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Small Batch recipes and other questions!

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jesslla

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I'm new, so I don't really know what I'm doing yet. I'm hesitant to make large batches of soap until I know more of what I'm doing. I don't have a lot of money to invest in materials, and would hate for my money to go to waste. I want to use some of the soap, let the soap sit for months to see if it goes bad, and do general testing of fragrances/colors (eventually).

I've been looking online, but there are SO MANY recipes! I'm thinking of using palm oil, coconut oil, and olive oil in my soaps for starting. No fragrance or colors at first either, just to keep it simple.

Can I buy those oils at the grocery store or should I get them from Brambleberry?

Do you have any recommendations for small batch recipes? Something that would make two-four bars of soap, or fill an ice cube tray.

Can I use ice cube trays as molds? I assume I'd need to spray down the plastic mold with some sort of release stuff, or should I find a silicone mold?

Is there anything else I should know about my first batch? (I made some soap back in the mid-00s, so this isn't actually my first batch, but it might as well be)

Do I need ph testing strips? Or is the zap test sufficient to judge ph safety?

Thank you for any advice you might have! :)
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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I would find the bars from an ice cube tray too hard to use well. You can use a silicone loaf mould, or even a piece of Tupperware if you line it with freezer paper.

I would look at 1-2lb batches at first, nothing smaller than that or you start to get in to tighter margins of error with the measuring. 1g over on an oil is not so much of a problem when the total batch is 1000g, but in a 100g batch it is a bigger percentage.

I would make this -

50% Palm
30% olive
15% coconut
5% castor

I would then make another batch with lard instead of the Palm and then you won't look back! You could also use tallow instead of the Palm, just be sure to use a lye calculator.

I would also scent the soaps, with a nice simple eo - just to make it more interesting when playing. Fos and so on that might cause trouble can wait.

Eta - I only zap test. The pH doesn't tell you if your soap is safe or not (ie, is all the lye reacted) so there is not much retirement for it
 

jesslla

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Awesome, thanks for the tips. I will get a good cheap mold then. I think a Tupperware is a good idea.
 

Susie

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My favorite cheap molds are the blue plastic drawer dividers from Dollar Store. You won't even have to oil or line it. Just pull the sides away, then turn it over and push in the center. It pops right out. And it is only $1. Maximum capacity is 2 lbs of oil batch size/3 lb soap, but you can make 1 lb batches fine in it.
 
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nsmar4211

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And do not use cooking spray as a mold release...apparently it saponifies too (grumble grumble) and makes it worse when removal time comes. Use mineral oil (gotta be mineral oil) or vaseline as a mold release. And don't be afraid to pop the whole thing in the freezer for an hour and then unmold.... I have to leave the soaps on a paper towel after I do this because they sweat but after leaving them overnight they're ok :).
 

newbie

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I do 16 ounce oils which makes 3-4 bars of soap, maybe 5 depending how you cut. I have a scale that goes to 0.05 ounces so I feel less worried about the small batch. It's a good size for starting especially for just the reasons you mention.

You can use any recipe that you like and size it on a soap calculator but simple is difficult to beat. The recipe EG posted is a great starter.
 

Seawolfe

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Lots of things work as molds, I used a drawer organizer lined with Saran Wrap for many of my first soaps. You really do not want to get under a batch that is less than 1 or 1.5 lbs, depending on your scales accuracy. You absolutely need a digital scale and a stick blender.

For oils, you really can get what you need (lard, Palm, olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil) at Walmart / trader joes / Costco / smart and final or the grocery store. If you can't find castor oil at Walmart, try the drug store, or just skip it for now. Just make sure the olive oil is pure olive oil and not a blend.
 

amd

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I've used Ritz boxes (reinforced with packing tape and lined with freezer paper or a plastic bag) or juice cartons.
 

snappyllama

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Pringles cans lined with freezer paper make lovely small molds for 1lb batches. Just make sure to remove the silver metal at the bottom first. That reminds me, I've been meaning to do the nifty funnel pour into one...
 

gigisiguenza

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I did my first batch in a small plastic storage container I had from the dollar store. I made my second and third batches in a small 8x8x2 slab mold I made from foam core board I bought at the dollar store. I lined it with parchment paper I got at the grocery store. And I made my last batch in a log mold I made the same way, from foam core board I bought at the dollar store and lined with parchment paper. Very inexpensive molds that are easy to make and customize size, and toss if/when they get flimsy or stop being useful.

As to supplies, I get every one of my oil ingredients at the grocery store. Lard is cheap just about anywhere and readily available, so is olive, safflower, avocado, etc. Castor I got at Wal-Mart, but I could have gotten it at the Walgreen a block from my house if I wanted to pay more for it. I even get most of my colorants at the grocery store, especially odd ones like annato seed powder, safflower petals,etc. I just go to fiesta (a grocery store here) where they have a massive wall of inexpensive odd spices and herbs.

About the only things I have found I need to or prefer to order online has been my lye (from the lye guy) because it was cheaper, even with shipping, and better quality; my harder to find natural colorants like madder root powder and spirulina etc; and fragrance oils because there just isn't a huge selection of skin safe FOs available at my local craft stores.

I will tell ya I do not think my first batch would have been a success had it not been for the extremely helpful folks on here. They are a wealth of information and experience and they share it freely. :)
 

jesslla

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I never thought about using boxes as molds! Awesome tips, thanks.

I will remember the tip about not using cooking spray, haha, that sounds like it could have been messy and was probably frustrating. Mineral oil, got it.
 

gigisiguenza

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I never thought about using boxes as molds! Awesome tips, thanks.

I will remember the tip about not using cooking spray, haha, that sounds like it could have been messy and was probably frustrating. Mineral oil, got it.
I thought the same thing about the cooking spray LOL.... it never occurred to me that the lye would try to saponify that along with the rest of the oils hahahaha. Thankfully someone here corrected me on that before I actually tried it :)
 

jesslla

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I would then make another batch with lard instead of the Palm and then you won't look back! You could also use tallow instead of the Palm, just be sure to use a lye calculator.
Is lard better than palm oil? I could just start out with lard, it's easy to find around here.

I've never used lard, not even in cooking, so I've no idea what it's like to use.

What about plain old crisco?
 

gigisiguenza

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Is lard better than palm oil? I could just start out with lard, it's easy to find around here.

I've never used lard, not even in cooking, so I've no idea what it's like to use.

What about plain old crisco?
I thought Crisco was the same as lard but it's not, it's got lots of things other than just lard in it. Lard is available in the same aisle as Crisco, but goes by the name Manteca. I got mine at Wal-Mart, but it should be available anywhere baking or Latin cooking ingredients can be found.

ETA if I remember correctly, it was cheaper than Crisco too.
 

jesslla

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I will give it a try. It's really cheap at my local grocery store, like a $1.50 for a big block of it. Thanks for all the advice. <3
 

Susie

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jesslla, I am going to warn you now that once you use lard, you are going to be spoiled forever. It is very cheap, but it makes the most marvelous conditioning soap with rich, creamy lather. I do, however, suggest you find some tallow, because I LOVE my tallow/lard recipe.
 
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