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Advice on having sufficient raw stock to aid experimenting?

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Having just began soapmaking I know I'll have to make a wide variety of soaps in order to gain the skill and judgement to become a good soaper. One great impediment is not having the raw materials and having to order it all and then wait days and days for sufficient ingredients to arrive. Some are available at the local supermarket but I want to have the rest on hand, enough to satisfy many of the recipes I see here in the forum, on the Internet and in my soaper books.

After my latest shopping trip I've made the following list of my materials inventory. I'll appreciate if anybody can suggest any other materials I should acquire so that I can begin my tour of soap recipes without having to detour for ingredients.

At present I'm making 2# batches.

These are all available at supermarkets and I need no stock:

olive oil
canola oil
safflower oil
corn oil
vegetable shortning
lard
lye (at Loews)

My more difficult to get stock, with quantity on hand:

coconut oil - 1 gal.
palm oil - 1 gal.
castor oil - 1 gal.
avocado oil - 1 gal.
jojoba oil - 1 qt.
vegetable glycerin - 1/2 qt.
shea butter - 4#

I have a couple of sample kits of mineral colorants, but almost a total absence of scents (EO/FO) which I'll worry about later.


So please help me by suggesting anything else you think I should have on hand so I can enjoy learning without the distractions of having to drive or go on the Internet. Please feel free to elaborate if you like. Thanks! :)

Greg
 
G

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Hi!

It's never too early to play with FOs and EOs. It's trial and error with scents as well as with oils. Some scents will stick around, some won't. Some will seize or change the color of your soap. I've also had varying results with fragrance when I changed my recipe.
 
G

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I didn't mean it was too early for me to mess around with EOs and FOs. In fact I've done 4 batches and only one intentionally had no scent. My first was supposed to have scent but added to little EO. Second time I added too much! Third time was a charm, perfect! Fourth was 100% OO Castile and I intended to have no scent.

What I meant is that I have to give more thought to EOs and FOs but that my thoughts are so half-baked that I have no idea where to go. I figured I could seek advice in a future post. At present I have

NOW sage oil - 1 oz.
NOW orange oil - 2 oz.
Aura Cacia lime oil 1 oz.

All are EOs. Might use the lime today.

I'm just asking if there are any other oils or fats that I should get my hands on so that I can start playing with recipes without having to drive or click and then wait for ingredients to arrive.

Suggestions on additions welcome. Comments on what I picked also welcome.
 

Laurie

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You look like you are pretty well set up there. I also like sweet almond oil and grapeseed oil which is easily gotten from supermarket.

HTH
Laurie
 

happyday

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Lovehound, I just noticed you're in Northridge! Wonderful memories. I went to college in Westwood and all my good buds were from Chatsworth. Haven't been back in 30 years now, but it was a great experience. Can't even imagine what the traffic must be like now. Is Tommy's still dishing up all-night chili burgers down in Van Nuys?

It looks to me as though you have a pretty good stash of supplies already! Don't forget to play with coconut milk, goats milk, oatmeal and honey. ;)
OH -- and cocoa powder!
Make sure to keep really good records. I thought I had everything nailed down pretty well, and then I got my first case of DOS this week. It's in a 100% OO Castile that only has a 5% superfat and is only about 6 weeks old, so the only explanation is that I must have gotten a bottle of OO that had a problem. Of course the rest of the bottle is long gone, used up in other soaps, and now I can't remember which soaps have that particular OO in them. I'm trying to decide if it would do any good to assign a batch code to each batch of soap I make, and assign an inventory code to each supply I buy, and jot down the specific inputs so I know which to watch if I run into problems. It wouldn't take that much extra time to do the record-keeping, but I'm not sure how consistent I could make myself be, nor whether there would be that much useful information gained by doing it.

I don't know anything about NOW, but Aura Cacia is a really expensive way to play with EO's. For most of the common scents, you can order wholesale from the internet and get at least 4 ounces for the price that you pay for 1/2 oz of A.C. at local retail.
 
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Laurie said:
You look like you are pretty well set up there. I also like sweet almond oil and grapeseed oil which is easily gotten from supermarket.

HTH
Laurie
It does help Laurie, and thanks! I was just over at the market picking up dinner supplies and what kind of soaper doesn't always cruise the oils isle, right? :) I noted sweet almond, grapeseed, macademia and sesame oil. I'll make a note to add them to my easy to get local supply list.

I feel so sorry for those international folks who can't even get the basics. And here I am fretting that I can't find cocoa butter. (Found it at the health store $4 for 1 oz., too much money.)

happyday said:
Lovehound, I just noticed you're in Northridge! Wonderful memories. I went to college in Westwood and all my good buds were from Chatsworth. Haven't been back in 30 years now, but it was a great experience. Can't even imagine what the traffic must be like now. Is Tommy's still dishing up all-night chili burgers down in Van Nuys?
I went to college in Westwood too, in the hippie days: UCLA. :) Traffic IS insane. In fact I'm intending to relocate in 2-4 years to a peaceful area where maybe I'll be the little old soapmaker guy. :) Tommy's is still there on Roscoe near the 405 and IIRC open 24. Every year or two I get a chili hamburger.

happyday said:
It looks to me as though you have a pretty good stash of supplies already! Don't forget to play with coconut milk, goats milk, oatmeal and honey. ;) OH -- and cocoa powder!
Got it! You and Laurie have really helped me form my list of potential ingredients. I'll print the list and have it next to me while I surf recipes and I can see right away what's on hand here and at the market.

happyday said:
Make sure to keep really good records. I thought I had everything nailed down pretty well, and then I got my first case of DOS this week. It's in a 100% OO Castile that only has a 5% superfat and is only about 6 weeks old, so the only explanation is that I must have gotten a bottle of OO that had a problem. Of course the rest of the bottle is long gone, used up in other soaps, and now I can't remember which soaps have that particular OO in them. I'm trying to decide if it would do any good to assign a batch code to each batch of soap I make, and assign an inventory code to each supply I buy, and jot down the specific inputs so I know which to watch if I run into problems. It wouldn't take that much extra time to do the record-keeping, but I'm not sure how consistent I could make myself be, nor whether there would be that much useful information gained by doing it.
Uh oh!!! I made the identical 100% EVOO just yesterday, same 5%. I've been using my favorite EVOO cooking oil though, Trader Joe's imported from Italy. It's pretty damned good stuff and I hope I don't get the DOS!

happyday said:
I don't know anything about NOW, but Aura Cacia is a really expensive way to play with EO's. For most of the common scents, you can order wholesale from the internet and get at least 4 ounces for the price that you pay for 1/2 oz of A.C. at local retail.
Yeah, I know, but I've been too impatient to buy online. I'm going to try to not purchase any more locally. In fact as soon as I decide which scents I like I intend to order in larger sizes on the Internet.

Today 6 oz. ... Tomorrow maybe 55 gallon drums! ;) You would think that at that big a size they might even be free? ;)
 

Soapmaker Man

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Dude, slow down. :lol: Try my Wal-Mart soap as many have done. There is no reason to have every oil, butter, fat, scent on hand to produce a great soap. We are currently reviewing a 3-oils swap I hosted with several members. Let me tell you, a 3 to 5 oils, fats, butters recipe, correctly manufactured, is as good or better than one having 7 to 15 different oils! Ask me, and I'll tell you I was at first years ago, thinking I needed at least 8 to 9 oils. Bologna! Learn www.soapcalc.com the properties of the oils, the synergy that they produce, and you will be leap batches ahead. :)
This weekend, at the TN Social, I tried a 2 oils bar from a soapier who has been at this for 8 years. Let me tell you, this was a great bar! Synergy! The right oils, the right SAP value, the right lye discount, the right additives, perfection.... :wink: It was Birdies soap. 8)

Paul :wink:
 

jadiebugs1

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Soapmaker Man said:
Dude, slow down. :lol:
I second that! I'm startin to wonder if there might be something else yer cookin up in the lab there!! :twisted:

I tried Paul's Wal-Mart Recipe and really loved it. I haven't tried tweeking and playing with it yet, but soon.....

Are you trying to shoot for selling soap in the near future or something? Just curious. I know it can be fun, exciting, and sometimes (to me) a bit overwhelming when I try too many new things at once. I think the best plan is like paul said, simple basic recipe(s) to start then build on that by trying new EOs, FOs, Oils, etc.

Sharon
 
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jadiebugs1 said:
Are you trying to shoot for selling soap in the near future or something? Just curious.
I'm nearing retirement (2-4 years) and thinking that if I still like soaping then I might use it to augment my retirement (Social Security) income.

I'm just getting tired of waiting to have stuff delivered from the Internet, that's why I'm asking for your advice and help.
 
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Soapmaker Man said:
Dude, slow down. :lol:
Paul, I shouldn't need to feel apologetic about my enthusiasm. Soaping is a great hobby and I think that enthusiasm is not only understandable but should be encouraged. In fact every hobby should be. The more who join in the better the hobby.

For now I just want to create at least one soap that is as good or better than I can buy at Whole Foods Market, preferably better. I recognize I've got a lot of work ahead of me, and I just need the proper tools to achieve that goal.

And I don't think that it takes 8-9 oils to make a good soap, but I think it takes 8-9 oils used a few at a time to understand what makes a difference between the oils.

Actually I'm thinking of making several one-oil soaps to get the real idea of how each oil differs. I just made the first one yesterday, 100% EVOO Castile. I bet I'd learn a lot if I did that with every oil on my main list above, even if it would be tedious.

In fact I'm already using yesterday's Castile and I've got to admit I really like it. In fact I'm going to go wash my hands right now, not because they're dirty but because I want to feel that nice 100% EVOO another time! :) :) :) See? I'm nuts! ;)
 

Soapmaker Man

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I never said anything about your enthusiasm. Just slow down a tad to enjoy learning from more experienced soapiers. You seem like a highly educated guy. But like all of us, who venture into a new territory, well the old saying is to "look before you leap." By asking questions, and feeling out those who have been where you are now, is what I was referring to. :wink:

Soap on, bro. :) (Enthusiasm noted here from me!) :lol:

Looking at your web site, you look like a great chef, something I know nothing about!
Can you teach me how to make a souffle? :lol:

Paul
 
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Soapmaker Man said:
Looking at your web site, you look like a great chef, something I know nothing about! Can you teach me how to make a souffle? :lol:
Yeah, sure. The basic procedure is on my website. Try it and get back to me if it doesn't work and I'll help you debug what went wrong. The most common thing is that it falls while you're serving it, but it always does that anyway, and it tastes good even if it falls. That Gran Marnier is worth drinking anyway, ain't it? :)

Jeez, I'm glad I haven't got any Gran Marnier. I'd probably be tempted to go make dessert. Gotta eat a few less desserts and do a bit more exercise man! :)

By the way, as far as I can tell so far many cooking skills translate over into soaping. This stuff is not that hard at all! I can't wait to do my first swirl. I like the swirled soaps the best.
 

SoapyGal

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Soapmaker Man said:
Dude, slow down. :lol: Try my Wal-Mart soap as many have done. There is no reason to have every oil, butter, fat, scent on hand to produce a great soap. We are currently reviewing a 3-oils swap I hosted with several members. Let me tell you, a 3 to 5 oils, fats, butters recipe, correctly manufactured, is as good or better than one having 7 to 15 different oils! Ask me, and I'll tell you I was at first years ago, thinking I needed at least 8 to 9 oils. Bologna! Learn www.soapcalc.com the properties of the oils, the synergy that they produce, and you will be leap batches ahead. :)
This weekend, at the TN Social, I tried a 2 oils bar from a soapier who has been at this for 8 years. Let me tell you, this was a great bar! Synergy! The right oils, the right SAP value, the right lye discount, the right additives, perfection.... :wink: It was Birdies soap. 8)

Paul :wink:
So Paul, how does one learn "synergy" ?

I completely understand what you're saying, and this is how I've decided to approach learning soapmaking.

Do you start out making 1, 2, or 3-oil soaps, then switching the oils around to see what happens?

Do you make the same recipe over & over again, changing the superfatting % numbers?

Sometimes it seems sssssooooooooooooo overwhelming :shock:

I've taken many recipes & run them thru soapcalc & made note of all the numbers, trying to get an understanding of what the "numbers" all mean. It's hard to use soapcalc until you have a basic understanding of what the numbers all stand for.

What is your story, Paul? How did you get started? If you don't mind sharing.... sorry if I seem nosey :oops: .... just really curious about how the process goes for others who have been at it for a long time :)

Thanks for your input :)
 
G

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Not Paul, and not experienced, but I like my approach and it seems to be working. I keep reading soaper books, keep reading Internet sites, keep reading soaper forums, and various recipes give me ideas for recipes I want to try. Sometimes I need more ingredients so I get them. Sometimes I see ingredients I think I might want to use later so I get them and that way I don't need to wait a full week for the order when I actually want them.

I just checked and I've got 9 base oils in gallon quantities, and 3-4 more in lesser amounts. When I get up tomorrow morning and have to decide what recipes I want to make, I won't get stuck with not having the ingredients.

Paul has his way, I have mine. He's the experienced guy, I'm the newbie, but we're both smart guys and there are many different ways to "skin a cat." :)

I'm making three recipes tomorrow because I've got three molds all freezer paper lined and just waiting for me to absorb one cup of coffee before I hit it. :D

I have a fourth mold but it's too big for the small batches I prefer due to my inexperience. I'm saving it for when I want 6# batches.
 
G

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Oh I forgot one thing. I don't see any reason to have more than 4 oils in any recipe, or only rare need at best. You won't see me posting my 9-oil wonder recipe. :D
 

SoapyGal

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Thanks for sharing, Greg. I see what you mean. I really get confused, because I see some recipes like in the Cavitch book, where she's got a whole laundry list of exotic oils, even at small percentages. So, this gets me to wondering about it all..... there must be some benefit to doing it that way... (?)

But then you have soaps out there like what Paul referred to, that only have a few oils in them, & they are magnificent, all by manipulating superfatting & ratios...

So - to expound further - why bother throwing in mango butter? How does that choice get made, and why? Or why add any of the other exotic oils & butters?

I'd like to thoroughly understand this "synergy" that is going on here, but I'm afraid the only way to get that understanding, is by lots & lots of experimenting, time & money.
 

Martin

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I just did this to my family. I made 3 different batches with the basic oils (OO,CO,Lard and castor) and I made one with shea butter. Ask to try the soaps and tell me which one they liked best. All but 2 pick the one that had lard in it. The other 2 could not decide. So I am sticking with the regular oils.

Sonja
 
G

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Excellent points, both of you!

I've got the shea butter, cocoa butter, jojoba oil, etc. but I'm holding off using them until I understand better exactly what is to be expected, what is to be gained. There's no point on throwing in expensive stuff if it's just going to disappear in the mix. I don't have any labels so there's no point in my using "label appeal" ingredients. What am I going to impress myself?

The blind tests are very good! And saved you money too Sonja. Hey, I bet you like that castor! If you've tried the same recipe with/without I'm sure you'll agree that castor is a nice minor base oil, and even nicer, not expensive. I've got a whole gallon and it'll last me a long time at 5% per recipe.

I'm sure Paul will have something to add here and I'd love to see his comments to SG's post above. We less experienced soapers are fortunate to have access to Paul and others with long time experience.

I'm just glad I learned early on about not needing 10 different base oils, and about saponification eating up your trace expensive oils and butters. I think I'll save them for HP.
 

SoapyGal

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Another idea I've learned about recently, is making a plain-jane soap with the basics, letting it cure for a week or two, then rebatching it, and at that time, add the expensive oils... that way, you still get the benefits of the nice oils, and they don't get cooked out by the lye.

I will definitely be trying this method, and I'll report back here once I have some results :)
 
G

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I too have been thinking of doing the same thing: hand milling. Same process as rebatching except for the name. I just this week successfully rebatched although I'm not 100% satisfied with the look and texture. I need a few more experiments before I can say more.

As soon as it struck me that the lye was eating up all that expensive shea butter and other additives I decided to hold off using that stuff until I found out more, and until I tried rebatching or hand milling. That's the only way I know that you can guarantee what fats will superfat your final product.

It seems well worth the wait to me.
 
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