Masterbatching oils - how much at a time?

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Tara_H

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Hopefully I'll be getting a big haul of fat from the butcher this week, which I'll want to get rendered down ASAP.

I've also done a review of my recipes and identified a short list of regulars that I'll probably stick to for the most part, so I was thinking it would make sense to make a masterbatch of oils for the most common.

That got me to wondering what the limiting factor should be on the batch size. I have a massive backlog of coconut oil, and I can easily get as much olive as I want, so one possibility would be to make as much as the final tallow tally allows.

On the other hand I wonder if that makes sense from the point of view of shelf life, and maybe flexibility if I decide to tweak my recipe further (unlikely but always possible).

I've looked back on some old threads but details on this particular aspect seemed sparse so I was wondering what everyone here does in terms of sizes particularly?
 

Peachy Clean Soap

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Hopefully I'll be getting a big haul of fat from the butcher this week, which I'll want to get rendered down ASAP.

I've also done a review of my recipes and identified a short list of regulars that I'll probably stick to for the most part, so I was thinking it would make sense to make a masterbatch of oils for the most common.

That got me to wondering what the limiting factor should be on the batch size. I have a massive backlog of coconut oil, and I can easily get as much olive as I want, so one possibility would be to make as much as the final tallow tally allows.

On the other hand I wonder if that makes sense from the point of view of shelf life, and maybe flexibility if I decide to tweak my recipe further (unlikely but always possible).

I've looked back on some old threads but details on this particular aspect seemed sparse so I was wondering what everyone here does in terms of sizes particularly?
Fantastic Q. looking forward to knowing how as-well. 💫👍🏼🤗🧼
 

TheGecko

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On the other hand I wonder if that makes sense from the point of view of shelf life, and maybe flexibility if I decide to tweak my recipe further (unlikely but always possible).
Those are going to be your biggest considerations. Regarding Shelf Life, your first need to know which "oil" has the shortest shelf life and figure out how much soap you would make in that time. And don't forget container size and storage of said container. If you're a hobby soaper, I'd look at a 1-gallon bucket...it'll hold a good 12-15 lbs of oils. If you're a business...you could use a 5-gallon bucket. I mix 40lbs of oils in mine.

You can do some tweaking so long as you are adding, not subtracting. because that would take some mean math skills....like say, I want to drop my PO down to 15% and add 5% OO (makes my head hurt just thinking about it). Easiest would be to simply to say I want to add 10% SAO. I would just figure out what 90% of my Total Oil Weight is, weigh it out add the weight of 10% SAO. You can tweak your liquids of course, and you can tweak your additives.

ETA - I could make more than 40lbs of oils in my 5-gallon bucket, but that is all I am comfortable moving around. I had a nightmare one night in which I was trying to life my FULL bucket onto a crate so I wouldn't have to bend over so much and ended up dumping the bucket all over my kitchen floor.
 

jcandleattic

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I agree, Gecko had a great answer as far as shelf life, and determining oils, etc., however, your production size is also going to determine how much masterbatch you do at a time.

I can only fit 25lbs of my combined masterbatch oils in a 5 gallon bucket, but I have 8 of them, and do 200lbs of masterbatch at a time, but my batch sizes are between 3lbs - 5lbs each, so that is only 40-66 batches, which I can do in about 3-4 days of soaping if/when I push it and need to up my production for shows and whatnot.
Normally though, I only soap on weekends, and the masterbatch can last me a few months, especially during the slow season.
 

Tara_H

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I could make more than 40lbs of oils in my 5-gallon bucket, but that is all I am comfortable moving around.
You make a great point in terms of being able to move it! I'm not particularly tall or strong so I'll need to keep an eye on the weight of the finished volume to make sure I can manoeuvre it ok.

I can only fit 25lbs of my combined masterbatch oils in a 5 gallon bucket, but I have 8 of them, and do 200lbs of masterbatch at a time, but my batch sizes are between 3lbs - 5lbs each, so that is only 40-66 batches, which I can do in about 3-4 days of soaping if/when I push it and need to up my production for shows and whatnot.
Argh, and here's me thinking it would cut down on the need for maths! Apparently I just need to do it all up front instead! 🤣

I'm averaging about a batch a day at the moment, I may slow down a little but #soapingiscoping so I should probably expect to continue at this rate for the time being...
 
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amd

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I was wondering what everyone here does in terms of sizes particularly?
I have my MB sized based on the most common batch size that I make. In my case, 2044g of oil. The buckets that I use for holding my MB will hold enough for 3 batches with a bit of headroom (you will want headroom for stirring as oils will settle a bit as they cool and if they sit before using) - so I round up my batch size to 2060g x 3, to account for waste when transferring from the melting pot to the bucket to the soaping pot. If I happen to have enough to scrape out after the last batch, then I have what I call my "project" bucket (a small 4lb lard bucket) where I weigh out what I add to it, and note it on a bit of painters tape. *Note: I use SM3 which has all my MB oil blends. This makes it easy for me, when the bucket is full (or full enough) to calculate the correct lye to make soap.* This also conveniently works out that 2044g is my biggest mold, and my smaller molds are equally 1/2 and 1/4 that size. (The convenience of having my hubby make my molds is that I could very specifically control my upscale.) So out of a MB bucket I could get 12 small batches, 6 medium batches, or 3 large batches, or a variation of the 3 sizes without screwing things up horrifically.

I'd look at a 1-gallon bucket...it'll hold a good 12-15 lbs of oils.
Your math may be off. I use a 2 gallon bucket, which holds 6180g oil (or roughly 13.5 lbs), and gives me an inch of headspace. There is no way that a 1 gallon bucket could hold 12-15lbs. At most I would guess 8lbs. From my early soaping days I bought CO in a gallon bucket at WSP, I think it was 7lbs by weight. That was how I determined how big of a bucket I should buy when I started MB.
 

Tara_H

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Note: I use SM3 which has all my MB oil blends
Awesome, thanks for the detail, it really helps to get a picture of how other people approach it! I've actually got SM3 myself this week, which is prompting/helping me to get a bit more order on things and be more efficient about where I buy what ingredients and how I manage them.
 

amd

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The best advice I can give you for SM3 is to use the Blends section for storing your MB recipes. And every time you change an MB recipe, save it with a different name. This will save a lot of headache if you want to go back to a specific soap and look at the recipe.
 

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FWIW, when I MBd my oils, I did it much like @amd and based each batch on my most common batch size. The only difference is that I had three different MB recipes: Slow, medium and fast tracers. That way, I had oils ready for whatever I felt like doing. I too based my MB oil batch size numbers (how many MB buckets) on the shortest shelf-life oil and how much I expected to use. I live on the edge now and have started experimenting again with different oils so I no longer MB my oils.
 
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meena.shah

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Those are going to be your biggest considerations. Regarding Shelf Life, your first need to know which "oil" has the shortest shelf life and figure out how much soap you would make in that time. And don't forget container size and storage of said container. If you're a hobby soaper, I'd look at a 1-gallon bucket...it'll hold a good 12-15 lbs of oils. If you're a business...you could use a 5-gallon bucket. I mix 40lbs of oils in mine.

You can do some tweaking so long as you are adding, not subtracting. because that would take some mean math skills....like say, I want to drop my PO down to 15% and add 5% OO (makes my head hurt just thinking about it). Easiest would be to simply to say I want to add 10% SAO. I would just figure out what 90% of my Total Oil Weight is, weigh it out add the weight of 10% SAO. You can tweak your liquids of course, and you can tweak your additives.

ETA - I could make more than 40lbs of oils in my 5-gallon bucket, but that is all I am comfortable moving around. I had a nightmare one night in which I was trying to life my FULL bucket onto a crate so I wouldn't have to bend over so much and ended up dumping the bucket all over my kitchen floor.
If you are master batching the oil you also add your butter and hard oil if yes then doesn’t your oil get thick
 

Tara_H

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If you are master batching the oil you also add your butter and hard oil if yes then doesn’t your oil get thick
I'm expecting that the blend I make will be quite thick but not actually solid. As long as I can scoop out what I need for a batch of soap then I can warm up just that amount when I need it.

I'm actually hoping today will be the day, currently waiting for my husband to wake up enough so we can go to the butcher and see if he remembered to keep the fat for me 😁

I have my blend set up in SM3, if I get enough fat it looks like I can make about a 10kg batch (will then split it up for handling) which will last about a month of daily soaping, or more if I make small batches. At that rate I shouldn't have to worry too much about shelf life. Really excited for this now!
 

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The biggest issue I had with masterbatching oils was having to heat all the oils to melt and mix them on the front end, then having to heat them again on the back end to be sure they are still evenly mixed. If you used all liquid oils, it would require no more than a quick stir before measuring out what you need.

What I ended up doing was using all the empty lard buckets, I simply premeasured all the oils into each bucket to have them ready for the next day. Then a simple trip to the microwave melted the oils for each batch. I did enough buckets to fill all of the molds I have so I could have a fast soaping day and be done with it.
 

Tara_H

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Thanks for the info!

Yeah, the recipe I plan on masterbatching is the one I've been working on for staying liquid to do swirls etc. I was having a big problem with my room temperature being low and the batter being solid, so this one is basically liquid-ish even at room temperature. If I find it doesn't behave as expected I can always put out near the stove to warm up before measuring out what I need.
 

jcandleattic

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If you are master batching the oil you also add your butter and hard oil if yes then doesn’t your oil get thick
Yes, it will get thick, but as long as you keep stirring while it's getting thick it should stay stirred.
My MB gets to a thick slush stage in the summer and solid in the winter, but I give it a good stir every 15 minutes or so until it's cooled down enough that I can't anymore (in the winter, in the summer I still can) and have never had a problem, and have never had to remelt when I go to use the batter out of the master batch at time of soaping.

One thing you can do to eliminate this is, after I make one of my buckets of masterbatch, is then separate that out into the dollar store buckets in the sized batches I'm going to make then I don't even have to reweigh each batch at time of masterbatch.
 

TheGecko

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I'm expecting that the blend I make will be quite thick but not actually solid. As long as I can scoop out what I need for a batch of soap then I can warm up just that amount when I need it.
My recipe is 60% Hard Oils...Palm and Coconut Oils, Cocoa and Shea Butters. The thickest it has every gotten is about the consistency of a cornbread batter. Admittedly I am not subjecting it to freezing temperatures, usually no colder than my frig.

The biggest issue I had with masterbatching oils was having to heat all the oils to melt and mix them on the front end, then having to heat them again on the back end to be sure they are still evenly mixed.
I had a similar thought before I started MBing, but then I ran the numbers. How long does it take you to measure and melt a single batch? How long does it take you to lay out all those buckets, weigh out out all the ingredients and label each bucket?

It takes me maybe an hour to Master Batch 40 lbs of Oils and 2 gallons of ready-to-use Lye Solution. When it's time for me to make soap, it takes me less than five minutes to measure and re-melt. So on the whole, it takes me less than 10 minutes per 2 lb batch where it once took me 30. It should be noted that I don't include the five minutes it takes me to initial stir my batch since I only have to do it once per soaping session.

I tried do the 'pre-measure' thing. Yes it is a time saver over one at a time, but the dishes. I even tried the mega batch route...bought a dish tube and made a single 14 lb batch and then separated. Another time saver, but you really have to plan ahead unless it is your intent to only make single-color soaps. I have a fairly well-behaved recipe that I mixed to emulsion, but you're still having to deal with the clock. But the time I got to my last mold, I didn't get the sexy feather swirls I was looking for, though it still turned out nice.

But like so many things...it's a matter of personal preference. If what you do works well for you, then that is what you should do.
 

meena.shah

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Yes, it will get thick, but as long as you keep stirring while it's getting thick it should stay stirred.
My MB gets to a thick slush stage in the summer and solid in the winter, but I give it a good stir every 15 minutes or so until it's cooled down enough that I can't anymore (in the winter, in the summer I still can) and have never had a problem, and have never had to remelt when I go to use the batter out of the master batch at time of soaping.

One thing you can do to eliminate this is, after I make one of my buckets of masterbatch, is then separate that out into the dollar store buckets in the sized batches I'm going to make then I don't even have to reweigh each batch at time of masterbatch.
Thank you it’s very helpful 😊
 

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My recipe is 60% Hard Oils...Palm and Coconut Oils, Cocoa and Shea Butters. The thickest it has every gotten is about the consistency of a cornbread batter. Admittedly I am not subjecting it to freezing temperatures, usually no colder than my frig.



I had a similar thought before I started MBing, but then I ran the numbers. How long does it take you to measure and melt a single batch? How long does it take you to lay out all those buckets, weigh out out all the ingredients and label each bucket?

It takes me maybe an hour to Master Batch 40 lbs of Oils and 2 gallons of ready-to-use Lye Solution. When it's time for me to make soap, it takes me less than five minutes to measure and re-melt. So on the whole, it takes me less than 10 minutes per 2 lb batch where it once took me 30. It should be noted that I don't include the five minutes it takes me to initial stir my batch since I only have to do it once per soaping session.

I tried do the 'pre-measure' thing. Yes it is a time saver over one at a time, but the dishes. I even tried the mega batch route...bought a dish tube and made a single 14 lb batch and then separated. Another time saver, but you really have to plan ahead unless it is your intent to only make single-color soaps. I have a fairly well-behaved recipe that I mixed to emulsion, but you're still having to deal with the clock. But the time I got to my last mold, I didn't get the sexy feather swirls I was looking for, though it still turned out nice.

But like so many things...it's a matter of personal preference. If what you do works well for you, then that is what you should do.
It took me about an hour and a half to prep EVERYTHING to be ready for soaping the following day (including fragrances and colorants). I used those buckets to mix the soap in, so it would have been the same amount of dishes either way. I also masterbatched all of my additives: aloe vera juice, sugar water (simple syrup), EDTA, etc. So, all I had to do on the day of was weigh out lye/water, and weigh out additives. Everything else was ready to go.

I just wanted to point out to people who wanted to make different recipes that they could prep ahead as there is an alternative to MB the oils. .
 

Tara_H

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It took me about an hour and a half to prep EVERYTHING to be ready for soaping the following day (including fragrances and colorants). I used those buckets to mix the soap in, so it would have been the same amount of dishes either way. I also masterbatched all of my additives: aloe vera juice, sugar water (simple syrup), EDTA, etc. So, all I had to do on the day of was weigh out lye/water, and weigh out additives. Everything else was ready to go.

I just wanted to point out to people who wanted to make different recipes that they could prep ahead as there is an alternative to MB the oils. .
Interesting point! I guess this works well if you have free time the evening before, and you're planning on making multiple batches of soap on the one session.

I'm pretty much entirely the opposite, where possible I like to get a batch of soap made in the morning before work, (after washing up from the previous day's soaping) and I rarely make more than one batch in a day. If I did the measuring out the night before I'd probably figure I was 80% of the way there at that point and just go ahead and make the soap 😆

I think masterbatching the oils (I've been doing the lye for a while now) will let me be a bit more spontaneous and take away some of the tedious elements. This is purely a hobby for me so my objective is to maximise my enjoyment :)

I'm almost there with getting it ready, have the 4kg of rendered tallow measured out now. Just need to transfer it to the final container tomorrow and add the other oils.

IMG_20210411_211548.jpg
 

TheGecko

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I think masterbatching the oils (I've been doing the lye for a while now) will let me be a bit more spontaneous and take away some of the tedious elements. This is purely a hobby for me so my objective is to maximise my enjoyment :)
I’ve had nights where I could not sleep and MBing allowed me to make soap. Or if I got off early or had a good commute, I could make a batch or two after work.

I have a spreadsheet with all my mold and it tells me how much oil and lye to weigh out for each.

I do not recommend Master Batching until someone has been making soap for at least a year.
 
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