Hand-Milled Soap

Dear Soapers,

Currently I am unable to respond to email on soapmaking. While it's appreciated you may have questions on the topic, there is considerable free information here for your use. Hopefully you'll find what you need. Many questions are answered in the Tips and Troubleshooting section. If you've had an opportunity to look at the Emergency Preparedness portion of Millennium-Ark and the main site, which is updated daily, then you realize that making soap is truly a miniscule portion of the website. Especially with current events, we are inundated with emergency preparedness related-queries – the primary focus.

Thank you for understanding and good luck in your projects!

Holly Deyo

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 process.

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 soft.

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]:

Grated Soap
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 is best.

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.

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This information may be used by you freely for noncommercial use only with my name and email address attached.

Main website: https://standeyo.com
Preparedness website: https://daretoprepare.com

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