Confetti Soaps

In a large box in my garage, I’ve been stockpiling the shavings and end cuts left over from cleaning up the edges of my soaps. Since the box of leftovers and scraps was about to overflow, I decided I needed to do something with those things. We’re talking at least 15 pounds of soap here. Not for the faint of heart!

First, I divided up the shavings, some into like colors, and some into like fragrances. And then came the fun part. I spent some time planning out what fun I could have incorporating all those shavings into new designs and new scents.

After lots of weighing and calculating, I had several plans ready to go. The first soap I made was actually two-in-one. I divided a large loaf mold in half with a piece of cardboard, made enough white base soap to fill it, then divided the white soap into 2 bowls. Into one bowl went some Energy fragrance oil along with scraps of pink, orange, and yellow Satsuma soap (similar citrus scents). Into the other bowl, I added Elements of Bamboo fragrance and scraps of green and tan soaps of various earthy scents like Green Clover & Aloe. I poured both bowls into the same mold, one on each side of the divider. Here are the resulting soaps.

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Energy Confetti Soap

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Elements of Bamboo Confetti Soap

Notice that I also got to practice oil and mica swirls on top of these soaps!? ūüôā

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Raw soap with gold mica in oil swirls on top

My next batch of soap was a mixture of lots of bright-colored soap scraps that had been sitting around for quite some time, as well as some pretty recently made soaps. To make sure the older shavings would incorporate into the new soap, I spritzed them with distilled water, mixed, and let them sit to soften for about half an hour before making the new soap. To this batch I added a sample of Black Cherry Bomb fragrance oil, and I colored the base soap an awesome shade of neon pink. I added the shavings to this base, stirred and poured into the mold.

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Other than those pesky air bubbles, I like the results!

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Notice the hot pink swirls on top of the left bar? I experimented with neon pink colorant in oil swirls. Apparently, neon works just as well as mica in oil swirls!

With the remainder of my scraps, I decided to hot process rebatch. It was a hodge-podge of scraps containing some red, black and dark green soaps, but mostly consisting of natural tan-colored soap shreds left from Oatmeal Milk & Honey soap as well as Almond and Vanilla soaps. I put 4 pounds of scraps in a big crock pot on high, added 5oz distilled water, and stirred every 15-30 minutes. After about an hour, the soap seemed a bit dry so I added 2oz of milk and 2oz of water. Some of the larger chunks never melted, while the majority of the small tan shavings did melt. After about 2 hours in the crock, it appeared like the soap was ready to mold. To add more interest, I stirred in some more chunks of red, black, and white soaps, then I added a sample of a different cherry fragrance oil, stirred it all up, and plopped it into my mold.

I¬†thought the cherry fragrance would compliment the strong undertones of Oatmeal Milk & Honey and Vanilla soap scraps, but I was wrong! I also¬†thought the miscellaneous colors would make the soap look more fun and interesting. Wrong again! This one gets the prize for “Ugliest Soap I’ve Ever Created.”

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Is it bad fruitcake or cat vomit? Can’t quite put my finger on it. And don’t want to. Haha!

This rather yucky soap has an awesome lather, though! And with various milk and yogurt soap scraps plus more milk added, it should be extra nourishing.

So what do you do with super ugly soaps that have already been rebatched and still turned out badly???

Just chalk it up as a good learning experience and chuck it, I suppose! Or wear a blindfold and nose-plug while showering. ūüėÄ

Thankfully it was all just scraps anyway. Not like I was ruining a large batch of new oils and butters with a fragrance that I absolutely loved! It’s not a total failure. I have actually had success hot process rebatching other soaps, and I’ve come up with other creative ways to use scraps, like this fun embed soap I made a few months ago.

I didn’t end up using all 15 pounds of my scraps, but I sure used a lot of them! Making confetti soaps was pretty darn fun, and I have enough scraps left to make a few more soaps. Here’s to a new day of soaping.

 

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Rebatching My Big Batch

Rebatching soap is something I’ve read a lot about, but I’d never tried it until now. It was never necessary until now!

Remember that triple batch of milk soap that I made a few weeks ago? When I cut the soap, it seemed to be perfectly fine. No big air pockets, no zap, no drying or burning when used on my hands. But after a few weeks of curing, I picked up a bar and found some large crystals that had seeped out of the soap. Since I made the soap, I’ve¬†had this nagging feeling. You know? That gut feeling that something was wrong. I examined every bar and picked out one bar that had a large amount of seeping crystals. I dug into the soap, and sure enough, I found a small pocket of lye. As I had feared from the beginning, there must have been some undissolved lye in the milk when I added it to the oils. Oh, the horror! Soap that can burn your skin! What to do, what to do?

Rebatch! Save the soap!

When I originally made that triple batch of soap, I measured and remeasured, and remeasured again. I am absolutely certain that I used the correct amounts of oils, lye, and milk. The lye simply didn’t get completely dissolved before going into the oils. Since I knew the exact problem, I knew I could save my soap, all TWELVE pounds of it!

I went back to the drawing boards, did some more research, and came across this post about rebatching from the Midlife Farm Wife, an awesome fellow central Illinois soaper. (By the way, Donna is infinitely funnier and cooler than me. You should definitely check out her blog! I’d love to meet her, but we live about 3 hours apart and both have farms to run. Her farm is real with pigs and cows; I’m raising five messy babies on mine.)

Since Donna’s method seemed pretty simple, I decided to try the crock pot to rebatch my soap. Like the good girl that I am, I followed her instructions for my first rebatching experience. I grated up 8 bars of soap, added 4 ounces of milk (about half a cup) and 1 ounce of sweet almond oil to the pot, set it on high, covered, and stirred it all about every 15 minutes.

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Check out that sliver of soap. It’s lighter in the middle where it hadn’t fully dried out yet, and it was much softer. Soap is awesome! Grating it all up is not so awesome…

After about half an hour, the pieces were beginning to melt. Then after about an hour and a half, it was all melted and gloppy. It never fully gelled again like in Donna’s picture, but it seemed to be getting dry and was beginning to burn around the bottom edges.

Rebatching soap

Here’s the gloopy, gloppy soap after about an hour and a half.

I added a tiny bit more milk, making the soap more fluid, and I also added a splash of green apple fragrance. After a good stir, it went into my medium sized mold. The scent is absolutely divine! The original oatmeal, milk & honey scent comes through with the finishing bright notes of apple. I’m calling it Honey Crisp Apple. YUM!

The first batch went extremely well, but it left quite a bit of room in my large crock pot once melted down. For the second batch, I grated up 12 bars and increased the milk and oil accordingly. It took a bit longer to get completely melted, but everything else went just as anticipated. At the end of the cook, I added some more oatmeal, milk & honey fragrance, molded it, and pressed in some bubble wrap to get a honeycomb look.

Since I’d been cooking soap for 4 hours already, I thought I might as well finish it all in one day! For the third and fourth batches, I used both a large and a small crock and cooked it at the same time. Into the small pot went 5 bars grated soap, and another 12 bars went into the large pot again. My arms and shoulders were actually sore the next day from grating all that soap!¬†I added some lavender essential oil to the small pot to get Lavender Milk & Honey soap, very comforting and relaxing. To the last large batch, I added some vanilla fragrance, yielding Vanilla Milk & Honey.

These pictures show the differences in size and shape of some of my handmade wooden molds.

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Small, medium, and large wooden molds filled with rebatched soap. I’m not crazy about the tops, but that’s what happens with most hot process soaps as they’re smushed into the molds.

Bars of rebatched soap

Bars of rebatched soap. From left to right: Honey Crisp Apple, Lavender Milk & Honey, Oatmeal Milk & Honey, and Vanilla Milk & Honey.

Bars of rebatched soaps

See all the pretty speckles in the different soaps? Lots of oatmeal and honey goodness packed in every bar!

I’ve tried out several different widths of molds in an attempt to find my favorite size bar of soap. I think I’ve settled on 3 inches long by 2.5 inches wide by 1-1.25 inch thick. What’s your favorite size?

I’m quite happy with my final products. Even though I didn’t add any interesting bits of colored soap like Donna did, I’m pleased with the simple marbled look of my soaps. The darker bits of soap speckled throughout must be from the honey as it heated and caramelized during rebatching. Dear ol’ hubby likes the looks of these bars better than cold process. After a week of curing, they’re back to being very hard, creating a bubbly, yet very creamy lather.

Rebatched soaps

Not only are they different sizes, but different colors as well. You can already see how much adding vanilla browns the soap. The soap on the far right (Vanilla Milk & Honey) will eventually turn a rich, deep shade of brown.

I hope that I don’t¬†need¬†to rebatch again anytime soon, but I will definitely do this again. This hand milled soap has a look all its own, and the final bars really are very lovely to use. Now that I know that I can do it, I can have some fun trying new scents, colors, and additives that don’t hold up well during cold process soaping. Once again, I’ve found lots more to try! It’s never-ending.

A Big Batch of Soap

There’s a running theme in my soap making experience. Expect the unexpected; things never seem to go as planned! Even the best made plans don’t go as anticipated, and changes abound. Maybe it’s the excitement of making a new soap or trying a new technique that makes my brain run haywire in the middle of a batch. I’m not sure why this happens so frequently, but I’m hoping things will get a little easier with more time and experience. What’s really encouraging is the fact that no matter how many changes I make in the middle of a soap, somehow the combination of fat, water and lye still turns into soap. It’s a little miracle every time!

All of this was true in my recent attempt at making a triple batch of soap. My typical recipe uses 3 pounds of oils to make 4 pounds of soap, and I pour into a loaf mold that makes 12 bars. I recently had a large order placed, and it included 3 loaves of Oatmeal, Milk & Honey soap, so I thought I’d try to make it in one big batch. In my mind, it would be easy to measure out three times the ingredients, and it would take less time overall to get it done. Wrong on both accounts!

The first thing I didn’t anticipate was how long it would take to make the lye solution with 100% oat-milk. I made it very slowly in my usual pitcher, but it was much more difficult because of the large amount of lye and milk. It took f.o.r.e.v.e.r! I had the pitcher sitting in an ice bath, but due to such a large volume, the milk heated up quickly and turned darker than usual. Because I’d infused the milk with oatmeal, it was lumpy and soupy and very much like pudding. It was quite difficult to stir, and I couldn’t really tell if all of the lye had fully dissolved. Lesson learned: use a bigger container to make large amounts of lye solution!

After finally finishing the lye solution, I added it to my giant pot of oils a tiny bit at a time, looking carefully for chunks of undissolved lye. Lo and behold, I found a few! Oh no! I mixed and stirred and took out a few pieces that simply wouldn’t break apart and blend in. This soap will be a bit more superfatted than I intended, but I think it’ll just be that much more moisturizing.

The next thing I didn’t anticipate was how difficult it is to simply manage the weight of such a large volume of oils. Stick blending the soap to light trace took longer than normal.

Big Batch of Soap in the making

The entire tip of my stick blender was completely immersed in the batter when I tried to reach the bottom of the pot. With my current equipment, I couldn’t make a batch any bigger than this one (and I don’t think I’d want to try any bigger anyway).

I usually separate off a bit of soap to turn white, add honey and fragrance to the main soap, then do an in-the-pot swirl and pour the soap into the mold. In this instance, it was difficult to pour just a small amount of soap out of my giant heavy pot, but I muscled my way through! (I’m such a klutz; in my mind’s eye, I can see myself spilling this entire pot of raw soap all over my kitchen!) I added honey to the main soap and blended it in. After I colored the smaller amount white, I added it right back to the main pot. I was excited about how everything was turning out, going smoothly. Hubby was taking pictures for me. Life was good.

Big Batch of Oatmeal, Milk & Honey

The in-the-pot swirl was going perfectly, with nice fluid soap.

And then I realized that I’d forgotten to add the fragrance! At this point, I knew that the distinct in-the-pot swirl was out the window. I dumped in my fragrance and lightly mixed it into the soap, turning the entire batch a lighter color, with a only a few wispy swirls of white to be found. I again muscled my way through pouring the soap into three molds, then covered the top with bubble wrap and stuck them all in the oven.

Big Batch of Oatmeal, Milk & Honey

From this vantage point, you can still see some white swirls in the soap. Unfortunately, it’s not as noticeable in the final cut bars of soap.

As usual, I had no idea what to expect when unmolding my soaps the next day. Would there be chunks of undissolved lye in there, ruining the whole big batch? Would there be any swirls left at all? Did I mix the fragrance in well enough? Would it even be soap?! 

After cutting through all 3 loaves, I’m happy to report that I found no lye pockets! The pH is great! Woohoo! I did find a few tiny pools of fragrance next to small pieces of oatmeal, but they are disappearing as the soaps cure. I’m not sure if they reabsorb or evaporate out, but they are disappearing. Immediately upon cutting them, most of the bars didn’t have a noticeable swirl, but the colors are changing a bit as they cure, showing off more white! They have a nice gentle look overall.

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey (Big Batch)

See the wisps of white in there? I’m so happy that a few still came out!

I have made so many different batches of Oatmeal, Milk & Honey soap, and not a single one looks like another. Consistency is apparently not my strong suit, and I’m learning to be OK with that. It simply means that each batch is unique, individual, a small work of art. That’s the definition of hand crafted, right?

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey (Big Batch)

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey

I’m amazed at people who are able to create soaps from large batches. This batch that made 12 pounds of soap isn’t even very big compared to others I’ve seen online. And this soap isn’t too terribly intricate, either! Not lots of colors, no difficult technique. I can’t imagine trying to do a fancier soap with this much to work with! I think I’ll try about 8 pounds next, but it’ll be a while before I try to make another triple batch.

To my fellow soapers out there: How big are the batches that you typically make? Have you found it easier to make smaller or larger batches? Do you have any tips for making big batches? Pros and cons? I’d love to have a conversation about this with others who have experience!

Oat-Infused Milk Soap

While perusing other soap making blogs the other night, I found this lovely¬†Oat Milk Recipe for Soap over at Oil & Butter. It’s a simple recipe that calls for soaking oats in water, blending, and straining. I’ve used this same basic process to make almond milk. Simple. Fast. Inexpensive. Great!

Seeing the recipe¬†inspired me to make a batch of Oatmeal, Milk & Honey soap with a new twist. I typically only use milk in my recipe, but did you see my post on Mama’s Milk Soap? I love how it turned out, and the benefits of breast milk are staggering. So I decided to use heavily fatty breast milk and infuse that with rolled oats. I guessed that soaking oats in only milk would create a very thick mess, so I cut the milk with water first. Here’s what I did: two parts distilled water, two parts milk, and one part oats. The oats soaked in the milk water in the refrigerator for a day, then I blended it up and strained it using a tea strainer (since I couldn’t find any cheesecloth). Boy, was that a mess! The milk was stringy and sticky with tiny bits of oats floating around. I strained it again twice, but somehow the tiny oats remained in the mix.

Oat-Milk & Honey Soap

Here’s a first look at the new Oat-Milk & Honey Soap.

I froze the oat-infused milk, then used it to create my lye solution.¬†As with any milk soap, I added the lye very slowly, one tiny bit at a time with the pitcher sitting in an ice bath so as not to overheat and curdle the milk. Because there were still tiny bits of oats in the milk, I was worried about the lye dissolving properly, so I stirred and stirred and stirred. It looked like a mess of disfigured rice pudding! After about half an hour of stirring off and on, I thought it was time to take a deep breath and attempt to make the soap. I had to carefully glop the pudding mess into the oils. To my great surprise, the soap traced at the same rate as usual, didn’t seize, and didn’t cause any other problems either. I poured off a few cups to turn white, then added fragrance to the main batter. A simple in-the-pot swirl resulted in a very beautiful soap.¬†In my excitement, though, I forgot to add the honey! I remembered the bubble wrap for the top and bottom of the mold to make it look like a honey comb, but I forgot the honey!¬†Darn. Despite that, I really love the look of this soap. And I’m still calling it Oat-Milk & Honey Soap because the fragrance has a hint of honey in it.

Oat-Milk & Honey Soap

I just love a good in-the-pot swirl. Every bar is so unique!

I’m honestly thrilled that I could even cut this loaf! I was afraid that the wet oats might leave me with a soppy goo rather than a hard bar, but so far it’s hardened wonderfully. The bits of oatmeal add great texture to it. I’m not usually a fan of exfoliates in soaps, especially large chunks of oats or loofah. But these bits of oats are so tiny that I hardly feel them and don’t mind them at all. I’m hoping that this soap will be even more moisturizing and soothing because the oats were infused directly into the breast milk. As always, time will tell. I got impatient (what soaper can wait for the full cure?) and¬†used an end cut to lather up, and it’s just delicious! It starts with a super bubbly lather, then turns rich and creamy. It leaves my hands feeling like silk!

Oat-Milk & Honey Soap

See the specs of oats in the soap? They look bigger than they feel, and they add great texture without being harsh.

Now that I’ve tried this infusion, I’m excited to delve deeper into the giant world of milk soaps. I’m going to experiment some more with infusions, different kinds of milk, and using multiple milks and creams in the same recipe. I’m seeing more and more blogs and recipes that include a combination of milk, cream, and/or powdered milk in the same soap. And there are so many ways to add it into recipes. The half and half method. The frozen milk method. The hot process add some milk or cream after the cook method. (I’m making up names for methods here, but you get the point, right?) I want to try them all! Next experiment: yogurt soap. I’ll be posting about that as soon as I make it!