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Mostly Harmless
Feb 27, 2016
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Sol system, Sector ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha
I'm a bull-in-a-china-shop kind of gal. I grew up with my dad saying, "if at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer."

So, when I decided to make soap, I bought the NaOH at the Lowe's, found a recipe online, and just tried it. I know there are a few here who also jumped right in, but more and more I'm seeing people who are researching for months before even making their first loaf of soap.

My question is: did you jump in feet first? Or did you take your time starting? Why?
I brought up the idea with my hubby one summer night when we were camping, he was fully supportive and I watched all of Anne Marie's videos before scouring yard sales for items I could use. I made my first batch and we were able to give them out as Christmas gifts. So, I guess I'm kinda in the middle? A couple of weeks of research, some time to gather supplies and then I jumped right in! That was 7 ½ years ago...
I started with M&P and did that for a couple of years. Somewhere during that time I took a community ed class with a friend to learn CP soap making. Neither of us pursued it for awhile. Then she decided to try it and asked me to be there with her for her first batch. During the next year she kept encouraging me to try making it myself. Eventually the draw of all the techniques and different looks of CP overcame my reluctance to mix the lye solution. One time making CP and I've never looked back. I'm not knocking M&P at all. But there is something so much more satisfying for me in watching the magic happen. And also the excitement of cutting a loaf that turned out well.
I'm usually a jump in feet first kinda person, but with soap I ended up doing the research first. It wasn't intentional, it was circumstances, but it turned out to be a good thing.
After raising our kids in a home we owned for 30 yrs we decided it was time to leave Denver and move to a small town. Looking at houses, packing 30 yrs worth of crap plus cleaning, painting etc. left no time or space for a new hobby. So I researched it during the day while working and finally after moving and unpacking had my first chance! :)
I researched for a couple months first. Probably because I loved the movie Fight Club when I was in high school and was terrified of lye, but also because I am a research first kinda gal. I would say it paid off though - even my first soaps were pretty fantastic. Or at least, they were bubbly and really soapy, which just amazed me. So, yup. Hooked.
I'm a bull-in-a-china-shop kind of gal. I grew up with my dad saying, "if at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer."

So, when I decided to make soap, I bought the NaOH at the Lowe's, found a recipe online, and just tried it. I know there are a few here who also jumped right in, but more and more I'm seeing people who are researching for months before even making their first loaf of soap.

My question is: did you jump in feet first? Or did you take your time starting? Why?
I researched first. I did a lot of reading and even more watching videos. The reason why is the lye. It scared me at first. I have no children in the house, but I have a special needs child who is very high level and will follow directions when told to. I wanted to have a clear knowledge of what to do without having to constantly check notes to make sure I was doing things in the right order. I've only made 4 bataches, but they are coming along fine.
My mom used to make soap (purely functional, nothing fancy, no fragrances, no colour, slab mold my Dad made for her (wish I still had it), made with cleaned kitchen oils) so I was familiar with the process. When I started, jumped right in, made some very ugly batches, and gave it up for a few years until I stumbled across this forum. The rest, as they say, is history.
I did watch quite a bit of YouTube videos, which is what got me interested on this, then I started researching and stumbled in to this place, and read also quite a bit about it. The thing is, i don't have that much money to just use in a hobby, and I knew I needed to buy a few things like Thebes's stick blender and the scale, so I read quite a bit before starting because I just didn't want to waste money. Then there was the problem with colorantes and different oils that I also had to research a lot of because I couldn't just go to Walmart and get them. So yeah, it took me a few months to get started, but I am almost reaching my second year making soap! (And I just made my first beer soap because I always end up drinking it and not using it for soap ha).
About 4 years ago (almost exactly I think) I picked up a M&P kit at michaels on a whim/making items for a swap. Kinda hated the directions given with the kit and went to see if there was “more” I could do with it. Kinda jumped in feet first with M&P (got 20# of a white base I’m still working with) and looking for YouTube for this unidentified “more” that I wanted. The more M&P videos I watched the more I saw how much could be done with CP. I promised myself I wasn’t going to get into CP (lye was scary) then I gave in (all of 4 months after discovering people still made soap at home). It definitely gave me that sense of “more” that I was looking for.
I jumped in completely blind. I had some personal stuff going on and was pretty depressed, and looking at Amazon (as one does...) it recommended a soapmaking book to me on Kindle. I had never heard of soapmaking before but thought a new hobby might do me some good. (It was also in winter in Missouri so there's not very much one could do.)
I downloaded the book and made my soap that same day, using NaOH from the hardware store and whatever oils I could find at Walmart. I didn't even know you're supposed to run the recipe through soapcalc, so didn't do that either. Luckily at least I had some safety goggles from woodworking.
It turned out to be a surprisingly decent soap, considering it was my first time and it had goat milk in it and I was also really trying to do some layers because that's what the soaps in the recipe book also had.
But overall, I do not recommend my method to people...
Depending on the danger level of whatever it is I'm trying out, I'll either jump right in or else slow down my horses and take time to do more research first.

With lye-based soap, I took things slow and spent about a year of reading through posts over at the now defunct Dish Forum before attempting my first batch (the SMF forum did not exist yet back then.....and neither did YouTube for that matter- it was officially activated about 1 month after I made my first batch).

It took me so long to jump in because I was terrified of working with lye, but as with Mobjack Bay's experience above, it still wasn't long enough for me to be able to avoid some of the newbie problems........ simply because I didn't know yet about some things that I just didn't know about yet......

My first batch was an epic fail- it turned out very lye heavy and broke into a thousand brittle shards when trying to cut it. My second batch was a fail, too, but on the opposite end of the was inadvertently made with a 25% superfat, which wouldn't be a problem if certain other fats had been employed instead, but I happened to have used a lot of canola oil high in linoleic acid, and it dossed horribly after 4 weeks.

Not to be daunted (I don't give up easily), I thankfully learned from my mistakes and my (successful) third batch was the charm that got me hopelessly and irretrievably hooked.

IrishLass :)
I jumped right in - bought a kit - amazingly enough there were kits available 17 years ago when I started, but not much info online on how to actually make soap, and no forums for sure - the kit came with lye, oils, scent, and a mold. Made the soap according to the instructions that came with the kit. The oils it came with made 2 2lb batches. I tried to create my own recipe for my 3rd batch but knew NOTHING about oil properties and used about 25% stearic acid (literally because I had it on hand from candlemaking). LOL Yeah, that batch was an epic fail. My 4th batch I decided to melt down the 3rd batch and incorporate it in the new 100% OO batch. Umm, yeah.. LOL
After that I decided I better learn how to do this thing properly (even with the fails I still loved it) Since learning properties of oils, using a soap calculator (or doing the math myself) my 5th batch was marvelous and I haven't looked back since.
The first 4 batches were made within 2-3 weeks of receiving my kit. The 5th batch about 3 weeks after that, and as it goes, the rest is history and I haven't looked back. Just kept researching testing, etc.., That was in Jan of 2003. I think I finally settled on my main recipe somewhere around 2006 or 2007, and still use it today, however, I do still experiment quite often.
I think I first learned about forums and started posting sometime in mid 2008? And they've just gotten better and better with more updated information, etc.,
I bought the first box of melt and pour I ever saw at Michael's and loved it. Put down the hobby for a few years until I saw Safia Nygaard's video where she made a kit from Brambleberry. I watched a dozen BB YouTube vids and ordered a kit within a few days. I've been hooked since
I jumped in head first. Maybe like a week after I discovered a soap making video online. I couldn't even wait for my shipment of supplies to arrive, so I hand stirred my first batch of high OO soap!!! Needless to say, I don't think I want to ever take that approach again.
My question is: did you jump in feet first? Or did you take your time starting? Why?
I took my time starting. I read a lot on the interwebs, but oddly didn't watch any videos, it didn't even occur to me that there was such a thing on YT until I got to this forum... ahem, enablers. I probably spent a good year reading blogs, Soap Queen and HumbleBee and Me. I bought a bottle of lye from Chemistry Store, and it sat there for a couple months. Finally called a friend over to witness me blowing myself up (this was the same friend that came over when I was painting my kitchen to watch me move the fridge in case it fell on me and squished me to death. She's a good friend.) so I was glad when that didn't happen [the blowing up I mean]. I was probably more obsessed about reading different oil properties and formulations, and tweaking recipes than actually making it, I did fairly well only making one small batch (I think 12-14oz) a month to test different recipes. It wasn't until I started using colors and fragrances that things got out of hand.

ETA: they "why" I did it that way was because I didn't have a lot of time for hobbies at that point, so I really was just making soap to meet our cleanliness needs.

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