Miller's Homemade Soap Pages
Information Compiled by Kathy Miller

 

 

[Homemade Soaps]

 

*APOLOGY* ... to those of you who have emailed me over the past couple of years and have never heard a peep out of me... I'm sorry. I don't have as much time for personal email responses as I once did and added to that have been trips, a surgery, garden catch-up, church responsibilities, soapmaking and orders and more visits from children and grandchildren who have moved nearby. I just can't keep up. If your email involved troubleshooting of a recipe or a lengthy response, it was probably put aside for when there was more time and then fell through the cracks because "more time" didn't happen. :-/ I don't see that changing anytime soon. I hope you understand and know I would love to be able to acknowledge every email I get.

 

CLICK HERE To Go Directly to Table of Contents

In response to the most frequently asked question! This banner was generously and humorously contributed by Chris McClusky! :-) [Yes... I've been told there is a grammatical error in the banner... but I'm leaving it as is, since I don't know how to fix it.]

2010 - Thank you to Kimberly3D for this new version of the banner... pretty neat if you have the Flash plugin to view it. :-)

For a more detailed explanation, go to the MOST Frequently Asked Questions page. Also... take a look at the NEW! Troubleshooting Help page, for those frustrating failed batches!

I have been making our soap for over 30 years and in the beginning we got some of the materials from raising our own beef. Since getting hooked up with the Internet and reading about what other folks were doing, I've found sources for both animal and vegetable fats that have really opened up other possibilities for recipe combinations. We've gotten spoiled using our own soap... it leaves you clean without feeling dry and itchy. I've given it to friends who have allergies or skin conditions and they have found it to help them in clearing up the problem. If you have any of the latent chemist in your soul...you will LOVE watching the transformation as you mix the lye solution into the fat and continue to watch it change as it cures! No one can walk by a table of curing soap, without having the uncontrollable urge to pick up a bar to touch and smell it.

I've put together the following, starting off with the first information I could get as a novice soapmaker. During the early attempts, nine batches separated before I got it down! (Determined!) In the fall of 1998, I read about using a "stick blender" and it has revolutionized my soapmaking techniques and vastly improved the texture of the finished soap! New things are being learned all the time and I'll try to pass those ideas along to you by updating the information on these pages. Since the site was first put up with a single page on soapmaking (the old lye company instructions) I have experimented with many all-vegetable recipe combinations. Some of these produce a harder and longer lasting bar than others and I've tried to note the ones that are my favorites. The others I leave up to offer other possibilities for those who want to use what they have on hand. My current personal favorite base recipes are the Sudsy All-Vegetable, Soap Classic, Favorite Castile II, and the Beef Shortening with Coconut ... but there are many others that work nicely. Some of the recipes that are high in unsaturated oils and lower in hard fats can have a greater tendency to sweat in storage but I haven't figured out exactly what the problem is with that... just wanted to mention it.

P.S. - My life has gotten busier than it was when I first started this web page so I cannot update as frequently. Also... many of the questions I receive and answer are repeats of situations already posted. I'll try to keep updating once in awhile, but be assured, I'm still "out there" ... despite the lack of current update on some of the pages of the site.

NOTICE to those who wish to request a link here... I have tried to keep the emphasis of this site on COLD PROCESS soapmaking, but have included other methods and links as a service to those folks who want to try other ways. I feel I'm getting more melt and pour links than I really want and would discourage you from requesting a link if that's the main thrust of your site. I also don't list links with the goal of increasing web traffic. I try to list links pertinent to cold process soapmaking for those who want to make their own (not sites that are selling finished soap and toiletry products).

I've been receiving a lot of RECIPROCAL LINK REQUESTS and no longer want to take the time to answer each one. I hope you will see this and understand if you didn't hear back from me.

Thank you!

-Kathy Miller

 

On Garden Page, etc. ...

[Oriental Poppy Arrangement] [Iris and Korean Lilacs]
[Flowering Cherry][Grow Something!]

 

Our daughter, Diane, has opened an Etsy shop with cute little critters, so here is a shameless plug for her and a LINK:

[Diane's Dungeon]

 *APOLOGY* ... to those of you who have emailed me this year (2012) and have never heard a peep out of me... I'm sorry. I don't have as much time for personal email responses as I once did and added to that have been a couple of trips, a surgery, garden catch-up, church responsibilities, soapmaking and orders and more visits from children and grandchildren who have moved nearby. I just can't keep up. If your email involved troubleshooting of a recipe or a lengthy response, it was probably put aside for when there was more time and then fell through the cracks because "more time" didn't happen. :-/ I don't see that changing through the end of 2012. I hope you understand and know I would love to be able to acknowledge every email I get.

 

Page Name and Link

 

 

Description of Page Contents

 

 

 

Here it is!... For those of you who don't want to scour all those Soapy Success pages, I've listed a dozen commonly asked questions... start here! :-)

Check this out! :-) - I should have created this page years ago when the site started to bloat! ;-) START HERE if you have a failed batch. I've listed the most common problems and how to avoid them in the future. You'll also find some suggestions for various rebatching techniques.

I've had these handouts on my computer for a long time... for use in classes I've taught. They are a distillation of the most valuable information from the site, and although not totally updated, should be useful to those who want printouts of the basics. Thanks to my new Mac... I can save them in PDF format for viewing and downloading. If you plan to teach a soapmaking class, you are free to use these materials. :-) I've added a page on Troubleshooting your botched batches.

This was originally the first page of the site. It is the old lye company instructions with my notes included. It gives you an old basic tallow/lard recipe and also instructions on things such as how to render, preparing and cleaning fats, temperatures, reclaiming separated batches (there are better ways, however!). They also give some soap variations and recipe suggestions. This is where I started and it has some helpful information on the basics of soapmaking and working with raw fats.

Here is how I make soap now, with lots of suggestions on the following subjects: Mixing technique using a stick blender, swirling techniques, working with fragrance oils, using a box mold and cutting soap using a miter box, how to make soap balls, coloring soap with alkanet root...

This page is a MUST read! It covers saponification values, lye calculation and discounting, properties of oils and gives rules of thumb for using colorants, fragrance, how much liquid, etc.

Some generous soapmakers contributed this delightful soapy explanation with illustrations in order to visually explain the process of Saponification and Lye Discounting. I just love this! Thanks to Pat B! and Jennifer Davis of Canis Art! Here is the link: http://www.canis-art.com/soaping.htm

Here is a quick overview of SAP numbers. It's not new to the site, but had not been linked from this menu.

Chris Mathes, a generous computer savvy soaper, contributed this Excel Spreadsheet Template for your use! Go to this page to download the template, read about what it can offer and how to use it.

Here's a good page to read if you're not sure where to start looking for things like lye, base oils, fragrances, etc. with sections on fragrance addition rate, colorants and "cheap" soap molds. It also has pictures of the common brands of lye sold in the U.S. and Canada so you'll know what you're looking for.

Recipes using only vegetable oils as a base. I've posted many combinations for folks who have limited availability of oils... but personally prefer some recipes more than others for overall quality. Those are noted.

I've posted a few "improved" tallow/lard recipes that incorporate coconut and olive oils for a better bar. Also, there are some recipes contributed by others.

These are recipes that have a majority of olive oil in their makeup. I don't have one with 100% olive because it's kind of a pain to work with and the resulting bars are more prone to getting spongy and slimy in use. Some folks love them, however!

My friend, Rachael, submitted this helpful information for those who do not have a scale. With the new larger size of lye container, they will still need to find a way to weigh out the lye, however. Here you will find a liquid conversion chart that will allow you to measure the various oils in a typical fluid measuring cup that is designed for the weight of water (like a Pyrex glass measuring cup). She has also submitted recipes based on common sizes of fats at time of purchase.

Here you will find tons of questions and experiences from other soapers. Before you ask me a question, take a look at the 'Soapy Success' pages because it's quite likely to have been answered there already (and notice that I've now added a new TROUBLESHOOTING page, link above). It got so big that I broke some of it off into the two following pages. This main page is mostly the experiences and general questions of others. Before you dive into this, check out the new MOST Frequently Asked Questions page. It might save you time and me an email! :-)

Read about other people's fiascoes and find out what went wrong! ...Great therapy if you're having trouble. ;-)

If your batch suffered a fatal separation, go here to read about how to reclaim it. All questions that involve rebatching have been put on this page.

Rachael Levitan, Jeff Bobeck and Kristy of Lovely Lathers have generously shared their methods for making clear glycerin soap. If you have problems... better ask them and not me! I've never mastered this. :-)

With her permission, I'm posting wonderful pH information from Ann-Perius Parker, who has done a lot of research on the subject. I personally don't pH test my soaps, but many of you ask about this.

This started as a hilarious email sent to me by Rachael and has been expanded by the contributions of others!

I used to try to respond to everyone who signed the guestbook, but I'm no longer able to keep up. I want you all to know how much I APPRECIATE the kind comments offered by so many of you. I would be ungrateful not to let you know somehow and telling you here seemed like the best way since I can't always respond personally. It always warms my heart to know that you've received great pleasure from the craft of soapmaking, solved a skin problem for someone in your family, or been able to supplement your income because of this information on the Web. Makes the time spent maintaining the website worthwhile. THANKS! :-)

More links than you have time to browse... here are many sites to help you in your quest to become a soapmaker. If you find one that is not working or has moved... please email me and I'll try to get it updated in a timely fashion... but it could take longer!

Thanks to Rachael and Jules... here are some links for Canadian soapers! :-)

 

USA Today...

The "Miller's Homemade Soap Information" page received mention at the end of an article in USA Today that ran from July 9-12, 1999. I have received permission to post the article since it was taken off the USA Today site. While it is old, much of the information is still helpful to novices. You can now view it by clicking here.

 

 

Homemade Soaps for Sale
 
Click Here for Details...
[Green Clover & Aloe]
[Oatmeal, Milk & Honey]
[Almond Joy]
[Piņa Colada]

 

 

[Oriental Poppy Arrangement] [Iris and Korean Lilacs]
[Flowering Cherry][Grow Something!]
 


 

Since June 20, 1998

 

 

[Saponifier Award Graphic]
 

Sign my Guestbook FREE GUESTBOOKS View my Guestbook

 

I used to try to respond to everyone who signed the guestbook, but I'm no longer able to keep up. I want you all to know how much I APPRECIATE the kind comments offered by so many of you. I would be ungrateful not to let you know somehow and telling you here seemed like the best way since I can't always respond personally. It always warms my heart to know that you've received great pleasure from the craft of soapmaking, solved a skin problem for someone in your family, or been able to supplement your income because of this information on the Web. Makes the time spent maintaining the website worthwhile. THANKS! :-)

  

Debra Hughes, Breeder
Chehalis, Washington

http://www.tannhausershepherds.com 

Our former neighbor and babysitter in years past is now the breeder of quality German Shepherds and has recently relocated. My apologies for this not being soap related, but I wanted to help her get more exposure. If you are interested, visit her website! :-)

Tannhauser Pup from 2005

Puppy from November 2004 litter
 

 

Visit the garden page... what started it all!...Click Here to go to the Garden Index.

[Olympic Mountains Viewed Through Back Yard Garden]

[Olympic Views Logo]

A virtual tour of our Pacific Northwest garden, gardening
information,
garden journal, and a soapmaking page! 

We garden in Zone 8.
This site best viewed in thousands of colors.

 

This page last updated November 2010.
Last Site Update (partial) ... 20 August 2007
 
©Unless otherwise specified, all materials and photos on this website are the property of Kathy Miller and are not to be used for web or commercial purposes without permission.
Olympic Views logo designed by our son, Robert Miller.
If you still have questions, please read through the information on the Troubleshooting Help page, MOST Frequently Asked Questions, Design Your Own Recipe and Modern Procedures. More can also be learned through the Botched Batches and Soapy Success pages. Many common problems have already been addressed on the site and it's difficult for me to keep up with emails these days and get anything else done. If your question involves my looking up information that you can also research, or going over numbers and recipe calculations, I might not respond if in the middle of a project around our home and garden. I apologize for this, since I've enjoyed my correspondence with people and don't like to ignore emails of any kind. Thanks! :-)