New Soaper Here! Any advice welcome!

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Emma Cook

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Hello all!
My name is Emma and I have just recently started making cold process soap. I started as a way to cope with the stress of university and I have absolutely fallen in love with it!
I am a newbie, so I have a few questions:
  • Where can I find soap recipes? Or learn how to formulate my own?
  • I’ve read a little about gel phase but I don’t quite understand it yet. Is it important for soap to go through gel phase? Should I buy a heating pad??
  • I’m still pretty timid about lye.. Especially the fumes. What happens if you accidentally catch a whiff? Will it harm you? (I recently purchased a 3M respirator with P100 filters because I’m a little freaked out!)
upload_2019-12-28_22-58-29.jpeg
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Attached is my first ever batch!! There are a few minor aesthetic issues, but I’m pretty proud for my first time!:)

Thank you all for your help!!
Emma
 

TheGecko

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Hello all!
My name is Emma and I have just recently started making cold process soap. I started as a way to cope with the stress of university and I have absolutely fallen in love with it!
Welcome to the wonderful and addictive world of soap making!

Where can I find soap recipes? Or learn how to formulate my own?
There are recipes all over the Internet, YouTube, soap making books, etc. Just make sure you run ALL recipes through a soap calculator...SoapCalc.net is a good one.

I’ve read a little about gel phase but I don’t quite understand it yet. Is it important for soap to go through gel phase? Should I buy a heating pad??
It isn’t necessary. Some folks like their to gel, some do not. I don’t gel my Goat Milk Soap, but I like my Regular soap to.

I’m still pretty timid about lye.. Especially the fumes. What happens if you accidentally catch a whiff? Will it harm you? (I recently purchased a 3M respirator with P100 filters because I’m a little freaked out!)
A whiff won’t hurt you, but don’t make a habit of breathing it in. I often use frozen distilled water so it’s a non-issue, but on the occasion when I don’t, I stand slightly away with my turned to the side and I have the kitchen windows open.

Attached is my first ever batch!! There are a few minor aesthetic issues, but I’m pretty proud for my first time.
You should be proud, it’s lovely!
 

Emma Cook

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Welcome to the wonderful and addictive world of soap making!
Thank you!!
There are recipes all over the Internet, YouTube, soap making books, etc. Just make sure you run ALL recipes through a soap calculator...SoapCalc.net is a good one.
Thanks for the tip! So I’m guessing it calculates amount of lye you would use based on the amount of oil?? Also, I’ve seen a term thrown around that I don’t quite understand. Superfatting I think? Does that have to do with the oil ratio?
It isn’t necessary. Some folks like their to gel, some do not. I don’t gel my Goat Milk Soap, but I like my Regular soap to.
Gotcha!:)
A whiff won’t hurt you, but don’t make a habit of breathing it in. I often use frozen distilled water so it’s a non-issue, but on the occasion when I don’t, I stand slightly away with my turned to the side and I have the kitchen windows open
Thank goodness! I’ve read about freezing distilled water.. I may have to try that, I’ve heard it helps!
You should be proud, it’s lovely!
Thank you so so much!! That made my day:)
 

lsg

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Welcome to the forum.:) I recommend the following books by Anne-Marie Faiola, Soap Queen Cold Process Soap and Soap Crafting: Step-by-Step Techniques......... The Soap Queen Blog, Soap Queen TV and Soaping 101 YouTube tutorials offer a lot of recipes and instructions.
 

Zing

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Great job on your first batch, @Emma Cook ! As someone else here phrased it, compare lye to bleach, it's a strong chemical that can be handled safely. I put a bandanna over my mouth, open a window, and turn a fan on. Have fun!
 

Hawksquill

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Welcome, Emma!

1) You can find a lot of great info on this forum, including some very experienced soapers' advice about good starter recipes. If you're interested in castile (100% olive oil) soap, I'd recommend Zany's No Slime Castile recipe which can also be found on this forum. If you want to formulate your own recipes, I recommend reading a bit more about the properties of the oils you're planning to use, and what each oil adds to each soap. Here's a helpful write up from our very own DeeAnna about the different fatty acid profiles: https://classicbells.com/soap/soapCalcNumbers.asp

2) Gel phase is mostly cosmetic; it basically means that you insulate your soap (in a blanket or cardboard box), or put it on a heating pad, or put it in a warm oven to force gel phase, which makes the colors more vibrant. Gel phase means the soap gets much hotter (because you're insulating that heat to get the colors to pop), so if you're making soap with ingredients that tend to overheat, you might NOT want to force gel phase, because that might cause it to overheat and volcano! If you don't want to force gel, either because you prefer matte colors or because you're worried about overheating, you can put your soap in the fridge or freezer. Ungelled soap usually takes longer to firm up and therefore longer to unmold and cut, in my experience. Partial gel means the soap hasn't fully gone through gel phase. This is purely aesthetic, and it just means that the center of the soap will be more vibrantly colored than the edges, often forming a ring or circle. You can see from your lovely first batch that the purple around the edges is duller and more matte than the brighter purple in the center. Most people either do full gel or don't gel at all, but some cool recipes take advantage of partial gel for a cool ombre effect.

3) I agree with the others about lye. Treat it carefully but don't be so scared of it that it scares you off soaping! Gloves, long sleeves, and proper circulation are a must. Some people wear masks and some people don't.

Good luck on your soaping journey! :)
 

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