Thursday, October 8, 2009

Oct. 8 - I did it!

I made my very first batch of soap today!  I was so nervous and excited, and it ended up being way easier than I ever could have imagined.  Of course this was just a tiny little beginner batch, nothing fancy at all about scents or colors added.  I didn't even use my goat milk in this one.  Everyone told me the first one should just be to get familiar with the process, so that's what I did.

The hardest part was probably trying to figure what containers to use.  The common practice is to use large (10 or 12 quart) stainless steel kettles but the common practice is also to make bigger batches than what I was about to make.  Plus, those pots are not cheap and I am not willing to put my money into one until I know that I will stick with this....and have reason to make big batches.

I was so worried about the whole lye mixing part of it, all the websites and tutorials are huge on the safety info.  Maybe it will be a little trickier when I start using the goat milk but with plain water it was a breeze.  Well, overall it was a breeze but I did have a couple worrisome moments.  One was when I was thinking 'Ha, it's not getting very hot' and then I noticed I was looking at the C side, not the F side of the thermometer.  DOH!!!  Then I was like 'Oh crap!' and adding ice cubes to the sink water.  Later it was cooling down too much before my oils were heated up enough so I was again all 'Gaaaaaah!' and pulled it out of the water to hopefully slow the cooling.

And then there was another 'Doh!' moment while melting the oils.  It seemed to be taking a long time so I kept inching up the heat, thinking I'd read somewhere to put it on medium heat.  Looked at the thermometer and it was a bit over 150degrees.  GAH!  I'd read you should keep it around 100-110, so I was scrambling to bring the burner heat down, then took the pan off the heat altogether.  Then I was worrying about the lye that was cooling off too much and the oils that were not cooling off fast enough.  I put the oils pan in the icy water in the sink, hoping that would help bring the temp down.  I did manage to get them both around 100degrees before I combined them.

Then the most hysterical moment came when I first turned on the stick blender in the pan.  "SPLOOSH!*  The mixture sloshed all over but I was able to stop the blender in time and only a couple dribbles actually made it out of the pan.  I had to tip the pan way to the side and keep the end of the blender way down in the deepest part with minimal movement.  I see now why the deep kettles are used!!

You do an alternating thing when you're mixing the liquids at this point.  You don't want to just use the blender cuz apparently the little motors burn out pretty quick or something.  So I'd read that you turn it on for 30 seconds or so, then turn it off and use is as a manual stirrer for a bit, then turn it on a bit more, etc.  I'd also read that this stage can sometimes take quite a while, other times it happens fairly quick.  Mine took a short (I thought) amount of time, maybe five minutes.  What you're doing is mixing it till it thickens.  It's called 'trace' stage.  This is how mine looked at that point......
It's a lovely.....if color at this point.  Remember, it's just a plain beginner batch.  I'd had a small moment of panic during the lye/oil heating/cooling process when I realized I had not prepped my mold before I started all of this.  So I was scrambling to get that done, wondering what would be quickest.  I'd read a bunch of different ways to line molds, even using vaseline, but in the end I just grabbed the cheap waxed paper we always have on hand and kinda smacked down a semi-smooth lining.  Once my mixture was at trace stage I quickly poured it into my mold.....

You can see it's already darkening.  It looked delicious at this point, like a frosted cake or some butter or something.  LOL  I'd read different things about what to do at this point....either wrap it in towels or don't.  I wasn't sure what to do and since I didn't get a reply on the messageboard in time I decided I'd better go ahead and wrap it.  So, a piece of plastic wrap went over the top, then I tucked it away on a shelf, wrapped in two bath towels, to begin the next long part of the process.  Most things I've read say it should sit for 24-48 hours before it's taken out of the mold and cut into bars.  Some things have said it can be done as soon as 12 hours.  Maybe it depends on the ingredients, the conditions?

Once I had it tucked away in the blankets I immediately cleaned up my utensils and things.  And I was so excited and hyperly proud of myself that I wanted to make another batch right away.  I was all giddy, 'I LOVE THIS!' and sending pic messages on my phone.  I couldn't make another batch though because I'd used a good portion of some of my minimal supplies, and I didn't want to make another boring plain batch.  I want colors and scents! 

Ty was laughing at my dorky behavior all morning.  He agreed to go to town with me cuz I wanted to restock what ingredients I'd used, and I wanted to check the GNC store in the mall for essential oils.  Even though I already have an order for oils placed from an online site, I was so anxious to make more soap that I found I could not wait until those oils get here...sometime next week.  I'd heard that GNC would have a small selection but at least it was something!  Wouldn't it just figure that the essential oils shelf was practically empty?!  The store dude said for unknown reasons they just weren't getting stock in anymore.  He said they would order what I wanted, and it would come directly to my house with no extra fees but the whole point was that I wanted something NOW so I could make more soap NOW.  I also noticed their oils were quite expensive.  Did the math when I got home and even with the shipping charge from the online place, it still comes out cheaper ordering from them.

So, dangit, still nothing to make fancier soaps.  I asked on the messageboard for ideas, things to use that might already be in my cupboards.  Got several good suggestions but all for things that I don't have in the house.  *SIGH*  How aggravatingly frustrating to not be able to make another batch today!!!  I'm heading back to town tomorrow morning though, buying some of these common ingredients, and making Batch #2!

Anyway, after almost four hours my soap looked like this, in gel stage......

After nine hours, it's starting to lighten up again, starting to harden now......

And I just checked it again, 12 1/2 hours after pouring, it's really lightening up and quite firm now but I don't think it's enough to unmold it and cut yet.....

I can't wait to see how it is in the morning.  I can't wait to cut it.  I can't wait to make more!!!!


  1. Good luck with making homemade soap. It looks like a fun hobby. :)

    Are you watching The Vampire Diaries on the CW?

  2. I cut the soap into bars this morning. Pics will be included later in today's posting.

    I'm not watching The Vampire Diaries, but a co-worker also asked me. Is it that good?

  3. I think it's a good show and you'd probably enjoy it. I still haven't read the Twilight books yet! I'm so far behind on my book reading and I am trying to get a ton of books read before the end of the year. :)

  4. Oooh! Bump Twilight up to the top of your reading list! The rest of the series can wait as far as I'm concerned, hehe.

    Twilight movie vs. book....I love the book a billion times more.

  5. Cool stage-by-stage photos of the first soap adventure!

    Re: The Vampire Diaries, I haven't watched the show, but Mandy said she read a bunch of (all of?) the first book in that series, and she thought it sucked. Not that it matters, but I thought I'd mention it.

  6. I still haven't watched that show. I don't watch anything anymore...except Lost. I think I looked at the books on Amazon at one point, maybe read a bit with the 'Look inside!' feature and decided it wasn't something I wanted.

    Or maybe it wasn't that.

    I haven't watched that True Blood show yet either and I'd been meaning to check that out too.

  7. I watched the first couple episodes of True Blood with Mandy and liked them, but we don't have HBO so I haven't seen any more since then. It's in its second (or third??) season now. Mandy bought me the first book (Dead Until Dark) in the series that one is based on, so I've read that one, and I liked it, but I doubt I'll read more.

    I don't think you'd really dig True Blood, but who knows.

  8. Maybe it was the True Blood books I peeked at on Amazon. Hmmm. I always confuse the two. Either way, I didn't like what I saw. It was something about a waitress and it was common knowledge that vampires were among them.

  9. Yep, that would be the True Blood books.