Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Handmilled Soaps

I've been having a bit of fun with soap recently - mainly by hand milling some old Castile Soap I had lying around. Hand milling is a good way to add scents and colouring without interfering with the lye/oil/water reaction. 

The method I use involves taking premade soap (handmade or shop bought) and remelting it. The following recipe only makes about 3 normal sized soaps or about 8 small ones, but it can be doubled/quadrupled etc. to make larger batches. I suggest doing a smaller quantity first to find the right balance of ingredients before doing a larger amount.

  • Heat proof container (e.g. pyrex)
  • Saucepan
  • Grater
  • Lavender Soap
  • Measuring equipment: scales, cup measure, Tbsp/tsp measures

  • 4oz grated soap (by weight)
  • 3oz tap water (by weight) 
  • Added ingredient

  1. Half fill a saucepan with water and heat until boiling. 
  2. Put the measured quantities of soap and water in the glass container, and place the container in the saucepan (double boiling). 
  3. Stir the mixture occasionally (not too often or it will form suds) until melted and well combined.
  4. Add the extra ingredient (scent or colouring) and stir through. 
  5. Pour into moulds to set. The soaps can be used once they have cooled down and are firm. 

Extra ingredients that I have tried:
  • 1/3 cup oven-toasted rolled oats, ground in a food processor (nice texture)
  • Milk powder + honey
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 3 finely chopped dried apricots, soaked in water until soft
Scents: 1/3 to 1 Tbsp of finely chopped solid + few drops essential oil 
  • e.g. Leaves + essential oil (lavender, rosemary)
  • e.g. shredded coconut + essential oil

Oatmeal Soap
I quite liked the oat soap, it had a very nice scratchy, exfoliating-type texture and the oats stayed nice and crisp, unlike when I added them into the pre-soap liquid.  

Milk powder and honey was also a bit of a favourite, as was the lavender. Lavender and honey have nice soothing smells, and I felt that the milk soap felt just a bit smoother - but it could be my imagination :). 

Milk and Honey Soap


Honestly the ginger was disappointing, the colour was quite nice - a subtle golden-brown fleck - but it smelt exactly the same as normal soap :(.
Ginger Soap

I quite liked the coconut - beautiful smell, nice texture (scratchy like the oats) but I received complaints from my family that they were left with clumps of shredded coconut in their hair.... I think I will try this one again, but with the coconut processed more finely. 

Rosemary was very successful, a nice garden/kitchen soap with a nice clean smell that always makes me hungry (roast anyone?). 

Rosemary Soap

Apricots also turned out quite well. I tried this on a whim because I had a bit of grated soap left over (and I'd put a lot of effort into grating it) and didn't have much hope for success. I was pleasantly surprised - it made a nice pink/orange tinged rustic soap. Because the apricots are finely diced, they don't detract from the normal texture and cleaning properties of the soap to a great extent. I did add a small amount of boric acid to this batch of the soap to preserve the apricots (even though they are dried I didn't want to take any risks). 

Apricot Soap
These little soaps make great gifts, especially when teamed with a knitted face cloth. 

Leaf face cloth (Sirdar Crofter DK) with Soaps (Bottom Right: Coconut Soap)

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