Monday, 11 April 2016

We learn from our mistakes ~ even in soapmaking!

As I am sure we all realise, a really great way to learn a lesson is to make mistakes and I made one of them on the weekend which I am sure I won't repeat.


It all started in the early hours of the morning last week when I was lying awake at 3am unable to go back to sleep and I pondered about whether it was possible to grate an old batch of soap, which I wasn't all that happy with, and add it in separate layers in a new batch with the hope that the heat would melt it and blend it into the new mixture if I wrapped it up after pouring it into the mould. So I had to have a go and see if it would work. I only wanted a small batch so used this recipe:

300g Rice Bran Oil
220g Copha
230g Olive Oil
106g Lye
285g Water
24g   Lemon and Peppermint Essential Oils (My friend kindly gave me some she bought at a garage sale so I used them)

I used the room temperature method once again and poured the lye mixture into the oils which included copha that had been cut into smaller pieces. Once the copha had melted I stirred it all together trying not to bring it to trace too quickly as I wanted to divide the mixture. Once it was blended I added the essential oils, divided it up and poured it into two jugs. 

In one jug I added some of the red powder that Annabel had given me to try. I had already mixed this with a couple of tablespoons of oil so that it wouldn't give a speckled result but, for some reason this time, it didn't seem to show any colour at all. 

I had used the tip of a skewer like last time which had given a nice apricot colour in my swirled soap so with Annabel's words ringing in my ears once again not to use too much, I added a little tiny bit more and still there was no colour. Well I gave up then and just hoped that there might be a delayed reaction and it would finally end up a light apricot colour once again as I didn't want to end up with red soap.  

The original plan was to put dried calendula petals on the top and bottom as I had some soda ash appear on the top of my last batch which I didn't like. Then I was going to pour in some uncoloured soap, followed by a layer of grated blue soap, then a 'pink' layer topped with calendula petals followed by white grated soap and finished off with another uncoloured cream layer.  The best laid plans.....

The uncoloured mixture went to trace too soon so then I was in panic mode trying to get it all into the mould quickly so all plans went out the window.  I wrapped it all up and let it do its thing overnight. All right...I did take a peek now and again to see what was happening ;-)

The next morning when I took it out of the mould I just knew that the idea I had to grate up the old batch and add it to the new one didn't work. Not only that but the intended light apricot layer was now red with some speckles as well!

Some of the layers separated when I was cutting it so I squeezed them together as much as I could in the hope that they would blend together. I will see how it goes as it hardens but I won't do that again.

I should have followed the advice on The Soap Queen YouTube video and heated the old soap up in a double boiler to rebatch it or used a Crockpot like on Soap Making Essentials. I will know for next time. I guess I could get some Super Glue and glue the layers together. No???? Ha ha!

I have made a couple of little skirts recently which were originally intended to send to Sydney to be put on the container that was going to Fiji to help the cyclone victims as I mentioned in the post Help Needed for Fijian Villagers.

I didn't get them finished in time so sent a monetary donation instead. Thanks to all those who donated to this worthy cause. Our church also took up an offering recently as it has had a long time relationship with a church in Fiji in which 90 homes were destroyed in the disaster. These people were left with nothing in the wake of such a monster of a cyclone.

If anyone is a beginner at sewing, the skirt pictured above is really easy to make and the pattern and instructions can be found for the Lazy Days Skirt on Oliver + S. It would make the little girl in your life very happy I am sure.

I hope everyone has a great week! Enjoy the rain if you are getting any. 


  1. so glad i'm not the only one who has bad soap days hahaha, well to me your soap doesn't look too bad, mine totally broke apart when i went to cut it because i totally forgot about it & it had been in the mold for a week!
    i make liquid hand wash out of all my little bits, just grate & add water, cold or boiling, depending on how fast you want it. mine usually sits in a tub of water for weeks til i need it then it goes into a pump bottle. so much nicer than that awful gel wash.
    i will be having another go at soap as soon as i buy batteries for the digital scales my daughter brought up for me.
    thanx for sharing

    1. Selina, I will just add hot water to some grated soap as my son likes to use that and it is a good way to use it up.

  2. Sorry to see you not happy with your soap. The pics look okay. Guess the real test will be when you go to use it. I have put scraps of soap into an old nylon and hang in the garden for the summer. Voila..soap on a rope?
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. That's a good idea. I must remember that. Thanks.

  3. .....especially in soap making. However, I keep returning to its addiction :-)

    1. Isn't it addictive, Phil? It is quite amazing to have such a problem. Ha ha! I can't wait to make my next batch.

  4. Oh well. it was still a learning experience, even though you were disappointed with the results of that batch of soap. Those skirts are very cute, and some little girls are going to be so thrilled to receive them.

    1. Maria, I think the soap will be okay now that it is hardening. It probably would have been better to rebatch it the right way though.

  5. It looks kind of like lasagne, never mind, you live and learn.

    1. Karen, when my hubby first saw it before it was cut he thought it was a cake. Wishful thinking ;-)

  6. I hate it when I mess up an experiment. I feel like its such a waste of resources and effort. But then, sometimes it pays off and you learn how to recycle a waste product much better. So its a bit of give and take. I haven't made soap before. My experiments are with baking and gardening. ;)

    I really loved the little skirts you made. I'm sure they will be enjoyed.

    1. It is hard to really botch a batch, Chris. Rebatching is normally an option thankfully.


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