Getting into good habits

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nutterly_uts

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Right now, I only want to play about and have fun, seeing what I can create, what works and what doesn't, how to make swirls, colors, scents etc etc but I want to start to get off into good habits all round, just in case this does become more than a hobby and I start to want to achieve more than one batch the same

What habit/s do you wish someone had made sure you knew to do before you started anything? It can be anything - sourcing ingredients, mixing, recording, batch numbering for your records etc
I have literally started nothing at the mo so no bad habits to break
 

IrishLass

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Welcome, Nutterly! :wave:

I've got a long list of soap-making habits, but the 2 on the very top of my list are these:

The first habit to nurture is "Safety First". Treat the lye with the respect it deserves, i.e., always wear goggles and gloves when handling it, and use whatever preventative measures you have at your disposal to avoid breathing the fumes in while mixing your lye solution, etc.....

The next habit to nurture is "Take Notes!". It's hard to be able to duplicate any awesome results you might achieve if you can't remember what you did or how you went about doing it. Besides that, taking notes will save you from many headaches and/or butt aches because you won't be banging your head against a brick wall or kicking yourself in the rear for having not taken them. Ask us all how we know!!! :mrgreen:


IrishLass :)
 

Relle

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Don't worry about wanting to make soap with swirls, colours and scent first up, just concentrate on the process and getting that right first. The rest will come later.
 

snappyllama

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Ditto to IrishLass and Relle's advice!

Another good habit is: get everything out and weighed and at hand before you get going with soaping. Leave yourself plenty of work-area and get rid of pets and pests (a.k.a. family). My worst mistakes have always been when I was in a rush or got distracted.
 

TeresaT

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This is going to sound like an advertisement for SoapMaker and I'm sorry; but, I wish I had purchased the software when I first started making soap. It makes everything easy for me. I know some people do not like it; however, I was using note books and never kept them up. (My handwriting skills have greatly diminished because of arthritis.) I was using a couple of different online note taking software programs (Evernote was a favorite) and that worked out great for awhile. However, SoapMaker enables me to track all of my soap related purchases and the expiration dates/lot numbers of the individual oils or other ingredients I use. (Oh my gosh! I cannot believe how much I really spend on this hobby.) I'm able to keep this information for every batch I make. So, if someone (or twenty) has a reaction to a batch of soap, I can trace the origins of all of the ingredients and the batch numbers/dates of purchase.

It's a pain in the neck keeping up with it (especially since I do not sell soap); however, eventually I will be selling. Getting into the habit of maintaining these business related records, as well as soap making records, will help me in the long run. I'm not perfect at keeping the records updated; however, I do try my best to do so.

In addition, if some other software comes along that I think might work better (or I decide to design spreadsheets that will suit my needs better), I'll have a foundation upon which to build.
 

Steve85569

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Safety.
Safety. Safety.
Lye does not care what it turns into soap. It hurts when it tries to turn me into soap and will do the same to you.
Always without exception wear the safety gear. Lye will destroy an eye in seconds.

Document everything.
I wish I had more than once. Wow what a nice batch of soap. Where did I put that recipe a month or two ago? What fragrance was it that I used in this? It smells sooo good!

It also helps to have the oopsy ones documented so you can see what went wrong.

Listen to the experts here. I have learned a lot and am still learning from them.
 

penelopejane

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I also think soapmaker 3 is a great program to keep track of everything. I wish I'd bought it before I made my first batch. It took me ages to log it all after I'd been soaping for 9 months.

I make notes (on paper) as I am making a batch and I write my batches up (in soapmaker 3 on the computer) straight after I have made my batch so my woeful memory can not deceive me.
 
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lenarenee

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I keep notes in many notebooks (they run away...really). So then I started writing myself email notes. (It's been a couple years, but I couldn't make Evernote work)

Tell me about the Lite version of Soapmaker - aside from it having a lye calculator what else does it have? A place to record what colors, and fo's and temps, and observations?
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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All of the above (as for notes, I don't think that paying for soapmaker 3 is totally necessary) and will add one thing -

When making a variation on a recipe, try to change only one thing at a time. That way you can experience what an oil brings or doesn't bring to the soap. Changing many things at the same time means you might not know which change brought which affect
 

Valoucia

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Check your recipe with a calculator several times. Even if you did it before / specially if it's not your own.
It's a part of the safety, in my opinion :)
 

navigator9

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I agree totally about safety and note taking, they can't be stressed enough. But I also wish that someone had told me that as a beginner I would have the desire to try every single oil and butter, additive, coloring, technique, mold, etc., but in the end, I would choose a three oil soap as my basic favorite. It might have saved me some money, but probably not. I'm sure I would have wanted to try them all anyway. Being stubborn, I had to learn for myself that there is no miracle oil that will make that "perfect" soap. I had to learn that it's all about balance. And all the experimental soaps that I made along the way to that realization were necessary for me to understand that.

I realize that's not a habit, but I think that experimentation with various recipes and ingredients is a necessary part of the road to becoming a soapmaker.
 

Susie

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I agree totally about safety and note taking, they can't be stressed enough. But I also wish that someone had told me that as a beginner I would have the desire to try every single oil and butter, additive, coloring, technique, mold, etc., but in the end, I would choose a three oil soap as my basic favorite. It might have saved me some money, but probably not. I'm sure I would have wanted to try them all anyway. Being stubborn, I had to learn for myself that there is no miracle oil that will make that "perfect" soap. I had to learn that it's all about balance. And all the experimental soaps that I made along the way to that realization were necessary for me to understand that.

I realize that's not a habit, but I think that experimentation with various recipes and ingredients is a necessary part of the road to becoming a soapmaker.
It certainly makes reading a recipe and knowing how it will act and feel much easier without having to try it for myself.
 

dixiedragon

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Safety is important!

Train yourself to keep your supplies in SOME sort of order!

Soap supplies tend to get a bit oil/sticky, so really think about how you're going to keep them clean. I have my FOs organized (sorta kinda) on shelves, but all of my molds are stored in large Rubbermaid type containers. This is because my stuff is in the basement and it gets dusty (my mom does wood turning down there) so I was having to wash my molds BEFORE and AFTER each batch...which got really old, really fast!
 

toxikon

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As others said... notes notes notes!

Whenever I decide to make a new batch, I print off the SoapCalc recipe page and write down any additional details on it like:

- Date poured
- Additives/colourants and their amounts
- FOs/EOs and their amounts
- Soaping temps
- General notes on how trace went, any weird behaviour, etc.

Then when the bar is unmolded, I put my bars in a parchment paper lined shoebox and place the paper right on top of them, then put them away for curing. Then whenever I open the box, I know EXACTLY what process and ingredients I used, and how long it's been curing for.
 

earlene

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I agree completely with safety, organization of supplies and document, document, document! Especially document.

And I mean every little detail you can think of because a year from now you may wish you had that one piece of information about that soap and everything is there, but that one little tidbit.

Organization of your supplies both when you are not actively using them, and when you are actively using them is so important. Have a reliable method of storage and labeling of supplies and always put things away right away. It's annoying when you know you bought a big bag of 'whatever' and cannot find it, only to purchase it again and then you finally find the missing bag. This is expecially annoying when the first bag could easily last a few years because the usage rate is no small!

I don't think I saw this in any of the other threads, but it goes along with safety, sort of. Make sure avoid bad habits such as pouring your soap batter down the drain. It will clog up your plumbing and require expensive repairs. So even if it seems like, 'hey, it's soap, I can just run this down the kitchen drain when I wash up,' don't. Wipe out/off your bowls & utensils thoroughly to get all the soap batter off before you do any washing (paper towels or rags, etc.) Or better yet, if you have the space, leave them all until the next day and wash after the residual soap batter has saponified. (When I do this, I put them in a spare shower so they are out of the way.)

Another habit that could be useful is to nuture some soap testers. And tell them what you really want to know about the soap. Does it leave the skin feeling dry? Usually people say things like, I really like this one, but can't tell what it is that makes them like it better than another one.
 

penelopejane

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Then when the bar is unmolded, I put my bars in a parchment paper lined shoebox and place the paper right on top of them, then put them away for curing. Then whenever I open the box, I know EXACTLY what process and ingredients I used, and how long it's been curing for.
You might want to rethink this. Soap (for 6 weeks at the very least) needs to have air circulating around it to cure. Your method might lead to DOS or an even longer cure time or warping.

Your note taking method is great. I give all my soaps a number (date and FO on a tag that I keep with the soap) and keep all the details on the computer. Not as convenient but less easy to lose.
 
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toxikon

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You might want to rethink this. Soap (for 6 weeks at the very least) needs to have air circulating around it to cure.

Your note taking method is great. I give all my soaps a number (date and FO on a tag that I keep with the soap) and keep all the details on the computer. Not as convenient but less easy to lose.
The boxes I use have some big air holes in them, do you think that's enough? Sometimes I leave the boxes open wide, or at least a crack as well. I wish I had room for a full curing shelf!
 

Gerry

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Another habit that could be useful is to nuture some soap testers. And tell them what you really want to know about the soap. Does it leave the skin feeling dry? Usually people say things like, I really like this one, but can't tell what it is that makes them like it better than another one.
I did this before using family members and close friends - Christmas and birthday giving usually. It failed. I was hoping for some sort of consensus with the feedback. There was no consensus. A lot of preference is based on scent, and it's so individual it's ridiculous. For example, my mom thought my lemongrass EO soap was the greatest thing on earth. My step father hates the smell, but couldn't keep his nose away from a bar scented with this sandalwood FO that I can't find anywhere else. In his mind, it actually makes his skin feel the best too. :-? Then there's my father who likes anything with at least 10% pine tar in it. With 12 very different bars each to 8 family members, I don't think any two of them judged the same bar as their favorite.

But it did do one thing. Gifting soap has led to a growing network of people (friends of friends of friends) that want my soap and are willing to barter for it. :wink:
 

penelopejane

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The boxes I use have some big air holes in them, do you think that's enough? Sometimes I leave the boxes open wide, or at least a crack as well. I wish I had room for a full curing shelf!
You really should leave them open wide at a minimum.
On top of a cupboard or bookshelf - somewhere out of the way but preferably where they don't get dusty. They have to have air. After 6-8 weeks you can put them into a box and close the lid. You'll know if it doesn't work because they will sweat or get dos or warp. What about a tiny wire shelving system or a bookshelf?
 

deebop

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A lot of people here are talking about taking notes and that's a great idea! What I have been doing that I am finding super easy is to run my oils through the lye calculator on Brambleberry which allows you to give the soap a name.. and then print out the recipe! Nice and neat and organized and tidy! That's what I have been doing and then I just write my notes right on that sheet that I've printed! It's all in a neat little folder I've made which is shoved in my pile of messy (oh so messy) box of soap making goodies... oh lord how do I organize this stuff!?)
 

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