommended molds, but oh well.
I remembered to mist the soap with alcohol after I poured it, and presto! All the foam and bubbles that had formed from the pouring vanished. Yay!
A bit of scum had formed on the soap. As instructed by my recipe, I pushed it aside and added the various things, but when I poured the soap the lump of scum poured into the first mold. Realizing a bit later that this would look awful in clear blue soap, I fished it out. I think in the future I'll just discard it before pouring.
In retrospect, blue + peach scent wasn't the most logical combination. Probably should've used yellow, yellow + red, or a more blue-appropriate scent. Oh well.
(Update 4/3/03: When unmolding the soap, I discovered that it's REALLY easy to deform warm soap when you press the mold to get it out. All my bars ended up with flat instead of round tops. They're also kind of irregular, as if the mold had shifted a bit.)
Dad: He loved the soap but hated the glitter. He used it and then went to the ACLU, where he volunteers. He went into the bathroom there and discovered that he glittered! He says he'll keep the soap but only use it in the shower. Probably want to avoid using glitter except in kids' soaps.)
Robin: She isn't going to use it; she put it on her desk at work because it's attractive. She's the wisest of us!
Me: The damn glitter is mildly abrasive and hurts! No more glitter!
I wanted to make Rosemary Soap, but it turned out I didn't have any rosemary, so I tried Aloe Soap instead: clear glycerin soap, aloe vera gel, green dye, scent (melon cucumber this time), mold, alcohol to destroy surface bubbles. As before, I doubled the recipe.
The picture of the Aloe Soap in the book shows it having some kind of herb in it, but the recipe didn't call for any. Hm.
As before, I cut the soap into smaller chunks, and it melted beautifully.
I probably should have let it cool a bit more before adding stuff. I had several problems that I relate below.
The "gel" was more like a cream; I may have used the wrong stuff. When I added it, much of it melted but many little blobs remained. I ended up having to stir the soap more than I would normally have to get the lumps to dissolve.
I used a green dye from a different company (I usually have used Life of the Party before; this time I used Fields Landing). I accidentally squirted a lot into the soap, but instead of turning the soap deep green, the stuff diffused a lot and barely tinted the soap at all. I ended up using several more drops without much effect.
One odd thing: the dye, instead of spreading out normally, seemed to be captured in small globules within the liquid soap. Was that a function of the heat, the dye, or the addition of the aloe vera gel? (I saw another example of aloe vera soap that seemed to have these little globules.)
I used extra scent because I'm almost positive I put it in too soon and it evaporated out quickly. It still didn't smell like much.
Note: When misting soap with alcohol to destroy bubbles, if you have a glass of water that you're drinking nearby, MOVE IT FIRST!!!
I put a mold with some smaller soaps into the freezer to see how well they came out. They popped right out! Even the half-filled mold came out easily.
I decided to use up my white glycerin soap, since I hadn't used it recently. I wanted to try my new techniques on it. I decided to make Calomine Soap: White glycerin soap, calomine lotion, scent (strawberry), molds.
I cut up the soap into small chunks and melted it. As had happened with the first white glycerin soap, a lot of it crusted onto the sides of the measuring cup. It wasn't worth my time to keep scraping it off, so I just kept melting until the main mass was thoroughly liquid. Obviously, whenever one works with white glycerin soap, one must expect much more soap loss than with clear glycerin soap.
I vaselined the molds this time, to see how easy it would be to get the soap out. More on that when I actually unmold the soap. I was going to use a mister and vegetable oil, but I forgot and only bought one mister (for the rubbing alcohol).
The white glycerin soap cools and scums over MUCH faster than clear glycerin. When I added the scent, it pooled on top of the scum until I had a chance to stir it in. It's also harder to get rid of the soap scum. Some of it will dissolve back into the main mass, but most of it will hide at the bottom and pour out onto your final bar of soap. Ironically, the soap stays hotter in molds than clear glycerin soap does.
Also, the stupid top of the soaps hardened before I could mist the bubbles away. Conclusion: Move REALLY fast with white glycerin soap!
The soap also built up on the craft stick much more thoroughly than the clear soap ever did.
I used Crafty Bubbles Strawberry scent this time. It was nice and strong!
Oh, before I forget: It helps to have a resting place for your craft stick, as you don't want to be holding it all the time. I use a paper plate. I also cut the soap onto a paper plate.
I put one bar, which had no vaseline, into the freezer to see how well it pops out. Came out nicely! It was in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
Didn't use a specific recipe this time; instead, in an effort to use up some olive oil soap base, I decided to try chunky soap.
I used the olive oil soap, some extra green dye, and these hideous red soap chunks that look like bits of raw meat. I used Life of the Party peppermint scent with the idea of making "holiday" soap. For soap, I used the equivalent of 7 oz. Much of that would end up on the sides of the measuring cup or on the craft stick.
The olive oil soap melted rather like the white glycerin: it readily built up on the sides of the measuring cup. Oddly, it developed a skin during the melting process. Also, it steamed for a while yet kept developing skin, and I ultimately had to remelt the entire batch because it hardened way too rapidly.
Stirring did help the skin to dissolve, but I probably introduced too many bubbles into the soap by doing that.
The stupid green dye was almost as bad as it was with the aloe soap, though it seemed to improve and spread out appropriately when I remelted the whole batch. I won't be using it much from here on in, though.
I had to add the scent while the soap was still steaming, in an effort to get some soap that was still pourable; otherwise it would've just turned into wax. Peppermint is strong enough that while some may have evaporated, enough got in to make a good scent.
I filled an egg-shaped mold about halfway, then poured in the chunks. Because the soap developed a skin immediately, the chunks didn't sink at all, but just sat on the skin. I had to stir the soap in the mold to get them to distribute more evenly, and even then most floated to the top. Next time I'll put a few chunks in the mold before pouring the first layer.
I probably put in too many chunks, but oh well.
The soap skin poured into the mold, and I was too lazy to fish it out. The bottom of the soap looks fairly crappy as a result.
Because of the rapid skin-forming, I didn't bother to mist the soap to kill the bubbles.
I had a bit of soap left over and poured it into one of the smaller round molds in the same piece of plastic. This had the unfortunate effect of unbalancing the mold, so that I had to prop the mold up lest everything develop a tilt.
Susan says that she saw Martha Stewart melt soap in a double boiler with few problems. Next time, I'll put the measuring cup in a pot of simmering water. Maybe that'll help with the olive oil base and the white glycerin base. If it doesn't, I'll stick with clear glycerin.
Although I got a huge monolithic lump of clear glycerin soap to play with, I had enough left over from my original batch to make a recipe: Oatmeal Soap.
Recipe: 6 oz soap, 1/4 cup oatmeal, 1 tsp cinnamon, 4 vitamin E capsules. No scent or color needed, thanks to the cinnamon. I thought about adding a bit of maple scent, but not to my first batch. Maybe another batch.
I finally bought a food/soap scale at Target. They have a nice big one that holds quite a bit of stuff in its bowl. And I verified that yes, indeed, those little scored cubes in the 2 lb chunks of Life of the Party soap are indeed 7/8 oz. each.
The soap melted perfectly in the microwave. No problems.
The oatmeal tended to clump at the bottom, as had the soap chunks. But I looked at the picture of the soap in the recipe book, and the oatmeal seemed to proliferate at the top of the soap (the bottom when one pours it), so I guess things are OK.
The cinnamon spread out very nicely, and the soap smells quite nice! I wonder what other spices one can use that way. I know you can use nutmeg. Paprika, perhaps? (Mild paprika.) Turmeric?
This was my first attempt to use vitamin E capsules. Those little buggers are tough! My soap knife (admittedly coated in soap) couldn't cut them. I managed to pierce one with the tine of a fork; it squirted all over the stove. Solution: Hold the capsule over the cup of soap. Pierce it carefully at one tip, then squeeze the "juice" into the soap. I didn't lose any "juice" that way.
I actually used the recommended mold (large oval) this time. I had enough left over to completely fill a small oval, too.
I misted this batch--seemed to work, but I think the bottom will be wrinkly. I wonder how one can "sand down" the soap? Maybe if I wash with it once or twice?
BTW, I stumbled on a sale on soapmaking materials at "Joanne" (fabric and craft store I'd forgotten about). They had a different line of soapmaking stuff (Hobby Lobby and Michaels carry mostly Life of the Party and Crafty Bubbles), and I got some slick molds and new scents! Some of the molds have bases to prevent tippage, which is VERY nice; they also have oz. indicators next to the individual molds. I LIKE these molds! Though they may be awkward when it comes to unmolding soap. I'll use one next time.
They also had small (and EXPENSIVE) hunks of alternative soaps, including already-colored and already-scented clear glycerin (seems to take the fun out of soapmaking, doesn't it?), olive oil, goat's milk, honey, etc. I didn't look at all of them, but I might experiment with them someday.
In general, though, I'll be buying at least soap base over the Net from now on. 10 lbs. of clear glycerin from The Chemistry Store cost me $29 and change even with S&H. 10 lbs. at Hobby Lobby cost at least $31. I'll probably reorder when I'm down to 2 lbs. to minimize "down time" while I wait for more soap.
I splashed drops of soap on myself while melting it. Is one dirty when one has soap smeared on one's body? An interesting thing to contemplate.
Me: I've been using the bigger oatmeal bar. The extra cinnamon doesn't seem to be a problem, though it seems more drying to my skin than usual. I don't like the feel of the oatmeal as it begins to emerge from the bar, however, and the soap dries funny so that when I pick it up to use it again it feels scratchy. I think the latter problem is a function of the cinnamon, and I'll probably want to use smaller bits of oatmeal next time. A couple of quick pulses in a food processor should take care of that.
Although I bought that 10 lbs of clear glycerin soap, I decided to use up my leftover olive oil soap on Rosemary soap.
I did this at my dad's (soon to be my) house and in his microwave.
The recipe called for ¼ tsp ground rosemary and ½ tsp rosemary leaves, but those things aren't even available in gourmet and natural food stores, so I took ¾ tsp of rosemary seeds and ground them up with a mortar and pestle, which seems to have worked OK. I can't believe they wanted those whole grains of rosemary that you typically get in stores. Are those leaves? I have no idea.
The recipe also called for 6 oz soap, but I used 10 oz just to use it up. I didn't adjust the rosemary quantities, since the grinding process was tedious. Also the usual dye and scent. I used two drops of green dye to accent the green olive oil soap, and papaya-plum scent. Dad was dubious that this scent would mix well with the scent of rosemary, but as you'll see below, it came out fine.
The green dye, which I've used before, is from Fields Landing. I'm not that impressed-it isn't nearly as strong as the dye from Life of the Party. On the other hand, I've been using it in the clear and olive oil soap; maybe it's more impressive in white soap.
Having had trouble melting olive oil soap before, I was going to melt it in a double boiler this time, but we couldn't find the right pot, so I decided to microwave it again. Surprise! The soap melted MUCH more nicely in dad's microwave, proving conclusively that I have a crappy, low-powered microwave. I still had to remelt the soap once or twice, but I hardly lost any.
I stirred the soap a bit more than usual in order to remelt small chunks and to evenly distribute the rosemary. Unlike with the heavier oatmeal, the rosemary remained evenly suspended in the soap, which is nice.
The scent was from Fields Landing, and yikes! It didn't come out in drops but a stream! I don't THINK I used too much. I had dad smell the hot soap, and he was quite pleased, so all should be well. I like the variety of scents available from Fields Landing, and it sure smells nice, so even if I quit using their dye I'll use their scents--though CAREFULLY.
As usual with olive oil soap, as soon as I poured it into the mold it skinned over, rendering the alcohol mist step unnecessary. Unfortunately, the rapid surface cooling also meant wrinkles. Oh well, I guess the wrinkles give the soap that "homemade" touch. Still, I think I'll try resting something flat on the soap immediately after I pour it to see if that helps eliminate wrinkles.
Also when I poured it, lumps of skin from the rapidly cooling soap in the measuring cup poured into the molds. I fished out what I could, but it was annoying. Maybe I'll smear the skin on the side of the measuring cup next time.
I had enough liquid soap to fill four of the five small molds in the tray completely. I poured what was left into the fifth mold, then remelted the stuff in the measuring cup and poured that into the fifth mold. It got frothy and interestingly cloudy; I'll be intrigued to see what it looks like compared to the others when unmolded.
The cloudy one looked OK from the top but very bubble-filled from the bottom-tolerable but not great. The others came out very nicely. However, here's a clue for you all: Very transparent or lightly colored soaps should not be poured into molds with images. I used little sun and moon soaps with smiley faces and the like (OK, they're stupid, I freely admit), and you could barely see the embossed images. Conclusion: Use clear soaps almost exclusively in traditional molds, where the soap itself is more important than the image on it.
I was actually going to experiment with adding Lily of the Valley gel to soap, but I changed my mind for the moment because I didn't know if the soap would smell adequately like LotV, and I didn't have my LotV essential oil to boost the scent... so I decided to make Vaseline soap. Soothing Soaps and Scrubs described it as a "super-fatted emollient" soap. OK...
12 oz. soap, 4 Vitamin E capsules, 2 tsps vaseline, scent (peppermint), color (red).
This was my first chance to cut into that big 10lb block of clear glycerin soap. It seemed a formidable lump of soap, but it was very easy!
I discovered that it's best to cut this big block of soap vertically. By that I mean, say I've hacked off a rectangular slab of soap. It's easier to stand the soap on its side and cut strips than to lay the slab flat on the cutting surface (a paper plate) and try to cut that way.
The soap (from the Chemistry Shop in Florida) was nice and clear, and it melted quite rapidly in dad's powerful microwave.
The vaseline did not melt as readily as I'd hoped into the soap. I had to microwave the stuff again once or twice to get it to melt thoroughly.
A word of warning with peppermint scent: that stuff is STRONG! I probably used too much, even though I used only 3 drops per oz. of soap. My eyes watered a bit from the smell of the stuff, and I had to pull my face away from the measuring cup. (If you've been to the Peppermint Room at the Celestial Seasonings factory in Boulder, CO, you know what it's like.) However, after the soap cooled it didn't seem too bad.
Big problem with the cooled soap. It appeared that the vaseline separated and floated to the top of each mold, so that when I unmolded the soap, the soap bottoms were disgustingly greasy. The layer of vaseline was thin but noticeable on each bar, and boy, did it pick up fingerprints. Maybe I didn't stir the soap enough to ensure that the vaseline was adequately integrated into the soap--or maybe the soap was too hot when I poured it into the mold. It did take an unusually long time to set. In any event, I won't be making vaseline soap again unless someone specifically asks me for it.
I think the vaseline layer will come off, but then, what was the point of making vaseline soap in the first place?
One of the more valuable things I did with this batch was use molds that had the amount of soap required printed next to each mold. This would be useful in the next batch.
Vitamin E soap
The vaseline soap was such a bust that I was itching to make GOOD soap. I had one more "natural soap" recipe in Soothing Soaps and Scrubs that I hadn't tried and didn't require ingredients I didn't have at the moment: Vitamin E soap. This is supposed to be an emollient soap that smooths wrinkles, which delighted my dad!
13 oz soap (see below), 8 capsules Vitamin E, scent (sandalwood), color (blue)
I employed a mold with two 4 oz molds and two 3 oz molds. I used 13 oz of soap because I wanted to see how much was lost during the cooking process.
The process went very smoothly. I'm getting good at piercing the ends of Vitamin E caplets with a fork tine and not getting Vitamin E juice all over my fingers. BTW, the Vitamin E juice blends very smoothly into the soap.
The sandalwood scent was in a glass bottle, so it was hard to make sure only single droplets came out at a time. After a while I just shook the scent into the measuring cup, and Dad's nose told us whether there was enough or not.
I used 7 drops of blue, but there seems to be diminishing returns with dye in clear soap; after the 4th drop, the rest didn't seem to do much, and I suspect I'd've had to use way more to get it much bluer.
This batch came out VERY nice. I promise I'll have pictures of everything pretty soon!
What's annoying is that I've found useful information in many different sources, but there's no one source that has ALL the tips. So, if you're starting melt-and-pour soapmaking, be sure to read widely: books, the backs of scents and glitter and dyes, soap packages, etc. To get you started, here are some good links to online melt-and-pour soap information:
- The Soap Wizards--A full five-part treatise on melt-and-pour soapmaking, including recipes and selling your soap. They also sell soapmaking supplies.
- HolidayOrganizer.com--Recipes and projects.
- A useful FAQ
- About.com's Soap Recipe menu
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