Yes, I am now making soap. I've made about 12 batches, totaling about 20 pounds of soap, in just over six weeks. All using what is called the cold process method. More on that later.
Today, I am making milled soap. Known also as rebatched soap. Essentially, it's a way of taking an existing soap and modifying it by melting it down and adding any assortment of things, such as rich and softening shea butter, or, as in my case, correcting a "mistake" and adding the scented essential oil I forgot to add when my niece, Heidi, and I made the soap. Soapmakers often use this method to repurpose "ugly" soaps, soaps that didn't quite turn out they way they'd envisioned. So yeah, that's another reason I'm rebatching the soap I lovingly call "Heidi-bean Bar." I don't want to toss the soap, since it's actually a great formulation, but I also wanted something more girly for my Heidi-bean. So this soap will be for my personal use once I've rebatched it and I will make her something fabulous for her use. Yeah, I know, I spoil the kid. And I love it!
Here we have the original soap, freshly poured into the molds. We tried to do a bit of a swirl, using red sandalwood powder to color part of the batch a deep purple and leaving the rest of the batch its "natural" color, then alternately pouring the two colors into the mold.
The soap came out of the molds beautifully, although our "swirl" and layering attempts were, well, blah. The purple color was fairly muted, and the coffee grinds we added for a bit of scrubby action (Heidi said she really liked how the "scrubbies" felt on her hands) made the two colors blend to the point of being almost indiscernable.
After four weeks of curing, the soaps developed the dreaded ash, which sometimes occurs on handmade soaps. Surprisingly, some people like the rustic look it gives soaps. Me, not so much.
Heck, if it weren't for the muted purple, the ash on these makes them almost completely blend into our granite countertops. Not attractive as far as I'm concerned. Certainly not cute enough for a 9 year old girl's bathroom!
The first step in rebatching is to shred or chunk the soap to facilitate melting it. I figured the finer I shred the soap the easier and smoother it would melt. Rebatching is known to produce very chunky, rustic (but not ashy!) soaps and I wanted to minimize that as much as possible.
Patiently shredding the soap by hand. So yeah, I'm making hand-milled soap! Sounds fancy, eh?
With the ashiness shredded away, you can see the colors a bit better, but the muted purple just wasn't doing it for me, at least not for my niece. She should have a bright, vivid purple, pink and black soap! This just won't do.
Once all the soap is shredded, I tossed it into a gallon sized zip lock and tossed in a bit of goat's milk. Goat's milk boosts lather and is great for those with eczema and psoriasis. In soap, goat's milk is loved for it's skin conditioning properties. Once in the bag, I put it in a pot of lightly boiling water and walked away to do a bit of Facebooking and soap formulating.
After about 45 minutes in the pot, the soap was melted and looking nice and goopy. I quickly added the Eucalyptus Spearmint essential oils and snipped a corner of the bag to "pipe" the fast cooling, quickly turning to goop soap batter into the mold.
Since I really liked the way the soap turned out of this mold the first time, I figured why not use it again? As quickly as I squeezed the batter into the mold, I wasn't quick enough. By the time I got to the last heart the batter had cooled so much it was pretty much set. I barely got it into the mold.
All in all, the process wasn't near as bad as I'd read it could be and while the soap backs won't have a perfectly smooth finish, they will smell awesome and have a lovely conditioning lather.
Not bad for a first time rebatch and an awesome way to save what would have otherwise been a very boring soap.
Here's to hand-milled, heart shaped soap!