Miller's Homemade Soap Pages:

All-Vegetable Soaps


Castile Soap Recipes

In the truest sense, "Castile" is soap made with 100% olive oil, but for my purposes... these are soaps that have a predominant amount of olive oil in the recipes. Adding a couple of other oils makes a soap that still has the mildness of olive oil soap, but won't sometimes take days to reach trace when hand stirred.

-Kathy Miller-

In response to the most frequently asked question! This banner was generously and humorously contributed by Chris McClusky! :-) For a more detailed explanation, browse through the questions on the "Soapy Success" pages.


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Contents of this page:

ALL RECIPES are based on WEIGHTS, not volume. You will need to weigh oils and lye with a good scale. Water can be measured with a liquid measuring cup with no problems.

All recipes will yield about 7 pounds of soap, or 28 4-oz. bars, after cure.


Other Links:


NOTE (September 2005): After receiving a couple of emails, I've finally come to believe that it's true... the company that markets Lewis Red Devil Lye has pulled it from the market and has replaced it with a liquid drain opener that contains no lye. My suspicions are that it's due to its use in the illegal manufacture of methamphetamines. This is very sad for the home soaper! :-( I've been buying my lye in bulk for quite awhile now, but for the average person that wants to make one or two batches and has gotten accustomed to buying it locally... this will need to be addressed. Here is a helpful link sent by Nancy M., whose email comment is underneath:

When I bought the two remaining containers from the local Albertsons, I was told it's popular in this community in the production of meth. When I mentioned it to a clerk at the JoAnn's fabric store, where I was fruitlessly trying to find any kind of other soapmaking stuff, I found out she's a soapmaker and that she got her lye at the local Grocery Outlet, in bulk. They don't have it out where anybody can see it, but if you ask and show ID, you can buy it.
Anyway, I'm having fun, that's the point and thanks again for all of your help :-)
Nancy M.
from the dry side, Clarkston, Washington

[No more lye!]

Graphic courtesy of from
Soapmaking article by David Fisher

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The following recipes list ingredients but few procedures. If you need BASIC SOAPMAKING INSTRUCTIONS, you will find those on the main soapmaking page. For more up to date methods, go to the Modern Soapmaking Procedures page.


Take note that I did these Castile recipes with a stick blender. If you are hand stirring a recipe like these with such a high percentage of olive oil, it could take a couple of DAYS to trace, instead of a couple of minutes!

*Favorite Castile (From the Soap Newbies Page)

78 oz. olive oil
6 oz. coconut oil
6 oz. palm oil
24 oz. cold water (if you want to up that, you can...soap will be softer after 24 hours. Don't exceed 32 ounces.)
12 oz. lye crystals

Oils at 140 degrees, Lye Solution at 110 degrees.

This basic castile recipe was taken from the Soap Newbies Member Recipes page and was submitted by Nancy. The original had 140 degrees as the oil temperature and I'd probably go with 110 degrees. I upped the olive oil a bit to accommodate 12 oz. of lye and have increased the water slightly after consulting the MMS Lye Calculator page. I have to say that it is my favorite castile type recipe and the soap is nice, smooth and hard without any excess oil seepage or stickiness. It's also easy as ingredients go (except the palm oil for some, but it doesn't use very much). When using a stick blender, it sets up rather quickly after trace so you need to pour it at the early trace stage and not waste any time. It also heats up after pouring and will become translucent for a bit before it begins to cool back down (this is true if your mold is deeper ...if you cover it right away, you will be blissfully ignorant of this fact!). One of the batches didn't get as hot as the others and I'm thinking that the amount and type of fragrance/essential oils used contributes to the amount of heating up. Another factor may be their high oil temperature. Starting at 110 degrees may buy you more time.

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This is a great base recipe for all kinds of soaps! I loved the "Favorite Castile" recipe posted by Nancy on The Soap Newbies page but wanted more lather in the finished bar and a little less of the slippery quality, so I upped the coconut and palm oils in this version. I keep coming back to this's a wonderful hard bar, lathers well but is still mild.

*"Favorite Castile" II Soap (Kathy Miller)

24-28 oz. cold water (depending on how firm you want the bars in 24 hours)
12 oz. lye crystals
55 oz. olive oil
16 oz. palm oil
16 oz. coconut oil

Temps around 110-115 degrees

[Lemon Verbena Soap]

This Lemon Verbena batch was scented with 2 oz. Lemon Verbena FO and colored with yellow candle dye and 1 T. dried dill weed for texture.

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This has been altered by the addition of some soybean oil. I've found that soaps with some soybean in them are easier to work with when stick blending... they don't thicken too quickly. The same can NOT be said for shortening with soybean! One minute traces are not my preference! This recipe is better if you want the castile type soap, are using a stick blender and would like to swirl it. See other recipes for the technique on swirling.

*"Favorite Castile" III (Kathy Miller)
40 ounces olive oil
16 ounces coconut oil
16 ounces palm oil
16 ounces soybean oil
12 ounces lye crystals
24-26 ounces cold water

Temps: 110-115 degrees

For Gardener's Scrub Bar, Add:
1.5 oz. Sweet Orange essential oil
1/2 oz. Eucalyptus essential oil
1/2 oz. Citronella oil
1/4 to 1/2 oz. Tea Tree Oil
1 T. dried and pulverized orange peel (mine was out of a bottle!)
1 T. poppy seeds (some folks don't like these in the shower! ;-)

[Gardener's Scrub Bar]

A Gardener's Scrub bar with orange, eucalyptus, citronella, tea tree, poppy seeds and orange peel.

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Another sudsier version of Castile if you don't have palm. Again...I used a stick blender for quick trace.

*"Favorite Castile"/No Palm Oil

74 ounces olive oil
14 ounces coconut oil
24 ounces cold water
12 ounces lye crystals
Temperatures: between 90-100 degrees

This gave a nice firm and smooth texture after 24 hours. The opacity is not as great as with the palm oil in the original, but still good. I made this with 2 ounces (I'm too cheap for four!) of Sweet Rain FO from Sweet Cakes and colored it with four crayons from my daughter's old stash. My first experience this year with crayon as color was using one dark blue one and getting no real color. This time I used 2 teal blue and 2 blue/green ones. It is okay, but much brighter than I'd wanted. For a softer shade, I would say that in general you probably want to use 1 to 3 crayons for a batch of this size...depending on the intensity of the color you have chosen. You can see how dark mine came out if you look at the center bar in the photo next to the "Canolive" Soap recipe, above.

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Favorite Castile Soap Variations (can be used with any recipe):


Orange-Eucalyptus Soap -Probably great for bathing your dog OR yourself!

P.S. - This soap seems to be very popular with people!

For this batch I added at trace:
1/2 oz. Sweet Orange essential oil (1 1/2 oz. stronger)
1/4 oz. Eucalyptus essential oil (1/2 oz. stronger)
1/2 oz. Citronella oil
1 T. dried and pulverized orange peel (mine was out of a bottle!)

This has been very well received by many people, even though my son was not thrilled. If I make it again, I will up the oils to the numbers in parenthesis.

[Orange-Eucalyptus Soap]

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"Stress Relief" Soap (HA!)

At trace I added:
2 oz. "Stress Relief" fragrance oil (Sweet Cakes)
1/2 oz. Peppermint essential oil (if I'd had some, I would have also added .5 to 1 oz. spearmint oil...I guess one could spring for 4 ounces of the Sweet Cakes oil, but I'm cheap!)

I had my first experience after all these years with SEIZING! I've read about soap doing this, but never had it happen. I used the stick blender and it thickened fairly quickly. Shortly after getting the oils blended in, it began to thicken fast so I poured it into the smaller molds first. By the time I got those done, I had to practically pry the rest of the soap out of the pan to get it into the litter pan. It stacked up like a big ugly (the blue crayon was very ineffective for coloring...must buy more blue candle dye) pile of mashed potatoes. I had to mush it down with the spatula, leaving big hills and valleys. Panic was setting in, but I was still determined to have usable bars (with reasonable dimensions!) so I had Robert (who had been standing by audibly chuckling over these proceedings) grab the saran wrap and pastry roller (hand held with smaller rollers). We got the plastic stretched over the top of the rutted soap and I worked it over with the pastry roller until it was as even as I could get it.

Feeling a little relief at this point (no pun intended), we watched in horror as the newly poured soap began to develop dark areas. At first I thought it was just poor lighting or tired eyes, but it became more and more pronounced. It looked like the little bars would surely erupt and spew liquid at any minute. I finally got brave and touched the top of one of these darkening bars of soap and it was still firm. It was heating up like the first batch (which I didn't watch) and in the process, was nearly melting itself. This must be OVERHEATING! Two new experiences for the price of one! I stuck a candy thermometer into the low end of the large pan of soap (where I figured the bar would be too odd for use anyway) and the temperature at this point was just over 150 degrees...more than 20 degrees higher than when I put the ingredients together. Soap will often heat up after blending, but this was actually HOT! Surprisingly, the finished soaps are fine (with an interesting texture on the top from pulling off the Saran after rolling) and I have since made this Castile recipe again and it always heats up like this.

Post Script (14 April 2005): Some years after the above experience, I've learned that certain fragrance oils will do this with a lower water addition rate, but be perfectly fine with a higher one. When using an unknown fragrance oil, it's always better to use more water than the 24 ounces that was suggested in this recipe... anything from 28 to 32 ounces is fine. Also... this batch did overheat, but it was also my first experience of really watching soap go into "gel phase." I know not that is a good thing... but better when it doesn't happen so QUICKLY! ;-)

[Stress Relief Bars]

"Stress Relief" Bars - it was a relief when I actually managed to roll the soap out reasonably flat after it seized!

[Molded Soaps-Stress Relief and Rose Garden]

"Stress Relief" Soap Molded - Got these poured before it became serious! The pink bars behind are "Rose Garden." By the way... I got these molds from the Pourette Company. There are also other companies that carry them.

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Rose Garden

Add at trace:
1/2 oz. Lavender essential oil
1 oz. Sweet Grass FO (Sweet Cakes)
1/2 oz. Rose FO (Pourette)
1 1/2 - 3 tsp. fresh pulverized Rosemary leaves
This gave a nice strong scent. I would not add more, unless you have Rosemary oil on hand and want to add a little of that.

[Rose Garden Soap]

The Rosemary leaves were harvested from the garden and dehydrated for a few hours. Then I stripped the leaves and ran them through the blender (using the smaller jar provided for such purposes).This soap was colored with a couple of small chips of candle dye, which were melted in with the fats at the beginning. I used about 2/3 cerise red to 1/3 purple and the whole thing was not much more than a total of 1 tsp. of dye.


Another nice version of Rose Garden:

2 oz. Rose FO (I used "Rose Petals" from Sweet's strong)
1 T. (.5 oz.) lavandin or lavender essential oil
Rosemary leaves if you like, or not
Melted in with the base oils: 1 tsp. shaved red and 1/2 tsp. shaved purple wax candle dyes

This batch was made with the "Favorite Castile II" Recipe, above.

[Rose Garden II Soap]


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Citrus Blend

I ran out of Olive Oil for the Castile recipe, so substituted 2 ounces of Apricot Kernel Oil for 2 oz. of the Olive

Add at trace:

1/2 oz. Ylang Ylang essential oil
1 - 1.5 oz. Sweet Orange essential oil
1 tsp. Bitter Almond FO (Sweet Cakes)
2-3 tsp. pulverized Orange Peel (I used this from a bottle, but making your own would be even better)
[Oatmeal and Honey and Citrus Blend Soaps]

The "Citrus Blend" is actually the soap in the back (2 lighter bars). The one in front is the "Oatmeal and Honey" featured on the main page. It had some lard in the recipe.

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Rosemary-Mint Soap

Add at light trace:
3-4 T. dried and pulverized rosemary leaves (I tossed mine in the dehydrator on a medium heat setting for a couple of hours)
1 -2 T. dried and pulverized spearmint leaves
1/2 oz. Peppermint oil
If you have some, 1/2 oz. Rosemary oil would be nice also


[Rosemary and Mint Soaps]

These look a bit better in person! They almost look diseased here!

Using a small container made for such purposes, I pulverized the dry herbs in the blender. The Rosemary still has some fairly long leaves, but that's okay and makes an interesting appearance in the soap. This soap did not get thick as quickly as the previous ones and I'm not sure if I poured it sooner, or it was because less fragrance oil was added at trace.


Another Variation of Rosemary and Mint
(Using "Favorite Castile II" Recipe)

Similar to the one I used before...popular combination! This oil blend is very NICE! :-)

At light trace add:
1.5 -2 oz. (3 or 4 T.) Peppermint/Rosemary EO from Mint Meadow Country Oils
2 T. dried and pulverized fresh rosemary leaves
[Mint Rosemary II]

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No scent in this one...just the natural herbs that should be mild to the skin. When I first cut this, it smelled to me like banana.

*Chamomile-Calendula Soap (Using "Favorite Castile II" Recipe, above.)

Added at light trace:
1/4 cup pulverized chamomile heads
1/4 cup shredded calendula petals

Pulverize the dry botanicals one at a time using the smaller jar on your blender, if you have one. The soap is unscented, but had a slight smell of banana bread when cut (from the herbs, I guess). I had used a bit of beta carotene for soft yellow color, but think it would have been better without. You could use less of the botanicals and still have the overall effect in the finished bar...probably could cut back by half. If you leave the calendula petals larger, they would be prettier in the bars, but I'm kind of grossed out by chunks of stuff that are TOO big when they are floating around in the bath! :-)

[Chamomile-Calendula Soap]

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*"CCCastile" (Kathy Miller)

72 ounces Olive Oil
12 Ounces Coconut Oil
6 ounces Castor Oil
24-28 ounces cold water
12 ounces lye crystals

Temperatures between 90-100 degrees



[Mixed Earthy Soaps]

The Spicy Lime soap looks a bit greener in person than's in the center. Maybe less whole spices would have improved its look! The soap on the left is a similar batch scented with Sweet Balsam from A Garden Eastward and colored with a small jar of baby carrots and paprika. The soap on the right is the Spiced Apple "Canolive" recipe (on All-Vegetable Page).

For this batch I did Spicy Lime:

Add at trace:

1.5 ounces lime essential oil (I substituted 1 oz. of FO for part of this because I had it on hand)
1/2 oz. Petitgrain Oil
1/4 oz. Lavender Essential Oil
1 1/2 whole nutmegs, pulverized in the blender (you can substitute ground nutmeg from a jar)
1 1/2 tsp. whole allspice, ground in blender
The two spices above were rather earthy in the final cure...if I did this again, I'd just put in 1/2 oz. ginger ess. oil or 1 T. ground ginger
1 bottle baby creamed spinach (for flecked green color)

This soap was a bit off-smelling during cure, but is getting quite nice after a couple of weeks (partly the spinach and castor?). The castor oil really adds a silky different feel to the bars and they seem to lather nicely (had to remelt the shavings and noticed while rinsing out the dish). The bars are getting quite hard after a few weeks of curing.

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This soap has very nice texture when cut and lathers wonderfully! Nice for stick blending...doesn't become thick too quickly.

*Castile with Soybean and Coconut (Kathy Miller)

40 ounces olive oil
28 ounces soybean oil
18 ounces coconut oil
28 ounces cold water
12 ounces lye crystals

Temperature: between 90-100 degrees

You can use higher temps. (up to 120) and might want to if you are hand stirring. I used the stick blender and the lower temps allow me more time before trace...which only took a few minutes. Since I found a local source for coconut in big buckets at a local cash and carry, I can use more of it in a recipe than I was willing to do previously (at 3.5 times the cost!). In this recipe, coconut is about 21% of the overall fat content. I don't want to go over 30%, and less if there's also palm oil in a recipe. The soybean oil can be purchased in 35# containers at our local Costco and is a reasonably low cost oil with conditioning qualities.

[Special Edition Vanilla Soap]

This batch was scented with 2 ounces of Special Edition Vanilla FO from Sweet Cakes. At the time of this scan, it had aged for a couple of weeks. I don't know if it will continue to darken or not...but it's been an interesting process. Smells very nice! I had to tweak this a lot to get it to look the actual color...scan had lightened it up a lot. How about that great cutting job! :-)

[Confetti Soap]

To the left is the same recipe with no color added. At trace (soft pudding texture) cubes and small chunks of two other fresh batches were stirred in (about 2 cups total). In this case it was the Sweet Rain (aquamarine) and iris (lavender). For the soap chunks to adhere to the base recipe, they should still be fairly fresh and soft enough to cut without breaking...these were two or three weeks old. This batch was scented with Lilac FO. The soap will get thicker when you add cool soap chunks, so be prepared. I will confess, I got a few small air bubbles in this batch...which I retouched in Photoshop so you can see how it should look! (It was only a few!)


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A couple of people on the Latherings Board raved about this basic combination, so I thought I'd post it for those of you who have trouble finding coconut or palm oil. I haven't tried it yet. Let me know if you try it and like it! Because of its high olive oil content, I'm repeating it here from the All-Vegetable page.

All-Vegetable, No Coconut or Palm

56 ounces olive oil
30 ounces vegetable shortening
9 ounces castor oil
12 ounces lye crystals
28 ounces cold water
2 T. salt dissolved in a small amount of hot water and added to lye solution

The salt was felt to be an important part of this recipe, although I imagine you'd have nice, but softer soap without it. I would keep it in unless you try it that way and don't like it as well as soap without the salt.

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I have never made this soap myself, but periodically get a request for a recipe, so I'm passing on suggestions I've gleaned from others who have made it. If you do this and have problems... I'm probably not the person to ask! :-)

Pine Tar Soap (Notes)

First of all, you can choose any soap recipe and make it into pine tar soap. It's a matter of adding it to the recipe you have chosen... all vegetable or animal fats. From what I've read, I think the easiest method is to add the pine tar to the melting oils at the beginning. You can buy pine tar at a feed store... it is used on horses hooves for conditioning purposes (and be sure to read the label and make sure it is 100% pine tar and not pine rosin). To save on cleanup later... use a disposable spoon to get the tar out of the container (a stout plastic spoon or even a wooden popsicle stick will hopefully do the trick) and drop the spoonfuls into the melting oils. They should break up as the fats melt and warm up and you can incorporate the tar into the fats. I'd be sure they are completely blended in before proceeding with the lye solution, etc. and you will still want to check for correct temps as usual. Pine Tar soap tends to come to trace more quickly than soap without it, so you might do well to go with a higher water addition rate for the recipe rather than the low end suggestions. For recipes on this site... around 32 ounces of water would be good. For a recipe that makes 28 bars like the ones on this page... you will likely want to add about 6 to 7 ounces of pine tar to the pot with the base oils. Scenting is kind of a moot point because the soap will cure out with the scent of pine (less tar with aging ). If you decide to scent along with the natural smell of the pine tar... pick something that will blend well with that or enhance it... and you'll have to move quickly since the soap is going to want to set up quickly and you'll have little time for extra fussing around. Essential oils might be better behaved since you are already going to have soap with a tendency toward accelerated trace. Another comment was that pine tar soap took longer to harden up during cure, but once hard that it was very long lasting.

If for any reason you have some sticking to your bowls or utensils after the mixing process... soaking them for 1 or 2 days in warm water will aid in removing the residual pine tar... but hopefully with the technique above... you'll not have that problem. If you try these suggestions and it works out well for you (or not)... please email me with feedback and I'll adjust these suggestions accordingly. :-)

I got some feedback from one gal who said that the above warning was not sufficient enough to prepare her for how FAST her soap set up! Here is another recent email that I wanted to post... this fellow is delightful to read and has some good feedback for those who decide to take the plunge. :-)

I got some feedback from one gal who said that the above warning was not sufficient enough to prepare her for how FAST her soap set up! Here is another recent email that I wanted to post... this fellow is delightful to read and has some good feedback for those who decide to take the plunge. :-)

From: Bill Adams
Date: Sat, 9 Apr 2005
Subject: Pine tar 20%... don't use a stick blender

Hello again Kathy,

As you see I went for the 20%.....I used the "more is better" theory.... kill you twice as fast..... go for it ..... just do it.......

The soap really did not ever get hard around the edges so........

I did remelt this batch of soap.... if you could call it a batch of soap. I just set the Pyrex dish in the microwave, heated it till it began to froth up around the edges, reset the heat to number 2 (out of ten) and cooked and stirred. It took 30-40 minutes to have a pretty good melt.......all the hardened pieces were broken up. I cooked it another 10 and most of the small pieces were dissolved. I took it out and continued to stir till it was setting up, shaped the edges and quit. Looks like a German chocolate cake....hope no one decides to have a piece before I get the icing on.....

[Just a warning... if you decide to remelt a batch according to what Bill did... you'd better watch it like a hawk. The only thing worse than a soap volcano in your microwave oven, would be one laced with pine tar. I don't even want to think about how long it would take to clean up THAT mess!]

According to Hersh, it doesn't matter how much pine tar you add, it sets up to a point of not being able to pour it in 28 seconds, little tar or a lot of tar. I suppose it would help to use lower temperatures for the fat and lye, add additional water, (which the soap spread sheet does for you when you plug in the pine tar amount) mix with a paint stirring stick. (NO STICK BLENDER. If a stick blender accelerates a normal batch of soap, you can imagine what it does to pine tar. Instant pudding followed by instant brick.) Pour the lye while stirring, and try to get it thoroughly mixed, and poured, before it sets up. (In my case I did not even get it mixed in the container I intended to use as a mold.)

I am going to see what this soap is dog needs a bath.....ha


Bill Adams

More suggestions...

From: Pat Lowe
Date: July 2, 2009
Subject: Note About My Experience with Making Pine Tar Soap


I've made my own pine tar soap for several years now. I use a double-boiler type arrangement to soften my pine tar before adding it to my soap base. One easy way I do this is by using a very old (small) sauce pan that I have dedicated just for this purpose. I place it on my stove top burner, add a cup or two of water in it, then add the small can of pine tar inside the sauce pan. It is VERY important to leave the lid to the pine tar can open so that when it gets hot, it doesn't explode all over my kitchen. It is also important to make sure that the water in the sauce pan does not cover more than the bottom half of the pine tar can, so that when the water boils, it does not boil over into the pine tar. Then, when the pine tar is softened to a more or less liquified state, I carefully lift the can with kitchen tongs and then pour in the amount I desire into my soap base mixture just about the time it is ready to trace. I mix it as thoroughly as possible, trying to get the color evenly distributed, and then pour it into the soap mold I have prepared for use. I've had very good luck with this method and thought I'd share it with you all. If I use less than the entire can of pine tar in my soap batch, then I just let it cool a bit again and press down the top of the can onto the can and use it for my next batch of soap. I love pine tar soap, and the users of my pine tar soap have nothing but praise for it once they use it. It is a lovely old-fashioned soap with many uses, and it is too bad that many people have to be educated on its existence and its uses.

Pat Lowe

P.S. I have never had to soak my soap making utensils for a day or two to get out the pine tar residue. What I do is use stainless steel pots and spoons, and a rubber spatula to scrape the soap out into the mold. When the pots, spoons, and spatulas cool a little bit -- not completely -- but are still slightly warm, I put them in my sink and runn warm-hot water in and over them, let them soak for about 30 minutes, more or less, and then use a dishcloth or throw away sponge and wash them out. It doesn't always 'slide out', but it is not difficult to wash out the pine-tar soap residue, either. Hope my suggestions are of use to your readers and fans of pine-tar soap-making!

This page last updated on 20 July 2009.
If you still have questions, please read through the information on the Troubleshooting Help page, MOST Frequently Asked Questions 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! :-)