Miller's Homemade Soap Pages:
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:
***Judy Scher of Cat Dreams Soaps has very helpful REBATCHING INSTRUCTIONS on her web page. She also shares a good goat's milk recipe.
Thank you for the opportunity to express my sheer delight with "rebatched" soapmaking. Perhaps to some this is cheating a bit since it's not hard core lye/oil from scratch soap but for those of us who may have no choice it is a godsend.
I tried my hand at making soap when I found a few web sites relating to soapmaking. I devoured and printed out all the information I could find and there is plenty....2 notebooks full! What a generous community of folks there are who are addicted to such a wonderful pastime, way of life, occupation, hobby...you name it.
I purchased almost every book and ooohhh'ed and aaahhh'ed over each beautiful photograph. They were so well presented and made me think that living in our fast paced world we just do not appreciate lovely, soft, fragrant things anymore.
Making soap gives me the opportunity to get off the 'hamster treadmill" of life for a time and just forget the world and it's myriad problems and battles. I work in a field with all men so there becomes a hard, business like edge to life after awhile that I do not like.
I find that the softness of mixing the soap, blending the wonderful variety of fragrances and colors, picking the lavender or peppermint from my garden takes me back to feeling very feminine.
The smooth lathery feel and intoxicating aroma of the finished soap makes my skin feel so good. It's like a gift to me!
My grown daughter and 4 grandchildren live with me in my ever smaller house. The thought of mixing lye solution in a kitchen sink with 4 kids, 2 cats and a dog running around and constantly getting drinks of water and food just does not set right with me when I think of the dangers of this caustic stuff. My kitchen sink is just not unused for the amount of time it would take for the temperatures to "do their thing".
I discovered Soapcrafters and ordered several pounds of their "soap noodles" and clear glycerin melt and pour along with a few bottles of fragrance and essential oils and a few jars of colorants. The lye/oil business is already done for me. I get to do the fun part.
I have not ever had a bad batch of soap. Come close a few times or so I thought. I went ahead and poured it into the mold, cut the bars and "aged" the soap and that soap usually turned out to be the best soap.
I hope some day, when I can have the luxury of at least 4 or 5 hours to myself, to be able to work with the lye and various oils and let them reach their desired temperatures and mix it all up. I even want to try my hand at rendering the fat into tallow. My grandchildren could learn how they did this in "the old days".
Right now this will have to do and I love it!! When I take the soap out of the mold and cut it, it is just like Christmas. Each soap has it's own unique qualities. There are no two alike.
The craft show is coming up. I have made or hand molded about 200 bars of soap of various types, shapes, fragrances and colors. Every soap dish in the house has at least 4 bars or bits of soap because we all have to try each one. I have given lots of bars of soap away to friends and family and have had very good compliments and I must admit, their skin, like mine, looks much better!!!
What a joy when my 9 year old grandson brings his friends to my work area in the corner of the garage to show them that I "make soap". The boys oohh and aaahhh and say "that's cool". They really seem to appreciate and like taking a bar home. They have never seen this before.
My 11 year old granddaughter has made some very pretty glycerin melt and pour soaps. We have made soap together and it is a special time for both of us. Since it is always a success even if it smells not quite so good, it's still does the job of getting us clean.
Thank you for letting me share. And thank you for being so very generous to share your experiences, knowledge and love that comes across loud and clear.
Thanks for your email! I'm glad you're enjoying this so much... it really is therapeutic... as well as a tie with our ancestors.
I'm updating the pages right now (about to stop for awhile... the shoulder is really complaining about all that mouse clicking!)... I'll post your email on the "rebatching" page before I call it quits for tonight (have two more pages to fill tomorrow or Saturday). It's good to hear from both camps... I don't prefer rebatch, but for some folks, it's wonderful.
Happy soaping! :-)
Well, I thought I was the only one with remelting problems until I logged on to this site and read about so many others in the same dilemma! At 2 o'clock in the morning after standing over the stove for more than an hour watching my Plain White Soap transform into an awful pasty gloppy mess I just wanted to strangle Ms. Norma Coney for writing such a misleading book! I want my money back. The worst part is I have half a dozen tubs of useless soap waiting to be handmilled and now I can't add color or scents! I guess I could try adding them to this goop.
I wonder, do you know whether or not this gooey substance will ever harden?
You're talking about rebatch goop? It will harden up, but never with the firm smooth finish of cold process the first time around. That's why I don't prefer remelting. I had an email communication from another soapmaking book author that confessed that he was pressured to put rebatching recipes in his book by the publisher... because folks don't want to work with lye. He doesn't think it's the best way and it's not his preference, but he bent to their will so as not to lose the book deal. While I don't know, I'm wondering if Norma Coney did the same thing. In her defense, I will say that I think the rest of her book is fine (with the exception of the procedure for dissolving lye). While some of the claims for rebatch may be true (less scent... less reaction with free lye)... the end product is not as good (in my opinion) and many soap base recipes do not melt down very well... they are a mess!
If you use a tallow blend soap, you might find it more workable for rebatching, but many folks don't want tallow in their soap either... so there it is!
You could always grate up your plain soaps for laundry, or just cut them up and use them unscented... not so bad really. Some folks love unscented because they have a real problem with commercially scented soaps.
Well... give it more time for the moisture to evaporate and make your future decisions from there.
Thanks for an entertaining email... just sorry for your frustration. My kids were sitting here when I opened and read it and there were some chuckles! They don't usually read the email from frustrated soapers.
I hope you don't mind another question, your help and advice has been greatly appreciated in the past few weeks!
I made a batch of soap last night that looked like the one you have pictured, where it separated out. I know why... as the batch had milk in it and became too hot. This morning, I decided to rebatch it and after about an hour at 300, it melted down perfect!
I have poured it, and already been able to cut bars. My question is, can this be used and SOLD right away? Is this process similar to hot process soapmaking? I just read instructions on using a crock pot, and may just give it a try.
Thanks so much.
Hi! This soap will be safer to use sooner, but should still be cured at least a couple of weeks and even more to dry out. It will still have water in it that needs to evaporate and if you sell it too soon, it won't last long in the dish. The process is kind of similar to hot process, but not as lengthy and probably has more water in it at the end than some hot processes do. I've never done full-fledged hot process... just rebatch like you just did when soap separated.
So far I have made 3 batches of soap. With my first batch I decided to experiment with remelting. I used the boiling bag method. THE BATCH MELTED INTO MASHED POTATO. On my second attempt, ONCE AGAIN I USED THE BOILING BAG AND AFTER 3 HOURS OF BOILING AND NOT SEEING A TRANSLUCENT LIQUID I WENT FOR THE OVEN METHOD. 2 HOURS LATER STILL NO TRANSLUCENT LIQUID BUT A SPONGY TEXTURE.
By now (5 hours trying ) I put the soap INTO THE MOLD. Sadly to say I have thrown out both of the remelted soap. I do not like the final product. I am confused. I have read that the remelted batch should became a translucent liquid. How can that be? If the lye and the oils have combine in the 24 hours the batch is insulated. A translucent liquid will mean that the lye and the oil have separated and saponifying must be started again. Is this correct? Also, HOW MUCH WATER SHOULD BE ADDED FOR REMELTING?
PS. both batches were all vegetable. The third batch which I didn't remelted came out beautiful.
I do not plan to rebatch my soap but will like to learn a successful way to do it. I plan to make lots of soap in the future and I now there may be times when I might have to remelt a soap in order to save a bad batch. I don't want to throw a batch that went bad because I cannot remelt the batch. I plan to sell my soap and throwing out a batch that when wrong is not cost effective.
This is why I only do it to salvage a batch. I hate it and it produces an inferior texture, in my opinion. I try not to add any water if I rebatch in the first couple of days... or maybe only half a cup or so. Often, rebatching recipes tell you to add maybe 1/2 a cup for 1 pound of soap. This is a lot and while it makes the soap easier to handle, the shrinkage is a LOT and tends to warp the bars. Blah!
Rebatched soap will look like cold process soap when it's in the gel stage. It gets darker and semi-clear because you've brought up the temperature to a melting point. That's all. It's not the same as separated oils and lye when you are first mixing... it's quite thick and homogeneous... just melty looking. If you took a regular bar of soap and put in over heat for awhile, it would get like that too, but if it has a lot of stuff in it like titanium dioxide (which makes white bars ultra white) you wouldn't be able to get that translucent look... the particles of titanium would probably prevent it from looking like regular soap when heated to near melting point. I guess the only substance I can think of that would remind me of jelled soap (only jelled soap would be more cloudy) is a thickened cornstarch solution... like when you add it to water or pudding when cooking with it... or gravy? It's kind of firm... almost stiff and translucent. The jelled soap looks kind of like that.
I got your email this morning and then went to look through some of the problems that others had with their soap making. I was so surprised to learn how many people had the exact same problem with the exact same book and even the same soap I had made, with lavender!!! What a small world. So I read about 17 pages of it to narrow it down to a couple of things to try. The first, and to me the easiest to try was using the microwave sent by a girl named Sarah. As far as I can see it is working. It sure worked better than that stupid pot which I had used according to The Complete Soapmaker.
I thought about just keeping my soap blank, but I worked so hard to get to the point it is at that I didn't want to just keep it plain. I truly am grateful for your website. It is so informative and really helped me as I was very saddened and felt like a loser b/c my soaps kept coming out weird.
I will keep you up to date on the progress of my bars.
Thank you so much! You are a lifesaver. I will never hand mill again (after my giant block is gone, that is.)......
Sounds like aversion therapy! :-)
Thanks for your nice email. You are one of many unsatisfied rebatchers. If you are using a tallow based soap it works better, but with an all vegetable base... it tends to be a gloppy mess.
For me, the answer to the rebatching problem has been to add ethanol (Everclear) and a bit of glycerin and even sugar syrup, instead of water or milk. My first rebatching was with water, and it was useable but sort of lumpy, not at all lovely. I was actually aiming for turning my soap curls into transparent soap in the rebatch, with the ethanol/glycerin/sugar syrup. Have not succeeded in that yet (Question of proportions, I suspect.) but my rebatched soaps melt nicely, are easy to handle, and come out of the mold looking almost like cold-process soap. Very coherent, and nice crisp shapes.
I think the glycerin helps the soap curls cohere. Not too much glycerin, though, as it makes for soft soap. The ethanol evaporates quickly, so don't play with it too long or you'll have to add more. You have a lot of control with it, though, as just a tad more adds so much more fluidity, yet your molded soap will not be too wet. I've been very please with this method.
I read on this page about rebatching in the candle bags from Walmart and just wanted to let everyone know it works great. Rebatching is not something I wanted to do but when I had a batch crumble, it was just too good a batch to throw away so I did it and was really pleased at the results. Thanks for all the help and information you give and thanks to the one who posted about the bags. -Alice
This is really in response to an email that was send on 4/26/ NO@SPAM 530am by Laura Angstadt - titled Milled soap that wouldn't melt and won't form. As I read her email I was excited to hear your response - I have been having the same problems. But I did not quite understand your answer? She commented on her milling experience and that the soap turned like mashed potatoes vs. melting/liquefying. You responded by telling her not to rebatch etc. I guess my question is: What is up with the mashed patties? Why won't the soap melt?
Thank you so much for your time and experience!!
Hi! Sorry that didn't seem very helpful. I guess it's what I see as the best solution! ;-)
From the reports, I would say that trying to rebatch with olive oil soap is an exercise in futility. Most all vegetable soaps have a pretty high degree of olive. Maybe it's because it acts as a humectant and the water kind of gets held by the soap and forms this sort of weird mass... sort of like what it does when the finished soap is used in the shower. Soaps made with a lot of tallow seem more workable for rebatching. I have not done any studies on this... just going by what feedback I've heard.
This doesn't solve the problem ... just a guess. Wish it worked better. Would cut down greatly on the number of frustrated soapers out there, since the bulk of them like working with all vegetable bases. :-)
Love your site - thanks for all the information. I'm a novice, I have one batch to my name a basic soap recipe using tallow from Norma Coney's The Complete Soapmaker. I have remilled 2 batches, which according to your e-mails, shouldn't have worked but actually did quite well. I had no trouble at all with them melting or setting up. However, I was unsuccessful with a batch to which I added lavender flower and lavender essential oil. it turned an ugly brown.
My problem is that there is an underlying bad scent in both the basic soap and the remilled. In my opinion it is not usable. The basic soap went to trace normally and seemed to to everything it was supposed to. However, I left it in a closed container for several days and I am wondering if this had something to do with this odor. Any help you can give me on this will be much appreciated. I prepared another batch of tallow today and I am ready to get started on my next batch of soap.
Hi! Thought I'd better answer this while I can type. Getting something done on one of my fingers tomorrow... I'll have a bit of trouble for a few days responding to people's soapy problems! :-)
>However, I was unsuccessful with a batch to which I added lavender flower and lavender essential oil. it turned an ugly brown.
That is pretty common with adding herbs to soap, except for a few like dill and calendula petals. Did you use milk or water? Milk always turns the rebatched soap (and cold process for that matter) brown also... totally brownish colored.
Your rebatching was more satisfactory because you used a tallow based soap... it does better with that process than the all vegetable ones. I suspect the smell may be from your tallow. Either it wasn't quite as sweet and pure as it could have been before rendering, or maybe it got a bit scorched or had some impurities still in it that gave the soap an off odor. At any rate... you can help with this by "washing" your tallow once or twice before soaping with it. I didn't need to do this when rendering kidney fat, but when you're rendering trimmings and pieces from cuts of meat, it smells worse. At any rate... the instructions for washing fats is on the main soapmaking page in the lye company instructions. I think they are addressing what to do if the fats are rancid.
One other thing... if your soap is not fully cured and has proteins in it (either from milk or impurities from the tallow) they will tend to throw off a bit of an ammonia smell. This should wear off during cure. By all means... let your soaps have open air for several weeks before closing it up too much and even then, it's better if it can breathe a bit.
Good luck with the next batch! Don't toss out the first. It might get better and at the very least, you can wash clothes with it.
Hi Kathy ----
Your site, and your soaps, are FABULOUS! Thank you for sharing.
I have had great success with remilling. It seems to work better for some additives. Plus I don't have to commit to any certain kind of soap --- I just make up a lot of plain soap and when the mood strikes, or I have an order for something special, I go to work. The very first time I did it, I added too much water and the bars shriveled up. Since then everything has turned out very well, except for the all olive-oil soap. After milling it hardened in the mold, then got mushy on the inside, then shrank. So I'll not do that again. Otherwise, I have been pleased with the results. To each their own!
One of my most popular soaps: orange spice. I add some sweet orange oil, clove oil, plus ground cinnamon and cloves. Ladies and gentlemen both like it very much, and it's really nice for the holiday season. And of course, lavender is always a favorite.
Thanks again for your great site, and happy soaping!
I'm glad this works for someone! :-)
I am having trouble rebatching. The bars shrink and get out of shape. Any suggestions? Also, can this soap be wrapped in plastic or is paper better?
Can I put ground up cold process soap into melt & pour and then pour into molds for a harder soap?
You've come to the wrong place if you're looking for rebatching help. My solution would be DON'T rebatch! I hate it! The texture is so much better when you cut the bars after 24 hours and leave them alone to cure... putting in your colorants and scents before that first pour. The shrinkage is because of the extra moisture that is put in the soap when you rebatch. Getting away with as little as possible would help your bars not to distort as much during the drying out phase. You can wrap it in either, but I would not put soap in plastic until I'm about ready to sell or give it away... it can sometimes sweat in there if it's not really thoroughly dried out (cured). Paper will allow it to breathe more.
You can do this, but the CP chunks will be harder and longer lasting than the melt and pour so will tend to stick out a bit when you use the bar. You can do it though and get some interesting looking soaps! :-)
Good luck with your soapy projects!
I recently decided to try making soap. I read a lot and finally decided to try your "Favorite Castile"/No Palm Oil recipe. It seemed to work beautifully and I was so proud. After 48 hours I milled the soap. I have now tried twice to remelt it and add fragrance and dyes. The receipe that I followed (The Complete Soapmaker by Norma Coney) said that I should slowly melt the soap with water until it reached 150-160 degrees F. She also advised that gentle occasional stirring would be best. After 1 hour the soap still was not liquid (120F) and not pouring consistancy. It also scorched and left ugly chunks. Can you please give me some suggestions on what I did wrong and how to correct it? I used a double boiler on the second try and it did the same thing.
My first thought of what you did wrong was to follow her suggestions about rebatching being a wonderful way to go! ;-) What a PAIN! Most people have your experience... not the one she describes. I like her book except for that method she has suggested... do you know how much email I get from folks like you who are disappointed when their rebatched soap doesn't work?
Tallow based soaps rebatch easier than all-vegetable for starters... but mostly I DON'T unless I have to do it to reclaim a badly separated batch.
If you are intent on remelting this, you can try a covered container in a slow oven (about 225 - 250 degrees) or even *carefully* in the microwave. I would probably just use the bars you have as is and not try to remelt them. You could store them (after a bit of cure) in a semi-closed environment with some fragrance oil in a cotton ball or something. Or... you could just remelt the whole thing in the oven and scent it, repour into a mold and cut into bars.
Check out the rebatching method used by Judy Scher... I have a link for that at the top of the rebatching page... covered container in a slow oven, but she sprinkles it with water the night before and lets it stand to soften before the remelt.
Lastly... the best you can hope for is a thick gelled substance that you can smoosh into the mold. I usually lay some saran over the top after and smooth it with a pastry roller... to flatten out the little peaks. If we are doing something wrong here... we sure have a LOT of company!
Good luck with your soap. Let me know how it comes out...
I am thinking of trying to sell my soaps after many family members and friends telling me I have talent. My thing is I am having great success with melt and pour because it is so easy to work with, but it does not last long in the shower, it can't get too warm or it will melt, by the time I get it to work to give to a customer, it's nearly melted. How does glycerin soap stay on the shelf in stores without melting? I was thinking about buying soaps from a company that offers basic soap base and all you have to so is melt it in the oven and not have to deal with lye. The directions sound easy, but what's up with all the rebatching nightmare stories on your sight. Will I be faced with those things happening to me? Can I still do fun stuff with this soap like I do with melt and pour? HELP!!!!
Torn and confused
Hi! I think most stores have air-conditioning. :-) Melt and pour soaps are a lot of fun and people make really neat looking things with the base, but they do have a tendency to disappear in the shower. I also don't think melt and pour is nearly as mild as cold process soap made properly.
The rebatching stems from a popular soapmaking book (Norma Coney) that recommends that you do this... make a soap base and melt it in small portions so you can "play" with it. Remelting cold process soap is a PAIN and not nearly the fun that doing melt and pour would be. Different critters. Because of books that recommend this... many new soapers go in from that direction and then wonder what they are doing wrong! I only rebatch when it's the only way to salvage a badly separated batch... happens every so often.
You can still get creative and play with cold process (confetti, stained glass with chunks of glycerin soap, etc.) but not exactly in the same way as what you've been doing. Think you ought to try some cold process and see what you think of the end product though. Just don't plan to rebatch unless you like being frustrated! ;-) I would put your essential oil scents into the soap the first time around (a good way to start since FOs can sometimes be temperamental). There are some great EO blends carried by A Garden Eastward and their prices are good. I have them linked on my soapmaking links page.
it's me again....okay , this is for all of you rebatch people..after many, many rebatches, i have found that the very best way to do it is to microwave it. i have tried the crockpot method, the slow oven method, the double-boiler method, and the "direct contact with the burner method". i did not have very good success with any of these except for one time. i would either end up with the gloppy mashed potato or with a batch that just would not firm up no matter what. i read where this lady was in a big hurry to rebatch some soap. (maybe on this very site!) anyhoo, she stuck her soap in the microwave and nuked it and had a lovely rebatch in about 5 minutes. well, not being a terribly patient person, i thought i'd give this method a whirl. i take a 1 to 1 1/2 lbs of soap, grate it up, put it in one of those big 2 quart pyrex cups, and then nuke it for 2 minutes, then stir. i usually have not added any liquid at this point. nuke again for about 2 minutes. stir, and then if it is really dry, add a bit of liquid. it's really hard to tell you exactly how much because it depend upon the formula of the cold process soap-some just take more liquids than others. after adding the liquid start nuking for 1 minute intervals until it is completely melted and smooth. this may take another 3-5 minutes or longer. then stir in your solid additives and your fragrances. pour into the mold of your choice that has been sprayed with a no-stick spray. put in the freezer for about 2-3 hours, then pop out of the molds. you can get really creative with this method and you don't have to worry about using aluminum molds because the lye has already been processed. i have taken many batches of my cp soaps that i wasn't quite happy with (fragrance needed improving, didn't like shape, whatever) and have rebatched them using this method. it doesn't matter what kind of soap you use-milk-based, fragranced, colored, abrasives, whatever-just make sure that you add complimentary fragrances, ect. as the original color and fragrance will linger.
oh yeah, for those pesky rebatches that you just aren't happy with-you can rebatch them yet again. (guess that makes them a re-rebatch-ha!) also, if you are having problems with your rebatch firming up, add 1/2 to 1 full bar of glycerine soap (homemade or storebought will both work), melted to your rebatch, stir it in, nuke it another minute and then do whatever as usual, and your bars will be nice and firm.
My reply to this message bounced back to me... I hope you see this, Laura. Sorry it took me so long to post it... been swamped!
Before I begin I would like to say thank you for your web site. I have found lots of interesting and helpful information. I have been making soap as gifts for a little over two years now. I decided, after much encouragement from family and friends, to try to turn my soapmaking into a business (I also make body balm and I am a beekeeper). I have been making an olive oil castile soap because the olive oil is relatively cheap and easy to get my hand on. I am not having much luck finding coconut or palm oil. When I was making soap for fun I never experienced problems with melting the milled soap and getting it to form up. Now that I am trying to make money from this enterprise I am finding that I am having more trouble than success and I can't figure out why. It seems clear that heat affects the way that the soap hardens or fails to do so. I have been trying to keep the soap bars in a place that is cool and dry. I am following the remelting directions closely - 2lbs of milled soap melted with 24 oz of water, but the soap doesn't melt into a liquid, it turns into soft mashed potatoes. While reading the comments of other soapmakers I saw that someone recommended powdered milk to assist with the melting process. Should I try this? The soap seems to become liquified when I add pureed avocado or mango or whatever perishable additive I am putting into the soap.Also, after I pour the soap into the form I am having a hard time getting it to harden up.
What do I do? I am about to give up on the milling process and start placing the additives into the soap when I am making the basic batch of soap. I have read on your site that olive oil soap is difficult to make right with any consistency. I wish I could go to another basic soap, but the ingredients are hard to find, so I feel like I am stuck with the olive oil soap. So, given the fact that I am making the olive oil soap until I can do otherwise, can I place my additives such as avocado, mango, cucumber/aloe, etc directly into the basic batch of soap when I am making it? If this saves time, then I am willing to bypass the milling process. Can you help? Please respond.
Thanks again for your website.
Thank you for your nice comments about the site. I'm glad you've enjoyed it. My opinion on rebatching is DON'T, if you can avoid it. I HATE rebatching! Is that strong enough? :-) I know some people seem to like it, but I don't think the final product is nearly as attractive or hard. Yes... you can start adding your special ingredients at light-medium trace... then pour into molds or whatever. If you are pouring into lots of little molds, you want to add your stuff at a lighter trace so the soap will stay liquid long enough to get it poured.
I only rebatch a whole batch of soap if it separates for some reason (usually a problem I have with milk and honey soap... 2 out of three batches went weird on me).
Good luck! I think you'll like the texture of your soap better if you stick with cold process and forgo the rebatching nightmare.
Again... just my opinion.
As I mentioned before, I've been arrogantly disregarding the recommendation that I use a double-boiler to melt my rebatches, and running into a lot of failures. Well... this time I stuck a trivet (not sure if that's what you call it, but it's that little twist of metal that comes with a Whistler tea kettle) on the burner, under the pan. Worked like a charm. I'm psyched.
Hi, I was just wondering if you could answer a quick question. When I trim my soaps down into bars I often have a lot of scrap leftover. I know that they can be molded into balls, but is it possible to remelt perfectly good soap, pour it into molds again, and let it harden so that I can make more bars from the scraps? I saw that you recommended melting soap in the oven, but I wasn't sure if this was just for a botched or separated batch? I tried melting the soap on the stove and adding water, but it just came out sticky and spongy after sitting in the molds for 2 days.
Thanks a bunch,
Hi! You can do that, but when it's that fresh, I wouldn't add any water to it unless I thought it was absolutely necessary. The remelted soap will have a different texture, but can be cut into bars or molded after remelting if you like that better than soap balls. What I've been doing with mine lately is to cut them up and put into a fresh batch of soap (if the scent and color of the scraps will work with the fresh batch). Makes interesting looking bars and is another option for using them.
Be sure you melt your scraps in a covered container so they won't dry out... they will be thick and gel-like when melted... different than cold process the first time around. Basically, it's rebatching, but when done so early, I don't think extra water is much benefit.
I had my first separation experience. I don't know what to do. The fragrance oil came all on the top and all mixture is absolutely oily. Can I melt without adding anything ?? Or I have to add water ??
Also... how can we use crayons to colour CP soap ?? What is the correct procedure ?
Rgds from Brazil
Just toss it into a covered container (no aluminum) and do it in a slow oven if it's a large batch. Should be ready to repour in an hour and a half or so... maybe a bit more. Stir every so often and when it's all mixed and jelled looking, you can do it. I don't think you'll need more water when it's all this fresh.
On the crayons... check on the "Design Your Own Recipe" page for the ones that work and don't work first. Melt the crayon ahead of time with a little bit of your base oils, or some oil (if you do it for this batch). Then stir it in at light trace... OR you can melt the crayons right in with your base oils at the start and that will work too with a normal batch.
Good luck! Let me know how it comes out.
Thank you so much for this site! I need HELP.
I have had success with basic soaps; colouring with spices &herbs and mixing oils. The second batch was a tear jerking batch of CAUSTIC BARS;I spent hours cutting chunks of lye out of it. I knew immediately that this was caused by inaccurate measurement of lye..(the scale was inconsistent...BAD)...and have since purchased an electronic scale which is a dream....no more caustic bars.
BUT that's not my problem...
I have wasted much time (and olive oil) trying to remelt a castile soap (52 oz olive oil, 7 oz lye, 20 oz water).
Before grating, the soap seemed slightly grainy, but I thought this might be normal. After grating,melting to a temp. of 150 degrees, pouring and leaving to set in the freezer, the soaps came out of their molds beautifully!
I have read that too much dry material can cause the soap to turn brown, but what if there is no dry material and it still happens? Could the melting temperature affect the chemical make-up? What about the use of grapefruit seed extract (as a preservative) at this stage? Could it be the cause of trouble?
Whew!! Any suggestions?
I am also searching for benzoin in powdered form... a rare commodity in central Canada.
Thank you again! Can hardly wait to get tomorrow' batch on the stove...
-JJCo in Canada-
I don't know of any of those things causing the soap to turn brown, but did you add liquid in the rebatching process? Some recipes call for milk and if you used that, it will turn the soap a brownish color. Maybe if you added water that had a high element of certain minerals in it, it might make a difference. Tell me if you added extra liquid and what. I've never used GSE but doubt it would cause a discoloration.
I have a list of Canadian sources on my soapmaking links page. Did you check that out in your search for benzoin? I haven't used the benzoin yet although I bought some. I don't know that it's really all that necessary and I try to keep my organic additions reasonable so that the soap will not be prone to spoilage (besides the fact that many things turn dark in the soap anyway). There's a particular site that seems popular for Canadians... is it K & W or S&K or something like that? I need to look at my own page! They sell Sweet Cakes Fragrance Oils there among other things.
Follow up Response: What a quick response! ...thank you!
The only other liquid I added was an infusion of marshmallow root. I steeped it for one hour then cooled it in the fridge (the water was distilled). I strained the root out ...but maybe there was an excess of suspended dry material???
And now that I have looked through my record book, I see that I also used an infusion of nettle (leaves included).This soap also, was yucky brown each time I trimmed it.
Maybe the problem IS too much dry material after all. I will write back after my next batch.
Thank you thank you thank you.
My next activity will be checking out the benzoin information. Have a great weekend!
My handmilled soaps do not lather as well as my cp soap. I use the same recipe for both. Is this "normal"? If not, any suggestions to increase lather during rebatching? Thanks
Personally, I wouldn't bother to rebatch at all! I think the soap gotten from the cold process method is far superior to the rebatched stuff in so many ways. If it takes a little more scent for the batch... I'd rather do that.
If you insist on rebatching, you might try a little bit of castor oil in the soap to up the lather. I don't think it would take much at all, so don't go overboard.
Why not put your scents in from the start and just do cold process? You might like to do that and compare the difference.
I'm not much help, am I? Another thing that will up the lathering some is a little bit of sugar. (I think honey makes a rich lather also.) Don't go overboard with those either... just a bit should make a difference... especially if you are rebatching in small quantities.
I have spent the last two nights reading and rereading your soap pages. I just visited your home page and was so touched by your garden that I am green with envy. We are probably going to move to Vermont in the very near future so I hope to be visiting your garden in hopes of creating my own!
I have a few comments and questions about your soap info - I looked, but could not find the amount of soap your recipes make. Also, your bars look beautiful and I think I got that you use a kitty liter pan as a mold? Is that right. If so, how do you square the outside bars? They all look perfect. I am impressed. Also, I looked at Walmart for the boiling bags, but could not find any. I am a dreaded rebatcher. I have too much to be rebatched to ignore at this point so I have to face it. This is the sheer desperation that lead me to your site. AAArrrggghhh . . .
I notice you have not updated in awhile, and am wondering what is your newest rebatch technique? I would like to try boiling and the micro wave, but I have no boiling bags (do you think plastic Ziplock freezer bags would work), and no micro wave - but my neighbor who loves my soap offered me to use hers to try a batch. Then if that works, I'll put it on my wish list. I guess that's it for now. I can hardly wait to get this rebatching out of the way so I can try your castile soaps. I have wanted to make them for awhile, but your enthusiasm has definitely spurred me on to conquer the famed castile. By the way, I have heard nothing but positive about pomace olive oil for soap making. I finally broke down and bought a bucket - I'll let you know how the castile comes out using the pomace.
I really appreciate your energy and enthusiasm and sharing ... it made my day.
The dreaded rebatcher!
Thanks for your nice comments about the garden. It is in need of a lot of attention right now and I'm still not caught up with the mess in the back! Maybe today I'll make another dent.
The recipes make around 8 pounds of finished soap (32 4 oz. bars). I used a kitty litter pan when I started, but have switched to a box that I think is shown on the main page with the mylar strips photo (the box is behind). It measures around 8 1/2" x 8 1/2" by 4" tall. Anything around that size will make nice bars...8" square by 4" tall would probably work even better. As far as the edge pieces in the litter pan or whatever, I usually take a slice off that side to square up the bar as best I can. I usually have a few pieces of soap that are a bit smaller from the edges or have more curves than the rest. I don't usually put those in the center of the photos I take though! :-) The deeper box mold heats up more after pouring which is actually good, but the litter pan batches heated up more when using a stick blender than they ever did when I first started with hand mixing. I really need to put instructions for stick blending from start to finish as a guiding point for people.
Anyway...on the cut bars...using a ruler and carefully cutting on the guiding lines helps to get them pretty straight. They are not perfect, but close enough to look decent most of the time.
There probably won't be much more added to this page because I HATE rebatching and (2) there are only so many ways you can remelt soap and most of them have probably been suggested. I don't think freezer bags would work well and would probably leak when hot. I wouldn't risk it...could be a real big MESS! :-) They are also not heat resistant and would probably soften and tear or worse. You could use the crock pot method on low heat if you have one of those. The oven method is not bad either...be sure to cover it and don't over stir...just smoosh the soap up every so often as it softens. Have you gone to the Latherings Forum? They have loads of participation and you can pick up a lot of info there on what people have tried and liked or tried and boobooed on! I have a link for them toward the top of the soapmaking links page. You don't need to join anything to participate... just post!
>but your enthusiasm has definitely spurred me on to conquer the famed castile.
I like the "Favorite Castile II" the best (with one pound each of coconut and palm oil added to the olive). I hope you are going to have a stick blender in hand when you do this. Otherwise you'll be stirring for hours! I have never done it by hand stirring so I'm spoiled!
If you use pomace olive oil, it will trace even faster than the one I make if you are stick blending it. Don't let it get too thick on you and turn off the blender and just use it to stir every so often. If you use all pomace oil, you may want to recalculate the recipe slightly since pomace doesn't need quite as much lye as the regular olive oil. I have the sap numbers up on the "Design Your Own Recipe Page." We're probably talking about tweaking it by a couple of ounces or so...but I'm guessing. If you make it with the original recipe it will probably still be fine...just not as much extra fat. I did those with about a 5% discount in lye to fat.
>I really appreciate your energy and enthusiasm and sharing. It made my day.
Thanks! You just made mine (last night actually when I first read this but couldn't get on to respond until this morning).
Let me know how it goes for you...
I have made (tried anyway) to make a batch of "Fisherman's Soap) : 8 oz weight soybean oil, 4 oz weight coconut oil, 4 oz weight olive oil, 2.2 oz lye, 6 fluid oz water, with some cinnamon for color and anise for scent.... well the stuff separated on me BAD and I've tried to reclaim it and just can't get it to do anything but glob up.... What I was wondering is could I make a reg. batch of lard soap ( 6 lbs lard, 12 oz lye, 2 1/2 pints water) and maybe substitute some of the lard and add in this Fisherman's soap mixture that I can't get to do anything??? Would save me having to through it out and waste the stuff....
Thanks, Anna Merhoff
My only concern with substituting in this way is that you already have lye in the smaller batch and if you straight substitute it for some of the lard, you could be lye heavy. Why not make the lard recipe as usual and add in the failed batch? I've heard about people doing this, but not sure how they go about it...if they melt it in with their base oils or soften it up (maybe melt in slow oven?) and blend it in at very light trace (stick blender would be helpful here to break it all up and thoroughly mix it in)...I haven't tried it, but I know it's been done. I'm thinking the latter would be a better way to go.
Later... Well it worked believe it or not... I melted down the Fisherman's soap batch and then made the reg. soap batch ( 6 lbs lard, 12 oz lye, 2 1/2 pints water) at trace i added the Fisherman's soap and mixed it up really good. When i unmolded it, it was softer then normal but seems to be curing well and didn't separate at all. Thanks for your advice!
-Anna Merhoff -
I have made many mistake batches of soap when I first started, but I always grind them up real fine with my electric shredder and mix them with oatmeal and when I make a new batch of soap I mix three cups of the ground mistakes and oatmeal into the "Traced" new batch, along with my scents. I have never wasted any mistake soap yet, as everything is reused. No, it does not screw up the saponification, and it works out well if you do the remix after a thorough trace is noticed.
So how do I get a good trace to show? I am a mechanical designer by trade so you don't think that I would stand by my bucket mixing for hours do you? I bought a nice "Lab Mixer" from US Plastics and use it to mix the batches. It will rotate the mixing paddle from "0" rpm's to "5000" rpm's and can simulate a slow stirring action to a speed boat fast mix if I want. Why waste your time stirring when you could be doing something else!?
Hope this helps, Greg
Greg, if you read this, I tried to respond to this email and it got bounced back to me. You must have restrictions on your account or something. I was going to ask the cost and let you know I was posting this. I'll look it up on the web page myself...thanks for the info!
Just checked...you're looking at anywhere from roughly $145 to $180 investment. A Kitchen Aid Mixer will do a fair job of this also. For a woman who wants an excuse for a nice new gadget, that may have more appeal, while the men might enjoy something like this! :-) If you want to take a look at this product, here's a link for the description of the Tamco Lab Mixer.
I was wondering if you had a solution for my problem. I was rebatching soap this weekend and it turned out like a marshmallow. When the rebatching instructions say to melt does it really melt down to a liquid? I got a pot full of fluff. And now the dye is funny looking in that the edges are darker and it is taking for ever to harden.
If you have any suggestions please let me know! Thank you.
I have a batch of remelted soap that did that also. You probably added water didn't you and then mixed it? The stirring incorporates air into the soap and it will get very light like this. It's important to try to mix everything with the least amount of stirring as is possible. It will eventually dry out...just keep turning the bars every day or two so that it dries evenly and you will have a usable batch of floating soap! Check out the rebatching methods used by Howard Lang and Carol Justice (below). They might work better because you don't have to do so much stirring.
Don't be discouraged. We learn from each batch we make and it is all usable. Some batches LOOK a lot better than others though!
It's now several batches later and I've learned: Good, hard, high melting point tallow will always try to separate. Separation or curdling is no problem. Just reclaim. Reclaiming is no problem, nor is re-milling, now that I don't try to drown the soap.
Remember when I reclaimed that batch of bovine soap by putting all of it in chunks in a large pot with a cup of water in the oven? Last night I reclaimed another batch without the cup of water. Just put the chunks in the pot, put the cover on, put it in the oven at it's lowest setting (mine is 170 degrees) and came back two hours later. Melted. Stirred it, let it sit in the oven another hour, then poured it into loaf pans.
The last several re-milled batches I have done by the in-the-oven method with a minimum of water. Don't even know if I needed to add the water. I now have rosemary soap (seems to be popular) and two marbled soaps, one which looks like spinach souffle and the other that looks like strawberry ice cream!
Thanks for the advice and encouragement. I am now no longer using thermometers - just my hand on the outside of the containers. When the oil pot feels "toasty warm" and the lye pot is just cooler than that, I combine them.
Nice to hear from you! I don't know if tallow always separates, but things have to be warmer when it's mixed together than with the other fats...that's for sure. I do better with this when I use a hand held electric mixer for the first 15 minutes of blending (and during the addition of the lye solution). I admit, I haven't made all tallow soap for a long time...it was kind of hard and brittle and I liked adding a few pounds of lard to tallow to get a nice medium hardness.
*This method of rebatching sounds great, but I wonder if it would work as well with an all-vegetable soap. I've heard that tallow soaps are easier to rebatch than all-vegetable and the latter can tend to make that lumpy mashed-potato mess. Maybe Carol Justice's "Perfect Rebatching" method (shown below) would be better with soaps made from vegetable oils. I will welcome feedback on this.
Love your site, refreshing to see someone that doesn't turn their nose up at using animal products in soap.
I have been making soap for about 3 years. I sell none, but keep friends and family well supplied. Call me a passionate hobbyist.
I hand mill all my soap, by choice. All the measuring, weighing, fretting about temps, fear of the lye and so on really makes the making of the basic soap a chore to me, milling is the fun part! The only batch that melted for me was the very first batch of basic soap that I ever made. Beginners luck, I guess. It melted like butter. Proceeding batches had me stumped, they wouldn't melt but got pasty. I know I'm not alone, I have heard it called every thing from "lumpy yellow mashed potatoes," a "gelatinous mess" and a "tumorous blob." I found a recipe for Milk and Honey soap using powdered milk, and when I added the milk (just threw it in dry) the soap melted down to a smooooooth, thick liquid. After I unmolded them, they were very hard, and smooth as satin. At first I thought it was a fluke, milk wouldn't do that, would it? I put some more grated soap and water in the double boiler, let it turn into that tumorous blob that we all know so well, added the milk and IT HAPPENED AGAIN ! After doing a happy soap dance all over the kitchen, I threw some fragrance oil in the soap, poured it off in to molds and tried it again, just to be sure. It WORKED!
This was all about two years ago, and it has never failed me. I usually mill about 3/4 to 1 lb at a time, and use about half the weight of the soap for my water amount. About 1/4 cup, plus or minus a tablespoon depending how grumpy the soap is that day, of the dry milk usually does the trick.
Some things that I have learned, mostly from sharing this tip with other soapers:
The soap that I make is tallow based, with some olive oil and cocoa butter. I make 10 to 20 lbs of the basic soap at a time, grate it all up, let it cure well and store it until I need it., If you make all vegetable soap, it seems to work best if you mill when the soap is still very moist and hasn't cured at all. This means: If you make a huge batch of veggie soap and you want to mill it, plan on getting the entire batch done within 4-6 days. Also, if milling is your aim, don't superfat when you make the basic recipe, save it for when you mill. Superfatted soaps are the toughest to mill, and some people have better luck than others.
Watch the temperature when you are milling with dry milk-get it too hot and it will darken and be tan or light brown in color. Let the soap melt as much as it WILL melt, then add the milk. The shorter the time between adding the milk and pouring the better. I can almost guarantee results if you make a lard or tallow based soap and use the milk when you mill it. I had a batch of lard soap that wouldn't even hold a bar shape, it would melt into a puddle after removing from the molds. After I added some milk, it was still softer than my usual recipe, but harder than any "straight cold process" soap that I have ever tried.
Watch the amount of fragrance oil that you add when you mill; since there is no lye present to eat it up, you can add much much less. I usually start at 1/4 oz. per pound and find that adequate. However, I don't like the fragrance to cling to my skin after using the soap. If you do like the fragrance to linger, start with 1/3 oz. per pound and go from there.
I have yet to finish reading all of your pages and checking out all of your links. Since it is only 7:30 in the evening, I figure my evening's entertainment is all set! Thanks for such an informative site.
I am so excited!!! I have found the way to rebatch! I've been doing this soap thing for about 2 months. I have found the perfect way to rebatch (determined!!) I found these boiling bags at the local Walmart Store for melting candle wax. (I suspect you could also use those baking bags you can buy at the grocery for doing turkey and poultry.) I grate my basic soap and fill the bag. I add any liquid (you don't need a lot ... just depends on how dry the soap is) like a small amount of water, extra glycerin, oils, aloe vera gel, etc., really just enough to moisten the soap, and put a twist tie on the top. Drop the bag in to a pot of water and bring to a boil. Check periodically ( I pick the bag up and squeeze it with pot holders to mix) until it is all melted (it gets quite liquidy). I then open the bag and add color & fragrance(?) etc... I squeeze with pot holders to mix and sometimes put back into the boiling water to keep it melted. I snip the bottom corner out of the bag and squeeze into molds. It sets up very quickly if it is too cool but shrinks very little. I put the molds in my freezer overnight (I'm usually doing this stuff at 8:00 or 9:00 pm) and the next morning I pop them out of the molds. It is working wonderfully and hope this helps any other frustrated rebatchers out there!
First I want to thank you for your web page. It has really helped me a lot. Second I want to say that I have had success remelting the vegetable soaps into a liquid soap rather than try to make a bar soap. It works a whole lot better. For one thing you don't get that paste that tends to not want to melt completely. I use a 1 part soap to 4 parts water. Sometimes I have to add a little more water. Then I scent as usual. You cannot really use heavy additives with this soap though because they will just sink to the bottom.
Hope this helps...
Hi Kathy its me again.
I'm kind of perplexed over a problem I'm having... When hand milling or remelting a basic soap recipe (which says can be remelted when soft or dry) it tends to become all stuck together... sort of like mashed potatoes... it doesn't liquefy at all! I have to end up spooning into a mold and then it dries kind of airy and spongy...??? I cannot figure this one out at all!!
It happens every now and then.. I've tried experimenting adding more water.. less water.. higher heat... less heat... but it doesn't seem to matter... it still is a goopy mess.
Can you shed a little light on this for me?
thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou for this web site!!
I had exactly the same experience as you when I tried recrafting soap. It's not my favorite thing. In my research, one person suggested that you should be careful to melt it REALLY slowly and not stir it but just sort of mush it around a bit (otherwise you incorporate air which is probably why it's kind of spongy). It is also important that it not dry out too much while melting so as to get too thick. Someone else that had this problem said she didn't have as much trouble with remelting the lard based soap as she did the vegetable. I wondered whether soaps made with fats with higher melting points would work better for remelting than soaps made with low melting point fats. I wish I had a pat answer for you...but I don't! I am more fond of just making the cold pour stuff and not messing around with recrafting for this very reason.
You're welcome for the website and thank you for telling me thank you! It made my day!
If you get this figured out on your own, PLEASE let me know and I'll post it for others having the same problem. You are not alone.
Sorry I can't be more specific than that...oh..there are also quite a few books out there now on soapmaking and they might be good sources of information if you want to invest in one. The SEA link has loads of books for sale on soapmaking. When I first started, you couldn't find such a book and I was thinking about trying to put one together. Never got it done though (just some notes, good intentions, and more kids on the way!).
This page last updated March 16, 2001.
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! :-)