Saturday, June 27, 2009

5 Steps to Handmilled Soap from Scratch

1. 4.

DIY handmilled soap begins with soap flakes, preferably from handmade soap. I prefer castile soap.

You will need:

  • 6-8 oz. Soap Flakes
  • Additives (distilled water, herbs, oils, scents,)
  • Mold
  • Large Pot (I use a 8 Qt. Stainless Steel pot)
  • Plastic freezer bags (I use 2 sizes: 1 gal. & 1 pt. )
  • heavy duty work gloves (melted soap is hot)

In 5 quick easy steps you’ll have some fabulous, luxurious, rich, lathering handmilled soap.

  1. Prepare Soap Flakes
  2. Melt Soap Flakes
  3. Scent
  4. Pour
  5. UnMold

Making Handmilled Soap is very easy. First shred some soap to create your soap flakes. Natural soap works best but I’ve heard some people say they’ve used commercial bars like ivory.

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1. Shred base soap. I use a large standard vegetable shredder most of the time. Occasionally I use my “craft dedicated” food processor.

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Choose your molds. Get Creative. Look at everything around you. Look at disposal containers. A great time to recycle or repurpose.

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2. Melt soapflakes by placing them inside the (smaller) plastic bag and then place that bag inside a larger one (1) gallon plastic freezer bag and place them both in a pot of water. Add at least 2-4T. water, aloe, milk or other liquid to the bag of flakes. Bring to a slow boil.

DSC05846-flakes in pot copyThis is where the creativity and experimentation begins. You can add herbs and additional oils at this stage. Experiment. You can also try varying the stage when additives are introduced in the soap like before it’s melted or after melting and just prior to pouring.

Keep a close eye on the soap stirring or mashing the bag occasionally to aide the melting process and to ensure a well mixed batter. The melt time can vary depending on the blend of soapflakes.

DSC05850-melting soapflakes copy DSC05853-melted soap copy You can add additional water to the soapflakes as well. A word of caution. Do not add boiling water to the bag of soapflakes, it may melt a hole in the bag. However, if this should happen. Cleanup as always in soapmaking is pretty easy just a bit messier. You should transfer the soap in a damaged smaller bag to your large outer bag right away. Get a new outer bag and continue the melting process.'

3. Add scent after the soap is completely melted to your desired consistency, it’s time to scent. You can use fragrance or essentials oils. Just keep in mind you are working with a small batch of soap and a little scent can go a long way. Also the scent in soap doesn’t really come through until it has cured a bit. The staying power of the scent can vary with each unique blend or essential. A Good rule of thumb is 1/2 teaspoon per 8oz.

Thirdly, handmilled soap does a fantastic job at retaining scent because it doesn’t have to undergo the harsh saponification process of cold process soapmaking. Ok, so now it’s scented.

4. Pour the soap batter into your pre selected, oiled molds. Snip the corner of one end of the bag of melted soap. This makes it easy to control and pour.

DSC05934-n the mold copyAnother great aspect of handmilled soap, is it allows me to use more intricate molds. Many of my molds come from recycled packaging. The shell mold was the lid of a Wendy’s salad container. So it’s yet another way of ‘Greening my Craft’.

Gently drop the mold on the floor or counter to “burp” any air pockets or bubbles. Just like you would with cake batter. Now place the mold in the freezer to set up. The setup time will vary depending on the thickness of the project and consistency of the batter mix usually 1-2 hours for larger molds and a half hour for smaller molds.

Once the soap has set up. You can test this by touch. It should be firm otherwise you might not get a good clean release.

5. Unmold your soap. I usually place fresh unmold soap on wax paper or small cardboard scraps. They are more permeable and the soap doesn’t usually stick.

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Here are examples using different molds including commercial soap, candle or recycled molds.

-Commercial massage bar soap molds


-almost any container has the potential for a great mold. Containers used for food storage, packaging, and preparation are really great candidates. Don’t stop there—look outside the kitchen—think outside the box.

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With these 5 easy steps, you’ll be making handmilled soap in no time with ease. It’s the melt and pour for natural handmade cold process soap. If you’d like to try making handmilled soap, I can help you get started with natural handmilled castile based soapflakes. Please visit my shop to see some of my other handmilled concoctions. They’re quite yummy.

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1 comment:

Splendid Little Stars said...

Thanks for the tutorial. I had fun making melt and pour soap for presents last Christmas. I didn't use plastic bags, however. very clever.