Looking for a soapmaking mentor to work with me through perfecting one recipe

SoapMakingForum

Help Support SoapMakingForum:

Meg Grimm

Member
Joined
May 28, 2020
Messages
5
Reaction score
4
Location
Lemont Furnace, Pa
Hello! When I started writing out the many questions I have to prepare them for this forum, I realized it would be so nice to be able to speak with a knowledgeable person in this field and have a conversation about everything. I would love to engage in a phone conversation or email correspondence with an individual who is willing go to take me under their wing, so-to-speak. If you love soap and helping others, please let me know!

Here is what I'm doing. I started researching and experimenting with soapmaking a little over a year ago. I acquired a goat milk soap recipe from a Mennonite farmer's wife which I want to develop into a quality product for sale. The recipe works great using cold process in the original small quantity. However, when I try to make a larger batch, I begin to run into problems, of course. Currently, I have abandoned cold process since the recipe is olive oil heavy and takes 5 months or longer to cure. I'm not worried about particularly pretty soap - I don't plan on doing any special swirls, and I really like old-fashioned methods and the rustic look anyway. So, I have started experimenting with hot process, but that adds others complications as you know from using milk, like the scorching. Not that big of a deal, but I still want the product to be appealing. Anyway, this is only a sampling of the things I have questions about. I am a researcher, so I've read a lot (and watched too many long videos) about water discounting and other things that can affect your recipe, but being extremely right brained (I'm a writer - the science and numbers are hard for me) I just need some friendly help. Please let me know if I can speak with someone directly. If it's best that I just write out all my questions on various threads, I will begin to do so. Thanks!

This post is long (the writer thing), so if you read this much, thanks! Here's the rest if you're interested. A little back story about why I am doing this.

My 9-year-old nephew was being bullied and really struggling at school, so his parents have moved him to a Christian school. The tuition is high, but he is flourishing there, so no body wants him to have to go back to his public school. But tuition will be a challenge for us. He also has two younger brothers who aren't in school yet. The hope our family has is that all boys will be able to attend at the Christian school. Anyway, I have a little bit of experience in marketing and have always wanted to get into soapmaking. I began to brainstorm a plan to build a small business selling one soap product - at least one recipe perhaps with other scents - to see if I can begin to contribute to tuition costs that way. I have all the other plans in the works, but the soap recipe itself needs a lot more fine-tuning.
 

artemis

Mostly Harmless
Joined
Feb 27, 2016
Messages
1,799
Reaction score
2,560
Location
Sol system, Sector ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha
So many of your questions can be answered right here on the forum without asking any questions, especially if you are into research. Most of what I know I learned just from reading others' questions and answers on the forum.

Topics to search:
1. How to use a lye calculator, so you can accurately scale up a recipe (in case that isn't how you scaled up your recipe)

2. Hot Process soap cure time vs Cold process cure time (spoiler: they're the same)

3. Milk in soap (so much info readily available, from scorching, to best ways to add it in, both CP and HP)

4. Olive oil in soap (or maybe qualities of oils in soap). Not everyone is a big fan of olive oil soaps

5. Read posts by DeAnna and cmzaha and AMD and Earline and....

6. When you think you're ready to sell, search for Am I ready to sell (there's a whole thread on this in the beginner section)

You've got so many mentors already here. 😊
 

lenarenee

Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2014
Messages
3,456
Reaction score
3,010
One problem with finding the "perfect" recipe is everyone's idea of perfect is different. I suggest having fun experimenting with 1 lb batches. Try animal fats and see how you feel about them. Try palm, or palm free recipes - some people don't want to support the palm industry. Some people like to use butters, some think they're too expensive and don't add enough benefit to the soap.

Most soapers soap with a water discount after they've gained some experience, and 33% is pretty common.

I rarely use milk in soap, and when I do it's in powdered form. I also dislike olive oil in large amounts because of the long cure time and the yellowing of the batter - which makes coloring challenging. ( I like knowing exactly what color I'm getting)

As for the boys - I truly hope something works out. The parents should be on the lookout for scholarships; learn what the public middle school is like if they need to switch again, see what charter schools might be around. Good luck to all!
 

TheGecko

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2019
Messages
805
Reaction score
943
Location
Oregon
GMS is not really any different from a non-GMS soap...except for the Goat Milk of course. I make a full GMS...I freeze my GM and use and ice bath. I use Olive, Coconut, Palm and Castor Oils, and Shea Butter. I would be happy to share my recipe with you if you want to try it. I have made up to 6 lb batch and generally cure 6 to 8 weeks because that is my preference.
 

Zany_in_CO

Saponifier
Joined
Mar 9, 2017
Messages
4,688
Reaction score
3,485
Location
SE Denver CO
a goat milk soap recipe from a Mennonite farmer's wife which I want to develop into a quality product for sale. ...
My advice, take @TheGecko up on her generous offer to share her recipe.
I make a full GMS...I freeze my GM and use an ice bath. I use Olive, Coconut, Palm and Castor Oils, and Shea Butter. I would be happy to share my recipe with you if you want to try it. I have made up to 6 lb batch and generally cure 6 to 8 weeks
@TheGecko That combo of oils/butter sounds like a winner! :thumbup:

I made something similar for a wholesale customer for years. All they sold was GM soap. I used their recipes (CP) with the exception that they had goats and used fresh goat milk. I used powdered GM and customers couldn't tell the difference. Plus, it simplified the process with no threat of scorching.

1) Make up the lye solution with distilled water. Refrigerate overnight and soap the next day.
2) Warm your oils, add GM powder and any other additives like fragrance, antioxidants, etc.
3) SB for one full minute to completely incorporate.
4) Add lye straight from the fridge to oils while stirring. Then SB to emulsion stage.
5) Pour into mold. Tap mold on the counter to settle the batter. Cover with plastic wrap. Do not insulate.
6) Unmold the next day.
7) Cut the day after unmolding.
8) Cure 6 to 8 weeks.

I have abandoned cold process since the recipe is olive oil heavy and takes 5 months or longer to cure. ...I really like old-fashioned methods and the rustic look anyway.
It really shouldn't take that long for "olive oil heavy" soap to cure. Every since I started soaping 17 years ago, the recommendation for cure time was 12 weeks - 3 months. I've been making 100% olive oil castile that long and, IMHO & IME that cure time is solid. Note: With apologies to those who disagree, there is a myth circulating around SMF that Castile takes a year to cure. That got started when one soaper decided, many moons ago, to make her castiles at the start of the year so they would have all that time to cure before the Holiday Market season.

Over a 12-year period of experimentation I developed a recipe for "Zany's No Slime (and quick cure) Castile". Try it and see what you think.

HTH and HAPPY SOAPING! happy-feet-penguin.gif

One more thing I forgot to mention. Not all olive oil on your grocer's shelf is safe for soaping. Google adulterated or "fake" olive oil to learn more. EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) is most likely to be adulterdated here in the USA. Best to use Pomace Oil from a reputable supplier like SoapersChoice.com or Costco's Kirkland brand Pure Olive Oil. ;)
 
Last edited:

cmzaha

Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2011
Messages
10,998
Reaction score
9,713
Location
Southern California
I recommend trying various oil combinations. I personally have a huge dislike for any OO soap and my skin also dislikes it. For that matter, I find skin really dislikes high Oleic soaps although I use HO oils such as Sunflower and Canola I keep them in the 15% range. It simply takes testing, but there are many recipes posted in threads in this forum that are worth trying. I know I have some of my recipes posted such as my tallow/lard and my vegan with palm and my high shea recipe. My very favorite is 40-45% tallow with 20-25% lard, 15-17% CO 5% Castor Balance Liquid Oil.

As mentioned, you can find all your answers in this forum.
 

TheGecko

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2019
Messages
805
Reaction score
943
Location
Oregon
@TheGecko That combo of oils/butter sounds like a winner! :thumbup:
Thank you. It’s a bit of work to use fresh goat milk, you have to mix the lye in small amounts to keep the temperature down even with frozen milk and a salted ice bath, but I use that time to melt my hard oils/butter and cool them back down. And I leave my GMS natural with regards to colorants...it just feels right to me.
 

Meg Grimm

Member
Joined
May 28, 2020
Messages
5
Reaction score
4
Location
Lemont Furnace, Pa
So many of your questions can be answered right here on the forum without asking any questions, especially if you are into research. Most of what I know I learned just from reading others' questions and answers on the forum.

Topics to search:
1. How to use a lye calculator, so you can accurately scale up a recipe (in case that isn't how you scaled up your recipe)

2. Hot Process soap cure time vs Cold process cure time (spoiler: they're the same)

3. Milk in soap (so much info readily available, from scorching, to best ways to add it in, both CP and HP)

4. Olive oil in soap (or maybe qualities of oils in soap). Not everyone is a big fan of olive oil soaps

5. Read posts by DeAnna and cmzaha and AMD and Earline and....

6. When you think you're ready to sell, search for Am I ready to sell (there's a whole thread on this in the beginner section)

You've got so many mentors already here. 😊
Thanks artemis!
I will look into all this.
Regarding cure time for hot process vs cold process, it seems to me that soapmakers are often split on this topic. I know someone who used hot process so that she could make and package large wholesale orders ready to go within a few days. A lot of people seem to think hot process cuts the curing time down at least just a little. What are the ways you can tell when a soap is cured sufficiently?
 

Meg Grimm

Member
Joined
May 28, 2020
Messages
5
Reaction score
4
Location
Lemont Furnace, Pa
One problem with finding the "perfect" recipe is everyone's idea of perfect is different. I suggest having fun experimenting with 1 lb batches. Try animal fats and see how you feel about them. Try palm, or palm free recipes - some people don't want to support the palm industry. Some people like to use butters, some think they're too expensive and don't add enough benefit to the soap.

Most soapers soap with a water discount after they've gained some experience, and 33% is pretty common.

I rarely use milk in soap, and when I do it's in powdered form. I also dislike olive oil in large amounts because of the long cure time and the yellowing of the batter - which makes coloring challenging. ( I like knowing exactly what color I'm getting)

As for the boys - I truly hope something works out. The parents should be on the lookout for scholarships; learn what the public middle school is like if they need to switch again, see what charter schools might be around. Good luck to all!
Thanks lenarenee, for all the suggestions!
And thank you for your note about my nephews. I have a feeling they will try to return to public school when middle school comes around, but we'll see. I'm very grateful there are options and that we can give this school a try. My nephew is like a whole new kid since switching. Thanks again for your well wishes!
 

Meg Grimm

Member
Joined
May 28, 2020
Messages
5
Reaction score
4
Location
Lemont Furnace, Pa
GMS is not really any different from a non-GMS soap...except for the Goat Milk of course. I make a full GMS...I freeze my GM and use and ice bath. I use Olive, Coconut, Palm and Castor Oils, and Shea Butter. I would be happy to share my recipe with you if you want to try it. I have made up to 6 lb batch and generally cure 6 to 8 weeks because that is my preference.
Thank you so much!
I would love to take you up on this offer. Those are the ingredients in my current recipe, except mine calls for avocado oil and not palm. I have an interest in trying to add (or replace something with) tallow, since it supposedly makes a harder bar of soap. But I think my soap is likely struggling in the hardness department because I am not scaling it correctly. Is that the right word? The original recipe works, but it's for a 11oz batch. When I try to make a larger batch, the soap seems to stay soft for an especially long time. I would be so honored if you shared your recipe with me. I'm very interested in trying it and finding what I can learn from it/you. My email is megt7@yahoo.com
Thanks again!
 

Meg Grimm

Member
Joined
May 28, 2020
Messages
5
Reaction score
4
Location
Lemont Furnace, Pa
My advice, take @TheGecko up on her generous offer to share her recipe.

@TheGecko
That combo of oils/butter sounds like a winner! :thumbup:

I made something similar for a wholesale customer for years. All they sold was GM soap. I used their recipes (CP) with the exception that they had goats and used fresh goat milk. I used powdered GM and customers couldn't tell the difference. Plus, it simplified the process with no threat of scorching.

1) Make up the lye solution with distilled water. Refrigerate overnight and soap the next day.
2) Warm your oils, add GM powder and any other additives like fragrance, antioxidants, etc.
3) SB for one full minute to completely incorporate.
4) Add lye straight from the fridge to oils while stirring. Then SB to emulsion stage.
5) Pour into mold. Tap mold on the counter to settle the batter. Cover with plastic wrap. Do not insulate.
6) Unmold the next day.
7) Cut the day after unmolding.
8) Cure 6 to 8 weeks.


It really shouldn't take that long for "olive oil heavy" soap to cure. Every since I started soaping 17 years ago, the recommendation for cure time was 12 weeks - 3 months. I've been making 100% olive oil castile that long and, IMHO & IME that cure time is solid. Note: With apologies to those who disagree, there is a myth circulating around SMF that Castile takes a year to cure. That got started when one soaper decided, many moons ago, to make her castiles at the start of the year so they would have all that time to cure before the Holiday Market season.

Over a 12-year period of experimentation I developed a recipe for "Zany's No Slime (and quick cure) Castile". Try it and see what you think.

HTH and HAPPY SOAPING! View attachment 46481
Zaney,

Thank you so much for your advice! I did take @TheGecko up on the recipe offer. I am really interested in the methods you listed for making the GM soap, such as refrigerating the lye solution overnight. However, is there another reason for that step other than chilling it? I use frozen goat milk for my lye solution, and the container is down in an ice bath to prevent it from getting too hot. That's how I was taught to do it. I've never done it any other way.

I will be trying these tips that you gave for sure.

One other thing that is confusing me is that I'm not sure if my lye solution applies the same way as normal water and lye solution since I do not use water, just the goat milk. A friend of mine provides me with goat milk, so I'm not using powdered and have never thought to try. So when I read things about topics like water discounting, etc., do I apply the principles exactly the same way to my goat milk lye solution as I would the water lye solution?

I really appreciate you replying. Thanks again!
 

TheGecko

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2019
Messages
805
Reaction score
943
Location
Oregon
I would love to take you up on this offer. Those are the ingredients in my current recipe, except mine calls for avocado oil and not palm. I have an interest in trying to add (or replace something with) tallow, since it supposedly makes a harder bar of soap. But I think my soap is likely struggling in the hardness department because I am not scaling it correctly. Is that the right word? The original recipe works, but it's for a 11oz batch. When I try to make a larger batch, the soap seems to stay soft for an especially long time. I would be so honored if you shared your recipe with me. I'm very interested in trying it and finding what I can learn from it/you.
Yes, you do have to scale your ingredients correctly and a soap calculator can help you do that. I use SoapCalc and enter my recipe in percentages or weight and then tell it how many ounces oils I want to use based on the size of my mold and then print it out. And regardless of how many times I use the recipe, I always print out a new sheet as a record of the soap I made that day. I then sit down and enter my notes in Soapmaker and then put the sheet in a binder as backup.

I have found that larger batches of soap take longer to harden than smaller batches...mold wise. I can unmold a 1 lb mold in about 12 hours, while my 4 lb mold takes a couple of days. But once the soap is cut, it cures in the same amount of time.

I have not used Lard or Tallow myself though I did pick up some Lard to try...just because. Give me a bit and I'll email you my GMS recipe.
 

Kiti Williams

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
712
Reaction score
482
Location
Pottstown
I make a very basic soap that sells like hot cakes in my area. Considering it can be billed as Vegan and cruelty free - just adds to the appeal.
 

Zany_in_CO

Saponifier
Joined
Mar 9, 2017
Messages
4,688
Reaction score
3,485
Location
SE Denver CO
I am really interested in the methods you listed for making the GM soap, such as refrigerating the lye solution overnight. However, is there another reason for that step other than chilling it? I use frozen goat milk for my lye solution, and the container is down in an ice bath to prevent it from getting too hot. That's how I was taught to do it. I've never done it any other way.
I really appreciate you replying. Thanks again!
You're very welcome, Meg!
Your method of making GM soap is traditional and most soapers prefer it. Since you have fresh goat milk available, I see no reason to change you method. With The Gecko's help I'm confident you'll get the "perfect" soap of your dreams. Practice truly is the best teacher! ;) Oh! I should add, "except for mistakes"! They are good teachers as well. 😄
 

artemis

Mostly Harmless
Joined
Feb 27, 2016
Messages
1,799
Reaction score
2,560
Location
Sol system, Sector ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha
Regarding cure time for hot process vs cold process...
This is where your excellent research skills will come in handy here on the forum.

The quick answer: HP is *safe* to use as soon as it's in the mold. CP is safe to use in a day or two. Curing is different-- the soap loses water and changes over time. That happens to HP and CP. 4-6 weeks for most recipes, a few need many months to a year. Your soap will be gentler and longer-lasting after a cure, whether it's CP or HP.

A quick search here on the forum will help you learn more about how this works.
 

Latest posts

Top