Streamlining Logistics on Soaping Day

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Arlo

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[Editing to say I only make small batches as a hobby, sometimes as small is 1 lb of oil.]

I've made many CP soaps but still consider myself a beginner. I'm looking for ways to streamline the logistics so it's not such an ordeal (!) and by that I mean waiting to get the oils and lye to similar temperatures before I enjoy the fun part of mixing, blending, pouring, etc. My latest idea is to soap at room temperature by preparing the lye and the oils the night before. If my kitchen is cold, I can put the two containers in a proofer to keep overnight at a higher temperature. I'm usually a pretty resourceful person but I can't think of a suitable container for the lye that would have a screw-on lid as I'm not comfortable using my usual uncovered plastic measuring cup when leaving it overnight. So, my questions are:
- Any comments of doing this overnight routine and soaping at room temp?
- Any ideas for a jar that can be closed tight?
Thank you for all comments!
 
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My method was to masterbatch my lye in 1-gallon detergent bottles so I always had lye solution ready. I soaped in one-gallon HDPE buckets so I would have 10 or so batches of oils measured and ready to go at all times. I normally had vegan and non-vegan formulas ready so I would tape the recipe on the buckets. When I was ready to soap all I had to do was remove the lid and warm my oils in the microwave and I was ready to soap. I did initially pre-melt all my hard oils before adding in the liquid oils and putting on my lids to store my premixed oils which also had roe or bht added before storing. The 1-gallon buckets held enough oils to make 5-6 lb batches of soaps. Once all your oils are out it is easy to measure and weigh out multiple batches. I also kept all my mold lined and ready to go when I was ready to soap. Since I sold soap all my molds were the same size so I cut my liner sheets and had them ready to go.
 

artemis

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I'm a hobby soaper who has been at it for... I don't know... 7 years?

As a mother of 4 busy people, I don't have time to sit around waiting for room temp. I also don't have space to store premade lye solution.

I mix my lye water and place the container in an ice water bath.

Next, I gently melt my hard oils. Then I add the liquid oils. By then, both oils and lye are about the same temp, judged by touching the containers.

I have never had an issue with false trace or separation, and I don't have to prep and store the night before.
 
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Another hobbyist here. I like to make a quadruple recipe of oils, and lye solution, at the first session. Then anytime I want to make a loaf, I just use both at room temperature. Sometimes I have to heat the oils a titch.

When I started, I was obsessed with temperature and thermometers. Now I soap at either room temp or when the oils pot and lye solution container are just warm to the hand.

I do like a good swirl action but once in awhile I'll do a single color or no color. Less dishes!
 

dibbles

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I freeze distilled water and aloe juice in ice cube trays, then empty for storage into a bucket with a lid. I use half or more of the liquid required in the frozen cubes and make up the difference with distilled water. The lye solution is pretty much ready to go, or there isn't a long wait for it to cool. I like to soap on the cool side.

Alternately, if you don't want to mix up a large amount of masterbatched lye solution, these work well. And no, don't use glass.

ETA: I have stainless pitchers I normally use for mixing my lye solution. I only use the above shown Ziplock container occasionally. It has held up very well, but I'd keep an eye on it for any cracks or signs of wear. I do set mine in a large stainless bowl as I don't have a sink in my soaping area in my basement. That said, even mixing lye with room temperature tap water (so it gets HOT), I've not had any problem with cracks or warping. And they are inexpensive enough to replace if that were to happen. The lids fit tightly, and I do store lye solution in them overnight once in awhile.
 
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Zany_in_CO

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I thought we're not supposed to use glass for the lye solution!
Correct. If you want to keep the peace on SMF. 😁 Plastic is preferred for safety reasons.

The first time I used a #5 repurposed HDPE lye canister, it warped!
If you want to store your lye solution in the fridge overnight, Duda Diesel lye containers (32 oz) with a tight fitting lid are a safe bet and don't warp, in my experience.
Lye Container.jpg

MY THOUGHTS ON USING GLASS

I like this set of Borosilicate Glass measuring cups designed for commercial use.

Note: Glass candy thermometers do not withstand the lye solution. They shatter easily. I went through 4 of them when I first started soaping in 2003 before switching to a thermometer with a stainless steel stem.
 

Relle

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I thought we're not supposed to use glass for the lye solution!
I wouldn't use glass, because it can shatter and I wouldn't even take a chance of being burnt :eek:. I use a plastic ice cream container with a lid. I don't always get to make my soap on the day I planned because of time constraints, so just put the container in a safe place, away from animals and people.

When I'm ready to make soap, I just melt the hard oils, add them to the liquid oils, then add the lye, no temperature measuring needed. After making my first soap, I've never measured temps again, too time consuming trying to get both the same.
 
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Rubbermaid pitchers work well for lye and I mentioned HDPE buckets work well for soaping. HDPE buckets can be purchased at home depots or paint stores and I always find Rubbermaid pitchers at second-hand stores.
 

TheGecko

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I started Master Batching my Oils/Butter and Lye Solution because I was struggling to find time to make soap. I work full-time and when I started making soap I had an almost two hour commute, so making soap after work was not an option. And then come the weekend…my husband is disabled so I carry a heavier household load and sometimes I’d go into the kitchen to make soap and…it was just too much ‘work’. Then I saw a video by Lisa at I Dream in Soap on Master Batching and that was it for me. So I went out and purchased 1 5-gallon and 2-1gallon White HDPE Buckets, and 2-1 gallon Clear HDPE Jugs; I also picked up a small Commercial Paint Stirrer.

I usually mix up 40lbs of Oils/Butters and about a gallon and half of Ready-to-Use Lye Solution. I have a spreadsheet that lists all my molds and so I know how much Oil/Butters and Lye Solution I need for each so it’s a simple matter to weigh and make soap. I could make up a lot more Oils/Butter in that 5gal bucket, but I turned 61 today, so I try not to push it (I’m getting wheels for it). So a 1gal bucket easily holds around 10lb which I empty my big bucket into when it gets low.
 

Carly B

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I thought we're not supposed to use glass for the lye solution!
Agreed. I learned the hard way. I had the bottom of the glass jar with lye water snap right off.
Definitely NOT fun.

However, to answer the OP's question, like some of the others have said, masterbatch everything.
I only make small batches (hobby soaper here), but having everything masterbatched allows me to make even single bars if I'm so inclined. I don't masterbatch huge amounts, but generally enough for about 4 or 5 pounds of soap.
 

Arlo

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Thanks to everyone for all the comments and suggestions. I'm seriously considering master batching, at least the lye. And I appreciate all the ideas for plastic containers with lids. It's great to have such a resourceful community!
 

TheGecko

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Thanks to everyone for all the comments and suggestions. I'm seriously considering master batching, at least the lye. And I appreciate all the ideas for plastic containers with lids. It's great to have such a resourceful community!
Here are some links to the containers I have been using so you can get an idea of what to look for:

1-Gallon Jug (make sure you keep the lid and spout clean so you always have a tight seal)
1-Gallon Bucket
5-Gallon Bucket

I use this Plant Caddy to set my 5-Gallon Bucket on.

I use this Paint Stirrer to mix up my Master Batched Oils/Butters before weighing them out.

To scoop out my MB'd Oils/Butters, I use a Large Soup Ladle similar to this one. Mine is a hard plastic that I got at a garage sale for a quarter.

And below is a picture of my Master Batch Chart that hangs above my soaping cart and I love it. My Ladle holds approximately 4 oz so I tare my container, divide the amount of MB Oils I need by 4 and scoop in that number into it and then weigh and adjust. I then pop my container into the microwave for about 20-30 seconds PPO and while they are melting, I weigh out my FO and add Kaolin Clay and then my Ready-to-Use Lye Solution and add my Sodium Lactate. And I also prepare any colorants. From getting out my containers to having everything ready to go...about 10 minutes.

And if I am making multiple batches of soap, I clean as I go so at the end of the day, I only have one set of containers to clean up.

Master Batch Chart.png


Just want to add...if anyone wants a copy of spreadsheet, just let me know. I'll leave everything in place in case you have similar molds and write over what you do. I do need to go over it a bit as some things are missing and I made later handwritten adjustments because I was off. Also, if you use a 50/50 MB Lye Solution, let me know and I'll add an extra column for that.

Mold Size is self-explanatory and I included it to help me to adjust my Weight of Oils (rounded off) so that my Final Weight is as close as I can get without a lot of excess batter. I use SoapCalc, but any soap calculator will work so long as you use the same one for all your calculations.

The little asterisks at the bottom are in I wanted to make these items in different colors and so I knew how much batter I needed to color for each one.
 

Arlo

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I freeze distilled water and aloe juice in ice cube trays, then empty for storage into a bucket with a lid. I use half or more of the liquid required in the frozen cubes and make up the difference with distilled water. The lye solution is pretty much ready to go, or there isn't a long wait for it to cool. I like to soap on the cool side.

Alternately, if you don't want to mix up a large amount of masterbatched lye solution, these work well. And no, don't use glass.

ETA: I have stainless pitchers I normally use for mixing my lye solution. I only use the above shown Ziplock container occasionally. It has held up very well, but I'd keep an eye on it for any cracks or signs of wear. I do set mine in a large stainless bowl as I don't have a sink in my soaping area in my basement. That said, even mixing lye with room temperature tap water (so it gets HOT), I've not had any problem with cracks or warping. And they are inexpensive enough to replace if that were to happen. The lids fit tightly, and I do store lye solution in them overnight once in awhile.
I ended up getting the ZipLock containers you recommended. They seems the right size (4 cups) for my current needs. Thanks for the suggestion. I once tried the ice cube method and made the mistake of using ALL ice cubes and then did a double-take when I saw the temp was 39F! I then had to set it in a hot water bath instead of my usual ice bath. Next time I'll do as you suggest and only use half ice cubes.
 

TheGecko

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I once tried the ice cube method and made the mistake of using ALL ice cubes and then did a double-take when I saw the temp was 39F!
That's weird. I've used frozen distilled water and never had it drop below 100F.
 
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Coincidentally I masterbatched my oils yesterday and lye solution today. While the oils are still warm I weighed and poured some of it into containers marked as 16 oz or 32 oz. Did the same for the lye because I like the ease of just grabbing what I need when ready to make soap. I use the plastic take-out containers we usually get from the Indian restaurant. (The picture was before covering them)
 

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RosieJoeSoapCo

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Hi all….super newbie here and just trying to read through all the threads to glean as much info as I can.
The idea of masterbatching sounds amazing. in regards to the lye solution, are we talking lye/distilled water only. Is it even possible when using raw milk? Thanks so much?
 

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