Frequently Asked Soap Making Questions & Answers
If your question is not already covered in this section, feel free to email Denise at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unwrapped glycerin soap will attract moisture from the air. This causes a beaded effect or what is better known as "glycerin dew" to appear on your finished soaps. If you wrap your finished soap, you will create a barrier between the soap and the air, thus preventing this problem. Placing your soaps in the freezer to expedite set-up time can promote "glycerin dew". We do not recommend placing soaps in the freezer. The freezer method will also diminish the life of your molds (causes them to become brittle and crack over time).
If you are not using our soap bases (or molds), we cannot offer assistance. The molds we sell have only been tested with our soap bases. Mold size and pouring temperature of soap will determine set up time. It is imperative that you allow soap to cool completely before trying to remove from any mold. Depressions will occur in the top of mold if you try to release soap by force. Allow molded soaps sit for at least 1 hour for best results. If you are pouring soap into a tube or loaf mold, we recommend letting the soap sit overnight.
Molded soaps: Gently pull the at the sides of the mold. This releases entrapped air between the mold and soap. Using firm, but gentle pressure, push on the top of mold until soap is released.
Tube Molds: Gently roll and press on tube to release soap from the tube. Insert hand into tube and carefully push soap out end of tube. You may need to repeat the "rolling" process to release air pockets. If you allow tube soap to sit overnight, it will release quite easily.
Loaf Mold: Gently pull at the sides of mold to release entrapped air. Using the palm of your hand, press on the top of loaf mold. As you apply pressure, you will see the soap start to release from the mold. Continue applying light pressure to sides, ends, and top of mold until soap is released.
I'm making a loaf soap using vertical embeds/inserts. How do I keep the embeds/inserts positioned where I want them?
Loaf molds with embedments are quite popular, but can be very frustrating for the beginner. There are two elements to embedding: the embedded object and an "overpour". Temperature control is critical. If the overpour is too hot, it will cause the embedment to melt into your overpour. This is the first problem. The second problem is how to keep the embedment positioned properly. This generally requires pouring the "overpour" in layers.
Example: You want to embed a vertical heart shape in a loaf mold.
Pour a layer of soap in the bottom of loaf pan (approximately 1/2 to 3/4 inches). Lightly spray this layer with rubbing alcohol to remove any visible air bubbles and to promote a smooth surface. Allow this layer to cool until a thin skin forms. We cannot give you a time, since the temperature at which you pour will determine how long it takes for this layer to set up. The thin skin that forms should be set up enough to hold the weight of your embedment. Position your heart embedment on top of this first layer and spray lightly with rubbing alcohol (this helps the layers to adhere to each other). Pour a second "overpour" layer over the heart embed you have just positioned. Be certain that the temperature of the "overpour" is not too hot. You don't want the embedment to melt or "bleed" into your overpour. If the embedment is positioned exactly where you want it, you can do one continuous "overpour" until you reach the top of the loaf mold.
Depending on the number of embedments used, you may need to pour several layers of soap to enable you to position the embedments properly.
I made a loaf soap poured in layers. When I started cutting the loaf into slices, the layers split apart. What happened?
You allowed your layers to cool for too long of time between pours. The first layer should still be warm when the second layer is poured. Timing and temperature is the key to working with layered soaps. Allow each layer to form a thin skin before pouring the next layer. You want each layer to be slightly firm but to still "give" under pressure. Liberally spritz each poured layer with alcohol to help adherence.
Both fragrance oils and essential oils can be used to scent soap, lotion, and shower gels. Fragrance oils are made by blending aromatic and non-aromatic ingredients. The aromatic ingredients are generally synthetic but may also contain natural essential oils.
Essential oils are aromatic liquid oils that are extracted from plants. They carry a distinctive scent of the plant and are often valued for their medicinal value. Exercise care when using essential oils as they are pure, undiluted naturals and some individuals may have a sensitivity or an allergic reaction to specific plant oils.
This is due to air which is entrapped and then escapes as the soap cools. Lightly spray with rubbing alcohol and the bubbles and foam will disappear. The smell of the rubbing alcohol will disappear and not affect the fragrance of your finished soap.
I'm using the liquid gel colorants you sell, but am experiencing problems with "speckling" or unwanted flecks of color in my finished soap.
When you work with Melt and Pour soap, you typically melt the soap base, then stir in the color and fragrances. If, however, you overheat your product, the heat can negatively change the nature of the color. The most common problem is with speckling. Speckling is flecks or clumps of color that will not dissolve into the soap base and no amount of stirring will help.
The hotter the medium, the worse the speckling. You will not know if your color is sensitive to excessive heat until you run into the problem. If you do, try working with lower temperatures. NOTE: We have found that the powder pigments present the greatest potential for speckling though it can occur with certain liquid gel colors. Before adding any color (gels, liquid, or powder) we suggest allowing the soap to cool down to a temperature of 140 degrees. Once the color is thoroughly incorporated into the soap, you can reheat the soap to a comfortable pouring temperature. Neon purple and Chromium Green Oxide have been known to speckle. If using these colors, allow soap to cool until a thin skin of soap forms on the top. Break through the skin to add the color and stir until you no longer see any color flecks. You can then reheat the soap to a pourable temperature. Use patience when working with colors. Keep in mind that colorants are raw materials there can be inconsistencies with their use, i.e., speckling or dots of undispersed color. With patience and the right pouring temp you can overcome the speckling issue.
By far, DWP (Deluxe Water Phase) colorants are the most popular for coloring lotion, body sprays, and shower gel bases. These are cosmetic grade, FDA approved, vegetable based liquid colors. They are very light stable in lotions and shower gels and extremely concentrated. You can combine colors to achieve a variety of shades. Keep in mind that these colorants give more softer shades. For example, the red DWP colorant in a white lotion base gives shades of pink. The orange DWP colorant in a white lotion base gives shades of peach. The base product you use affects the final color. Lotion base (which is opaque) will yield softer color shades. Shower gel (which is transparent) will yield brighter color shades. You will want to experiment with each color and the base product being used to determine the outcome of the final color. You can purchase these colors at http://www.goplanetearth.com/colors_for_soap.html.
The type of colorant used in a soap base determines whether a color will eventually bleed. An example of bleeding: You embed a royal blue heart in a white soap base. After several days, you notice that the blue heart has started to bleed (migrate) into the surrounding white soap. The white area around the heart has now taken on a pale blue color. Over time, the blue color eventually penetrates and bleeds (migrates) into all of the white soap making the edges of the embedded heart fuzzy and indistinct. The term "bleeding" does not mean that a color will come off onto your skin during bathing or showering.
If you want non-bleeding soap colors, you will need to use our Liquid Gel Colorants (neon brights, ultramarines and mineral/oxides, metallics, and certain jewel tones ). Most, though not all, are non-bleeding and the color does not migrate. All are non-fading and color intensity is exceptional. We have posted "non-bleeding" next to colors that will not migrate.
Recommended industry standard is a 2% fragrance load. As a general rule, you add 2 to 3 teaspoons of fragrance oil per pound (16 ounces) of soap base. We use 2 teaspoons per pound in our soaps and the scent has good "staying power" when soaps are wrapped. Excessive fragrance oil can cause pitting on the inside of molds and may be irritating to the skin. Remember, more is not always better.
The scent of my finished soap seems to have faded. At first they seemed strong, now I can barely smell the fragrance, what happened?
Occasionally a customer will contact us concerning the "lack of scent" to their finished soaps. The primary reason for lack of scent is because fragrance is added when soap base is too hot. Adding fragrance at too high of a temperature will cause the fragrance to "burn-off". Allow the melted soap base to cool down to 138-140 degrees before adding fragrance oils. The use of a thermometer is essential, don't try to guess the temperature.
Finished soaps should always be wrapped. Soaps left exposed to air can lose their scent quite rapidly. We suggest using clear stretch wrap, shrink bags, or bags sealed with a heat sealer. We personally use clear stretch wrap for our bars and loaf slices. We prefer a heavier gauge stretch wrap because it prevents the fragrance from penetrating the wrapper.
Smelling the soap scent once it is wrapped may not be possible. After all, that is the purpose of wrapping the soap...to retain the scent, not to release it. Finally, keep in mind that it is unlikely you can duplicate the fragrance intensity of soap and toiletry products offered by companies like Bath & Body Works®, Victoria Secret®, or other major soap/bath companies. These companies spend millions of dollars to have labs produce special bases and fragrances that are manufactured very differently than those produced at home.
Finally, keep in mind that not all scents work well in melt and pour soap base. Staying with the more traditional (tried and true) scents will assure that the finished product is well received by your customers, friends, and family.
I want to pour some MP loaf soaps with a clear background and colored embeds. Can you suggest an additive or a way to keep the fragrance from making the clear soap become cloudy?
Keeping clear soap completely clear once fragrance is added is always a challenge. Using totally *clear* fragrance oils when embedding/adding inserts is a key factor. Unfortunately, the clarity of fragrance oils can change from one production to another (based on the raw ingredients being used). We ship our fragrances in a natural plastic bottle (as opposed to amber glass bottles) so the clarity level of an oil is easily assessed.
Fragrance oils can range in color, some clear, others slightly yellow; green; or orange. Thoroughly incorporating the fragrance into the soap base is important. Using a slow stirring motion, incorporate the fragrance into the melted soap base. It takes a few minutes to completely incorporate the fragrance into the base. If the fragrance is not thoroughly blended, it will cloud the base.
Finally, you can experiment with the following to make the soap clearer:
As you can see, there is no easy solution. I have found from experience, that using a *clear* fragrance oil thoroughly incorporated into the soap base works best.
"Natural" color additives are classified by the FDA as "Exempt from Certification". These colors come directly from plants or animals such as seeds (annatto), roots (tumeric), vegetables (red cabbage, beet juice), algae (beta carotene), insects (carmine), fruits (grape juice), etc. These exempt colors are regulated by the Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 Part 73. There are 28 such natural colors permitted for use in cosmetics. Because "Natural" is defined as being directly from plants or animals, color additives which are derived from the earth would not be considered "Natural". Rather, mineral pigments are called "Inorganic" ("non-living"). There are a number of inorganic color additives used in soap and cosmetics: iron oxides (browns, blacks, reds, etc.), ultramarines, chromium oxide green, and a variety of whites such as titanium dioxide.
The term *natural* is widely used by soap maker's when referring to "inorganic" color additives. However, it is not accurate based on FDA color classifications and can be misleading.
A dye is soluble (dissolves) in water, oils, alcohol, or glycerin. The color of dyes can change when put in a high pH environment. This includes cold process soap making. For example, Bright Blue will turn pink in cold process soap. Our dyes are all "coal tar" dyes, which means that they are chemically manufactured. They are also all approved for use in cosmetics. In general, dyes are brighter in color, and color "bleeding" can be a problem. Dyes work exceptionally well in single color pours. Single color pours means you are only using one color when pouring soap base into a mold. Color bleeding is only an issue with dual color soap pours in the same mold OR when embedding soap shapes.
An example of bleeding: You embed a royal blue heart in white soap base. After several days, you notice that the blue heart has started to bleed into the surrounding white soap and the white area around the heart has now taken on a pale blue color. Over time, the blue color eventually penetrates and bleeds into all of the white soap areas making the edges of the embedded blue heart fuzzy and indistinct. The term "bleeding" does not mean that a color will come off onto your skin during bathing or showering.
A pigment does not dissolve in water or oil. This means that your transparent applications (melt and pour soap, bubble bath, shower gel) are a less transparent (less see-through). Sometimes a color can be a "dye" when it is in water (it dissolves in water) but a "pigment" when it is in oil (it does not dissolve in oil). The positive side to pigments are that they are "non-bleeding". In other words, they won't migrate or bleed into surrounding areas of your soap project. Since pigments are heavy and don't dissolve, they will fall to the bottom of the bottle if you mix them with liquid applications such as liquid soap. Liquid products that are heavy or thick enough (a heavy lotion or cream) will stay suspended with no problem. Pigments are approved for use in cosmetics and are made from earth minerals.
What is Mica?
Mica is the name of a group of naturally occurring Earth's minerals which are mined from around the world, purified, and crushed into fine powders. Our cosmetic grade mica is a FDA approved and used to add pearlescent sheen, metallic shimmer, or iridescence to M&P, CP and HP soaps as well as lip products, bath & body products, eye cosmetics and more. These powders are derived from the mineral Muscovite Mica which grows in a layers and is ground to create these pearly translucent powders. Mica has a high reflective quality and is prized for its shimmery, pearlescent sheen. For this reason, it works best in products where it can get a lot of light, such as transparent M&P.
Mica particles will only suspend themselves in a thick base such as a shower gel, or a soap base that is starting to cool. If the base is too thin, the mica particles will sink to the bottom of the product.
All melt and pour soap base is clear. It is the addition of titanium dioxide that makes transparent soap base white or opaque.
This is an ingredient that is often found in cosmetics. It can successfully reflect UVA, UVB and UVC rays. It is claimed that the presence of this ingredient helps prevent skin cancer and premature aging of the skin.
We suggest adding water ONLY if you have remelted the base numerous times. The addition of water helps compensate for any loss of evaporation which may have occurred due to multiple heatings.
I want to make a 3-D soap but the back of the mold is flat. Is there any way to fuse the two mold halves to make a 3-D soap?
Yes, it can be done but it requires a little extra work. Pour melted soap into the mold cavity. Let the soap set up and remove from mold. Pour melted soap into the second mold half. While the soap is still hot and liquid, align the first soap half on top of the second half. Don't be concerned if some of the soap spills out from the sides of the mold. This can be trimmed away once the soap hardens and is removed from the mold. Be certain the first mold half is perfectly aligned on top of the second mold half. Use a clay modeling tool to trim off excess soap from the edges of the finished soap.
When evaluating any fragrance you must consider the top, middle and bottom notes. Stronger fragrance oils have balance and have been formulated so that the top, middle and bottom constituents work in harmony with one another.
Generally speaking, fragrances are good for up to one year. They should be stored out of indirect sunlight in a bottle with a seal tight cap.
Triethanolamine is used as a pH balancer in cosmetic preparations in a variety of different products - ranging from skin lotion, eye gels, moisturizers, shampoos, shaving foams etc. It is used widely in transparent soap. It is sometimes listed on the ingredient label as TEA. When used in lotion it acts as a moisturizing agent. Because
We are well aware of the widespread Internet rumors regarding SLS and its use in shampoos, soap, and other products. We are concerned about the safety and efficacy of our products, so we take these rumors seriously. Specifically, we have heard claims that SLS is linked to cancer, cataracts, liver or kidney damage, and other maladies. These widespread rumors have recently been investigated by respected publications such as The Washington Post and The Berkeley Wellness Newsletter, both of which have called them a "sham" and a "hoax." So rampant are these rumors that they are even addressed on the "Urban Legends" web site (http://www.snopes.com) under the "toxins du jour "heading, which provides additional reputable sources of information about SLS research.
Diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (pentasodium pentetate) is used in soaps as a water softener, and to protect dyes and perfumes from combining with metals in a solution. It is considered a chelating agent.
Tetrasodium etidronate is used as a water softener in soaps to prevent soap scum and bathtub rings by locking up the calcium and magnesium in the water.
Sorbitol is used as a humectant in many types of products for protection against loss of moisture content. It was originally obtained from the berries of mountain ash, but is now synthesized by the hydrogenation of glucose.
Some base products specify that a certain percentage of additional ingredients can be added to the base. How do I determine this percentage?
Most ingredient amounts are calculated two ways: (1) By weight, or (2) By volume. To work out a percentage by batch weight:
Determine the size of your batch by weight (in pounds, weight ounces or grams) and multiply by the percentage required. For example if you are making a 2 lb. batch of cream and need to add 1% of an essential oil, you should first convert 2 lbs. to 32 oz. ( 2lbs. x 16 oz. = 32 oz.) and then multiply 32 oz. by .01 (1%) which gives you 0.32 oz. If the resulting number is very small, you can convert it to grams for easier, more accurate weighing. 1 oz. = 28.35 grams so 0.32 oz. x 28.35 grams = 9.07 grams. You can then use a gram scale to accurately measure out 9.07 grams.
For detailed information pertaining to cosmetics visit: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/cos-toc.html
I bought some melt and pour goats milk soap last month. I melted the soap over a double boiler and after the soap has cooled down a little bit I am adding rose petals from my garden to the soap base. I thought the pink and white combo would look pretty and smell great! I am having a problem with the rose petals. The petals turn green as soon as they hit the soap base!! What am I doing wrong???
Actually, you aren't doing anything "wrong". Soap making involves a chemical reaction between the ingredients used, this includes additives such as fragrance oils as well as herbal/plant materials. It is not uncommon for many dried (and fresh) herbal/plant additives to turn finished soaps brown. This discoloration can occur within days or may take several weeks. We have experienced this when adding dried rose petals.
It appears you are using fresh rose petals. We are guessing that the "green" color is based on a chemical (perhaps alkaline) reaction between the plant material and soap ingredients. You might want to use silk rose petals instead with a rose fragrance.
I have started to sell my soaps to the public. I made a batch with the Melt & Pour and they came out beautifully. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of using another mold for the samples and people were actually looking for the sample shape. So now I have 50 soaps in a shape that they are not interested in. Can I shred and re-batch the ones I have? If so, do I have to watch the temp (Microwave)? Do I have to add more fragrance?
Yes, you can remelt the MP soap base in the microwave, just don't overheat. You may find additional fragrance is needed since reheating soap base can diminish (burn-off) the scent. Add approximately 1/2 the amount of fragrance you originally added. You don't want to over saturate the soap base with fragrance as it could cause seepage issues and cause pitting in your molds. It may be necessary to add a small amount of water to the soap base when reheating. This helps to replenish some of the moisture extracted in the first heating.
The beauty of melt and pour soap is that it CAN be reheated if you have a "botched" batch, or in your case, need a different mold design. Repeated reheating of MP soap base is not recommended as it can cause soap base to become dry and brittle.
I am a beginning soap maker. How safe are fragrance oils when mixed with melt and pour glycerin soap? Can the supplier give me the ingredient list of each oil that I order?
All "cosmetic-grade" fragrances are safe for soap making. As with all fragrances, you should purchase in small quantity first to determine if the scent meets your needs and is pleasant to your nose.
Fragrance oil ingredients are proprietary and ingredients are never disclosed by any manufacturer. For example, Liz Claiborne is not going to disclose the ingredients used in her fragrances. Fragrance oils are blended synthetic, aroma compounds, or natural essential oils. The FDC only requires the term "fragrance" on labels as they recognize that fragrance ingredients are proprietary (a company secret).
OPTION 1: If you don't plan to scent or color your lotion, the easiest method is to pump the lotion into your individual bottles via a pump dispenser. We sell a pump dispenser that fits all our gallon containers (lotion, shower gel, and bubble bath).
OPTION 2: With various sizes of zip-lock and freezer bags on the market, buy bags that will be about twice the size of what you intend to mix. Don't mix product with previously used bags due to hygiene and cross contamination.
Stand a zip-lock bag inside a plastic container. If you use a freezer bag, roll the edges over the side of the container. Careful! Avoid allowing fingers to touch parts of the bag that will come into contact with the product.
Place the container with the bag on a scale and O% the measuring indicator. Pour pre-determined amount of base into open bag. Do not fill bag more than half way. If your scale is accurate, add 1% or more scent. Without a scale, calculate a teaspoon being 1/6 oz. or 5ml. This 1 teaspoon (1/6 oz/5ml. ) will fragrance 20 oz of lotion or cream.
Zip lock or twist tie the bag and double check its sealed. Pull the bag out of the container and with your fingers, massage the color and fragrance together. You can see through this bag while mixing, so you will notice when it is fully blended.
When ready to pour into a bottle, cut a small corner off the bag with sanitized scissors and fill. Use the entire product in the bag because the open end is exposed to air. Try to fill all your bottles at once, without putting the bag down. Having to put the bag down may cause contamination to occur from surface contact.
OPTION 3: Use a plastic syringe (the kind used for large animals). Attach plastic tubing (you can get this in the medical supply section of most drug stores) to the tip of the syringe. Place the other end of tubing into the container or pot of finished lotion. Pull back on the syringe to draw lotion from the container. Remove tubing from syringe tip and squirt lotion into your bottles. This method is ideal when filling Malibu type lotion tubes.
The culprit is the vanilla in the fragrance oil. There is a chemical component in fragrances containing vanilla that turns brown. The soap appears beautiful after you release from mold. BUT... as the soap sits (this can be even overnight) it begins to turn brown. It may begin with just a few light tan spots, but within days it can turn a deep brown color.
What to do? Well the first suggestion is don't use any fragrances containing vanilla. Since fragrance ingredients are not disclosed, you may not even know that the fragrance you've used contains vanilla. If you want a true vanilla scent, we recommend using the Non-Darkening Vanilla fragrance from GoPlanetEarth.com You won't need to add any additional additives to keep your soap from turning brown.
If you opt to use other vanilla based fragrances (vanilla sugar, Vanilla Spice, Vanilla Rose, Vanilla Amber, etc.) you will need to use a vanilla stabilizer. Many fragrance blends have a little bit of vanilla in them and you may not even be aware. Pumpkin, spice blends, sandalwood, coconut, chocolates are just a few of the fragrances containing vanilla. GoPlanetEarth.com sells a vanilla stabilizer for use with melt and pour soap.
Mix 1 tablespoon fragrance with 1 tablespoon stabilizer. Stir mixture thoroughly and add to 1 pound soap base. Some white soaps may still turn a light ivory color if the fragrance contains a high level of vanilla.
The easiest fix is to wrap your arms around this glorious fragrance additive and make it work to your advantage. Suggestions include adding brown oxide to white base for a light mocha color or using a swirl effect by adding unscented white soap to the fragranced soap. Here's one example of how we've used brown shades and vanilla based fragrances to our advantage. This one is a vanilla fudge brownine soap.
Mold size and pouring temperature of soap will determine set up time. It is imperative that you allow soap to cool completely before trying to remove from any mold. Depressions will occur in the top of mold if you try to release soap by force. Allow molded soaps to sit for at least 1 hour for best results. Gently pull the at the sides of the mold. This releases entrapped air between the mold and soap. Using firm, but gentle pressure, push on the top of mold until soap is released. If you are still having difficulty, place mold in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
Mold Tips for CP soapers:
How do I determine how much soap base I will need for a project?
Most soap blocks are sold in one or two block bricks. A one pound brick is equal to 16 ounces (7.25747 kg). In order to know how much base is needed, you will need to know how many ounces your soap mold holds. The supplier generally gives this information when purchasing a mold. However, an easy way to get an approximate idea is to fill the mold cavity with water and then pour off the water into a measuring cup. If the mold holds 4 ounces of water, then you will want to melt at least 4 ounces of soap. Keep in mind that your finished soap may end up weighing more than 4 ounces. You are using the water as a liquid volume measure, not a weight measure.
Here's an example:
If your mold has 3 cavities and each cavity holds 4.5 ounces of water. You would take
You will want to melt 13-5 ounces to make your three soaps.