Newbie making soap for the first time... questions!

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msarro

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First, hello!

I just ordered everything I need to make my first batch of soap (i think)!

A long time ago I fell in love with a menthol/eucalyptus body wash. It was rather expensive, and sadly didn't stay in stock. It had a wonderful cooling feeling on the skin, and the aroma that it made not only woke me up in the morning, but it was intense enough to clear my sinuses (great to get rid of the morning grogginess).

I recently found a new bodywash that was similar, but it is 9 dollars a bottle, and I go through a bottle in about 2-3 weeks. Cheap bar soap is about 10 dollars for a pack, but I don't really like it.

I'd considered making bar soap before, and I decided it was time to make the plunge. My goal is to have a bar soap that has a strong enough aroma to "clear me out" in the morning, and to have a cooling effect on my skin.

Right now here is my planned ingredients:


I am guessing about the ratios of the fats, and tweaking them with soapcalc. I was thinking along the lines of 26% sweet almond oil (skin conditioning), 48% lard (hardness, creaminess, low cost), 26% coconut oil (hardness, cleansing, bubbles). Does this sound about right? The numbers I get from soapcalc look like this:

Hardness: 43
Cleansing: 18
Conditioning: 51
Bubbly: 18
Creamy: 25
Iodine: 56
INS: 159

Does this sound "good"? Would it work as a daily washing soap? It seems to fall in the ranges soapcalc recommends.

And for my second question - what should I be looking at for essential oils? If I did a 1 or 2lb batch (what I will probably start with), how much should I be looking to add? I was aiming for around 45% peppermint oil, 35% eucalyptus oil, 20% camphor oil. Does this sound like it will provide what I am looking for? About how much essential oil should I be adding? I've found numbers ranging from 10 drops to 15-20 drops each.

Sorry if these are really silly questions, but for something "simple," I'm finding this is actually more complicated than I ever would have expected :)
 
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shunt2011

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Hello and welcome!

Your recipe looks pretty good, the only thing I would add if you have it is Castor at 5%. It helps stabilize the lather. What superfat are you using? I would do 5-6% personally as your CO is a tad high but some folks aren't bothered by it.

As for your EO usage, check out www.brambleberry.com They have a calculator for FO/EO and it will help with usage rates.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out.
 

KristaY

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Hi there and welcome! It looks like you have a good plan and know exactly what you want to achieve so that's a great start. I'm anxious to hear how it works out for you!
 

msarro

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Hello and welcome!

Your recipe looks pretty good, the only thing I would add if you have it is Castor at 5%. It helps stabilize the lather. What superfat are you using? I would do 5-6% personally as your CO is a tad high but some folks aren't bothered by it.

As for your EO usage, check out www.brambleberry.com They have a calculator for FO/EO and it will help with usage rates.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out.
Hi! Sadly I don't have any castor on hand, and it isn't readily accessible without ordering from amazon (not out of the question if it's really necessary). Superfat is currently set at 5%.

I tried the brambleberry calculator, but it will only calculate for a single oil. Do I add the recommended amount for each oil independently, or should I cut the amount down if I am adding multiple?

Hi there and welcome! It looks like you have a good plan and know exactly what you want to achieve so that's a great start. I'm anxious to hear how it works out for you!
I'll definitely be posting about this little adventure :) Any tips you can provide would be very much appreciated!
 

dixiedragon

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Seawolfe

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A recipe with those oils that I have been very happy with (and it has a surprising amount of lather considering I was out of Castor Oil - everyone loves the lather on this bar) is:
65% Lard
20% Sweet Almond Oil
15% Coconut

5% superfat

1 TBSP of sugar PPO dissolved in the water before the lye
(I did also add citric acid for my hard water, but I dont think you need to worry about that this early in the game).

Be VERY careful with the amounts of camphor and mint EOs or you will burn rather than tingle.
 
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DeeAnna

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"...I tried the brambleberry calculator, but it will only calculate for a single oil. Do I add the recommended amount for each oil independently, or should I cut the amount down if I am adding multiple? ..."

The BB weight is for the TOTAL amount of scent. If the total is, say, 30 grams, then you would want your individual EO weights to add up to 30 g.

If you have a specific blend of EOs or FOs that you like, just make up a masterbatch of that blend and measure out the 30 grams of the blend. Voila! Working with a single scent blend can reduce measuring errors and "brain fog" mistakes.

You don't say how big your soap batch is (or I missed it, which is entirely possible!), so it's impossible to say whether a "few drops" of scent will be enough. I rather doubt it. I'd follow the BB calculator's recommendation and err on the side of low to moderate scent.

As far as the relative proportions of the EOs and camphor ... you need to do some trials before hand to figure out the blend you prefer. Cut up a paper towel or a coffee filter into strips. Then test your idea of "45% peppermint oil, 35% eucalyptus oil, 20% camphor oil" by putting, say, 1 drop camphor, 2 drops eucalyptus, and 3 drops mint on a strip. Smell the blend off and on for a few hours and see what you think.
 
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shunt2011

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Hi! Sadly I don't have any castor on hand, and it isn't readily accessible without ordering from amazon (not out of the question if it's really necessary). Superfat is currently set at 5%.

I tried the brambleberry calculator, but it will only calculate for a single oil. Do I add the recommended amount for each oil independently, or should I cut the amount down if I am adding multiple?
Castor is good but if you don't have any no worries. I would add about 1 tsp of sugar to your water per pound of oils and dissolve it well before adding your lye to the water. It will help with bubbles too.

Give your recipe a go and see how you like it.

I'm not good with EO usage rates as I don't use a lot of them. You'll want to remember that all of them could possibly cause some discomfort in the nether region is using too much.

Hopefully someone with more experience will pipe in with their suggestion.
 

paillo

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Castor oil is usually easy to find in the laxative sections of Walmart or your local drugstore. Ask if it isn't in that section.

I also agree about being careful with the camphor and peppermint essential oils usage rates. They can definitely sting the delicate parts. I love eucalyptus in anything. I like your recipe too and the fact that you have researched what you want to do :)
 

msarro

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Well, while my wife is "receptive" and I've already got a foot in the door, I ordered some castor oil off amazon (it's JUST another few dollars dear!).

So, after poking around a little more on soap calc with folks suggestions, here's what I am looking at:

60% lard (awesome because lard is super cheap!)
20% coconut oil
15% sweet almond oil
5% castor oil

superfat is 5

I get these numbers:
Hardness: 42
Cleansing: 14
Conditioning: 51
Bubbles: 19
Creamy: 33
Iodine: 55
INS: 154

For a 1lb batch, it looks like 13 grams of essential oils (I will start light, I can always add more on the next batch - probably safer than starting strong and cutting back). I'll definitely try the test strip idea!

I also like the idea of adding sugar.

Also, can I say that the geek in me is loving the fact that there is hard science here that lets me rely on things like calculators? :)
 
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shunt2011

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I think you are well on your way. And quickly drawn to the lard side. :)
 

msarro

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I think you are well on your way. And quickly drawn to the lard side. :)
LOL! I grew up on a farm, so lard doesn't phase me in the slightest. The nice thing is how cheap it is - the rest of these oils can get super expensive super fast. We live near pork processors, so lard is plentiful!

My wife is used to it now too - but it took her a little while to get used to having jars of bacon fat and rendered duck fat in the fridge all the time. Compared to that, storebought lard is a walk in the park!
 

Arimara

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Get them early and you have them for life, you Lardy fiends! [emoji49]
I'd much rather see lard in soap than for it to go to waste or worse: some pet's junk food. The meat industry isn't going away; why not cut the waste even more. :mrgreen:
 

msarro

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Well, I made a test batch just a little while ago. 1 pound of soap (same recipe) but instead of using all of the other essential oils, I used .5oz of lemongrass essential oil. I wish I could have been a tiny bit more precise, but the brambleberry calculator seems to be dead at the moment :(

Everything seems to have gone well (I'll know for sure tomorrow I suppose).

I'm glad I picked up a vinyl apron and vinyl dishwashing gloves. There was a bit more splashing than I expected when I tried using the stick blender to start mixing the lye water and the fats (my stupid mistake, I should have tried it in water first to see how it would behave, lesson learned). When the rest of my ingredients arrive later next week I may try a 2lb batch instead of 1. For some reason i think it may splash a little bit less.

I got it to a light trace and then added the essential oil, and it immediately thickened. I had read about the possibility that it could thicken or seize but I was surprised it did. It was actually a little difficult to pour out of the bowl into the bar molds. It ended up about the consistency of good lemon curd.

I got it in and smoothed it with a silicone spatula, covered with plastic wrap and cardboard, and have it swaddled in towels.

My wife is a little sketched out by the lye, but I think she'll get over it.

For a first time out, that wasn't that bad. I'm sure it'll be even easier next time!

Plus my whole work area smells like lemongrass right now, which is lovely.
 

Susie

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Where did you get your lemongrass EO? Normally lemongrass is so well behaved that I tell newbies to use it.
 

KristaY

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Where did you get your lemongrass EO? Normally lemongrass is so well behaved that I tell newbies to use it.
Really good point, Susie. I just did a blend of lemongrass, tea tree & spearmint and trace took forever. I had to hit it with the SB a bit to move it along.

Just an FYI on the lemongrass. I have no probs with it in wash-off products (soap) but a slight sensitivity in leave-on (lotion). On the other hand, my sister breaks out in a whole body rash no matter the product. Since I've heard others say the same, try it out washing your hands first instead of running off to the shower for a total scrub down, just in case!

I'm glad things went well for your first time out of the soaping gate and can't wait to see pics of the cut soap!
 

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