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Just made my first soap! So exciting!

Home Forums HOMEMADE Soaps and soapmaking Just made my first soap! So exciting!

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    The 4 weeks is to make a hard longer lasting bar (the longer the better) and also to make sure the process finishes to make sure there is no active lye still in the bar. This can cause irritation to the skin.

    Not something you want to do to someone you are sending a gift to. But I also often try mine right away, on my hands at least. Because I am impatient 😀 I am yet to have had a problem.


    Kalex wrote:

    Is there any reason why you can’t use them earlier than 4 weeks? I did read somewhere that you might burn yourself, but if you’re using them after 2 days, I’m guessing you’ve not found that to be the case?!?!?

    The chemical reaction between the fatty acids (your oils) and the alkaline solution (your lye and water mix) is exothermic (notice how hot your water got when you added the lye? … and how warm to the touch your mix was after you poured it? That’s the chemical reactions taking place.

    After your mix has cooled, the conversion from raw ingredients to soap slows, but is not completed immediately. Olive oil is one of the oils that is slower to be chemically processed. Most of the process is over with when the soap is cooled, but it’s not entirely finished.

    I also “test” my soap as soon as I can slice a sliver … but the difference between that sliver (if it’s good as a sliver, it’s gonna be MIGHTY good as a soap!) and the fully cured final product is like chalk and cheese – literally!

    Kalex wrote:Is the curing just to make it go harder? Or does it serve some greater purpose?

    The 2-day old sliver … if it lathers and doesn’t irritate your skin … you’ve got off to a great start! But you’ll notice it almost melts in your hands when you add water.

    Keep a piece … see what it’s like in 8 months. You (I can almost guarantee this) will ADORE the soap then!

    Being an olive oil based soap, the bar will become smaller and much harder, and will turn almost completely white.

    The lather will increase and the softness on your skin will be noticeably different from the very raw, original soap.

    Kalex wrote:I must keep a soap making (and everything else making) diary so that I know what I put into each one…

    Absolutely! There’s nothing worse than tossing what appears to be a hopeless soap into a draw, only to find that, a year later, it has become the most delicately scented, equisitely perfect soap (when, at the start, it was a loathsome dissolve-in-an-instant mess, that smelt of nothing more than wet oil, and kept on doing so for months!).

    Oh … yes, that’s experience talking 😐 (It is my Vanilla Rose soap … I superfatted in the extreme, accidently, and despaired of it becoming anything … it’s now something, and beyond … and I’m now madly chasing the piece of paper that contains the recipe, because the Vanilla is now showing [which I had thought never happens!] and is perfectly balanced with the Rose … soap to die for :hug:).

    So … after all that blather 😉 … your soap looks divine, and worthy of the effort you have put into it. If you can wait long enough, that last bar will be equisite :metal: So yes – keep notes!


    thank you Debby-Lee and Ma! Your experience is wonderful, it’s very helpful.

    But now I have another question – what is superfatting? Oh and one of the soap making websites talks about a “lye discount” and just expects that will make sense to me???? :geek:(Perhaps they’re expecting people who have atleast read a book on soap making to be visiting their site)

    Fear not, our soap will last us a while… so I look forward to seeing it improve!

    thanks again!


    Ok. You know how you can roughly work out how much lye you need for each oil you use in your recipe (I refer to it as roughly, because even between harvests (of olives, as the example here), the exact amount of lye needed to convert the oil to soap does vary ever so slightly).

    Superfatting is the addition of extra oils, above what can be converted to soap, so that the extra amount is left in the soap. It’s a very good idea to superfat at LEAST 2% (to cover any varience in oils, and the amount of lye needed to convert them to soap).

    A superfat of 5% (as in … you have 5% oil that is not consumed/converted by lye, and will remain in your final soap) is a comfortable level (it leaves enough in the soap to be left over beneficial for your skin). Anything above 6% or so, you start to really need to understand your oils (rancidity really comes into play when you get into the higher oil content). 10% and higher … that’s a pretty good indication that you need to look at making skin balms 😉

    Lye discount – that’s sorta the same-opposite of superfatting … instead of adding oils over the base recipe, the lye is “discounted”, or reduced in amount, so that there is oil left in the soap at the end of the process. Same effect (left-over oil that doesn’t get converted to soap), but different math.

    Personally, I find superfatting easier to get my head around (I add extras … that suits me very well), however discounting is useful when you have a finite amount of oils (like, you’ve purchased 2 litres and want to have a 5% superfat). I find the math marginally more complex that way around (discounting, rather than superfatting), but it all comes out the same, if it’s done right, and there’s some good calculators on the net that make either math task fairly easy (just make a point of double-checking the math manually, just in case).


    ah-ha! I see why soap making 101 doesn’t cover superfatting and lye discounts! That is taking it to a whole new level, isn’t it?

    I’m sure I will have more questions to ask in due time so thank you for being willing to furnish me with explanations!



    So anyway, 4 or 5 weeks have passed since I made the soap and our shop-bought el-cheapo soap ran out finally, so now we’re using MY soap!

    it did shrink a little and get a bit whiter too, just like you said it would AND IT’S GREAT! lathers beautifully and smells lovely… I’m thrilled considering it was such a simple recipe… even hubby likes it… 😀

    Now I need to make some goats milk soap for our bub who tends towards eczema. Anyone know a good recipe for goats milk soap that uses beeswax and any readily-available-from-the-supermarket oil?

    Aldi has rice-bran oil at the moment – does that make a good soap ingredient?

    cheers, Kate


    Congrats Kate! I just need to get a few accessories (need a spare bowl and pot for mixing it all) and then I can start on my first batch too!

    ma gave me some good advice about soap making, maybe she’ll pop in and help with your question 🙂

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