Greetings from a new soapmaker

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Nov 23, 2020
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North America
Hello, I'm a new soap maker. I've actually really liked soaps for a few years. I liked collecting them and keeping scented soaps in my drawers to scent my clothes and just look at. I never really thought about making soap myself until around late September to early October.

My first batch was made about 8 weeks ago, October 23, 2020. I've been practicing soap making with small batches of about 21 ounces (595~ grams) about once a week on the weekends.

I've made about 7 batches so far and am planning to make my 8th this weekend. The round balls and little squares are basically soap scraps from attempts at beveling, planing, and cutting my bars of soap (with a bench scraper). I've recently upgraded to a little wire cheese cutter and a small soap planer which has reduced my soap scraps a lot. In the picture below.

Attached below is a picture of all the soaps I've made and a little bit about them.

Please forgive the wonky lines, I didn't have perfect rows. There are also missing soap bars because I let my brother and a friend pick their soap bars and told them which bars were made when and to wait at least 4-6 weeks before using them (based upon their batch date).

Batches 1-3 were made with a recipe from TreeMarieSoapworks. All soaps are cold-process soaps that were oven processed as well at temps around 140. I turned the oven to 140. Turned it off, put the soap in with the oven light on and left them overnight (turned off oven light before bed though).

Batch 1: I used a recipe from TreeMarieSoapworks for a tidal wave line pour. I was nervous about my first batch so I had all my equipment prepped, mixed the colorants, weighed out the oils and froze the water before I even weighed out the lye. I melted the oils, mixed the lye, and then weighted to soap in around the 90s. It didn't come out according to plan and the colors were more red than I expected, but it's still a nice bar of soap. I used water orchid fragrance oil. This was cut into 5 bars

Batch 2: I repeated my attempt at the first one with new colors and an attempt at a pencil line. My strainer was a bit too coarse though and let way too much through so unfortunately, the two halves did not hold together. I attempted to mix up a batch of blue soap to patch the second soap a little. In hind sight, I should have used black soap, but oh well. I think those bars will be my bars. I used Butterfly Orchid Fragrance Oil for this.

Batch 3: The third batch came out better and I suspect it had to do with the higher temperature that I soaped at, but the line pour up top wasn't quite what I was hoping for. I also waited for a bit for the gray layer to set and for the pencil line to soak up some of that oil and get a little wet before adding the layers up top. This one was made without fragrance.

Batch 4: I made an attempt at the same thing but with a little more olive oil in the mix (and a soap calculator to readjust the lye). I forgot the sodium lactate though and got too impatient with the unmolding causing the gray base to crack so I made a small batch of black soap and patched it up. I kind of like how it looks, and if I wasn't worried about color mixing with the pencil line and also if I thought my soap might be more translucent, I might have tried mica painting it or using a shimmery mica to make it more like a kintsugi soap. I soaped at a higher temperature for this one. This one was made without fragrance.

Batch 5: This was an experiment with 100% olive oil soap (castile). I did swirl the tops of the black oval bars like the small square ones. My brother joined me and I let him do as he liked so we've got a few hearts and circles there too. I used a fragrance called cashmere clouds which has caused these soaps to turn a little brown.

Batch 6: These clam-shell-like ones were an attempt to do a line pour just like batches 1-4 but this time with a custom bastile recipe. I was hoping to combat the cool winter temperatures and all to avoid the issue I had with false trace and the soap getting too thick to pour well. It worked, in a sense, but it ended up being quite fluid so it formed the clam-shell like appearance. Loved the colors though. This one was made without fragrance.

Batch 7: This is my most recent batch and an experiment with making a beer soap with a local craft beer. I also attempted making a ghost swirl at the same time, but the false trace issue made that moot and I abandoned ship on that idea. (I'm hoping to redo that one in 2-3 weeks, with the same beer instead of a lower carb one in order to see how well this one goes at a higher temperature). I did this one with a bourbon and oak fragrance. Unfortunately, the smell didn't come through too well.

I'm having a lot of fun, learning a bit here and there. I hope this was an interesting little read as well.

I'd say none of my soap bars turned out exactly like I was hoping for or how I planned them too, but a lot of them actually don't look bad and I think I learned quite a bit, especially when I compared how much I knew about how soap worked, how additives worked, false trace, trace, etc with batch 1 to how it was with batch 7. I think it's hard to see visible progress though because I'm experimenting a lot and having fun just to see what I can do and how things go.

None of my soap bits will be wasted, I actually have a net bag for other soap scraps that don't get rolled into the balls or so, and a little open-topped plastic bin to hold other soap scraps for now so I can use up those scraps too.