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Jan 30, 2014
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Hi everyone! I'm very new to this forum, and quite new in the soap making business. Actually, I have never made soap before and I should be getting my first pounds of MP soap in the mail soon, and I'm quite nervous (still very excited though!)

I ordered the mango butter melt and pour base from Natures Garden.

So, I have a bunch of newbie questions for you pros. I'm sorry if they have been answered before.

First question is: Can you re-melt the MP base with fragrance oil and colorants if it starts to get too thick to pour into the molds?

2. What oils work best for superfatting without compromising the soaps lather and texture? And when I mix in colorants, should I mix it in oils, water or a small amount of melted soap before adding it to the large Pyrex? What happens if I use too much oil/water?

3. When using exfoliants and other additives in MP soap (I'm thinking of using coconut, ground oats, clays, lemon zest and eventually lavender flowers), when should they be added to the mix? Do they spoil quickly inside the soap, or does it somehow preserve them?

4. How long would you say that the general shelf life for a soap is?

5. Can I take one of my soap bars, re-melt it, add water, preservative and maybe xanthan gum to create a lathering shower gel? Has anyone tried this?

6. The INCI of this soap base is the following:

Glycerin (Vegetable glycerin), sodium stearate, sodium myristate, sodium cocoate, cocoa nucifera (coconut) oil, elaeis guineensis (palm) oil, helianthus annus (sunflower) oil, purified water (aqua), mangifera indica (mango butter), titanium dioxide. (see disclaimer above).

Maybe a stupid questions, but are all these ingredients still in the soap after it has been cured, or are some of them somehow evaporated? I noticed that the sodium hydroxide wasn't in the INCI from what I can tell. If I plan on selling the soaps, do I have to copy this entire INCI or can some ingredients be excluded?

Thank you all so much in advance and happy soaping!

1 - yes. i remelt soaps that were already molded lotsa times w/o any problem. that's the beauty of mp. you can remelt it many times till you get it right.

2 - 'm not really a fan of adding too much stuff into mp. but if you must, then i suggest start with a small amount, like 1 tsp ppo (per pound of oil).
colorants, that depends. with micas, you can add it straight to your melted soap. ditto with liquid ones. adding excessive water will cause the soap to having problems hardening up properly, and so it ain't something i suggested. that said, when i wanna add titanium dioxide, i did mix it with water 1st. a couple tsps aren't gonna matter from my experience.

3 - to your melted soap.

4 - not too sure. but i reckon more than a year. i'll let the more experienced answer this question further

5 - this i dunno as i have never tried it :) as far as i know it is doable with cp soap, but i ain't too sure about mp soap.

6 - sodium hydroxide wasn't there, coz it's no longer there after it has saponified. take sodium stearate for example, that used to be stearic acid before it saponified with sodium hydroxide to become sodium stearate.

i'll let others answer your other questions, coz that's how far my understanding is about these issues.

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Hi Fernanda, welcome! I'll try to answer your questions in the order you asked them:

1. Yes, you can re-melt your fragranced and colored MP, just make sure to gently remelt and not overheat so much that you burn off your fragrance.

2. Any oil will work for superfatting, but do not go over 1 tbsp of additives per pound of base. When you mix colorants, it is generally recommended to mix them with glycerin, so that you do not compromise MP base with too much water or oil.

3. Some of the things you mention will brown in the soap, it is best to experiment and see for yourself which hold up best. Lavender flowers for instance will turn brown, but calendula flowers do not. I usually just add powdered exfoliants right to the melted base. If I want something to stay suspended (oats for instance), I will wait until the base cools a bit and then add my oats and keep stirring until they stay suspended when I pour.

4. The shelf life of soap is long, but the fragrances or additives may not last as long; again, this is where you should experiment and keep track of your individual results.

5. I can't comment on this, I haven't tried it.

6. The sodium hydroxide is noted in the ingredient list, but only in the way the oils are listed. 'Sodium cocoate' is the result of coconut oil + sodium hydroxide, so that is why the sodium hydroxide is not listed separately. You can list your ingredients as they were before saponification or after saponification, which is how they are noted in your ingredient list. And yes, all of those ingredients are still present in the soap, and you would have to include any other ingredients you have added.

If you are considering selling your soaps at some point, I can't stress enough how much you should experiment and research before you consider selling. There are a lot of variables, and lots trial and error (and note taking!) are always a good way to learn before you start selling. Ask lots of questions too, you are off to a good start! Good luck!
Thank you both so much for the answers, that was very helpful! I was concerned about mixing mica powders into the base and getting clumps, but I will try the glycerin tip! :)

Also I remembered one more question I have but maybe this only applies for CP soaps, in all the recipes and video tutorials I see everybody is talking about waiting for the soap to trace before pouring it into the mold. Why is this? What are the consequences of pouring in the melted soap before it's traces?
i have never encountered clumped micas with mp coz the powder is so fine, and i personally don't like adding more glycerin to my base coz i live in such a high humidity climate. but of course, if climate is not the issue, mixing it first with glycerin will ensure a more smooth process.

you were right, trace applies to CP (and HP) soap only. we don't have trace in mp, but i think you already know that. my simplest understanding is, with trace, you wanna make sure the fats and lye mixture are incorporated nicely in order for saponification to take place.
Also I remembered one more question I have but maybe this only applies for CP soaps, in all the recipes and video tutorials I see everybody is talking about waiting for the soap to trace before pouring it into the mold. Why is this? What are the consequences of pouring in the melted soap before it's traces?

CP soap isn't melted. Instead, we're making an emulsion between the oils and the water that the lye is dissolved in, using the first bits of soap formed to hold the emulsion together. Pour it too early and you don't have enough soap to keep it together, and the emulsion breaks. Think of it like a salad dressing-- vinegar and oil can be emulsified together to form a dressing, but it quickly separates. Add some mustard or mayonnaise, and they act as a binder holding the emulsion together.

As for the consequences of the proto-soap emulsion breaking... Well, then you need to dump it out of the mold and mix it back together and hot process it, losing any special swirls or color effects in the process.

For working with MP, you don't have to worry about trace. The manufacturer has already done all of the oil-and-lye mixing for you, and what you're melting is a completed soap.
One tip that I have discovered for adding powdered colorants to your base is to make a color chip. What I do is take about an ounce of base and melt it. Then I take my powdered colorant and stir it in. (The colorants I ordered were 0.1 oz samples so they mixed in nicely.) Then I stir, and stir, and stir, and stir some more until all the little particles have dispersed. Then pour it into a mold and allow to harden.

When you make color chips, they will be darker in color than the color you will probably desire, so whenever you're wanting to color your base, you just simply cut off a tiny piece of the chip and melt it with your base. Keep adding tiny pieces until you reach your desired color.

By doing it this way, I've found it makes less bubbles in your base because you don't have to stir the power into it so thoroughly.
Really great advice, thank you for all the answers! I think I feel ready to start melting soap :D

I think the best first step would probably be to do a fragrance oil test, right? I couldn't resist ordering a bunch of them from NG so it would be nice to see how they behave inside the soap. I guess I don't have to worry so much about acceleration like in CP, but do fragrance oils usually discolor white MP bases?
I haven't had any discolor yet but I don't think any of mine have vanilla in them either.

I have most of my fragrances from NG as well and I really like them so far. I fragrance at about 2%-3% and they're a nice balance. Not too strong and you can still smell it well.

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