Advice for a new soap maker

Discussion in 'Beginners Soap Making Forum' started by Bex1980, Jun 24, 2019.

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  1. Jun 24, 2019 #1

    Bex1980

    Bex1980

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    Hi, I'm completely new to soap making and loving it. I've watched many YouTube videos and read what I can but I have a few questions if anyone could help me. I've made 3 batches with goats milk which I'm very proud of and I think they look ok. I'd like to know, how much essential oil do I use? I've followed measurements as accurately as possible but my soap doesn't smell of much. I'm using safety gear but is it only the water and lye liquid mixture that burns or does the cooler sloppy trace stuff you put in the mould burn too? Also, when washing stuff up and putting the dry soap into storage, I have a slimy film on my hands which is really hard to wash off. Does the finished product leave this slime on your hands and is that a normal part of homemade soap? If I accidentally add the wrong amount of lye, can the finished soap burn anyone who uses it (if I were to give it as gifts etc). I'm struggling to get my head around a mixture that burns eventually being safe enough to use as soap on your skin and can I ever do anything wrong in my soap that could hurt somebody. Thank you. x
     
  2. Jun 24, 2019 #2

    artemis

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    1. Most fragrance suppliers who carry EOs will have a calculator somewhere on their website.

    2. Wait a day or two before cleaning up-- that way, the batter will turn into soap. Also, use a grease-cutting detergent like Dawn and hot water to wash up. I sometimes also use vinegar and/or baking soda.

    3. If you're concerned about lye, wear gloves when you clean up.
     
  3. Jun 25, 2019 #3

    Mobjack Bay

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    @Bex1980

    The type of EO you use makes a difference. All EOs tend to fade in cp soap, some faster than others. Search for the type of EO you are using here on SMF to learn more about it.

    If your recipe is calculated properly, the lye should be fully exhausted within a few days at the most. The default 5% superfat some calculators give you helps to ensure that you will not end up with “lye heavy” soap, again assuming that you use the calculator properly, measure correctly and don’t forget to add an oil. Lye heavy soap results when there is too much lye relative to the amount of oil that can be turned into soap. If a soap is only little lye heavy, it may take longer to exhaust the lye. There is a way to test the soap, but you should read a full explanation and the method before you do it. Look up zap test in the beginner forum or the lye-based soap forum.

    Letting the dirty dishes sit overnight really helps with clean up, but so does scraping or wiping excess soap off of everything you used and disposing of it. Why aren’t you wearing gloves when you wash the dishes?

    As a relative newbie myself, I encourage you to hold on to your soap until you feel confident using the calculator, know that you are measuring correctly and have let your soaps cure long enough to test them.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
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  4. Jun 25, 2019 #4

    lsg

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    Make sure to use a lye calculator for each batch of soap. I find it useful to check off ingredients on the recipe printout, as I add them. Wiping out containers with paper towels after the soap making helps. I then fill the containers with hot water and liquid dish detergent. You can use a dish wand or dish washing brush with a long handle to wash the continers.
     
  5. Jun 25, 2019 #5

    dixiedragon

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    Here is BB's fragrance calculator:
    https://www.brambleberry.com/calculator?calcType=fragrance

    Keep in mind, BB uses oils + water, but many fragrance calculators just use oils. I think the one at www.thesage.com is broken.

    I'll be honest - I use the BB calculator even for non BB FOs. I figure that, say, Apple Pie from WSP is going to be similar enough to Apple Pie from Brambleberry.
     
  6. Jun 25, 2019 #6

    Bex1980

    Bex1980

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    Thank you for this. I am using marigold gloves and eye protection at all times and have been leaving utensils over night for it to harden but . I've done my very best to calculate everything exactly and am pretty confident that I have as I've been so careful. I hesitated starting for a month due to the scary bits I've read about lye burns etc. I've found the amount of literature out there very overwhelming and as other new soap makers may have found, it's a little off putting and scary with all the different combinations and also contradicting opinions. Some people say get stuck in and learn that way which is great, other videos I've read are almost military in their instructions so it's hard to know which approach to take - trial and error or what. I've read some people don't wear gloves and others even wear a face mask. I couldn't smell any fumes so I removed the mask as it steamed up the goggles. My question was really, if I do by some chance mix anything wrong or too much, would this cause any reactions in the soap i.e. would my end soap end up burning someone with the lye in it or does it just flake/crumble? I'm really really proud of the batches I've done so far and would love to give them to relatives but with following different recipes etc and being new to it, would any incorrect lye calculations cause it to hurt somebody's skin or after a while does the lye become harmless? That's my worry. With regards to the slimy feel, I wasn't sure which part of the process could cause lye burns. Obviously when it's mixed to water and it gets hot I see that's quite risky and then I've put it into moulds and covered it with towels. Any spills I've wiped with a tissue before cleaning up properly and it's then I've noticed a slippery feel to my hands although never any burning. I haven't made a habit of this, it's just happened once and I wondered if the finished soap had this "film" to it. I've not yet tried any and it's all resting as I only started a few days ago. I'll look into the oils as here in the UK we don't have the same shops but thank you for the help. :)
     
  7. Jun 25, 2019 #7

    earlene

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    Lye by itself is caustic, but when it interacts with other components in the right proportions it becomes something else. In some cases it is mixed only with water and in the right proportions is used in making certain foods. Hominy, one of my favorite ways to eat corn, is made using a weak lye solution. Pretzels are another food often prepared using a weak lye solution.

    But the lye solution we use to make soap is a much stronger solution and it is still caustic in raw soap. So until the ingredients are fully saponified, such as when Hot Process soap completes saponification in the cook or a day or two after Cold Process soap finishes the saponification interaction, or sooner if gel is hurried during CPOP (cold process/oven process), the raw soap batter can still cause skin burns.

    If raw soap splashes onto your skin, and it is left to sit, the active lye in the raw soap batter will react with the lipids (fats) in your skin, thus causing the lye burn. As long as it is left on the skin, it will continue to interact with the lipids in your skin. At first it feels a bit like an itch, later it starts to feel like a burn. So it is best to rinse it off with plain water, more than a simple rinse, a long rinse to ensure all lye interacts with the water and not with your skin anymore. The burning sensation does not disappear immediately and if it bothers you, ice can help reduce the pain as well as add more water to the area. NEVER use vinegar on your skin that has lye spilled onto it; that will just create an exothermic reaction and lead to more skin damage than if you use plain water.

    So, to address the slick feeling of the hands, that's likely caused by exposure to raw soap while the lye is still caustic. You should still be using gloves at that point. All through the soap making process, from start, though pouring into the mould, through cleaning up the utensils and the workspace. Don't remove them until you are completely done in the soaping workspace.

    To address your question about how an error in the amount of lye:eek:ils mixture may affect the end product: That's why we do the ZAP test. See this link: https://www.soapmakingforum.com/threads/how-to-properly-safely-conduct-the-zap-tongue-test.63199/ in the Lye-Based Forum (not the Beginner forum, like some may expect). If done properly following those instructions, you can determine if your soap is lye heavy or not. If you are unsure of if it is zapping or not, get a 9-volt battery and zap test it. Then you know what you are trying to identify. Don't worry; I've zapped myself with a brand new 9-volt battery and it did not hurt me at all.

    There are some threads here at SMF that give information where to purchase supplies in the UK. Here are a few, although I have no idea if the recommendations are all still current in the older threads:
    https://www.soapmakingforum.com/threads/good-fragrance-oil-supplier-in-the-uk.60935/
    https://www.soapmakingforum.com/threads/soap-kitchen-in-uk.55499/
    https://www.soapmakingforum.com/threads/help-based-in-the-u-k-making-cp-soaps.65742/
    https://www.soapmakingforum.com/threads/recommended-suppliers-for-the-uk.46037/
     
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  8. Jun 25, 2019 #8

    Bex1980

    Bex1980

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    Thank you, that was very clear and understandable. I don't want to end up melting the mother in law and haven't read anything about a zap test so I know what to do now. My lovely hand milked wildflower and honey bars will probably electrocute me!
     
  9. Jun 25, 2019 #9

    MickeyRat

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    Great advice for the new soaper. Good advice for those not so new too. Read the whole thread.

    https://www.soapmakingforum.com/thr...ou-give-to-your-beginning-soaping-self.62916/

    I recently got burned by lye, This thread tells about that experience and what I think is adequate safety gear.

    https://www.soapmakingforum.com/threads/my-first-lye-burn.75506/

    For a while at least primarily use oils you can get at the grocery store. Don't overlook Wal-mart Great Value shortening. Don't get the all vegetable. Get the one with tallow. It's really good.

    I prefer soupee or soap friends calculator to BB.

    http://soapee.com/calculator
    https://www.soapmakingfriend.com/soap-making-recipe-builder-lye-calculator/
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
  10. Jun 25, 2019 #10

    Mobjack Bay

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    And, the great news is that with practice you will gain confidence in what your doing, have fun, and make something that will impress your MIL and everyone else in your life. Your ingredients sound like the makings for lovely soap :)
     

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