Gooey Hand Milled Soap

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stoutgrovewv

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I am new to soap making and this forum and I was hoping for a little insight. I wanted to make a Jewel weed Soap (to help combat poison ivy oils) and was afraid the chemical reaction during CP soap making might ruin the jewel weed properties. I saw a section about Hand Milled soap in (a pretty old) book "The Complete Soapmaker" by Norma Coney. I thought this would be a great way to add a jewel weed "tea" to the soap and everything would be hunky-dory. Not so much. I added the right amount of water: 36 ounces for 3 lbs of soap that Norma called for in the book and I cooked it for about an hour. It never seemed to turn to the thick pudding consistency she talked about. It was always a thick, gloopy mess. Not sure how long it needed to be cooking when it didnt look like anything was changing, I put it in my mold....a week later it was still super soft. I tried cooking it again the other day for another hour; again it was just a thick blob, so I put it in my mold. While it is harder than originally, its still pretty soft. Oddly, it seemed harder when I first put it in the mold than it was the next morning. Help! Do I just need to keep cooking this soap? Like I said, when I have it in the pot, it doesnt seem like anything is changing, except for maybe my level of frustration and confusion. Thanks so much, any input would be great!
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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Hi and welcome

Could you give a bit more detail about this process? Also your recipe and so on.

As it stands, I'm looking at the 36 ounces of water and thinking to myself that is it double what a soap usually needs in the "normal" process, so the more detail you can give, the better :)
 

stoutgrovewv

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The base recipe was:
• 750 grams coconut oil
• 750 grams olive oil
• 900 grams vegetable shortening
• 12 ounces lye
• 650 grams water

This soap turned out fine. The next day it was nice and firm and about a week later I grated it up to make the Hand Milled soap (I only used a portion of the soap made from the above recipe). You are right, the 36 ounces of water is way more than used in the original recipe, but that’s what the book said. In hindsight I should have started with a smaller HM batch, but I get impatient sometimes  If anything, it might have at least made the water and the soap incorporate a little better so that I could tell that it needed to cook more and it didn’t turn into a big thick mess. Right now it sort of sounds like I just need to cook this up more to get rid of some water but I am confused still what the consitency needs to be. Everything I have read about rebatching soap talks about it melting; my soap doesn’t seem to ever melt, just stay the same consistency.
 

Obsidian

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I have the same book and was incredibly surprised at the amount of water she uses. When I rebatch, I add 4 oz water for each pound of soap.
You can try to cook some of the excess water off or just wait for it to dry out naturally. Next time you want to rebatch, use less water.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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At what point do you start the hand milling?

When you're doing the rebatching, what temperature setting do you cook at, how long for and so on? How old was the soap when you grated it and then how old was it when you did the first rebatch?
 

DeeAnna

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So ... let me see if I'm understanding you correctly ... you took 3 pounds of bar soap and added 36 ounces of liquid to it to do a rebatch?

If I've got the right interpretation of your post ...

First off, the type of soap you started with will determine the texture of a watery "rebatch" like you made. Different oils = different types of soaps = different consistency when an abundance of water is added. For the record, the gloopy, snotty texture you got is far more common than Norma's pudding texture when one adds this much water to a soap made with NaOH.

The texture of this soap paste can change with time as the soap molecules reform into their preferred structure. This is maybe why you observed "...it seemed harder when I first put it in the mold than it was the next morning..." Not sure about that, but something to keep in mind.

It will simply take a looooonnnng time to evaporate the water out of this rebatch to get a bar soap you can actually use. Patience. Or if you're looking for a soap gel or paste, it's likely you may never get a "pudding" consistency -- it may always have a snotty/gloopy texture.

Next time, you may want to reconsider your approach. One option is to use the jewelweed infusion as the liquid to make a "normal" bar soap. Or do a liquid soap and dilute the LS with the jewelweed infusion.

For the record, "hand milling" is not remotely the same as rebatching. Milling is done on a ~dry~ soap and either requires a specialized machine called a roller mill or about 30 minutes of rubbing the soap by hand with a mortar and pestle. Rebatching is what most people are really doing when they say they're "hand milling".
 

Obsidian

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First off, the books title is a bit misleading. Handmilled soap is shredded then pressed into shape by a machine, rebatching is shredded then melted with water. What you are do is rebatching.
Rebatched soap usually has a consistency of mashed potatoes or gooey oatmeal. The soap does necessarily melt, its more like it soaks up the water and gets soft.

I believe the author of your book uses a lot of water so she can pour the soap into fancy mold. It really is WAY too much water. Its a pretty worthless book, I only keep it for additive references.

If you aren't in a hurry, you can set the molds aside and just let it dry but it might take a few weeks to harden. Personally, I would cook it again with the pot uncovered to try and cook off the excess water. You can watch rebatching videos on youtube to see how it really should be done.
 

stoutgrovewv

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Thanks everyone. Note to self: don't believe everything you read and use less water! This may be a completely absurd idea, but would putting my mold in the oven, like in Cold Process Oven Process method work? I know putting the CPOP soap in the oven is to help the gel phase but would that be enough to help evaporate the gobs of extra water I have? Or would throwing it back in a pot, heating it and stirring it be the best option?
 

DeeAnna

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What Obsidian said. If you put the soap into a mold and heat it in the oven, you are setting up a situation where all the water has to evaporate out of the exposed top surface. The surface can dry out and seal over. This will slow down the evaporation. By stirring, you can keep the evaporation process going and maybe get a better (and faster) outcome.
 

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