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Catscankim

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Made the lemon bars recipe from BB. I think they might turn out ok just not pretty. But why am i struggling so much? I know its going to be a lot of practice so early on. But nothing is going so well.

I did the recipe to a T.. not one .0000001 ounce over or under on any ingredient. I got accustomed to grams on prior recipes, but this whole thing was in ounces per the recipe so thats what i used. And its a beginner soap recipe.

I had a prior recipe ( not this one) seize up on me. THIS recipe i was supposed to be able to be able to pour or lightly “spoon” in the batter like thin pudding to make a layer. I musta watched the video and read the instructions a hundred times, and i had the instructions right in front of me. Everything was measured out ahead of time.

i barely used the stick blender at all. Got all the lye/water blended in with the (EXPENSIVE oils and butters) in with a few short pulses and mixing with the stick by hand a lot. Never SB’ed again, just a whisk. Seriously less than a minute. The instructions even said to SB after it was divided, but it knew it was already too thick so i just mixed with a spoon.

within a few minutes it was all gloppy again. Not seized, but waaaay thicker than i wanted for a nice pour. I had to work super fast because it was so thick.

I am getting so disheartened. I Had another recipe i wanted to make tonight but i give up tonight. Im in Florida, but my house is super cold. Its not the heat or humidity.

Stick blender was on the lowest setting.

eeerrrrrggggg

so many recipes i want to try but i dont want to waste money.

My sister is a graphic designer and does a lot of marketing etc. I mentioned making a few soaps for her one BIG customer in the FUTURE and she ran with it. Im like give me a sec lol.

Im under a lot of pressure right now. Im not ready to try to sell. Not even a little bit.
 

shunt2011

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First off you should never follow a recipe found online without running it through a soap calculator to verify it's correct. Also, you can then use grams.

Did you use fragrance? If you post the recipe we may be better able to help. Also, using expensive ingredients will quickly break the bank

I would use simple recipes until you get it down. Expensive ingredients don't necessarily make a better soap anyway.

Also, I wouldn't recommend making soap for anyone until you've got a lot of experience under your belt. Generally when you can troubleshoot your own problem within reason and you have a stable recipe that's been tested long term to make sure it doesn't develop DOS or other issues. It's generally recommended to wait about a year.
 

artemis

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Also, I wouldn't recommend making soap for anyone until you've got a lot of experience under your belt.
Especially for someone else's "Big Customer." If it bothers her when you decline, remind her that it's her image that would be harmed if something went bad down the line (a reaction to the soap, DOS, morphing color or fragrance...).
 

TheGecko

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Ah hon...the first three months I made soap the majority of my soaps failed or didn’t turn out the way I planned. Even after a year, my recipe still manages to throw me a curve ball now and again. I’ve had it where it has taken an hour before I could texture the top. I’ve gone from emulsion to pudding in the time it took to run the bathroom and wee.

I’ve watched folks on YouTube who have been soaping for years have perfect batches, have not not so perfect batches, and have to stuff their pudding into a mold and make the best of it.

A few notes on what you said. 1) Not every stick blender is the same. Different speeds, different housings. Even the size of the container you mix you soap in can make a difference. 2) You mentioned mixing with the SB by hand a lot, using a whisk, using a spoon. Every motion you make or don't make contributes to how your batter turns out. 3) You are trying different recipes all the time. Five friends can give you their recipe for chocolate cake and not only is each going to turn out differently, it will turn out differently from how they make it.

And lastly...even with a single tried and true recipe, you need a minimum of six months before you start selling soap...a year is even better. About six months plus after I started making soap, I ended up with a table at a craft fair. I made a fair amount of money yes, but more importantly I learned that I was not ready because all I was selling were one-off batches of soap. Two soaps I ran out of was Lemon Sherbet and Chocolate Espresso...not because they were necessarily huge sellers, but because I had only ever made one batch. It took three tries before my Lemon Sherbet was consistent, seven tries for Chocolate Espresso and it’s not quite the same every time simply because I don’t have a temperature controlled environment, but it’s better than it was.
 

BattleGnome

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I’d also just like to add, bramblenergy recipes aren’t very good. They certainly aren’t bad recipes and are good for learning but you’ll find crafting your own recipe will most likely be much better. Brambleberry recipes want to sell that expensive ingredient more than they want to make sure that ingredient is used well.
 

Megan

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1. I wouldn't recommend beginners use expensive oils in their soaps. I wouldn't recommend anyone using expensive oils in their soaps, but especially at the beginning because you are going to have your fair share of failures.
2. You're worried about wasting money...but while you're learning, that's just basically going to happen. You can try smaller batches, that might help. Soapmaking can be an extremely expensive hobby.
3. You've been making soap for less than two weeks, so don't be to hard on yourself. It took me at least a month of soaping nearly every day before I came up with something that I didn't feel was trash.
4. It also sounds like the soap turned out...maybe it will have a few air bubbles because of the thickness, but it's still useable soap!
 

LilianNoir

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First of all, I FEEL you soap-sister. I too am still new (technically soaping for a 1.5 year but due to life, didn't get to do as much soaping a I wanted last year) and have experienced no lack of frustration. My first and second batches went so well, and everything after that has felt like a disaster.
I also want to, eventually sell but like you, I know that I'm not ready.
Being in Florida (hello from Orlando)also carries it's own set of challenges, as we have a very humid environment, even with the A/C. Even inside, I can see my lye reacting with water in the air when I pour it to measure. 🤣 And having the AC running (in my house, constantly since we have poor insulation) can also cause some variance.

All that to say: Be patient with yourself! This is chemistry! And honestly, while the steps themselves are easy, the process of making soap involves a lot of variables, only some of which we can control! Things are bound to go not to plan, and I've learned that that's kind of part of soapmaking.

The great thing about soap is that there's really no "failure". Even the worst soap batch can be saved in some way, whether through re-batch/HP or repurposing for embeds or laundry soap.
Years ago I was interested in doing fancy gourmet cupcakes (even before they were trendy). It's not really surprising, baking can be a lot like soap in that it's really pure chemistry, requires precision and allows for creativity. And, like soap, there are a multitude of ways for things to go badly. But unlike soap, bad cake is bad cake and there's nothing much to do with it but throw it in the trash. I got tired of wasting ingredients. (I also discovered I was celiac not long after and working w/ gluten free flour is even more expensive).

Sometimes it helps to think : what's the worst that can happen? It helps to keep things in perspective, and remind you of the important parts. With soap, the worse that can happen (not speaking about safety issues of course) is the soap is either too lye heavy or too oil heavy. Both of those have solutions. They may not be what you originally intended but it's still something that can be worked with and more importantly, learned from.

While there's definitely lessons to be learned from trying new recipes, it might be good to try the same recipe a few times over. You can change up color, swirl technique, scent, lye/water concentration, temps. But keep the base recipe the same.

It might also help to write out a checklist for yourself to help you keep track. I made a somewhat similar post to this one not too long ago XD and in there I came up with a checklist that I'm going to print out and keep in a plastic sleeve at my workstation. If you look at my recent posts you should see it.

So keep at it, but don't forget to breathe. :) Take a few days away from it, and if you find yourself still thinking about soap, reviewing what you did and looking to improve again, well, it's time to try again. :)
 

Catscankim

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You guys are great. Thank for listening to me whine lol.

Hello Lilian Noir in Orlando! I am in port st lucie.

I guess it didnt turn out as bad as i thought, i just unmolded a few of them (12 bar mold). the batter was so hard to get in the molds. Theres a lot of uneven spots. I will post a picture. But over all not as bad as i thought.

i wouldnt dream of trying to sell soap right now. I know that is in the distant future. Im thinking maybe a year or so. plus theres a lot to learn about business, taxes, etc.

The recipe did have some flaws with the coloring that i had to work out, so maybe there was some flaws with the other ingredients too. My new homework is learning how to use the soap calc. Which i did tinker with last week, but not enough to really know what i am doing. I thought that by trying a “tried and true” recipe would help me gain some skills.

The recipe:

2.1 oz. Mango Butter (5%)
16.8 oz. Olive Oil (40%)
10.5 oz. Palm Oil (25%)
10.5 oz. Coconut Oil (25%)
2.1 oz. Jojoba Oil (5%)
5.8 oz. Sodium Hydroxide Lye
11.7 oz. Distilled Water (10% water discount)
2.5 oz. Lemon Bar Fragrance Oil

The picture:

So far the scent is divine! Smells like lemon cookies, the sandwich ones, like oreos but lemon.

and that 12 bar mold sucks! Its too floppy. You cant pat it down to get things even and remove air bubbles. You cant pick it up without it flopping around. Next time i will put it on something sturdy like a cutting board or sheet pan. I had to slide it off the counter onto a baking pan to get it to the “curing room”
 

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LilianNoir

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Well you're certainly being too hard on yourself(I'm guilty of it myself). I think those look lovely.

ETA I think I have that mold, or a similar one, and I know what you mean about it being floppy. I've learned with silicone molds like that to put on a cookie sheet so I can tap it on the counter easier.
 

Catscankim

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The tops look super cute. But theres spaces between the yellow and brown from trying to glop the soap in. I needed thinner i think.

plus... do you think something scrubby like walnut or apricot in the brown might make it exfoliating and make it look more like graham cracker crust?
 

ShySoaper

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You guys are great. Thank for listening to me whine lol.

Hello Lilian Noir in Orlando! I am in port st lucie.

I guess it didnt turn out as bad as i thought, i just unmolded a few of them (12 bar mold). the batter was so hard to get in the molds. Theres a lot of uneven spots. I will post a picture. But over all not as bad as i thought.

i wouldnt dream of trying to sell soap right now. I know that is in the distant future. Im thinking maybe a year or so. plus theres a lot to learn about business, taxes, etc.

The recipe did have some flaws with the coloring that i had to work out, so maybe there was some flaws with the other ingredients too. My new homework is learning how to use the soap calc. Which i did tinker with last week, but not enough to really know what i am doing. I thought that by trying a “tried and true” recipe would help me gain some skills.

The recipe:

2.1 oz. Mango Butter (5%)
16.8 oz. Olive Oil (40%)
10.5 oz. Palm Oil (25%)
10.5 oz. Coconut Oil (25%)
2.1 oz. Jojoba Oil (5%)
5.8 oz. Sodium Hydroxide Lye
11.7 oz. Distilled Water (10% water discount)
2.5 oz. Lemon Bar Fragrance Oil

The picture:
This is BB lemon bar recipe with added lemon zest. Went well for me except I’m a peeker so had a bit of soda ash which I washed off. Rather my own soap recipes though they are more nourishing and got way more good stuff in them. I also added aloe Vera gel for the water content
 

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Catscankim

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LOL. I am not just a peeker. Im a stalker. Girl i work with tonight asked me how my soaping is coming along. Im like omg i cant wait to check on my new one. Then a friend from 1100 miles away in philly asked/texted what im doing, i replied....admiring my soap lmao. I am obsessed!

They are pretty ShySoaper

🤣🤣🤣🤣
 

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ShySoaper

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LOL. I am not just a peeker. Im a stalker. Girl i work with tonight asked me how my soaping is coming along. Im like omg i cant wait to check on my new one. Then a friend from 1100 miles away in philly asked/texted what im doing, i replied....admiring my soap lmao. I am obsessed!
What I do to stop myself from peeking put the soap in an empty brown package box and tape it close. The only way I’m getting in is to untape the box 📦 lol but it works. It’s summer in NYC so it’s not too bad with the peeking these days. I just put the soap in the wooden mold and slide in the transparent covers. The soap gels in there quite well in the hot box basement.
 

shunt2011

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Peeking shouldn't be enough to give you ash unless you're leaving it uncovered for a long time. I check on mine until they are in full gel and then lighten the insulation. I rarely ever get ash.
 

bookreader451

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I have some floppy silicone molds and I put them in a shallow box for stability. You still can't pound them down like loaf molds but it makes it easier to move them out of the way and cover them
 

TheGecko

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I guess it didnt turn out as bad as i thought, i just unmolded a few of them (12 bar mold). the batter was so hard to get in the molds. Theres a lot of uneven spots. I will post a picture. But over all not as bad as i thought.

So far the scent is divine! Smells like lemon cookies, the sandwich ones, like oreos but lemon.

and that 12 bar mold sucks! Its too floppy. You cant pat it down to get things even and remove air bubbles. You cant pick it up without it flopping around. Next time i will put it on something sturdy like a cutting board or sheet pan. I had to slide it off the counter onto a baking pan to get it to the “curing room”

do you think something scrubby like walnut or apricot in the brown might make it exfoliating and make it look more like graham cracker crust?
Those turned out really nice. Yes, your batter does need to be thinner/fluid to pour into a cavity mold(s). It used to really bother me that my soaps weren't 'perfect', but I'm okay with it now.

I bought the entire Dreamy Desserts Collection and I absolutely love the Lemon Bar! And the Chocolate Orange. The Cinnamon Swirl is my least favorite so I will probably find someone to gift it to. I just need to get a new mold...can't decide between the 9-bar or 18-bar.

All my cavity molds are set on either a cutting board or cookie sheet because of the floppiness. I learned that lesson after trying to pick up a mold and spilling half of the soap on my counter.

I like walnut shells, but then I have to put a red warning on my label for those with nut allergies. I know that a lot of folks use Apricot Seeds/Powder.
 
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LilianNoir

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something scrubby like walnut or apricot in the brown might make it exfoliating and make it look more like graham cracker crust?
Oh yeah, I can see that for sure.
I had and still have the problem of batter being a bit thicker than you want/intend. From everything I've read this is pretty common for when you're starting and understanding when trace starts.
Moving forward I'm making it my personal objective to start practicing blending to emulsion and not worrying about trace as much. Because once things are fully emulsified, saponification will happen on it's own regardless of if you blend.
 

CatahoulaBubble

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I've been soaping for over 15 years now and I still have batches that don't turn out to plan. Almost every batch I make ends up having a surprise that wasn't expected but the thing about soap is generally it still becomes soap as long as you have the measurements of your oils and lye correct. Seriously I constantly over stick blend even though I know better. One thing that can help though is soaping at a lower temp. It's possible that your temps were too high and that's why it started thickening. I try to soap between 86-90*F. When I first started I was soaping at around 96-100* and my batter would always get too thick to get a nice pour.

Melt your solid oils first then add them to the liquid oils and take the temperature. Mix your lye and water solution ahead of time so it has time to cool down. When you add your melted oils to the liquid oils, stick blend them together and then add the lye. Try only stick blending on low for 3 seconds and then stir it until it gets to the consistency you want. Giving the soap time it will always thicken to trace it just takes longer. And don't give up, everything takes practice. Just experiment with smaller batches so you don't waste as much money on oils and butters and try using less expensive oils until you get comfortable. As for making a batch for your sister's big customer, wait til you find just the right recipe and work out the kinks. Soap making for most of us is a hobby or even a craft but we do it because we enjoy it. Even when it turns out bad we learn something from the experience.
 

Catscankim

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Catahoula... thank you for so many great tips!

i followed the recipe, so i used the temps that the recipe recommended. Up until now i have only made olive oil soap, except for one lard soap, which i might try agin tomorrow.And for everything but the cutting, they have been coming out pretty good so far, i think.

this is the first time using other oils and butters. I need to find ONE recipe that will be MY soap for all my bars that i can perfect, and eventually sell down the line. I want it to be really good.

But i know everything is practice right now....trying to learn the science of all the ingredients.

By the time I have a sellable soap, me and my sister are going to have BAGS of imperfect soap lol.

I presume you have a catahoula. i have one too. Long story short, shes a rescue, sorta. She is my bosses friends dog who went to hospice but they had nowhere to put the dog, so i took her.

Got her in december. Shes an old girl. She is so sweet. Almost 100% deaf. Gets along with the cat. walks around like a baby giraffe most of the time because i think her hips hurt, but if she sees a rabbit, she turns into a greyhound lol. We are developing doggie sign language. She definitely knows “mom is mad“ face lol.

She looks so regal here
 

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