Friday, August 3, 2012

Rebatching Soap

Twice now I've rebatched soap. It's not an easy process. I had quite a bit of cold-processed soap I'd made, with lemon scent, from which the scent had entirely gone. I had many bars left, and it wasn't selling at all. So rather than have it sit around I thought I'd try rebatching. Rebatching is basically melting the soap down again, fixing whatever you did wrong in it the first time, and forming it into bars again. Here's an example of my failed lemon soap:
First I grated the soap. It was a couple of months old, so it was fully cured. I grated enough to fill up a quart-sized ziploc bag. I added just a little milk to this amount of soap (probably only 2 or 3 tablespoons), zipped the bag closed, and mushed it around until the milk had moistened the soap again. In other words, the soap has dried as it's cured, and you need to lightly moisten it again, so it can cure again a little, after you rebatch it. You don't want to waterlog the soap though.

When you zip your soap closed, try to get out as much air as possible. Then place that bag in another ziploc -- a gallon size one. Zip it closed, also eliminating air from the bag. Then immerse the doubled bags in a large pot of water that you've brought to a boil, and then turned down to a good simmer.
You'll need to simmer this for a long time. I think I did it for almost 2 hours today. It takes a long time for the soap to soften again. The picture below shows how the grated soap returns to somewhat of a gel stage. You need to keep the soap bags in the water at a nice bubbling simmer, until the whole mass has turned to this gel-looking stage. Gently prod it with a spoon to turn it over and expose all the soap to the hot water. Be sure not to allow any water to get into the soap bags.
About two hours later, see the difference? It's not a liquid really, but it's mushy. It's the consistency of a very, very thick oatmeal. And it's extremely hot.
I removed the soap bag from the outer bag, opened it, and put in some vanilla fragrance oil, over a teaspoon. I also added some ground oatmeal, not too much, maybe 3 tablespoons. I mushed and stirred them in with a spoon. Both of these will cool the soap quickly, and cooled soap will not go into your mold. So I zipped the bag back up, and re-inserted it into the hot water, to get it softer again.
Then I removed it from the hot water again, snipped off one corner of the bag (a good-sized hole b/c this stuff is THICK), and "piped" it through the hole, into my juice can mold. One quart-sized bag of grated soap filled up this juice can. Even when piping it out, it is not a liquid. It's very thick and difficult to manage because the ziploc bag is extremely hot. It's difficult to mash it into the mold and very difficult to get all the soap out of the bag.
I cut the bag open to remove as much soap as possible. Here's the bag when I was done with it.
Here's an example of a regular round soap (left) and a rebatched round soap (right) with oatmeal. It has a darker, more rustic look, but I found that people seemed to like it when shopping.
Rebatching is a lot of trouble and not as fun as regular cold-processed soap making. Is it worth it? For me, only if I have soap that will go unused otherwise. But for this batch of useless unscented soap, it was a good choice. That juice can will yield six bars of soap that will sell for about $2.00 each, so that's $12. Not bad.

1 comment:

  1. Not to be bossy but I think your soaps should sell for at least five dollars. I see this kind of soap at the markets selling for that and people buy!
    I can't wait to show you what I ordered yesterday. It's on its way! So fun!


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