Hand-Milling, Rebatching, Melt and Pour... these are all terms used to describe hand-milled or French-milled
soaps. This means the final soap has undergone a two-part cooking
Besides making lovely rich soaps, the rebatching process is a
clever means to fix soapmaking's little disasters. If soap has
separated in the curing process or the bars have dried crooked
for example, the rebatching helps remedy most of these problems.
Here's how to do it. First, a basic batch of soap is made and
at least partially cured. A good choice to use is the first one
in the Recipes section called Basic Soap. It's virtually foolproof
and works very well in hand-milled soaps.
Let's go through a hand-milled soap recipe together so you get
a good feel for it. Assume we have already made the Basic Soap recipe and it's ready for milling. The Basic Soap recipe yields
12 oz (360g) of soap.
Step One: If you have poured this into one large mold, break off chunks
with a knife and run it through a vegetable grater. Some folks
use their food processor which is OK too. If you're grating soap
that is still moist, wear rubber gloves as it will still contain
some lye. Grate soap over a protected surface, not newspaper or
it will absorb the ink.
Step Two: When the soap is grated, place all of it and 7 ounces (198g)
of water in your soap cooking pot. Melt the soap and water together
SLOWLY. If you turn the heat up high and rush the melting, you
might end up with an unusable mess. Stir melting soap and water
together gently with a wooden spoon being careful not to make
bubbles. If you see them forming, quit stirring for a bit. Make
sure the soap is not stick to the pot's bottom. Melting will take
20 minutes to 1 hour depending on the recipe you use (if different
from Basic Soap).
The recipe we've decided to use for our hand-milled soap is a
superfatted one, extra rich and moisturizing. If you're allergic
to lanolin, substitute a different animal fat. It calls for:
1 oz (28.4g) cocoa butter
1 oz (28.4g) sweet almond oil
1 oz (28.4g) lanolin
1 oz (28.4g) glycerin
Step Three: In a small sauce pan, melt the cocoa butter over low temperature.
Add the almond oil, lanolin and glycerin and mix together until
Step Four: Add the softened fats to the melted Basic Soap and water and
stir until slightly thickened.
It is not necessary to do a temperature check on the milled soap mixture, but if you pour it into individual decorative molds when it is too hot, it will shrink away from the sides of the mold as it cools. A temperature of 150oF - 160oF (66oC - 71oC) is desirable. Pour into prepared molds.
Step Five: Fill the molds full but not over the sides as it makes for a
sloppy bar of soap and more difficult to remove from the mold.
Use a rubber spatula to smooth the top of the soap.
Step Six: When the soap has a slight "skin" on the surface, place the molds
in the freezer for 1 - 2 hours. The freezing will help your soap
come out of the molds.
Step Seven: When unmolding them, you may need to give the mold a slight twist or a tap on the bottom. Handle them carefully as they will
be quite soft.
Step Eight: Turn the soaps out onto white butcher's paper or needlepoint
screen. Final curing, depending on the ingredients used, will
take 2 - 4 weeks. Soap will be ready for use when it is hard to
the touch and your fingertips do not leave an impression on it.
Step Nine: About one week into the final curing, you may notice some warping
and shrinking. It will be most noticeable in the longer rectangular
bars. See Tips and Troubleshooting for ideas how to best fix this. Turn the bars of soap over once
a week so all surfaces are evenly cured.
If you are using more than 12 oz of grated soap, here are the
water guidelines to use unless otherwise specified [note the recipe
above specifically called for 7 oz (198g) of water]:
12 oz (340g)
9 oz (255g)
16 oz (453g)
12 oz (340g)
1-1/2 lbs (680g)
18 oz (510g)
2 lbs (907g)
24 oz (680g)
3 lbs (1.4 kg)
36 oz (1 kg)
COLORANTS: Make sure the soap is entirely melted before adding or soap will
have white areas in it.
FRAGRANCES: Your nose needs to be your guide, but where to start? Because
strengths differ between Essential Oils and Fragrance Oils, from
scent to scent as well as from company to company, start with
1/2 - 1 oz (14.2 - 28.4g) of oil per 3/4 pound (340g) of soap.
ADDITIVES: Heavier additives like oatmeal, bran, sand, etc. will sink to
the bottom of the soap if they are added with the soap is very
hot and thin. It may need to be stirred several times to redistribute
these ingredients. Adding them just before pouring into the molds
If you add liquified vegetables or fruit, an equal amount of water
needs to be deducted from the water added to the grated soap. If this water is not
deducted, the soap will be runny and shrink a lot in the molds.
...Return to Main Soapmaking Page
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