hand stirring your first batch?

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reflection

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i saw that a soapmaking teacher has all her students hand stir their first batch of soap to really understand the process of getting to trace & also to know to use it to slow down for additives. what do you guys think? i'm considering doing this because i've never used a stick blender before and am a bit worried about splattering. i will take all the safety precautions and wouldn't normally be overly worried about using lye if i were used to using a SB.

also, i'm only one person so am thinking i wouldn't mind starting with a few 1 lb. batches that i assume are too small for my 4.5 quart crock pot. i already have 3 recipes i want to try (not my own but from other experienced soapers) and even giving away bars to friends & family i'd be swimming in soap if i made three 2 lb batches. the cost savings would be good too so i can make more batches sooner rather than later. does anyone still hand stir their batches? i will definitely use a SB, and practice using it with cold water first, but maybe not the 1st batch and any 1 lb batches is what i'm thinking. thoughts?
 

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I think practicing with a stickblender in water is a very smart idea! It will not only help you learn about the stickblender, but it will help you find the right size/shape container to mix in. Be sure you get plastic containers with a 2 or a 5 on the bottom, or stainless steel only. No glass or Pyrex. Don't forget that you need to stickblend in 15-20 second bursts with an equal amount of time stirring to let the stickblender cool down.

If using a stickblender, don't forget to burp it every time you put it in the liquid. You do this by tilting over to the side and getting all the air out. Bumping it on the bottom helps dislodge any stubborn bubbles.

I think if you hand stir your first batch, it might be your last batch. Use a stickblender.

Regardless of where you get your recipe, run it through a lye calculator for yourself. Every. Last. Time. It is, by far, the safest/smartest thing to do from the first batch onward. Typos happen. What if someone transposed a 9 for a 1? It could make a drastic difference in a recipe!

I would actually suggest you make 2 lb (of oil) batches. It is easier to work with that amount of liquid with a stickblender for me.
 
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lsg

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I second what Susie said. If you wear protective goggles and other protective gear and stick blend in the kitchen/utility room sink, then you should be pretty safe. Just remember not to turn the stick blender on until it is under the soap mixture and to turn it off before raising it out of the mixture. Pretty elementary stuff, I know, but just a reminder.:)
 

Soapmaker145

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I prefer to hand stir my soaps. I did that for years. There is nothing wrong with hand stirring but it takes a long time. It is easier to use a stick blender if your new to soap making.

If you are afraid of splashing, get a piece of cardboard to cover your bowl and cut a hole in it to insert the stick blender. It will give you a disposable lid for your bowl to catch any splashes. You can also use a plastic disposable plate. After you add the lye to the oils, insert the stick blender and tilt to remove any trapped air. Lower the cardboard to cover the bowl. Stick blend for 30 sec to 1 minute at a time and look at what is happening to the mix. If you introduce air bubbles, finish by hand stirring to remove them before pouring. You still need to wear your protective gear, particularly goggles and gloves.
 

Cindy2428

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If you decide to go the SB route..... I have 4 right now - a Kitchen aid, a Cuisenart and 2 $13.00 cheapies I found on Amazon. (Walmart carries them as well). Guess which one I use the most - Yep the cheapies.

They are less powerful and do not create as many bubbles in my soap. For small batches like you want to make, this is probably the best one for you. The only negative is that it is one piece; the heads do not come off - I know this because I destroyed the first one I bought by trying:)
 

DeeAnna

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"...It is easier to use a stick blender if your new to soap making...."

It's easier even if you're a more experienced hand! :)

That said, I stick blend for only a small amount of time anymore -- maybe 5-10 bursts of 1-2 seconds each -- separated by gentle hand stirring. I've found by SB'ing less, the batter doesn't thicken as quickly and the whole process is more relaxed and fun.
 

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I tend to pulse my stickblender when I make a batch. After a near motor burnout from a previous liquid soap batch, I have come to pulsing for any batch I make.
 

faerytech

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I hand stirred my first batch... and ended up giving up after about 4 hours, assuming I had ruined it. I poured it into jars thinking I might be able to use it for something, and it solidified in there... Afterwards I was so nervous about whether or not it was good to use, I ended up throwing it away...
 

Steve85569

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I use a mini SB for nearly all my soap making. It helps me not beat a batch to death and get soap on a stick. ( small battery powered one)

Stirring alone can take a long, long time and wear out your good cookie and jam making arm. I'm not willing to take that risk.:)
 

topofmurrayhill

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i saw that a soapmaking teacher has all her students hand stir their first batch of soap to really understand the process of getting to trace & also to know to use it to slow down for additives. what do you guys think? i'm considering doing this because i've never used a stick blender before and am a bit worried about splattering. i will take all the safety precautions and wouldn't normally be overly worried about using lye if i were used to using a SB.
I often hand stir. It depends on what recipe you want to start with. Some trace faster and some much slower. You may not want to try hand stirring the slow ones, but you can do it if you like when your recipe has a good balance of hard oils and you are soaping at conventional (warm) temps. There are good formulations that aren't even very practical to make if you insist on hitting them with the SB, and there are fragrance oils that make things move much faster, so it's good to be flexible and use the most appropriate technique.
 

reflection

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thanks for all the helpful answers. :) the idea to practice stick blending in cold water comes from anne watson. i like the idea of using a piece of cardboard with a hole in it too if i'm really worried about doing it. i read on another thread someone said to tilt the bell away from you so if it splatters it'll go toward the wall & not me.

here are a couple recipes that will probably be my first three. if any of you have any ballpark guesses of how long it'd take to hand stir either the first or second that'd be awesome. i definitely won't hand stir the third, a bastile. i'll be doing CPHP if that makes a difference.

1. the first is 100% coconut oil, 20% SF (from heather at the mommypotamus blog)

33 oz coconut oil, 76 degrees
4.83 oz lye NaOH
12.54 oz distilled water
.5-1 oz essential oil (optional)

2. anne watson's shea supreme recipe which she recommends for a 1st batch:

10.5 oz (298 g) coconut oil
10.5 oz (298 g) olive oil
9 oz (255) shea butter
8 oz (227 g) distilled water
4.2 oz (119 g) lye

3. baby bastile recipe: (also from mommypotamus blog) (no hand stirring here)

3 oz (85 g) coconut oil (infused with dried chamomile or calendula petals)
1 oz (28 g) jojoba oil
25 oz (709 g) olive oil
3.72 oz (105 g) lye
10 oz (284 g) water

here's my thread regarding a question about a specific SB in the shopping forum. i thought it might be perfect, albeit rather pricey, but now i'm not sure if some of the features will hold up to lye rather than food.
 
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Arimara

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thanks for all the helpful answers. :) the idea to practice stick blending in cold water comes from anne watson. i like the idea of using a piece of cardboard with a hole in it too if i'm really worried about doing it. i read on another thread someone said to tilt the bell away from you so if it splatters it'll go toward the wall & not me.

here are a couple recipes that will probably be my first three. if any of you have any ballpark guesses of how long it'd take to hand stir either the first or second that'd be awesome. i definitely won't hand stir the third, a bastile. i'll be doing CPHP if that makes a difference.

1. the first is 100% coconut oil, 20% SF (from heather at the mommypotamus blog)

33 oz coconut oil, 76 degrees
4.83 oz lye NaOH
12.54 oz distilled water
.5-1 oz essential oil (optional)

2. anne watson's shea supreme recipe which she recommends for a 1st batch:

10.5 oz (298 g) coconut oil
10.5 oz (298 g) olive oil
9 oz (255) shea butter
8 oz (227 g) distilled water
4.2 oz (119 g) lye

3. baby bastile recipe: (also from mommypotamus blog) (no hand stirring here)

3 oz (85 g) coconut oil (infused with dried chamomile or calendula petals)
1 oz (28 g) jojoba oil
25 oz (709 g) olive oil
3.72 oz (105 g) lye
10 oz (284 g) water

here's my thread regarding a question about a specific SB in the shopping forum. i thought it might be perfect, albeit rather pricey, but now i'm not sure if some of the features will hold up to lye rather than food.
I will warn you- if you have sensitive skin, decrease the coconut in in Anne's recipe and reallocate it to the shea. Other than that, and maybe bumping up the superfat of that first recipe and adding 30% oil weight's worth of sea salt, you're good.
 

reflection

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I will warn you- if you have sensitive skin, decrease the coconut in in Anne's recipe and reallocate it to the shea. Other than that, and maybe bumping up the superfat of that first recipe and adding 30% oil weight's worth of sea salt, you're good.
i have not really looked into adjusting recipes at all yet but after a quick google search i think i'll leave the recipes as is or just change anne's recipe to all equal amounts of oils. thanks though.
 
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Susie

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^^^What Craig said! Typos happen. What if someone transposed numbers? You must run every recipe, regardless of where you got it from through a lye calculator for yourself! I happen to prefer Soapee.com. It is easy to use and I can save the recipe. Which you need to do from batch 1. I have a binder full of both my successes and failures. I learn from both!
 

reflection

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You need to check all of these recipes in a lye calculator any way - for your safety and also for practice
^^^What Craig said! Typos happen. What if someone transposed numbers? You must run every recipe, regardless of where you got it from through a lye calculator for yourself! I happen to prefer Soapee.com. It is easy to use and I can save the recipe. Which you need to do from batch 1. I have a binder full of both my successes and failures. I learn from both!
i am definitely planning on running them through a lye calculator. :) i am just a little hesitant to start messing around with the oils & other ingredients in recipes at this point. i figure i'd rather start with experienced soapers' recipes than try to wing it and come up with my own. some day though.
 

Arimara

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i am definitely planning on running them through a lye calculator. :) i am just a little hesitant to start messing around with the oils & other ingredients in recipes at this point. i figure i'd rather start with experienced soapers' recipes than try to wing it and come up with my own. some day though.
Wow, I wonder if I was just brave or stupid because I switched a few things in my first batch. :mrgreen: I'm glad I did too, I still like that soap. No pressure though. If you want to try it as is, just make sure to run it through the calculator.
 

reflection

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Wow, I wonder if I was just brave or stupid because I switched a few things in my first batch. :mrgreen: I'm glad I did too, I still like that soap. No pressure though. If you want to try it as is, just make sure to run it through the calculator.
i'm going with you were brave :D
 

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