First batch, with a made up recipe. What should I expect?

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BrianV

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So, I went into the night with a plan to make soap, which quickly got derailed (see http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=57628).

So, I scrounged around the house, took stock of the oils I had laying around, and made up my own recipe. SoapCalc seemed to suggest it wouldn't be terrible, but I'd like some experienced feedback. The recipe is:

20% Lard (I knew I saved those bacon drippings for a reason...)
20% Coconut Oil
10% Canola Oil
50% Olive Oil (Extra Virgin...)

5% SF, 38% water

Came a trace in about 4-5 minutes with my stick blender. Poured it into a 6"x7" wax paper-lined mold to about 1.75" deep. Not sure how best to cut them into bars. Probably make six 2"x3.5"x1.75" bars. Feels like an odd size, though.

So, here's the questions - what do you figure the final bars will be like? If this recipe is terrible, I'd like to know. I would have made it regardless just to go through the process once.

How long should I let it cure before attempting to cut it? Apparently that changes based on the recipe?
 

Obsidian

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It should be a nice soap, plenty of lather without being drying.

I would check it at 12 hours, see if its firm enough to unmold and cut then. You want it firm but not rock hard, gently press a finger tip into the top, if it dents easily, its not ready. If it barely dents or takes a lot of pressure to dent, then its ready to cut.

Use a wire cutter or a very thin bladed knife, a thick blade can cause your soap to crack.
 

Steve85569

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I'm going to make a guess that it will take quite a bit of time to cure with 50% OO and 10% canola. Patience. It will be soap in a month but it will melt very quickly. Soap takes time to cure and it gets better with age.
I'm sure others will add much more knowledge.

Steve
 

BrianV

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Thanks, 12 hours is doable. However, I teach tomorrow afternoon so after the 12-hour mark, my next opportunity to check is more like 18 hours. What are the chances 18 hours will be too late?

I have a set of very thin vintage butter knives that I think should work well for cutting soap. I've never seen a 'modern' set anywhere near as thin...
I'm going to make a guess that it will take quite a bit of time to cure with 50% OO and 10% canola.
Patience. It will be soap in a month but it will melt very quickly.
Soap takes time to cure and it gets better with age.

I'm sure others will add much more knowledge.

Steve
I'd be OK with a longer cure time. Probably tomorrow or the day after I'll pick up supplies for a quicker-curing batch. I was just eager to do what I can with what I had in hand ;)
 
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Seawolfe

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When to cut depends on when it's hard enough - but not too hard or it will crumble. Usually around 24 hours, but 8 hours to 5 days is not unheard of. There's no script for when to cut other than gently squeezing it, you want it about the texture of cheddar, or a softish candle.

I bet the soap turns out quite nice, but I've never soaped with Canola. If Im not mistaken it makes a nice soap, but is one of the oils prone to DOS, so you want to store it very dry. But that is a small amount so you might be ok.

Did you strain out the bacon fat for the lard? Does it smell piggy? Im wondering about the salt in it - might be enough to add extra hardness.
 

BrianV

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Did you strain out the bacon fat for the lard? Does it smell piggy? Im wondering about the salt in it - might be enough to add extra hardness.
Hah, I actually had a bunch of questions / thoughts along those lines before forging ahead like a bull in a china shop.

I always let the bacon grease 'settle' in a measuring cup while warm before pouring it into a container and putting into the fridge. This allows most of the solids to settle out before it gets stored. After I heated the oils, I had a few tiny crumbs in the bottom of my oil bowl, but I just poured them in. That might be a possible source for rancidity, we'll see.

There was a bit of a 'bacon' smell to the lard, but I couldn't detect it once the oils were melted together. I'm not too concerned that it will be in the final batch. I guess I'll find out!
 

Obsidian

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18 hours might be too long. I would suggest cutting it before work, even if it is a bit soft. Just be very careful and handle it gently. Of course, if its extremely soft then you'll have to wait and hope for the best.

Now, 12 hours is just a rough guess. Sometimes soap will harden a lot quicker. I've been able to unmold and cut after 6 hours before, there are so many variables its hard to say how that particular recipe will behave in your conditions. High olive oil soap are unpredictable, one time it might take just a few hours to be ready, next time it might take 3 days. I rarely use more then 30% olive oil in any soap, I much prefer a high amount of lard.

If you want a recipe thats hard, longer lasting and will be ready to use a t 6 weeks, try this one. Its my go to recipe, makes great soap with a nice creamy lather.

Lard or palm 50%
Olive oil 25%
coconut oil 20%
castor oil 5%
 

BrianV

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Thanks. I haven't seen palm oil in stores here, but I'm sure I can find lard... or render some myself!
 

Obsidian

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Lard is sold in most grocery stores or walmart sells great value shortening that is a blend of tallow/palm, its very comparable to lard and is easy to work with.
 

BrianV

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I just chopped the soap into bars. So far, looks like success!

I *did* have some trouble releasing it from the mold and waxed paper. I used a 6"x7" cardboard box as my mold, lined with waxed paper. The waxed paper was saturated with oils and stuck fairly well to both the box and the soap. Once I got it to release from the box, I had to peel it from the soap a strip at a time, and it was so weak from the oil saturation that it tended to rip easily.

Maybe it's because it was cheap off-brand waxed paper?

It went through a full gel phase, and set nicely. I now have 19 bars varying from 2-3.5oz. Since it's for my own use, I didn't measure too carefully, and I figure the smaller bars will cure quicker for earlier use. Now I just need to figure out were best to put them for curing in this house...

I'm a touch worried about dust accumulation over the next month or so. Our house tends to be a touch dusty as we have a wood stove for heat. Any thoughts? I don't want to cover the soap, as we want to encourage air movement!

Oh, I also tried the zap test this morning, and... there was no zap at all. I'm sure I measured my batch correctly, but I expected the freshly-set soap to still be fairly alkaline. Is this normal? Is it possible that the lye is already fully consumed by the saponification process?
 

shunt2011

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Don't use wax paper. It will give you trouble every time. I highly recommend freezer paper or even parchment paper. I prefer the freezer paper. If you are concerned about some dust just lightly cover the tops of them with papertowel or something light. As long as they can still get some air circulation you should be fine.
 

dixiedragon

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Congrats on your soap!

I use a big butcher knife to cut my soap. What is very helpful is to wet the blade between cuts. That way the soap doesn't tear or stick.

IMO, 18 hours will be fine. My soap generally doesn't get cut for about 20 hrs (soap one night, go to work the next day, cut the next night) and it's fine, and I use 40-50% lard.

I think you are not going to like this recipe right at first, but I think you will LOVE it after a 2 month or more cure. Yes, it probably will not be a long lasting bar - but who wants that? :) (says the woman who has 4 bars in her bathtub and about 20 soaps from swaps she really wants to start using!)
 

traderbren

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I just chopped the soap into bars. So far, looks like success!

I *did* have some trouble releasing it from the mold and waxed paper. I used a 6"x7" cardboard box as my mold, lined with waxed paper. The waxed paper was saturated with oils and stuck fairly well to both the box and the soap. Once I got it to release from the box, I had to peel it from the soap a strip at a time, and it was so weak from the oil saturation that it tended to rip easily.

Maybe it's because it was cheap off-brand waxed paper?
Wax paper is not the best thing- look for Freezer Paper in your local store. Reynold's makes some. It's much easier to release soap from as it doesn't stick.

It went through a full gel phase, and set nicely. I now have 19 bars varying from 2-3.5oz. Since it's for my own use, I didn't measure too carefully, and I figure the smaller bars will cure quicker for earlier use. Now I just need to figure out were best to put them for curing in this house...

I'm a touch worried about dust accumulation over the next month or so. Our house tends to be a touch dusty as we have a wood stove for heat. Any thoughts? I don't want to cover the soap, as we want to encourage air movement!

Oh, I also tried the zap test this morning, and... there was no zap at all. I'm sure I measured my batch correctly, but I expected the freshly-set soap to still be fairly alkaline. Is this normal? Is it possible that the lye is already fully consumed by the saponification process?
The fact that your soap gelled is probably the reason it doesn't zap. It's perfectly fine! I CPOP to encourage my soap to gel, and in most cases it is zap free when I unmold it. Un-gelled soap takes a bit longer to become zap free.

Congrats on your first batch!
 

Seawolfe

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Before I could get my hands on butcher paper (NO grocery stores in So Cal stock it, as far as I can tell), I used saran wrap or parchment paper with good results.

Soap is often done zapping within 24 hours. That doesn't mean it's ready to use, but its finished that one process.

Just lay some paper (with no ink to bleed) loosely over the top of them if you are worried about dust. Start testing them out at one week, then two, then three to see how they cure. I think you'll really like these at 5-6 weeks.
 

Susie

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1. You need to use freezer paper, not wax paper.
2. Non-zappy soap on cutting is a good thing!
3. Your soap will not collect a terrible amount of dust. But if you are really concerned, try covering with a single layer of cheesecloth.
4. I store mine in the guest room on top of the bookcase headboard and on top of the chest of drawers and my yarn stash drawers. Any empty space with decent air flow (no fan necessary) will do. If your kitchen cabinets do not go to the ceiling, then that is an excellent place to put them on top of.
 

Steve85569

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:clap:
Congrats on your first batch!
Next you'll want molds and colors and scents.
You'll find yourself prowling the oil aisle at the store and playing with soapcalc a lot.

Gel is (IMHO) a good thing.
Lining molds has a sticky in either the lye soap or beginners section. I forget which without looking. It is well worth the time it takes to read through.
 

BrianV

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Thanks all for the kind words and advice!

Next you'll want molds and colors and scents.
You'll find yourself prowling the oil aisle at the store and playing with soapcalc a lot.
I don't know about about that. I'm not really interested in the decorative / aesthetic side of soap making. My interest lies more towards the functional side - coming up with a recipe that gives me the best soap I can make in the following categories:

1. Gentle soap (babies in the house)
2. Good all-around hard hand-and-body bar
3. Top notch shaving soap
4. A good liquid castile for general purpose cleaning.

If I can perfect those four categories, I think I'll have achieved my goals with soap making.

On the flip side, my wife mentioned this morning that she likes tea tree oil soaps....

Edit: Of course, I'll still use SoapCalc alot. I find myself throwing ideas into it every few hours...
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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How old are the babies? For a long time, soap of any sort will do them more harm than good.

And just so you know, we like pictures of soap. Especially cut bars. Just putting that out there
 

Seawolfe

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1. Gentle soap (babies in the house)
2. Good all-around hard hand-and-body bar
3. Top notch shaving soap
4. A good liquid castile for general purpose cleaning.

If I can perfect those four categories, I think I'll have achieved my goals with soap making.

On the flip side, my wife mentioned this morning that she likes tea tree oil soaps....

Edit: Of course, I'll still use SoapCalc alot. I find myself throwing ideas into it every few hours...
Suggestions for these:
1) If the babies are old enough for soap - 100% olive oil castile. Make it now and it will be ready in 6 months to a year :)
2) The soap you just made may well suit this purpose. I like 65% lard, 15% coconut, 15% Olive oil and 5 % castor / 5 % SF
3) Go read song winds shaving soap thread. If you cant get stearic acid, use mostly tallow. Yes to the glycerin.
4)For dish and cleaning soap I use the easiest recipe in the world - 100% coconut oil at 0% superfat (I also add citric acid to help with hard water and sugar for bubbles). Its not drying, but for hand and body washing I prefer something like 70% OO, 25% CO, 5% Castor / 3% SF and made with glycerin (and again with the citric acid and sugar).

Little hint on the tea tree essential oil - buy actual essential oil from a reputable company like Brambleberry, Magestic Mountain Sage or The Soap Making Resource. I made a batch with what I thought was tea tree essential oil from Trader Joes and DOS ate all of that batch.
 

BrianV

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Suggestions for these:
1) If the babies are old enough for soap - 100% olive oil castile. Make it now and it will be ready in 6 months to a year :)
2) The soap you just made may well suit this purpose. I like 65% lard, 15% coconut, 15% Olive oil and 5 % castor / 5 % SF
3) Go read song winds shaving soap thread. If you cant get stearic acid, use mostly tallow. Yes to the glycerin.
4)For dish and cleaning soap I use the easiest recipe in the world - 100% coconut oil at 0% superfat (I also add citric acid to help with hard water and sugar for bubbles). Its not drying, but for hand and body washing I prefer something like 70% OO, 25% CO, 5% Castor / 3% SF and made with glycerin (and again with the citric acid and sugar).

Little hint on the tea tree essential oil - buy actual essential oil from a reputable company like Brambleberry, Magestic Mountain Sage or The Soap Making Resource. I made a batch with what I thought was tea tree essential oil from Trader Joes and DOS ate all of that batch.
Thanks for the recipe pointers. Our youngest is 3 months old now, so in six months, he'll certainly need some soap from time to time ;)

4)For dish and cleaning soap I use the easiest recipe in the world - 100% coconut oil at 0% superfa
Unfortunately, that would be the most expensive soap I could find. CO isn't cheap in these parts. I can't find it in any bulk, lower grade form. Just little expensive jars $10 for 225ml (8-oz) in the 'organic' and 'fair trade' sections of the local groceries. I wish CO was cheaper - a lot of the recipes that appeal to me call for it!
 
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