Hey Beginners! What was your first ever soap attempt?

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coastmutt

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Back in the days of pre-covid (ie 2018), my high school self decided to try a good old melt 'n pour peppermint soap! It was an absolute mess to make, overscented, covered in glycerin sweat, and I loved it. After this, I learned how to properly measure my ingredients and started branching out to hot/cold process, and candle-making!

I'm still so happy I wasn't discouraged by how awful I was at soapmaking at first. It really has proven to be something special to me, and something that I really enjoy doing!

What's your first soap story?
 

gypsiqueen

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The first time I ever soaped was about 1998. I used that horrible book that I can't remember the name of. It said to mix the oils and lye, stir it, and put it in a mold. It then said to just stir it periodically if it separates. I was like, ok....that's kind of weird but what do I know? I made castile soap, and castile soap with oatmeal. It said to add the oatmeal whole, which I also thought was strange. Weirdly enough both batches turned out. It took me another 5 or 6 years before I made my next batch though, and I did not use that book.
 
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I did melt and pour for years and years at Christmastime and don't remember my first batch -- but they were always mono-chrome and mono-scented. Trying cold process was on my bucket list for over a decade, maybe even 2! In early November 2017 I decided to try cold process. I had not known there was a cure time so luckily had just enough time before Christmas. I used a milk carton as a mold and a basic 3 oil recipe and it was rustic! But the bars felt wonderful. I had not yet discovered the YouTube world and Interwebs world of soapers. In early 2018 I was devastated by a (dream) job loss and then kicked into high-gear with soaping. In April 2018 I realized there was a whole awesome sub-culture of soapers out there and joined this wonderful forum.

Among many differences between melt & pour and cold process, I find that cold process engages both sides of my brain. I like the creativity and thinking through designs and the math & science part to it as well.
 

rdc1978

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OMG, so my friend from work bought me a soapmaking book. And I decided to fully go for it and do a honey-goatmilk shampoo bar. It was such a horrible disaster. I had lightly frozen my fresh goat milk but it still scorched, and then I had honey in it.....and somehow it went through false trace so after I poured it in the mold and looked at it the next day, there was a giant pool of liquid on top and it was a horrible color.

Normally, if I try something and I suck at it so bad, my first instinct is to get frustrated and give up. I think I'm a little bit of a perfectionist. But, weirdly, I took one look at that terrible soap, and I automatically started to think of all the things I could have and should have done differently and I immediately wanted to make more soap.

My second batch also sucked, but it sucked slightly less and a third batch sucked just a little less than that. I was kinda hooked from that first soap batch.
 
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I did lavender M&P with lavender blossoms back in the mid-90's. I was terrified of CP and it took me SEVEN YEARS to get up the nerve to finally jump in. My first batch was in 2006 and it was peppermint with peppermint tea in it - and I used a plastic drawer organizer for the mold! If I remember correctly, it ended up being lye heavy and I had to shred it and mix it into another batch LOL
 

Gigglergal

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I made my first last year in November it is cold process, i had bought the supplies in January got interested after watching sofiya nygard make some, which led me to royalty soap youtube videos which led me to bramble berry soap queen which scared me so i didnt touch my supplies til november but decided to give it ago. They have not finished curing yet but i made 3 loafs on the first day of making 2 bastile and one castile they finish curing this weekend so i am excited to try them!
 

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I made my first soap over 15 years ago and it was the most complicated recipe ever because I read all of these books on soap making and had watched some videos and decided that I had to use all of these different oils because I thought I needed to. I used 15 different oils/butters.
Olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, palm kernel flakes, avocado oil, castor oil, sweet almond oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, jojoba oil, apricot kernel oil, flax oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, and lanolin

I used a green apple fragrance.

I also made my first soap with goat milk. I froze the goat milk and mixed the lye and stirred it til it melted and then heated the oils to 120* because that's what the book and videos said. Then I added the lye and stick blended to trace but I had taken it a bit far because it was more thick like pudding. But it went into the mold and I slammed it down to settle it and then wrapped the mold in like 5 towels because everything said to insulate my soap really well. I used this wooden box I had found at goodwill and lined it with freezer paper and it made this massive block of soap. It weighed 8 lbs because there was no going halfway on making my first soap. Looking back now I'm like "you idiot". I mean that much soap could have gone horribly wrong. 24 hours later I cut it badly with a knife and then let it cure for the 6 weeks. It was awesome soap. Now I have to say I had seen my great grandmother make soap and sort of "helped" her when I was a kid but the way she made soap and then the way I made soap were completely different so I really hadn't made my own real soap before this so when it turned out great I was tickled. I had never even made melt and pour. I just dived right in to CP soap.
 

TheGecko

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First soap was via a 'community class' thru our local community college about 10 years ago...cost was around $60 for instruction and ingredients; you brought your own supplies.

There wasn't a lot of 'instruction' per se. Water from a jug was poured into our Mason Jars (yes, glass) and we were given a Dixie Cup of 'Lye' and sent outside to slowly pour the 'lye' into the water and mix it. While it sat outside, we lined up with our stainless steel pots, put it on a scale where Olive Oil, Coconut Oil and Shortening was weighed out and then we melted it on stove. We were told that our oils and 'lye solution' had to be at exactly 110F before we could mix it. Then we sat a table with our pots and whisks and stirred and stirred and stirred until we reached something called 'trace'. I had a heck of a time getting 'trace'...could be that my pot was too big for the amount of soap we were making, or it could be the cheap FO I bought from Hobby Lobby (not that there was much of it). The instructor finally got frustrated with my lack of progress (and my smart mouth) and broke out a stick blender and I had somewhere between jello and pudding being poured into my juice carton.

You would have thought I was carrying a Faberge Egg the way I wrapped up that carton in two towels and buckled it in the back seat. Got it home and set it on top of the frig for a week (actually five days...I couldn't wait). O M G...what a sticky mess when it came time to removed the "soap" from the carton! But I managed to get it out, scrape off all the torn bits and slap it back on and then cut into what like sticks of uncolored butter (the long, skinny ones). I then wrapped each 'stick' loosely in a half sheet of paper towel and left them on the frig, dutifully turning them every freaking day for four weeks!

It was soap.

Honestly, that is about the best thing I could say about it. It did smell very faintly of orange.

I wanted to try again, but couldn't find the recipe she had given us and she wouldn't answer my emails. I knew I could buy the oils and shortening at Costco, but had no clue where to buy 'lye' and the Internet kept recommending Home Depot and Ace Hardware for 'drain cleaner'. Huh? Nobody makes soap with drainer cleaner...that's just crazy...and dangerous!

It was late 2018 and I was watching a sock knitting video when a 'recommendation' for a soap making video showed up. I spent better than six months watching hundreds of hours of soap making videos and researching soap making before I decided to actually make soap. Of course, by that time I had collected hundreds of recipes and wasn't sure where to start...then I ran across BrambleBerry and they had a Beginner's Cold Process Soap making kit. Talked to my husband and he agreed that it would be a good idea to start with it since it contained everything needed to make a batch of soap (two actually). It came with Apple Sage FO and OMG is that stuff STRONG!!! It didn't smell that way when I sniffed the bottle, but as soon as I poured it in my batter, my husband took off running for the bedroom and stuff my bathrobe under the door. I could feel a headache coming on and I wanted to badly to open all the windows and doors, but was committed to seeing it through.
 
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When we were maybe 7 and 8, I think my parents got my younger sister and I some M&P, molds, and I think there might have been fragrance but I'm not sure, as a Christmas gift. We had fun coloring our soap with food coloring, and layering clear and opaque soap. The bases sweated like crazy and became gummy over time. The fun wore off when it became apparent that all our creations would become gummy (we didn't have shrink wrap).
Fast forward 20-ish years, and I became way more interested in making CP when I discovered that it didn't get gummy and sweat. Also, I like the control I have over all the ingredients with CP. Eventually I want to revisit M&P with more knowledge and access to better materials, because I have ideas.
 

KimW

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First ever soap attempt on my own was soap made 10+ years ago with wood ash lye, and I would not call it a success. I just wanted to see if I could make soap with what I had on hand, because I'm nuts sometimes. It made a very small amount of "sludge", but it did make some bubbles and, since I'm easily amused, that got me hooked. It took another year+ to make a successful batch of soap made with wood ash lye. Hey, at least I'm persistent. Once another few successful batches (because I'm nuts) were accomplished, I moved onto making soap like normal people do with commercial lye, NaOH and KOH.
 
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I made my first soap in October 23, 2020 based upon a Tree Marie Soapworks recipe and video. Things did not go as planned. 😅

I wanted to get everything right so I spent a lot of time prepping and measuring things. It ended up taking me at least 4 hours to make my soap with 4 colors and all because I wanted everything to be ready and perfect before I started mixing. I had my colors mixed and prepped beforehand, had the lye and water measured out and chilling, had the oils mixed and melted. Waited for them to come to around 90F (32C), and then poured my lye into oils and went at it with an immersion blender.

I had no clue how to control trace and pushed it a little too far. Honestly, wasn't even sure how to recognize trace. I also tried to work fast, but underestimated how fast you needed to work. Especially with it being winter and cold in the house making temps drop pretty fast too. The soap started to set up before I was ready while doing the line pour.

It still came out as a pretty bar though. I also didn't cut it very smoothly and there were bubbles in it, but ah well. Pretty good for a first attempt though I was frustrated at it coming out the way it did rather than the way I had planned :p

Here are some pics of my first soap. Please excuse the mess. I was borrowing a corner of the counter
20201025_150532.jpeg

20201025_150453.jpeg


What I had been going for was this:

458-White-Tea-Lime-Tidal-Flow-Tutorial.jpg
 
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Very nice for a first attempt! And yes, Tree Marie makes very complicated recipes appear quite easy to create. Can't tell you how many of her techniques I've tried to follow, but they rarely turn out looking anything like hers. Ah well. You have the right perspective: it is still soap, and it is still pretty!

Sorry to hijack your post, but I am going on a tangent here for a sec...

@Zing, in @SoapHobbyJT's first pic, above, see the wire with the handles on each end? That's what I use for cutting a loaf in half diagonally. I remember you asked that question in another post, and I kept meaning to mention that. Some people make their own slicer by wrapping each end of the wire around a wine cork or another object that makes a nice handle. Others replace the blade in their coping saw or hack saw with a wire. However you configure your wire slicer, stand the loaf on its end to slice through it diagonally. ;)
 
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Very nice for a first attempt! And yes, Tree Marie makes very complicated recipes appear quite easy to create. Can't tell you how many of her techniques I've tried to follow, but they rarely turn out looking anything like hers. Ah well. You have the right perspective: it is still soap, and it is still pretty!

Sorry to hijack your post, but I am going on a tangent here for a sec...

@Zing, in her first pic, above, see the wire with the handles on each end? That's what I use for cutting a loaf in half diagonally. I remember you asked that question in another post, and I kept meaning to mention that. Some people make their own slicer by wrapping each end of the wire around a wine cork or another object that makes a nice handle. Others replace the blade in their coping saw or hack saw with a wire. However you configure your wire slicer, stand the loaf on it's end to slice through it diagonally. ;)
Hahaha, that is indeed true. I've made several attempts at soap based purely on that one video with some slight adjustments or additions so it will be a little different (probably not a great idea when I'm trying to get a technique right though.) I've tried to make the tidal flow line pour 5 times, not a single time has come out like the Tree Marie one. 😂

Fortunately, I work in small batches of about 595-624 grams (21-22 oz) which allows me to make more attempts with my oils and try more often without worrying too too much about burying myself under a mountain of soaps. (What a way to go! And I'm going to do my 12th batch this weekend 😁)

For a follow up on that note to Zing:

I've used a couple of different things to slice: bench scraper, clay wire slicer, and a wire cheese slicer.
  1. Bench scraper - I can't seem to cut it straight down ever with one, but that could very well be a me problem. It worked alright, but I had issues sometimes with the drag through also causing soap that wasn't as set up as I thought it was to smear a little on the inside where I was cutting.
  2. The clay wire - I have some issues with that for a while because dragging it all the way to the bottom and through the soap is sometimes difficult if I don't have a way to stand my soap up and put a gap under it and pull through. If I don't manage to pull all the way through, which sometimes happens, I get a bit of a notch at the bottom of my soaps
  3. Wire cheese slicer - My favorite for cutting my small bars of soap. If I had bigger bars or needed to cut along the length, I'd have more trouble because the wire cheese slicer I have will limit how far I can pull it along to cut. I like the wire cheese slicer the most for my purposes, but the downside is that it can only cut in limited ways and only certain depths, widths, and heights.
Vintage-Cheese-Slicer-Wire-Metal-pic-1A-2048%3A10.10-68-f.jpg
I find having something to help guide my cuts is great too (I got a soap cutting box to help me out, but it isn't quite necessary. I've seen people do just fine with a kitchen knife and a cutting board. It's just more convenient for me.)

For what it's worth, I like yours better. Just sayin'!
Thanks! It took some friends pointing it out for me to see that it could look like mountains and rivers and all to make me really start liking that soap at first. 😅
 
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Sorry to hijack your post, but I am going on a tangent here for a sec...

@Zing, in her first pic, above, see the wire with the handles on each end? That's what I use for cutting a loaf in half diagonally. I remember you asked that question in another post, and I kept meaning to mention that. Some people make their own slicer by wrapping each end of the wire around a wine cork or another object that makes a nice handle. Others replace the blade in their coping saw or hack saw with a wire. However you configure your wire slicer, stand the loaf on it's end to slice through it diagonally. ;)
Aha! So that's how the pros do it! Thanks for the hijacking!
 
A

amd

My first soap was made 7 years ago at the end of January. I'd been researching CP for well over a year (and buying from other makers) and finally decided to go in and do it. I hemmed and hawwed for 3 months, and then asked a friend to come over to be the witness for when I blew myself up, so that if my body couldn't be found someone would know what happened. [I should note that this friend is very tolerant of my crazy imagination. She also came over the first time I moved a fridge away from the wall for painting as I was worried the fridge would fall on me and I would be trapped underneath. Thankfully neither explosions or fridge trapping happened.] It went flawlessly and I was hooked.

My first soap was the basic 30/30/30/10 recipe (OO/lard/CO/castor), no FO, no color. I think my second batch was Marie Rayma's (Humblebee and Me) recipe (which was OO/CO/lard/shea/castor but I no longer remember the %), still no FO or color. After that I tweaked that recipe at about a batch a month (4 bars) until I found something my skin liked. I didn't use color or FO until well over a year into my soapmaking - it was expensive and I was super broke at the time. (I actually had to start my business to justify buying FO and colors, haha. Not a recommended business plan.)
 
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My 1st soap was a GoatMilk CPOP. I cant tell you how many youtube videos I watched before buying my first soap supplies to make soap. I burned the milk & it wasn't pretty but I was able to use it, I couldn't of been more proud. The soap bug grabbed me like no other & I haven't stopped since that Day, If I'm not making soap i'm researching or on this social soap forum continuing learning as much as I can. Yes soaping is addicting' but its a wonderful addiction IMHO 😉🤗🧼💫
 

coastmutt

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I made my first last year in November it is cold process, i had bought the supplies in January got interested after watching sofiya nygard make some, which led me to royalty soap youtube videos which led me to bramble berry soap queen which scared me so i didnt touch my supplies til november but decided to give it ago. They have not finished curing yet but i made 3 loafs on the first day of making 2 bastile and one castile they finish curing this weekend so i am excited to try them!
i'm loving those swirls!
 
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My first attempt was a hot mess. I made up a recipe, put it into an old soap calculator website. I had no clue what I was doing. I did not have a stick blender, so I was mixing for hours. The final product was lye heavy.

This was in the time before soap making videos were a a prominent thing on YouTube. People were still playing with flash animation and dinosaurs walked the earth.
 

Becky1024

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My first was a simple recipe that I made hot process because I had been told hot process soap was ready to use in a few days. It made a huge mess in my crockpot and I swore off HP. Now since I’ve learned a lot more HP is not so scary.
 

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