Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bad Soap/Good Soap

I thought I'd do a post on some of my ugly soap that I've never put out for sale, and on my latest batch, which performed excellently.
As I've said, small molded soaps that don't gel fully, don't turn out well. These three soaps had no colorants in them, but they discolored badly, I think simply from too much vanilla essential oil. The same soap in a larger mold did fine, but these little molds simply couldn't handle it. They cooled off too fast, disn't gel, and discolored quickly. I never put them out for sale.
These next soaps from the same small molds were fine when they first came out, but they also never fully gelled. Over time, they discolored and released some of their oil -- make the exterior slimy to touch and unpleasant to look at. I took them off my sale table. See how the discoloration is on the edges?

The discoloration is somewhat less in these flowers, but they're still too ugly to sell.
In this shot, you can see the oil sitting on the surface. These soaps are about 1 oz. each. (That's $1 each I lost.) Gelling and heat retention are so important! They still work fine as soap, so we use them at home.
The last time I used that mold, I decided to pour the soap in, and then place the mold inside a warm oven, on a warm cookie sheet. This helped the little soaps hold their heat, and come to gel stage. You see I got better, drier soaps:
What a headache those little molds are! I'm not sure they're worth the trouble, considering that they don't sell any better than the larger soaps.
Here's the batch I made yesterday morning. Clockwise from the top left corner: balsam scent with a hint of cocoa powder for color; faint lavender scent with a good bit of ground oatmeal for exfoliant;  citrus blend with poppyseeds (includes lemongrass, orange, lemon, patchouli); strong eucalytus (a request from a customer); sandalwood/vanilla blend with turmeric and a little cocoa powder as colorants.
Here's the balsam, a deep woody scent:
Here's the oatmeal. I've had several customers ask if I had any, so now I do!
The sandalwood. I was down to only 4 bars, and this sells well.
Have I inspired any of you to become soap-makers? I hope so!


  1. I always like a big bar of soap in the bath. I'm not so much into tiny soaps. I've made soap before and it's fun, but I never like my homemade as much as I like Trader Joes's triple milled soap -- especially lemon verbena. They last forever.

    One time DIL and I made soap and we hand shaped it into balls. They were neat.


  2. I love soap and I always look for it at Ross and Home Goods. I would like to make some and you shall be my teacher.

  3. Pom, I'd be glad to instruct and help! I have a friend in Statesville who's started making soap, and I've emailed back and forth with her many times now. It's been fun. That could be your new summer activity :)

    Jody, I once looked up what it meant to have "milled" or "hand-milled" or "triple-milled" soap. Interesting. It's a French term, and it doesn't just mean hand-made. To mill the soap means to press it. I'd think the pressure (of rollers, I think, a machine) would make the soap more dense, and perhaps make it release any moisture. That's why it lasts so long. That soap sounds lovely!


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