Thinking of Soaping - Introduction

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dokpm0

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I'm Kevin, and I'm thinking about giving soaping a try. I've been curious about soap making for a while. I'm not really sure how long. I think way back when I was a kid I watched the episode of The Beverly Hillbillies where Granny was making soap in a huge kettle in their back yard with some fascination.

The older I get the more I appreciate "old fashioned" ways of doing some things. I mow my lawn with a scythe. I often write with a fountain pen. When not wearing a beard I can shave with a straight razor. Well, I could if both my razors didn't need sharpening.

A while back I stumbled across some homesteading videos on YouTube showing many homesteaders embracing various "old fashioned" ways of doing things. In one such video a lady showed how she makes Castile soap for her family. I watched it and move from being curious about soap making to considering giving it a try. My initial thought was of just making plain non-scented non-colored Castile soap for personal use. But, I started watching numerous soap making videos. That may have been a dangerous thing to to. I came across a Taiwan swirl video. Seeing the picture of the soap before watching the video, I thought, "WOW!! I'd love to be able to do that." But since I have about as much artistic talent as a turnip I figured there was little hope. Then I watched the video and thought, maybe I could do that.

So far I've only ordered one soapmaking item, the Everything Soapmaking book. It hasn't even arrived yet and I think I'm already hooked. This is already probably a lot longer than an intro should be. I think I have a good idea of the minimum equipment I'll need, and an area I can set up for soaping. I'll start a thread in the beginner forum with some of those details to make sure I'm on the right track.
 

shunt2011

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Hi Kevin and welcome to the forum. It can certainly become an addiction. There is a lot of great information here on the forum. I highly suggest you start reading the beginners forum posts as you will glean a whole lot of knowledge, help and advice.
 

IrishLass

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Welcome, Kevin! I remember well those Beverly Hillbilly episodes of Granny making soap (and all other kinds of interesting things). lol Thankfully, a huge kettle is not required. :)

Prepare to be addicted once you actually dive in, although I would stick with your original plan of starting with plain unscented until you get the hang of the soaping process before diving headlong into the fancy swirling, which tends to come with it's own separate learning curve.

Wow- you mow your lawn with a scythe! And here I thought we were 'old school' by still using an old fashioned, manual, rotary push mower. Color me impressed!


IrishLass :)
 

dixiedragon

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Hi Kevin! By the way, there is a dedicated club of men who are passionate about shaving - they make their own special shaving soap.

If you want to give it a try, a kit might be a good way to go. That way you don't have to try to find lye (that can be a pain) and you don't have to invest in a scale.

https://www.brambleberry.com/Soap-Kits-C127.aspx

This one looks good (but it requires a scale):
https://www.brambleberry.com/Beginners-Cold-Process-Soap-Kit-P5202.aspx

Surely somebody makes a kit that doesn't require a scale and includes a 1-time use cardboard mold? I can't find one though!
 

traderbren

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Welcome Kevin!

It starts all innocently enough. "Thinking about soaping." Then you are dreaming of soaping, looking at all the containers around your house as if they might be molds, oils in your house and at the store wondering how they would work in soap, taking a trip to 7 hardware stores trying to find suitable lye... Then in your off-time, you find yourself plugging numbers into a soap calculator, and obsessing over the little number ranges, and then reading more threads that make you doubt those little number ranges, and plugging in new numbers. Rinse, repeat.

Prepare yourself! And don't forget your towel!
 

dokpm0

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That way you don't have to try to find lye (that can be a pain)
Too late. I ordered two pounds of Essential Depot lye beads a little while ago. I ordered it through Amazon. I calculated what shipping would be ordering it directly from Essential Depot. It would have been over $15. Ordering it through Amazon shipping was only $9, even though it's still coming from Essential Depot. I never thought I'd be excited about ordering a caustic poisonous substance. :)

and you don't have to invest in a scale.
I have a digital kitchen scale. Is whole grams enough precision, or do I need a scale with finer precision? I have a couple of pocket scales that go down to 0.01g that I use for measuring tea, but their maximum weight is only 100g.
 

IrishLass

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If you are making batches 1lb in oil weight or greater, your scale that measures in whole grams will do fine, but if you are making batches smaller than 1lb in oil weight, a scale with finer precision is a must.


IrishLass :)
 

snappyllama

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Howdy and welcome!

Is that your collie? So cute! I have a tri-color girl. They are just the best... so smart, awesome around kids and well behaved. I guess the insane hair makes them less popular than some of the other breeds.

/end digression

I'd start with 2lb batches. It's big enough so you can weigh in whole grams without worry but small enough to not overwhelm yourself with soap. Well, at least not a t first...
 

dokpm0

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Is that your collie?
He was Rusty. Sadly he's no longer with me. I had to have him put down in 2014. I've used his photo as my avatar for years, and continue to use it in memory of my former pack members.

I have a tri-color girl. They are just the best... so smart, awesome around kids and well behaved. I guess the insane hair makes them less popular than some of the other breeds.
Collies are my absolute favorite breed. I've been a Lassie fan since I was a kid. I don't currently have any Collies in my pack. Rusty was the first Collie to join my pack, and the last Collie I lost. At one time I had thirteen dogs. Six and a half of them were Collies. I miss them all, even the hair. At present I have a Border Collie, a Doberman mix, a German Shepherd, and a German Shepherd/Border Collie mix. My pack, both past and present, can be seen on my Raw Fed Dogs site. In the My Photo Albums section the albums from 2014 and 2015 have pictures of my current pack members. Jessie is the Doberman mix, though most people would never guess it from looking at her.
 

Steve85569

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Welcome to the forum!
Ace hardware for lye.
Walmart for 4 cup plastics that you can micro wave.
Stick blender is a must to get started(IMHO).

Looks like you are well on your way! Come on over to the lard side. We have cookies!
 

KristaMarie

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Hi and welcome! I stumbled across your site a few weeks ago when I was researching a raw diet!

I just started my Fireball on raw a week ago :)
 

KristaY

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Hi Kevin and welcome! It sounds like you've been bit by the soapy bug so you're certainly at the right place. :) The only thing I wouldn't make as a first batch is castile (100% olive oil) as it needs a year to cure. I don't think you want to wait a year to try your new soap! I highly recommend you go with a basic good recipe of palm or lard or tallow, coconut, olive and castor oils. You'll be able to use this soap in 4-6 weeks. Good luck!
 

penelopejane

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Hi Kevin,
Welcome to the forum.
Just to show you there are a variety of views here I think starting with pure Castile is a great way to go. It is easy and simple and produces a beautiful soap which can be used at 3 months or 6 months but is even better at a year old. So you might as well get your first one done so that the wait time to use it is shorter! : )

Colours and Fragrances are another whole ball game, but fun I guess, as long as you like to challenge yourself.

Don't be swayed to the lard side. We have cookies AND chocolate on the other side. :mrgreen:
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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Hi and welcome.

Of course, starting with a Castile means that you are using your second (and third and fourth!) batches before your first is anywhere near to being ready! I would start with a recipe that is able to be used much sooner, as even a 4 week wait feels like forever for the first one.

But then I am an odd soaper - I don't soap for soapings sake. I make a batch and I don't make variations on the recipe until I know what the batch is like. I might well make some totally different soap in the mean time, but I don't HAVE to soap all the time just to make soap, which makes me somewhat of an oddity here!

So I would look at a lard, olive, and coconut recipe which is pretty much a great base to work from
 

dokpm0

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The only thing I wouldn't make as a first batch is castile (100% olive oil) as it needs a year to cure. I don't think you want to wait a year to try your new soap! I highly recommend you go with a basic good recipe of palm or lard or tallow, coconut, olive and castor oils. You'll be able to use this soap in 4-6 weeks.
You read my mind. :) After some reading yesterday in the beginner forum I had decided to do just what you suggest. I'm leaning towards a lard/coconut/olive/castor blend for my first batch. I've seen that combination suggested in several threads for a beginner batch. I should be able to get all those locally, which is a plus. Though when I see castor oil I don't think of soap. I think of a parent with a bottle and spoon in hand and a kid running and hiding. :)
 

Seawolfe

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Yeah! Start with lardy soap! And I do like the idea of making a true castille early on so that you can see what the fuss is about later in the year.
Love your avatar - I was raised by a collie myself :)
 

Nikolye

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Soaping is great. Something just hit me when i started having kids. I want to grow food, make as much as i can from scratch and teach my kids that is how it should be done. So i started... one cleaning product, plant and baked good at a time. I live rural (finally after citys and suburbs for 10 years) so i have heaps of farms around me, my neighbor raises a meat sheep once a year and i get the suet fat from around the kidneys. Its beautiful clean fat i can soap with. Before i did that i used to go to the local butcher and he gave me his fat also for free. i render it and set it in muffin tins so i have small amounts ready to go. a gram scale is perfect for 500g + batches (im an american in new zealand, everything is in grams here) after years of soaping for my family i'm now crossing the line to soaping for fun, creativity and gifts/trades/barters..So now i need a smaller precision scale as im starting to add essential oils. My kids and friends just really like scent and essential oils are expensive, so a quality scale for scents is on my list. Im personally enjoy mild scents from teas, coffee, honey, beeswax, spices and the like. My soaps were all mainly olive oil in the beginning, with a bit of coconut oils. i generally cured 6 weeks before use. i started buying shea and coco butter for quicker use bars and then i discovered tallow which is my favorite. I do still make veggie soaps for friends. have a great time and good luck.
 

kittensmom

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I love lamb tallow for soap! We raise sheep for a living so part of agricultural sustainability is that nothing goes to waste.
 

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