Miller's Homemade Soap Pages:
I'm not a fan of rebatching. This is what I got and your worst case scenario! Still... some folks still want to do it and this page is for them. These were made from scraps and shavings... the one on the left is actually a darker soft apple green and is a blend of spicy lime and spiced apple. On the right is an UGLY blend of vanilla and almond swirl shavings (smells great though). My kids thought it looked like something else I won't mention!
If you'd like to contribute your experiences and/or frustrations to this page, just send an email and I'll post it if I think it would be helpful to others or offers new information. As of August of 2000, I'm feeling that I have so much material already posted, that there will be much less in the way of new additions. If you like the look of a forum and want some instant feedback, I highly recommend The Latherings Forum... there are others out there as well and I have some listed on my links page. Some of the following entries will have responses posted from me in blue if appropriate. I have stopped listing people's email addresses if their comments are posted... there is just too much SPAM out there and addresses being harvested off of pages like this one. :-( To spare myself tedious one by one removal of old ones, they have been doctored as to be useless to spambots.
NOTICE: If you have AOL, please be sure that if you have any sort of filter turned on, that you enter my email address as one that will be accepted before you send me the question. I really want to help and don't want folks to think I'm ignoring them. My hands are tied when there's a block on your account. If you've recently emailed me with questions and never heard back ... this is probably why. The come back as undeliverable.
For more email contributions and FAQ's your can visit the following:
Another suggestion sent in August of 2011:
I wanted to try re-milling because I’d heard it made the soap smoother with a better lather etc. So the soap that I had already cured was what I used. I checked the two books I have on soap making, one suggested melting it in a pot on the stove with water, the other suggested melting it using a double boiler method.
This seemed messy, so I surfed the net & found a site that shows you how to re-mill using 2 snap lock bags (to avoid accidental spillage of soap into the water) & a pot of water (a variance on the double boiler method). I tried this as it seemed less messy because you weigh or measure your soap & water or chosen liquid into the bag & mix your additives in the bag by massaging thoroughly & snip off the corner of the bag to “pipe” it into your moulds. The site is
This method was easy & mess free. I put in sandalwood & cinnamon with oats & its drying as we speak.
The soap smells lovely, looks lovely and I think will be a success. I will use this method again (it would certainly make sure it wasn’t a fluke!). The film on the web page didn’t state amounts of water to soap or anything so I just used the ratios in one of my books. I used rubber gloves to keep the heat from my hands when mixing in my oats etc & when “piping” it into my moulds.
Hopefully this has been helpful.
The misadventures of the apprentice soapmaker
Greatly encouraged by the success of my first batch of soap and still under the evil influence of «Beginner's luck» I decided this weekend to produce another masterpiece of toiletry !! Well
The recipe I used was taken from a book in which all the measurements are in volume, not in weight. For a beginner this is perfect since the most expensive tool in one's soapmaking kit is the electronic scale (a rather pricey item) and I still have not bought mine. Perfect, I thought naively...
So I put my oils on the stove, mix the lye with water, wait for the right temperatures and mix the oils with the lye solution... All is going well. The last (or rather first) time I made soap, it took forever to trace and I had to stir for ever and ever and ever... zzzzzzzzzzz... Not this time I thought, arming myself with the hand mixer !!
Before I could scream "Aromatherapy!" the soap had thickened and I hardly had time to add the little extras I had planned !!!!!! Quick !!! I started with honey. Right away the soap took a caramel color and odor that were rather pleasant. I then added lemon and mint essential oils. I had to work very quickly to pour the soap in the molds. It had gotten very (too) thick, very (too) rapidly. I thought perhaps I had ruined it... that I would be stuck with a batch of goo that I would have to throw away... I decided to wait and see.
A few hours later, I could not resist taking a peek so I l lifted the blanquets... just to see... Much to my surprise, the soap had not only hardened already but had lost it's beautiful caramel colour. But the soap seemed to have been saved from the horrible fate that awaits a lot of ruined batches of soap : the garbage can ! I went to bed pretty happy with myself.
The next day, this little genius had the crazy idea of "hand milling" the soap to make sure it would not go to waste. So I grated the soap (all four pounds of it !!) and attempted to melt it in green tea (green tea ! What a great idea, I thought. It's full of antioxidants, it's great for the skin...) I practically awarded myself a Nobel Genius Price !! Ahem...
First of all the stupid ass soap never, I mean NEVER melted completely !!! It simply gelled... At first the texture resembled that of store bought transparent soaps (but not for long !). Well , well, I thought, have I made "Pears" soap unwillingly ? NOT !! Tiny shreds of soap stubbornly refused to melt... and the mixture thickened and thickened dramatically.
Even by raising the temperature, even by adding water (again and again), even by stirring frantically I still could not manage to give this stupid goo the texture I wanted. Help !!!!!!!!! I decided to add the ingredients I had previously prepared (rolled oats and lemon rind) and put the fate of my poor soap into the hands of the all powerful but always benevolent Soap Gods... (fumes from the lye are toxic, you see).
You should have seen me try to pour it all into molds !!! Images quite worthy of an "I Love Lucy" episode !! It was messy, sticky and very, very thick ! As if that was not enough, this exercise nearly double the batch and I had no more molds left !! I emptied two boxes of Tropicana juice (I of course had no where to put it so I drank it from the box.. sigh...) from the fridge and poured into them the puzzling mixture that my soap had become...
The whole mess is now resting underneath a pile of blanquets to harden. Will it ? Your guess is as good as mine ! But I was not about to throw it all away after all this work !!!!!! I am exhausted (and a little dizzy, not to say a little Desy) !
Who knows, maybe in a couple of days this will become an extraordinary "taffy soap with lemon and oats".
Yeah, right... I've always been such a dreamer !
To be continued...
That was very humorous and yes... I could relate. :-) Now you know why I HATE rebatching and avoid it whenever possible!
Good luck on the next go-round. :-)
I would like to share a rebatching method which has never failed me yet. The good thing about this method is that it does not require either milk, double boiler or special fats.
To those who are familiar with hot processed soaps, the method is very easy. You mix 1/4 cold processed soap at a light trace with 3/4 grated soap scraps. Afterwards you keep on stirring the mixture in a pot at very low heat and when the CP soap eventually goes into the gel stage it will cause the soap gratings to do the same. What happens is that the heat form the natural saponification process (where soap turns to gel), plus the heat from the stove, helps to melt down the soap scraps much better than heat from the stove alone.
1/4 Fresh liquid cold processed soap at a
light trace (To make this, I use 2/3 part liquid oil and 1/3 part
3/4 Grated soap
(Additional ingredients - water. If your soap scraps are very dry, you can add as much as 1/3 of the soap scraps weight when the soap reaches the gel stage.)
Through it all, remember to stir, stir,
stir and stir again,,,,,,
Make your CP soap as usual and stir it to light trace, add the grated soap and stir thoroughly. Pour the mixture in to a large cooking pot and place it on the stove at very low heat - remember to keep on stirring. After a while the mixture will bubble up and try to escape from the pot - stir it down. Eventually, the mixture will seperate into a fluid substance with small lumps, keep on stirring the mixture at low heat until it gathers (if my soap gratings are very dry, this is the point where i carefully ad some extra water - ad as little as possible. When the soap continuously create a thin membrane on the surface and a small lump of soap becomes hard in a glas with cold water, the soap is finished and you can add color, fragrance etc.
Iben Park Hybel
Thank you for your generosity! :-)
Thanks for such a great and informative site! I have been reading lots of websites, looking for information on cold process soaping, and yours is by far the best! I love your straightforward, no-nonsense approach. S
So far I have made 7 batches of soap, with a couple of disastrous ones imbedded in there, and two batches of lotion that I don't even want to talk about. (Do you think people post bad recipes to sabotage other wannabe soapers?)
My calendula soap I scented with Island Baby from Tradewinds, and added calendula petals at trace--it is lovely, with a rich luxuriant lather. I also made a vanilla mocha swirl with hazelnut meal that turned out nicely, and a chocolate mint rich in cocoa butter (with a sort of muddy swirl). One of my favorite soaps is called "Bunny Clovis Soap". I got the recipe from the Halderman.net site . To 20 oz. of water, you add a cup of lye. It uses a 48 oz. can of shortening (plus additional 1/2 cup), 8 oz. olive oil, 8 oz. canola oil, and 4 Tbsp. cocoa butter, plus a Tbsp. of honey, warmed with the oils.Mix at 120oils, 110 lye water. At trace you add spices--1 tsp.cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, and 1 tsp. cloves, mixed with additional 2 Tbsp. of olive oil. I also added 1/4 oz. of honey almond FO. At trace you add 6 oz. of evaporated milk. Let cure for the requisite 4 weeks.The soap has a wonderful nutty brown look and smell.
I think this was a good recipe for a beginner, because of the easy measurements, easy ingredients, etc. My question is this, what about using evaporated milk for rebatching? Seems it might work better than whole milk, and be "much" cheaper than goat's milk (unless you own a goat). I'm going to try it with my two botched batches. Will also try the enamel pot in the stove method.
Wish me luck, and happy soaping!
Hi! Your soaps sound good
enough to eat. :-) On your question... I don't see why you
can't use that for rebatching, but since it's a lot more
concentrated, I'd not use it drop for drop in place of regular milk.
You might want to dilute it with water when using it for rebatching.
Maybe not as dilute as real milk... but more than it comes from the
You can buy evaporated goat's milk in a can if you like... that's what I use when I want goat's milk in my soaps. It's convenient and you don't have to add all that much to get the effect... after adding the lye solution.
Good luck! :-)
I have been reading all the horror stories on your site, And I think I can help a lot of the people having troubles. I'm new to soap making like a lot of the others. But like a lot of hobbies there's only one way to learn and that's through trial and error.
The soap I make is made out of olive oil and tallow. I make about 10 lbs. at a time. I use styrofoam coolers, lined with a garbage bag to mold mine. It works great. Seeing that it's going to be melted back down, Shape doesn't really matter. After I take it out of the mold I let it dry for two weeks and when I'm ready to rebatch it, I use a cheese grater to shred it. I do mine in a sauce pan on the stove. I use the lowest setting. But instead of using water or 2% milk, I use coconut milk instead. To 5 cups of soap I use 1/4 cup of coconut milk. Then if I need more, I add 2 tablespoons of coconut milk at a time. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to melt. I end up with a nice white creamy soap sauce. Then I add all my ingredients. Then pour in my molds and let them sit over night.
I have never had my soap turn brown. And the coconut milk seems to give my soap a nice creamy texture. So before everyone gives up on rebatching, Please give coconut milk a try.
Thanks for the feedback on rebatching. I'm sure that frustrated rebatchers can use some good news. :-) What is also worth noting is that your soap has tallow in it and from what I've heard, that is much easier to work with when remelting than most all vegetable soaps.
Thank you so much for a very thorough and helpful website. I have just found it, but I know it will prove to be an invaluable resource, as I am a newcomer to the wonderful world of handcrafted soaps. (Thanks also for the Canadian links) I started out with M&P, and became instantly and helplessly hooked; did all my Christmas presents with soaps, and have orders coming in for more. I have just made my first batch of CP, and I, like others, thought I could save valuable time and resources by hand-milling, or re-batching...whichever is politically correct, making numerous small recipes out of one basic batch. My first attempt at rebatching, (and I scrupulously followed the directions from Norma Coneys book), was a disaster. I ended up with a glob of goop, that was getting scorched. So I stuck it in the microwave hoping that it would melt. No way, just same old goop. I threw that batch away, cause it smelled burnt. I am so glad I found your website, and I read through all the success/horror stories, and decided to try again with the lady that suggested the microwave method. This is what I did: I grated 1 pound of basic vegetable soap and put it in a 2 qt. Pyrex measuring bowl. I nuked it on medium-high (80%) for 2 min., checked it, nuked it for another 2 min.and saw that it was starting to balloon. I checked it again, stirred it down, and nuked it for 1 min. It ballooned again, I stirred it, and decided that the consistency was good enough for this gal (although you could probably nuke it for another minute, but I didn't want to burn it). I added my additives and tested the temperature; it was a little too hot to add EO's, so I kept stirring for another couple of minutes.
The texture at this point is like jello, its not liquid by any means, but I figured, what the heck just go with the flow. I added my EO's and plopped the mass into molds with a spatula. The last mold I had to actually hand manipulate it in, as it was getting sticky. I can see what you mean by the texture being quite coarser than a CP soap, but it was an experience to try a different method. This would be a good method to roll up some of those round balls of soap. I had a little left over so I did just that. Note that I did not add any water to this method, and I ended up with 3 5-oz bars of soap. So the second try at this rebatching did the trick, but I have satisfied my curiosity well enough, and have decided that rebatching is not for me. I will now only make CP soaps, as I prefer the finer texture. I hope for anybody who reads this, to try this method, but I'm sure you'll agree that CP is the way to go. And if you haven't already made a batch of "basic" soap in the hope that you will rebatch it, maybe this will convince you not to waste your time and money.
I've been reading all the "horror stories" of milling or rebatching soap with a little bit of amazement. I've followed Norma Coney's instructions for milling soaps for quite a while now, with no problems (that's using her basic Castile soap, as well!). I don't see why everyone is talking about melting their soaps for three hours or so; on low heat, my grated soap can melt in an hour and a half. While it is quite thick when I pour it into the molds, it poses no problem to the finished soap. It accepts additives like honey, oatmeal, pumice, superfatting and other herbs quite well. I tend to prefer the process of milling soap as it allows me to grate up buckets and buckets of soap so that I can whip up 20 bars of whichever additive, "flavour" or herbs that I would prefer.
Hi--I am one of the few I find that does ONLY rebatching: I like the fact that I can do so smaller batches w/ a variety of colors and FOs. I tried CP twice and won't go back to it. I make the basic soap from tallow (render it myself--have found very inexpensive beef suet at nearby meat processor), cheapest veg oil I can find, castor oil, cocoa butter, lye/water. When I rebatch, I do the crockpot method (am going to try oven method very soon): for every pound of shredded basic soap, I add 4 oz of tap water (ours is heavily softened) w/ approx. 1/8 cup of powdered milk (I think that must make the water even softer because I do get a very pourable soap every time). I have used just the tap water, but lately it has been inconsistant w/ how pourable the soap gets: the only drawback w/ using the powdered milk is that I no longer have the white soaps: they are a very pale ivory color. But it's worth it since the melted soap goes into the molds so much better. It takes about 3 hrs to "cook" a 32 oz batch (I've even done 48 oz batches in that amount of time--it's a BIG crock pot). I add colorants and FOs just before ladeling soap into molds. Once the soap is in the molds, I let it sit at room temp overnight. (That has cured the problem I had w/ soaps sinking in the middle: used to put them directly into the freezer) The following day it goes into the freezer for easier removal from molds. I then let it sit on drying racks for 4 or 5 weeks, then I package it on a piece of corrugated cardboard and tie w/ raffia. I make labels from brown craft paper (buy rolls of it and cut it into 8 1/2 x 11 sheets so can use label program on computer and run it thru printer). I have been doing rebatching for about a year now, and there was a lot of trial and error--made enuf mistakes, but got a lot of answers from various websites and soap chatboards. It sure is a great hobby, and I have enough family and friends that will buy the soaps so that I can keep myself in supplies. Happy Soaping! Wanda
Thanks so much for your generous detailing of how you rebatch. I know other folks swear by using milk also.. changes the texture of the soap to more of a liquid. I notice this even in the mold with milk soaps... when they hit gel they are more "watery" than regular soap in gel which is still rather stiff.
I'll post this when I update the site so others can benefit from your trial and error.
Happy soaping to you as well! :-)
By the way... you are doing cold process when you make your base soap. I guess what you meant is that you wouldn't go back to trying to add your scent and color at that stage.
Update: I recently sent a msg about my experiences w/ rebatching--one addition in case I hadn't mentioned it---since experimenting lately w/ oven method, that is my method of choice now: 32 oz of basic soap w/ 7 - 8 oz tap water or same water mixed w/ powdered milk in stainless or enamelware stock pot. Oven set at 200 degrees, soap ready to go into molds in 1 1/2 to 2 hrs. Melts down a lot more smoothly than in crockpot, and no scorching---I imagine it's because in the oven the heat element is not right up against the pot as it is in a crock pot. That's it! Thanx. Wanda
I just wanted to throw my two cents worth in about rebatching. Several people have written you saying that when they rebatch that it looks like mashed potatoes or some other mess. I make a castile(100% olive oil) soap....with my trusty hand blender of course. I make it according to the instructions in (dare i say it) The Complete SoapMaker from Norma Coney. I think because of the handblender I don't need to "stir in" the oil, it sets up rather quickly. After 24 hours I uncover my primary mold to let my soap air dry (yes it actually sets up that fast) and after 48 hours take it out of the mold and cut it into small rectangles to air for about 6 hours then grate it and let it air again for about 1-2 days. Then I rebatch it. Well there is my 2 cents hope it help someone, who like myself, does enjoy rebatching dispite that book.
Eve ; )
Thanks for the feedback! I don't want people to think that is a bad book... it's really fine for the most part and has helped a lot of people. It's just that the rebatching that is stressed in much of it can be problematic for a lot of folks and there was no warning in the book for what sometimes happens. It's a good basic soapmaking reference however... so let me set the record straight on that. If we've bashed once in awhile, it's just been from rebatching frustration! ;-)
Oh....I don't want it to come across that I am book bashing. Her book was very informative in many areas, but you are right she was not very...clear about rebatching. Also, some of the recipes for rebatching were not that great. I feel that she should have let people know that for instance, recipes with plant in them like the lavender turn a very ugly color if you don't use a dye in them. Some people dont't like using dyes. And the aloe vera soap turns out much better looking if you open the plant and scrape out the gel, it can also turn a very ugly brown color if you use the whole stem. Another thing I changed about one of her recipes is that when I make the coffee soap I use brewed coffee in place of water and fresh coffee grounds. The soap looks better when doing it that way(at least in my opinion).
Hi, I have been reading on your web site all the comments on rebatching soap and thought I would tell you of my experience. I also have Norma Coney's book and made her recipe for basic white soap which turned out very nice. It has been about a week and a half since I turned it out of the primary mold. I wanted to make the aloe soap so I tried her method for making my own aloe gel and it didn't work and smelled very GREEN!!!! So I cut some more stalks and scraped the gel out of them and used that. I added the amount of water to it to weigh 9ozs and stirred it into my soap shreds. I had it on med. low heat on my electric stove using a diffuser. I had the darn stuff on there for about an hour adding a little water now and then because the soap kept sucking it up. It looked like mashed potatoes with snots. I finally decided to just stir in the dye and FO and mash it into the molds. I took the pan off the stove and stirred in the green dye drops that I mixed with a little glycerin and tossed in a T. of Vanilla Cream FO and started stirring and all of a sudden it was a nice thick pourable stuff. I was very excited to say the least. I put them in the freezer and turned them out this morning. They are a little spongy but not too bad. Most of the color is gone though but it smells real good. Two of the molds I used were glass and I can't get them out. Any suggestions? Thanks Vicki
Hi! Glad it came out okay in the end. I don't want you to think that the Coney book is awful... I'm just not sold on rebatching as being the main way to go... the texture the first time around to me is far superior.
As far as your problem with unmolding... the best thing to do is give them lots of time. As the soap sits for a few days, it will continue to dry out and shrink.. eventually, you can probably work it loose from around the edges. Some folks use the freezing method for unmolding rebatched soap, but since you can't flex the glass after the soap hardens up... there's not much advantage to doing it with a glass dish. In the future, you might want to use flexible molds.
Anyway... just be patient, and eventually (it might even take a couple of weeks), you should be able to get that soap out!
Good luck and happy soaping! :-)
Just wanted to let you know that I believe your site is wonderful. I am a novice soapmaker, just one batch so far, but it turned out beautifully. I used the Nineteenth-Century Soap recipe in Norma Coney's "The Complete Soapmaker" book [this has animal fats in it and remelts more easily than all-veg... Kathy M.]. When I did the first remelt as recommended with water I had a real mess, but I perservered with the remelting. I made up my own way of doing it. I took a large, heavy bowl in which I placed chunked up basic soap with no additional water. I then covered the bowl snugly with plastic wrap. I then placed the bowl in large pot of simmering water (my own version of a double boiler). I just let the soap melt very slowly over a few hours, checking the water level frequently. The resulting liquid soap took my additions readily, and poured into the molds easily. I made vanilla, vanilla-peach and lavender. They made wonderful Christmas gifts. I am ready to make more. The family orders are coming in!!
Upon reading these other e-mails of rebatching, I was quite happy to find that I was not the only one having problems remilling/rebatching the Castile soap, particularly that of Norma Coney. I don't believe she forsaw the unhappiness of other newbies regarding her remilling techniques of Castile.
I have had great success following her book otherwise. The recipes that contain tallow remill very well and I was very pleased with the results.
When I tried to remill the olive oil soap, I was wondering what I'd done wrong as the mixture separated. I was trying to make peppermint soap for my sister and in the rebatch I included 2T peppermint extract, 1T glycerin, 1T castor oil, and less than half a cup of chopped peppermint leaves. This separated mess became very watery and I'd wondered if the alcohol in the extract had cause this. Also, the watery liquid looked like soy sauce.
It didn't pour very well into the molds and was gloppy. Later, when I popped them out of the molds and onto wax paper for drying, this colored liquid ("soy sauce") oozed from the bars. After several days, I decided to try again to try to save these few bars.
I put about a cup of milled Castile into a pan and used less than 1/4C water. I melted that and then put one of the peppermint bars into in. I had cut it into smaller peices before adding it. The mixture still separated, became chunky, and the same brown liquid appeared. I poured off as much of this "liquid" as I could before putting it into molds. The bars look a lot better but I still don't have confidence with them. I'd like to try again with the milk technique, but am afraid of another disappointment.
Exactly, what is the 'milk' rebatching technique?
Also, I'd like to mention that in the trouble shooting section of Norma Coney's book The Complete Soapmaker she does mention a problem with the Castile soap under Layering.
Thank you very much,
Hi! I would guess that if you used fresh mint leaves, the brown fluid was what came from them when they were exposed to the lye in the soap. It turns most leafy and flowery things brown... there are only a few that retain their original color. If you want mint in the soap in the future, using dried leaves would probably work better. They will still turn brown over time, but will probably not create the "tobacco juice" effect!
> Exactly, what is the 'milk' rebatching technique?
You use milk instead of water and it makes the melted soap more fluid and a bit easier to handle. Also makes it turn brown, so take that into account.
Thanks for mentioning the layering thing... I have that book, but have not looked at it for awhile. I suppose it sounds like we are Norma bashing sometimes... I've always said I like much of her book... but the rebatching thing can set people up for frustration. A few like it, but many have spotty results.
Thanks for the feedback and good luck with the next batch!
Thanks to Wanda McQuillan for her advice. I had a large box of plain natural soap that I received with my water softening system. No one liked it much. I wanted to rebatch it somehow,but most attempts failed. Then I tried her crockpot method and it turned out great. With some added extras and milk instead of water. Now I have plenty of soap to give as gifts.
Hi Kathy! Love your site! I've e-mailed you before about soap catastrophies, but now I actually have some good news! I KNOW you don't like to re-mill soap and I also believe that the 1st batch is the sweetest, BUT, I do re-mill my soap shavings and unsatisfactory batches. I have found a new way to do it that resulted in soap VERY close to the consistancy of a 1st batch.The way I do it now is to grate the unsatisfactory soap on a cheese grater( nothing new there) and then let the soap shavings dry out until they are brittle. This takes awhile, I haven't tried to hurry this step along, I just had a bowl of shavings sitting around for a month and tried this out. When they are dry and brittle, take them and run them through the blender on chop a couple cups at a time. They should end up looking like laundry detergent. I then take about 5 cups of the powder and put it in a Pyrex casserole dish (mine's round and I guess about a 2 QT size).I don't use a lid. Then I add about a 1/2 cup of water or so and stir it up w/ a rubber spatula. Put it in the microwave (I"m totally impatient)on 80% power for 2 minutes. Take it out stir it and if you see any dry, powdery spots, add a tablespoon or 2 of water to them .. keep stirring until everything is moist,but not watery(.I think the least water you can get by with the better, too much water gives you spongy bars when you're done) It should sort of look like a big soap pate! Back into the microwave on 80% (NOT ANY HIGHER!) for about a minute to a minute and a half at a time.You will see what I call the Soap Monster... it will foam up.If it foams too much stop and stir it down. Just keep stirring it and returning it to the microwave.. I think it usually takes me about 8-10 minutes or so. It will get really smooth and melty..(.think melted Velveeta) If you want to add or intensify the color, I guess you can do that during the melting process. If I want to add fragrance oils I do that when its all melted. and pour it into a 22oz rectangular food saver that I have greased w/ Vaseline and lined w/ saran wrap. 5 cups of powder make enough melted soap to fill the container plus a little extra for some small decorator soap molds. Let it sit overnight and the next day, pop it out and slice into bars.I usually cut 5, but you could make 6 thinner ones or 4 fat ones. From there, since the shavings have already been sitting around for a month drying out, the soap is ready to use right away. This way is so easy and quick and slick and the bars turn out so much nicer than trying to melt the "cheese graters" I've tried other methods (don't get me started on my crock pot horror story!) but I don't think I'll do it any other way again. Happy Soaping! Julia from TN.
I guess I get to be the different one. Nothing unusual about that. I love your site. Also love Norma Coney book that I have and use regularly for recipes. I especially am fond of Castile soap and have had no problems with her recipes or the rebatching other than one recipe that I doubled, (but didn't double part of it by accident). Could have something to do with making soap in the middle of the night after a 10-hour shift at work I think. I get a much smoother and creamy texture with the hand-milled soaps than the basics regardless of the recipes I use from her book and from other places. I also like the fact that if you wait to add the coloring and scent at remilling you have a better idea of how they are going to turn out. Not like one batch I did this week that I added liquid green soap dye to at trace like both recipe and dye called for. As my 4-year-old granddaughter put it...Grandma that's not green...but it's okay, some people like brown soap. However it is so ugly that when I mill it I will have to add some attractive brown to get it to where it is presentable....however, didn't think it fit with the rainforest scent it was supposed to have....had to get a more earthy scent as it looks more like dirt :-) . Told the woman I was making it for that the other batch will be ready shortly and will do her green rainforest from that. Soap making is wonderful...I can say that and I even have a small lye burn on the end of my nose. I rubbed it with the rubber gloves on which were the only "armor" I used to wear, after dunking my nose in vinegar and still having a small blister, I think that the gloves are history and just being more careful is in order. Keep up the good work and have fun.
Thanks for your feedback! Sounds like you've been having a lot of fun with your soapmaking.
I don't like wearing gloves for the very reason you experienced. I'd rather know when I get a little lye on my hands before I smear it on a more sensitive area!
I was suffering great frustration trying to rebatch until I read the mail from Uvegot2laf. Ran right in and tried a batch with milk instead of water. In my first attempt I got some scorching, so the second time I used a double boiler. Both batches became smooth and easy to pour. By the way, I am using a vegetable based soap and it still worked. Now I have some lovely oatmeal soap to give to a friend! I was wondering how you would go about adding things, such as oatmeal, at trace and then pouring into molds. How do you insulate the molds while they finish saponifying? Seems like a Herculean task to me.
Judi in California
Glad your rebatch came out okay. The milk seems to work better and the bars will probably not shrink as badly as with water. The only down side is the brown color which is limiting if people want some other shade.
That is only because you've not tried it yet. It's not a big problem at all. I pour my soap into a large mold and cut bars later. Individual molds that are small can be tricky if your soap gets thick too quickly, but freshly made cold process soap is more fluid by nature than most rebatched soap. If you make soap from scratch, definitely look into getting a stick blender. It's GREAT! Be sure to read the directions on the "Modern Procedures" page before using the stick blender.
Good luck and thanks for the feedback! :-)
Hello! I've been reading, scanning and taking mental notes form your site for 3 weeks now. I have made 2 batches of "basic" soap...74 oz of tallow, 32 olive/veg oil, 3 oz cocoa butter, 14 oz of lye, 41 oz cold h2o. So far so good, no lye pockets or "slime". I'm re-batching--Know how you love that!! Ha Ha!! I have a suggestion for re-batching that works for me- spraying my soap grating with water a while before I plan on reheating seems to work, then use a double boiler method to heat on LOW!!!!! Just thought I'd share this... The question I have is how do I get rid of this fatty odor in my soap? The first batch is a month old now, and still has an odor under the FO's I use. BTW am using reputable FO supplier. TIA Amy Ebbinghouse
Thanks for the rebatching suggestion. Some folks really want to do it that way. :-)
On the tallow... it will have a bit of odor that is different from all-veg, but stronger if you render your own and it's not really, really clean. If you can pick up deodorized rendered tallow... it's better. At its best, there's a little animal in there, but kind of mellow and pleasant... sort of a saddle-soapy smell. There are certain scents that work well with tallow and blend well with that mellow underpinning. I think musky, woodsy types are especially good. Sandalwood, or Sandalwood-Vanilla are nice... patchouli probably a go. Fruity types are probably not so good... or many florals, except maybe lavender... strong types like that.
Hi again, Kathy -
I have an amusing story for your "rebatch" page!
In a last ditch attempt to save a rebatch attempt and after reading suggestions on the "rebatch" page, I put the lump of "soap" that already had color and lavender flowers in it and was truly a mess into a metal bowl and into the oven at 300 degrees. I went back to the computer to look for more information and was smelling the soap. After smelling the soap for about 10 minutes, I finally went to look at it. What I saw was a large balloon in the oven - the soap had apparently dried enough on the top to seal in the evaporating water! It made me laugh out loud. I do, however, have a mess in the oven to clean.
While the soap was expanding, I found some info online that may be of help. I have NOT tried this yet so can make no comment. I found this link at the wholesale supplies site and it gives explicit directions for how to remill their soap bases which are all vegetable. The page is: http://www.soapteacher.com/BasicSoap/Handmilled.htm
Thank you again - Donna Light
After a lot of trial and error w/ rebatching, I think I've got it! Use Norma C's basic white soap (have used only tallow from beef suet; at 20 cents/pound from nearby meat market, it's hard to resist): 12 oz shredded basic white soap plus 3 oz water (the 9 oz was way too much, and I had a lot of shrinkage as soaps dried). The water is from my tap: since it's well water, it's very heavily softened: works far better than bottled water and hard city tap water that I have tried. This last batch w/ 3 oz water: very little, if any, shrinkage. I cook it down in crock pot, on low, and don't even LOOK at it for the first hour or hour and 1/2. I especially don't lay a spoon to it during that time. Is thick, but very pourable. Hope this helps any of you rebatchers out there! Thanx for other info I've found on this sight. I'll be back often! Wanda P.S.(HELP: looking for Eucalyptus Bubble Bath recipe; been checking various soap links w/ no luck)
Thank you Kathy for having such an awesome site. I've learned TONS from you, I've downloaded and printed everything you have and read it all word for word. I refer to it often and I've purchased books that have been recommended. I'm so excited about my soaps, my kitchen table will never be the same!
I am a newcomer to soap making. My preference is all vegetable and I have Norma Coney's book and love it for the same reasons another emailer wrote (the pictures of course). I use her olive oil/water/lye formula and I love the basic batch.
I am glad I checked out this site because I WAS mixing the water INTO the lye...won't do it again. But, I have to admit that when I would do my remill I would end up with mashed potatoes...I would still mold it and everything came out fine. However, I discovered something this weekend. I doubled a remill batch and VOILA! I got liquid! I was using a "normal" small pan, but apparently it wasn't small enough...there are smaller pans (spaghetti boilers or something) but they run about $50 bucks (here)....so I'll just double my batches. Even on the LOWEST heat, my soap was heating up too fast. I also tried a single remill batch and pulling it off the heat 2 or 3 times to cool a bit before I got liquid, and this worked as well, but I like the result of a double batch better.
I am in awe of those of you that make a full batch of one scent/or "flavor" as my husband calls them. I like the idea of making a large basic batch and then remilling small portions.
I hope this helps.
I have a few things to say to her! I wish I'd found your wonderful website BEFORE I made my first two batches last weekend.
I made her 19th century recipe (44 oz tallow, 30 oz olive oil, 28 oz lard, 14 oz lye and 41 oz water) and the Homesteader recipe (106 oz tallow, 14 oz lye and 41 oz water). After 48 hours, (that's what Norma recommends), Norma says "the soap will look solid, but your gloved finger should leave an impression on it's surface". Well, my 19th century batch did leave an impression, but when I tried to remove it from the 16 quart plastic primary mold, it came out in chunks. There is no visible separation or pockets of lye...it's just very soft and squishy. I have put the chunks and pieces back in the container and left the lid off to let it dry more.
The Homesteader batch on the other hand, seems more promising. I have not removed it yet, but it definitely seems harder. Reading all of the emails you have received on remilling, I do not plan to stick with Norma's way, but I don't want to waste the first two batches. I am truly dreading the remilling now. I plan to try the whole milk (instead of water) suggestion first. Does the milk ALWAYS turn the batch brown or tan? Is there a way to prevent the discoloration?
Thank you for the wonderful website. I hope this is the first of many times I can be a part of it, but I hope to be telling you about a success next time!!!!
Angie Lang - Tucson, Arizona
Hi! The good news is that your soap has tallow in it. That's the easiest kind to rebatch and you might do okay with that. Yes... milk always turns it a tan color... especially when extra heat is applied, but I don't think you'll have to use milk with tallow soap base... a little bit of water should work okay. You can try it both ways to see how you like it... some folks love some milk in their soap.
I just posted a letter on the rebatching page of soapy success from a happy rebatcher who used tallow soap for that purpose and was content. You might want to read that before taking the plunge. ;-)
Good luck! Let me know how it turns out for you.
Thank you for responding so quickly!
I have one more question before I take "the plunge". You mentioned using "a little" water when I rebatch. Norma says to use 9oz per 12 oz of grated soap. Do you think that's too much?
I'm trying to remember the classic formula for rebatching. When I reclaim soap, I only add about a cup to a whole batch (batch sizes that use about 12 oz. of lye)... I don't want any more excess water than I have to add, because it takes so long to dry out and will do a lot of warping and shrinking in the process.
9 oz. to 12 oz. of soap is a LOT of water! I think the recommendation on the all-veg page that I got from someone else was a half cup of water per one pound of soap... that would be 4 oz. of water for a pound.
Okay... I just checked my own page (I don't do this, so had forgotten the numbers). Pamela Love had suggested one cup of MILK per one pound of soap. Milk is not all water... there's solids in there, so if you used water it could be less... maybe about 6 oz.? I would still start with less and you can always add a bit more as you go... maybe half a cup to start. It's easier to add more than to take it out. With tallow soap, it should melt better anyway and be easier to get into a mold without the mashed potatoes syndrome!
Read some of the comments on the rebatching page for the experiences of others who do this more than I do. Maybe the original suggested amount of liquid is the best way to go.
Aren't you sorry you asked? I hate rebatching and only do it in a pinch and a whole batch at a time!
Hi Kathy! I e-mailed you last week about my problems with two basic recipes from Norma Coney's book. Thanks again for responding so quickly to my questions. I wanted to follow-up and let you know that I decided to give the book the benefit of the doubt for the first batch and believe it or not...it worked! I made the Cinnamon Soap recipe (12 oz basic soap, 9 oz water, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon and several drops of cinnamon fragrance). It made three large bars and they have been drying for four days now with no signs of warping. I live in Tucson, Arizona and it is EXTREMELY dry here...I think they will be finished drying very soon. After the cinnamon success, I made the cornmeal recipe, the oatmeal recipe and the bran recipe. I read another email you posted in Soapy Success from a woman who mentioned that she liked to rebatch because she can do a little at a time while juggling other projects.
I have a seven month old son and I have found this to be true for me also. I do plan to try some of your recipes next though. Just wanted to keep you posted. I was thinking the other day about how wonderful you are to be so supportive of newcomers to the soap world! Thanks again!
Thank you for a wonderful soap encyclopedia.
I'm thinking about changing my email address to SOAPDUDSNO@SPAM....
Thought I'd pass along my recent experience. First I recently purchased pH testing strips, upon receipt homemade soap(suds) testing from over 10 to 14. Viola! The proverbial light goes on - rebatch soap and using vinegar to reduce pH. (I verified the validity of this idea by going on line and found a similar question posed by a 17 year old and answered by a PHD.) Well, this was such a bad idea I'm still laughing at the result. Last night I'm stirring 71/2 pounds of shredded soap pieces, plus water - lots of water and I think I added about 1/2 gallon vinegar to the pot - (note for your readers - apply caution or you'll have blisters from stirring in a 20 gallon pot). Well my notably brown soap was cooked for about 1 1/2 hours and poured(ladled) into molds. Within a short time the liquid(extremely dark coffee brown) settled to the bottom of the molds while the much lighter soap floated. I cut the solidified mass this morning and poured off the liquid as it was obvious it will never reintegrate with the solid. Ironically, the liquid tests a pH of about 10 while the solid (soap?) test about 11. With my first hand experience I can understand your dislike of re-batching.
I'll appreciate any input you may offer. Mainly this experience is related for the benefit of others.
I do have one question regarding pH as time has not appeared to reduce the pH in soap produced 12 months or longer. How do you reduce pH? No vinegar stories - please.
You didn't say anything about smell... but with all that vinegar... it couldn't have been too good! The soap you had was probably just fine the way it was... regular pH strips will usually test soap out around 10. I have an article posted on the website (written by someone who knows about pH... I'm not that person!) and you would find it interesting. Your soap was probably just fine and quite mild before you started worrying over it. Those low numbers you hear about are usually from synthetic detergent bars... not TRUE soap. Also... regular testing strips are not the most accurate way to measure the pH of soap.
Here's the URL for the article: <http://www.silverlink.net/~timer/phtome.html>
Good luck! and HAPPY soaping! :-)
Well I didn't think I'd write but I am.... I made 100 pounds of reg. no scent, no color soap from suet and after it set for 2 weeks I cut it in chunks and put it thru the grater blade of the food processor.... I am rebatching most of my soap and YET to run into a problem.... all it really adds is a little more time...
Thank goodness you made tallow based soap, considering how many pounds you did! That's the best kind for remelting... seems to thin out more and be workable. The problem comes when folks want all vegetable soaps and try to rebatch those kinds... with lots of olive, etc. They don't get thin or anything near to it... more like thick and gummy mashed potatoes. It's quite frustrating.
Thanks for your feedback! :-)
After numerous attempts at hand milling (a la Norma Coney's book) and having all batches turn to burned mashed potato looking masses, I finally found a way to truly re-melt soaps and have tried it 3 times now and all have worked exactly as it is supposed to. I bought a book by Dr. Robert S. McDaniel who suggests hand milling only tallow or lard based soaps and skipping water altogether and use whole milk, powdered milk, or goat milk instead. No low fat milk at all. So I decided to try one last time and if it didn't work, I was going to give up forever on milling my soaps. I put in the grated soap and the goats milk into a corning ware pot with the lid, put it into a 200 degree oven for 1 hour came back and believe it or not I had truly liquid soap that poured (Yes....it actually poured) beautifully into individual molds. I have tried the powdered milk before after reading about it on your website and it did help some but still was mostly lumpy. But I promise you, the whole milk and the goat milk have worked every time. He does suggest quickly drying the soaps afterward. My only concern is that the milk put in at this stage will go sour. I know that is probably a stupid concern. So far though, the soaps are drying beautifully. I love your web site and many many nights are spent reading, reading, reading!!!!
Thank YOU! :-)
I started soaping with Norma Coney's book. No, it's not the best book, but like everything else, becoming a good soaper involves lots of trial and error. I do MOST of my soaps in rebatch, and they are wonderful! That's where I add the best of the skin loving ingredients..... extra oils and butters, scents stay stronger with smaller amounts used. My rebatching is never a mess anymore. I can get several smaller batches of different soaps out of one big batch.
I do my rebatching on the stove in a lidded pan on VERY LOW heat. Use milk (half & half is even better) instead of water. It sounded strange to me too, but it works SO MUCH better. I set the timer for 20 or 30 minutes, and stir it up. I rebatch while I'm doing other things like housework or studying. It takes about 3 or 4 hours, but it melts nicely. Then add your extra goodies, pour into molds, stick in the freezer for a couple hours and voila! Wonderful rebatched soaps!
Hope this helps. Don't give up.
Thanks for the feedback on a positive rebatching experience. I've heard that milk makes it much better and I'm sure it does make the consistency thinner... it does the same for cold process after it's poured.
I just laughed my head off after my first attempt at milling using Norma Coney's method, with disastrous results, and then reading your remilling section. Here's my sad story: after two hours of adding water and ending up with slime, I added dried lavender (which I did not grind as she suggested--another mistake) and some lavender coloring. The lavender turned greenish black and ended up looking like dead ants stuck in purple slime. But I molded it anyway, having been reassured by Norma that it would be "soft" and take from 2 weeks to a month to harden. Well, after 3 days it turned to a rubbery substance resembling rotting flesh with dead bugs crawling in it. Being close to Halloween I probably could have unloaded it but instead threw it out. The second batch isn't much better--it looks and feels like white rubber. Do you think it will harden or should I just head again for the dumpster? I plan now to check out the oven method, the plastic bag method, etc. I would much prefer to just cold process and leave it at that, as my batch of cold process (tallow/lard/olive oil) was beautiful before remilling. Here's my question--I've ordered a bunch of plastic molds and wonder if I can let the cold processed soap cool enough in the pan after tracing to not melt the molds? (I think they're a thin plastic). Also, just out of curiosity, what is the difference between milling, remilling, and rebatching, or can the terms be used interchangeably. I've never had a cold process failure so have never had to rebatch, but I haven't been at it that long and have only used a couple different recipes. Can you add things like bran, oatmeal, cucumber, dried lavender, honey, milk, etc. to cold process without re-milling it? The only thing I've done is spices such as cloves, sage, kelp powder, and essential oils, which have turned out beautifully in an all-vegetable base. Thanks for your website. I love it. Michele Schultz
So glad the rebatching pages validated you! :-) I think those plastic molds should be fine unless your cold process soap grossly overheats or something. You don't need to cool it in the pan... molded soaps lose a lot of heat in the first place. How thin is thin? Is it thinner than plastic packaging for food products or toys? It should be okay. Maybe try one or two first and see how they go.
Milling, remilling, rebatching in laymen's terms mean the same thing... reMELTING and pouring. If you were in the industry, milling means a whole different thing. They grate the soap, press it, repeat this a few times... the glycerin has been removed so it's not as sticky as homemade (or mild).
You can add things to cold process, but most spices turn dark brown or black in CP soap. I mention exceptions on the page. Milk and honey cause cold process soap to overheat or heat up... so a different technique might be needed to get the soap to turn out (I haven't totally mastered this yet!). Molded soaps don't hold their heat as much as deep molds, so might not be as prone to problems... also, you don't have to cut them, so if they're a bit brittle... who's gonna' know! What is bad with molded soaps is if the stuff sticks and won't release... but usually more time takes care of this.
Good luck and thanks for the nice email. Happy soaping! :-)
I am really excited to finally have a reason to write to you. Your site has helped me tremendously,especially since the first book I bought in soaping was Norma Coney's (UGH). Let's just say, that when I started, I almost gave up right away, need I say more. I agree with you wholeheartedly on the Rebatching issue, and now I only do it to salvage a batch gone wrong. This leads me to cocanola soap, a recipe I got off your web site. Actually, the funny thing is, another person did the same thing last year (soapy success), and the same thing happened to her. I mixed it up, put in Gardenia FO (Bramble berry) and the soap was so brittle, it shattered when I cut it. Lye heavy, right? Anyhow, I subsequently milled it, added about three ounces of olive oil and very little water since it was really fresh. I nuked it in the microwave on medium power for about fifteen minutes, checking and stirring every so often so I wouldn't end up with a soap monster, and voila!!! I now have some of the prettiest (and hardest) milled soaps I have ever seen, and aside from when I added milk and honey to a rebatch, it's the only success I've ever had at rebatching. I think if I ever want to add something that requires a rebatch, this is how it's done.(Not that I really would, as it is way too labor intensive.)
I also wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your info on the stick blender. It makes soap making so much more enjoyable and gives a very consistent product. I also like the effect it has while using pigments. It evenly distributes all of it so that I no longer get chunks of it in my soaps. Kudos and thanks for all that you do for the soapmakers. Your generosity and friendliness and helpfulness make you a role model for all of us. Thank you, thank you, Thank you!!!
Hi! Thanks for such a nice email! I'll have to post it on the rebatching page... you're very kind.
On that gardenia batch... I'm not sure it's the recipe or not... but I'll recheck the numbers in the calculator. Gardenia (all of them to some degree) is NOTORIOUS for wanting to seize or accelerate trace. I used that Brambleberry Gardenia also, but I was braced for trouble and managed to get it into the mold okay. With some FOs though... the soap gets really hard fast and those really need a higher water addition rate at the get-go than the normal batch. Too bad you don't know you have one of those until it's too late to add the extra water! =:o
I just heard from a happy rebatcher the other day, but by and large, most folks have bad experiences and learn to hate it! The Coney book is a good one, except for proposing this as a great option... her basic information is sound (excluding the technique for dissolving lye that suggests you add the water to the powder... that's a no-no).
Thanks again for your nice email... I'll check that recipe and make any adjustments if need be. Could be that I should put a higher water addition rate. I was in love with 24 ounces for a long time, but with FOs... it usually works better to have a little more.
Happy soaping! :-)
This page last updated 14 October 2011.
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! :-)