When you first started soaping......

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Dana89

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What "rules" did you go by that you thought were absolutely necessary that you have since tossed?

My first batch was nerve racking. Not because of safety issues, I had all my safety equipment ready and on and always still do.

1. I was constantly checking the temp of the oils and lye water because I was under the impression they had to be within 10 degrees of each other before I mixed.
Now I soap usually at room temp or when the oils and lye feel a little warm to the touch on the outside of the bowl.

2. The dreaded trace. I never bring my soap to full trace anymore. I was in tears making a heavy lard soap and almost burned up my stick blender, thinking I could not do anything until I had trace. Now I just blend to emulsion most of the time.

3. Gelling- For some reason I thought it had to gel. I had such a hard time getting my first batch to do so, I had every towel in the house wrapped around it plus it was on my heating pad.

I am sure there are many more.

What have dropped once you got a few batches under your belt?
 

SplendorSoaps

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I used full water for all of my batches until I'd been soaping for quite a while. A nasty run of glycerin rivers made me seek out some solutions, and I found that bringing my water percentage down considerably almost always took care of the problem. Now I only use full water in a few select recipes.

I totally agree with you on #2 above. Finding that elusive perfect trace is a tip that just doesn't do beginning soap makers any favors! You don't know until you're there, and often you go past a light trace to a thicker trace that just means that you have to work faster on your design. Now I almost always just blend to emulsion, unless I'm doing a design that requires a thicker consistency.
 

Susie

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1. I just ignore all the temperature reading and soap hot. I don't do fancy stuff, so faster is better anyway.

2. On liquid soapmaking, I pretty much tossed the rules and made my own up from a bit of info here, and a bit of info there.
 

Guspuppy

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I've only been soaping for 2 months but I gave up taking temps after the first batch and also gave up PH strips after that batch. All thanks to the smart people on this forum, my life is already so much easier even being brand new at it. :)
 

Dana89

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I used full water for all of my batches until I'd been soaping for quite a while. A nasty run of glycerin rivers made me seek out some solutions, and I found that bringing my water percentage down considerably almost always took care of the problem. Now I only use full water in a few select recipes. .
Aww yes, full water, I did that for a long time as well.

I still cringe when I watch a soapmaking video and they stress the importance of having your water and oils at the same temp. I wonder how that got started.
 
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Seawolfe

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When I first started soaping:

  • I thought temps were critical - now I just put my hands to the containers and swag it.
    I thought every bit of butters had to be completely melted - now I just let the lye reaction carry it over
    I also thought trace was critical - now the tricky bit is going to emulsion and no further for swirls
    I thought I HAD to have cleansing and bubbly levels in the target on the soap calcs - now I know better what I like and going outside of some guidelines is fine
    I was terrified of a 0% SF laundry or dish soap - now I know they are still pretty gentle compared to commercial options
 

KristaY

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The temperature and gel, absolutely YES! I was frantic about making sure the temps were within 10 degrees but I also read I needed them both about 120 so I was really soaping hot. I also wrapped them tight and didn't peek for 24 hours.

I was also stressed out by trace. I thought I needed it to be a medium trace before I did anything else like add scent and color. I'm still trying to remember where I read that.

I ALWAYS used 5% SF. I thought if I strayed off that mark I would burn someone's skin off or have greasy soap.

I thought castor oil was mandatory if I wanted any bubbles at all.

I was a mess getting everything exactly right and complete before I mixed the lye. So I had all my oils together and ready, scent measured and ready, colors mixed and ready, mold lined and close by, etc. THEN I mixed the lye so kept checking the oil temp so it didn't too cool then the lye waiting for it to cool. I have to laugh now at what a I wreck I was then.

But now:

I still ck temps but because I like to. I don't like my oils under 105 because of the butters and PO.

I never bring to med trace unless it's sped up by a snotty FO.

I mix lye before I do anything else (except print off the recipe).

I do every step the same every time to keep myself on track. I put my oil container in a specific spot, my lye container in another spot, my colors lined up on the right side, my scale on the left, my waiting mold on another work top. By having an exact routine, I don't (usually) miss a step or an ingredient.

I also don't stress about an accidental over pour of soft oils. I know if I pour too much OO I can just decrease my sunflower because the SAP values are the same.

I rarely use 5% SF or castor oil. I much prefer 2-3% SF, no castor (too sticky feeling for me), and something sugary for a bubble boost.

But I am a stickler for weighing the lye exactly correct, always using face protection and wearing gloves. I'm a messy soaper at times so I can count on getting batter on my hands and possibly dripping some on my feet. :oops:
 

LisaAnne

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I still think I can't make soap without castor and know it can be done. I am trying to work on my superfatting. Those are my two bugaboos.
 

Sonya-m

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Ditto to the oils & lye water always at about the same temp - using a cheap little infrared thermometer.

I used to SB for way too long - just to emulsion now (though I do sometimes think 'just a couple more blasts' and then get miffed when I end up too thick!!).

Used to always do full water but mainly do 33% lye solution now.

Pretty much the same as the rest of you.
 

snappyllama

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I was really guilty of over stickblending. Also I've chucked full water out the window and now use a higher lye concentration.

The biggest thing for me is to just to no longer freak out when things don't go according to plan. At this point, I guess I've dealt with all the crazy... ricing, insta-seizing, separation, leaving things out, dropping things, bad lye, over heating, etc. Now when it happens I just trudge on and know that I can always make more soap.

Words to live by when you pierce your toast (from The Birdcage):
"So what? The important thing to remember is not to go to pieces when that happens. You have to react like a man, calmly. You have to say to yourself, "Albert, you pierced the toast, so what? It's not the end of your life."
 

amd

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I was fortunate that the person who taught me to soap explained that temps don't matter to the chemical reaction, so I was taught room temp/heat conversion CP. I did try taking temps once just to see if there was a difference, and it was such a PITA that I said "never again" and haven't looked back.

One internet myth that I believed was that fragrance couldn't be added until trace. Thanks to this forum and my natural tendency to "try it and see what happens" I throw my fragrance in with my oils so it's never forgotten.

I'm sure there's more bad advice that I've forgotten....
 

fuzz-juzz

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I don't check temperature either anymore.
Unless oils seem to be way too hot, but that's on a rare occasion.

Don't do high SF anymore. 2-3% or even less are what we all like and I stick to it now.

I don't use milks in my soap anymore. I don't know, I know most of you folks love it but I just didn't like smell or feel it had in soaps.

I'm also not that precise anymore. So if 5 extra grams of OO go into melted oils I'll just reduce other similar oil. Never had problem with that.

I used to think that castor oil makes bubbles but it's there to control bubbles made by other oils. Basically anything over 5-10 of CO is an overkill in normal bar soap. 100% castor oil bar is quite hopeless, sift, sticky and with zero bubbles.

I don't try all sorts of recipes or additives anymore. Been there done all that, threw away so many FOs, funky looking/smelling soaps, etc... now I stick to tried recipes, FOs, ... I'll try once in a while something new but not as much as before.
 

Susie

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Oh, yeah, the milks, and multiple, expensive oils, all that is gone. I use a basic 4 oil soap 95% of the time for body soap.
 

LisaAnne

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Expensive oils is right. I just tried the floating soap from last challenge. It was at least 70% lard. It is amazingly creamy. I've tried it off and on, but tonight it gave mountains of creamy wonderful lather. I always use lard, but I'm upping the percentage.
 

TeresaT

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I'm still new, I guess, because I'm just now starting to experiment with the expensive oils. I'm not doing full water anymore. I soap at 33.333% lye concentration now. I stick blend too much, so I try really hard to stop at emulsion. But I often go a "few" more times and end up with pudding. I don't wear shoes most of the time. I don't crate the dogs anymore. They usually stay out of the kitchen when I've got my soap stuff out (but not the food stuff. Dogs are so smart!). I don't use a plastic bag on my counter anymore, so there's no more sharpie notes-as-I-go. I keep a note pad on the other counter and if something odd happens, I write it down. I don't take my iPad in the kitchen anymore. I've been using my laptop more and more so I plan everything on that and upload my recipe to Evernote. I just write down the oils, NaOH, water, additives and weights on a note pad to use as a check list. If anything weird happens I make a note on that, take a photo when I'm done and upload it to Evernote. I do not keep paper recipes or notes anymore. That's the biggest change I've made.
 

Dana89

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5% superfat added after trace.

Oils and water both between 105 and 115
YES!! I added my SF after trace too and I read that my oils and lye should be around 110. I soap cooler now. Thank god for this forum!!!!
 

SplendorSoaps

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Ya'll are killin me here.. I am new and for the most part do EVERYTHING you are saying you walked away from :sick:
Don't feel bad, Marshall. None of this stuff is bad practice, it's just not always necessary for a successful batch. As you play around with soap making you'll find the "rules" that you're comfortable bending and breaking. :)
 
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