Tips and Hints Page One



                                                                         This is a collection of miscellaneous tips.

Olive Oils 101

Mike Lawson-Columbus Foods

Extra Virgin: First cold pressing without heat or refining. Distinctive
aroma and taste, color ranging from yellow green to golden greenish

Virgin:  Second cold pressing without heat or refining. Milder taste and aroma, color ranging from yellow  to yellow green.

Refined A / Lite :Third cold pressing without heat. The oil must then be refined bleached and deodorized to become palatable . Bland flavor with a hint of olive aroma , color ranging from pale yellow to medium greenish yellow.

Pure:   A blend of cold pressed olive oils (E.V.  , Virgin and Ref
A.)Because the Ref A is bland  E.V. and Virgin are added from 3 to 10% to enhance its flavor. Aroma is mild as is its taste, color is medium yellow.

Olive Pomace oil  ( no this is not a typo, this is the way it is really
supposed to be said )  : A blend of refined Olive Pomace oil and  Virgin olive oil. Pomace is the crushed olive material ; pits, stems and remaining pulp that remains after pressing . This oil is extracted with the use of solvents (Hexane) . After refining , the oil is then blended with 8 to 10% Virgin Olive oil to produce Olive Pomace Oil. Color is medium yellow to medium green.
Now you all are ready to go to Italy!!!
Mike Lawson    (BUBBLES)
Columbus Foods Company               Chicago, Illinois
OILS OILS OILS 800-322-6457x230

I called my agent and he took a couple of days to come up with something
- he has never insured a soaper before.  He gave me a quote of $175/year for $300,000 - 500,000 coverage.  It is insurance for  manufacturing something to sell.
I feel insurance is a must.  It would be terrible if someone had a reaction to my soap and wanted everything my husband and I own or hope to own someday.  He also told me that if you were to give soap away to family and friends any problems would be covered under your homeowners policy.  I am not exactly sure how that would go, but plan on getting the insurance.I am also in the process of getting a tax-id number.  You can get the information from your bank.  I am not sure how often you need to file, but think it is once a year. If you want to correspond to me privately, feel free!

Swirled Soap
It's not hard... You take out part of your soap after you have scented it, add colorant to it..  drizzle it (not all in one spot) back into our base soap in the soap pot (don't stir)and pour it into your mold.  You may not want to fill the mold all the way (i use Rubbermaid drawer liners, and I fill to about half and then move to the next one and them make my way back to the first one with the last bit of soap.  Then depending upon what I end up with, I may want to run a spoon through the soap in the mold (figure 8 motion, or squiggles) and put that puppy to bed.
*** be sure to add extra water to the soap in the pot (proportionately) if you added water to your colorant.  You want things to be of an equal consistency.  If you are making a 5# batch and extra ounce or two of water isn't going to kill your soap, especially if you use less than 8 oz of water per pound in your original recipe. Works with pigments, spices, or whatever makes you happy.
Ellen Peacock

Swirling Soap in Downspouts
I thought I would get on and tell you how we swirl our soaps. Rodney is in charge of coloring and I am in charge of fragrancing, so when the soap mixture is at a very light trace, before I add the fragrance in, Rodney takes out a cup of it and mixes in the color thoroughly. Then, I add the fragrance, get it to a final trace, and we use downspouts so I pour the main mixture into the downspout and at the same time he pours the cup of color into the downspout and the color streams in and swirls.

Another way we do it is he takes out a cup of the soap mixture when it is at a very light trace and colors it and then I fragrance and bring the main soap mixture to a final trace, and before I pour it into the downspout he pours the cup of colored soap mixture into the main mixture, but he holds the cup very high up so the stream of color hits hard and sinks down to the bottom more. We do not stir it. We just pour it in and the pouring swirls the color. We like both methods, and have not had any problems, except when we used titanium dioxide and ultramarine pink just the other day, but that is another story LOL!!

Cindi and Rodney L.
Vicksburg, MS

PH of Soaps
This is a confusing subject. According to Luis Spitz, the retired soap chemist who spoke at the Soap Makers Guild conference (Luis worked for many of the corporate *biggies* in the past), the actual TRUE pH of fully saponified soap is in the range of 10.0 to 10.3.   For some reason, however,the test strips that most of us use that show *color* when dipped in solution, come up in the 8-9ish range. I purchased a small handheld pH meter that can be calibrated, and sure enough, 10.0 for soap that I was getting a test strip reading of 8++. The moral for me, is find a range in whatever testing method you use, that you know is a mild, cured soap, and establish your baseline of what is acceptable.  Then when your soap deviates high off that baseline, you'll know you've got a problem!
It is important to make a solution of the soap in distilled water to get the most accurate reading.  Any pH test must be done in an aqueous (water) solution.  And testing a few bubbles of lather on the bar, or on your hand, is not enough water in solution with the soap.  Plus pH on your hand, or stuff in non-distilled water can throw the reading off, as well.
 Deena Gentle

Temps in Soap and tracing
Well, it's kind of a combination of things.  Some recipe's work better at certain temps., and some people work better at other temps. Confusing, huh? I like to use 85 - 90 degrees.  I used to use 100 but found I got a faster trace at a lower temp.  When I got Susan Cavitch's book, she called for 80 degrees, but I found that difficult cause it traced tooooo fast and I seemed to get more ash on my bars.  So for the most part it's person preference. They say you get a slower trace at temps above 140 and below 75.  I think both are extreme.  Most people are somewhere in-between.  After a while, you'll find what works best for you AND your recipe. Lori S. (Lambypie)

If the mold is thinner, or less insulated, it will heat up less. For instance a square block of soap is going to hold in more of it's own heat than a 1/2 inch sheet of soap. Remember the soap I talked about purposely heating up? I poured it into a thick mold in order to help it to heat up more. On the other hand, my kitty litter box makes a 3/4 inch sheet of soap out of a 5 pd batch. That does not heat up so much.

PVC Pipe Molds
The very first soap shooter thingy my husband made, was made from a  pvc pipe.  But once he started pumping the air into it, darrell was nervous about the high pressure it gets before the soap shoots out.  So, he decided to go with abs piping, since abs is used for drinking water, and is under high pressure.  Apparently the pvc piping is just used for waste water and sewage which is not under pressure. He made a simple box, that has 1" on the end open, and he puts the round log into that and cuts exactly 1" of soap -- we use this simple box for rectangle loaf logs of soap AND round soaps!  Also works for our 1 1/4" round soap samples fine!  Each cut is perfectly measured, and level. Both darrell and I LOVE the simplicity and the look of the round soaps. We also have not greased the pipes, since the air blows the soap out, and that worked fine too!  No messing with greasing the pipe up, or lining the box with freezer paper.  Much faster.
Darrell also made a tall styrofoam chest that holds about a dozen pipes upright, so no chance of spillage.  All we did is went to Home Depot and bought a package of sheets of styrofoam (for insulating your house -- the hard sheets).  Then we cut it and taped it together.  VOILA!
We buy plain flat caps for the bottom of the pipe.  We have tried lining the bottom with plastic, in case the thing leaked, but no problems.  so we won't be lining again.  Just pop the cap on and pour the soap, and cover the box.  That's it!  24 hours later, beautiful! You all must really try this.  Our box that we made ( styrofoam one) is only about 10" x 12" by about 3 feet high.  Takes hardly any room! Good luck! 

 We have used downspouts since about our 2nd batch of soap. We are now on about batch 50 and have not had any problems at all. Our downspouts are the straight sided kind. I should also say that we typically use the same basic recipe containing 50% olive, 25% coconut, 18.25% palm, 6.25% castor (reserved, mixed with
fragrance and added at trace).
We have found a large variance in how different fragrance oils make the soap logs drier or wetter inside the mold. With Vanilla FO, you have to be careful untaping the mold because the log is so wet sometimes that it literally wants to fly out on its on.  With some FOs, the log is drier and we have a little square piece of cardboard cut to fit inside the mold. We then use a long plastic bottle that fits into the mold to push the cardboard and the soap log out.
We have used a few other recipes but have had no real problems with them either. Our downspouts are cut into about 16" lengths and hold 2 lbs. of soap each with plenty of room left on one end to push from. I wouldn't use any longer that 16" because I think the extra length and friction with recipes resulting in drier logs could start to be a problem.
We have read about all the complicated sounding methods of sealing the downspouts and have to laugh a little when we read them. Making wax seals, pouring wax into pans and heating it to set the molds into it, 10 layers of plastic wrap, packaging tape and duct tape....... We do it quick and simply and have not had but one problem in nearly 50 batches. We use 3 pieces of clear packaging tape. That's it. Now that I've said how simple it is, there are are some things you absolutely must do in order to use only 3 pieces of tape. 1) You must make sure the ends of the mold are sawn and sanded level with no jags or nicks. 2) You must make sure that the outside end to be taped is clean of all oils and old soap EVERY time you use them.  Just cut off 3 pieces of tape long enough
to overlap about 4 inches on both sides when placed directly across the center of the mold end.  Fold down a tiny edge on each end of the tape to make removal easier later.(just like you do so you kind find the end of the tape on the roll!).  Place one piece of tape centered across the end of the mold, tightly pulling down on both sides and carefully smooth the tape down the sides. Make sure there are absolutely no wrinkles from the edge of the mold for at least an inch down the sides. Soap will leak out of the wrinkles so be careful about that, that is the only mistake and problem we've had ONE time when I got lazy and didn't make sure there were no wrinkles.  The other two pieces of tape go on either side
of the center piece, giving about a 40% overlap in the center. Again, make sure they are tightly across the end and wrinkle free. You will only have about an inch of tape overlapping on both of the adjacent sides.  We make neat folds at the corners and make sure it is smooth and leave it at that but you could run another piece of tape across that direction for a little extra security.
Pour the soap into downspouts at medium trace for better results.  Less chance of air bubbles getting trapped inside the long molds. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap secured by a rubber band.
We also have a big cardboard box, turned upside down with 7 square holes cut out of it just a little bigger than the size of the downspout. Makes a great holder and insulator for up to 7 molds at a time. (7 because that's how many 16" molds we cut from the piece of downspout we had!) Put a piece of cardboard or smooth soft plastic mat in the bottom for the molds to sit on. I think the weight of the mold pressing into the cardboard also helps insure no leaking by creating sort of a pressure seal until the soap starts getting firm, which is only about 10 minutes for our recipe.
We usually unmold the logs from 18 to 32 hours (on average 24 hours) depending on our schedule and again the characteristics of the log due to the FO. As an example, vanilla makes a softer bar also and we usually remove the plastic wrap off the mold in around 24 hours and let it dry and firm up for another 8 hours before unmolding.  You can generally tell when the soap wants to come out by squeezing on the sides of the top of the mold.  If the soap releases around the edges, its probably ready. Untape the end and remove log from mold.  We have never had to freeze or even chill the logs.
Clean the molds using ONLY hot water with the sprayer on the kitchen sink. Don't wash with detergent as the molds season with use and become even easier to unmold.

Here's my take on what I do w/ the downspouts. I use either 2" or 2 1/2" pvc pipes. I have went to the hardware store and got 2" fittings. Got some pipe glue. I glued the screw fitting to one end of the pvc pipe. I then got 2" screw on caps. Just screw them on and your pipe is sealed. The pipes are all about 2 feet long. All my pipes have the 2" fitting. Some are 2 1/2 on one end, 2 on the other. I keep the end 2" cuz I bought another 2" cap, drilled a
hole into it, and inserted a bicycle pump valve and used pipe glue and glued it. Now I have one cap w/ a valve that can be simply screwed onto the end of the pipe when I remove the cap. Pump w/ a bike pump and the soap slides right out.
Sounds like alot of work, but it's not & it's worth it. Just screw the ends on, pour. Then when ready to unmold, unscrew that cap end, screw on the valve one, pump, and away you go. Now for larger pipes (I do a 4" and cut it into halves, you need a air compressor or go to the gas station and use the air there). I wash these in the bathtub btw.
I hope this different take on pvc helps.


Janet T.
  I also use downspouts and a fellow soaper gave me a wonderful idea for plugging one end.  You need an old tray of some sort, that you won't use again for anything but soapmaking.  Melt regular paraffin wax, the Wal-Mart kind or wherever you get it.  Melt enough to put about 1/2 " in the tray you will be using.  Stand the downspouts up in the wax and let the wax harden.  DO NOT REMOVE THEM FROM THE TRAY.  Make your soap and pour in the spouts (I cut my spouts about 10-12" in length.)  Let it sit 24 - 48 hours, then you can wriggle the spouts out of the wax and you will still have the plug attached on the bottom.  This I find two-fold, it prevents the soap from going out but it helps prevent the spout from swelling/spreading at the base.  I do not insulate my downspouts as their shape provides enough of an insulation sometimes certain soaps will swell up a bit at the top from the heat but never have they overflowed, as they cool they are fine.  You cut off the top end anyway as the ash forms on the open end.  Then I put them in the freezer usually overnight or for the day, whichever.  Take them right from the freezer and run hot tap water over them, not into, but over the outside, and as someone else already explained they usually just pop out, you can see the bottom drop so you know it is ready to come out.  Sorry for the long write, hope it helps.  I just love the design, I use the "scalloped" spout and cut in approx.
1" slices for 4 oz. bars. Luck & Lather,
Mother's Soap

Gentle Ridge PVC PIPES

<<How do you use a PVC pipe for molding and what kind. I have seen this
mentioned before and wondering if it is better than using my old wood

We cut 3" PVC to size (15" - 2 ft. long).  Then put 3-6 layers of
plastic wrap over the bottom end and cap it with a little push cap you can get at discount building supply stores in the plumbing dept.:
Some folks use a pet food can plastic cap and that style of cap for the bottom works well, too: Pour the soap into the mold. I pour it in the container I plant to let it set up over night (a 5 gal pail works well, holds about 4-5 molds). Whatever you do, don't pick up the mold while it has fresh poured soap in it.  SPLOTPP!  -- the pressure will push the bottom cap off.  Cover the top with plastic wrap, a sandwich baggie, or another cap, to help hold the heat, and prevent soda ash on the top. How closely to store the pipe molds, and how much to insulate them is trial and error.  This kind of mold can heat up pretty good, and some ingredients can accelerate that heat and give you a volcano effect, and possibly some separation, so keep an eye on it, and uncover it if it appears to be overheating.
We don't grease or lubricate the mold.  After it has fully set up and
the saponification has cooled down (at least 24 hours), we put ours
overnight in the freezer.  The next morning, remove from the freezer, remove the bottom cap.  Once the outside starts to frost up (about 15-30 min), we give the bottom a good THWACK on the concrete basement floor, and usually the soap
slips right out.  I have a tool that I use to give it a little push from the top if it needs a nudge, but the freezing and condensation is the real trick.  Let it thaw, and then cut into desired sized discs.  For
smallish batches, I like using one of those wire cheese cutters.  I remove the little roller action (mine just unscrewed) -- and the space that is left is a nice even 1"  cut, which usually cures to about a 3.5 oz. bar.


Lots of lather
Just a quick tip for all who make the no-fail Crisco soap or plan to. There is a really easy way to improve this soap and make it lather better. If you already make m&p soap, you can use scraps or just pour a log. Chunk it up and add to your soap at a good trace so they stay suspended. They really make the soap lather better when using just shortening. You can scent the glycerine soap for added ooomph or do a chocolate crisco cp and peppermint scented glycerine chunks!

 Handling Lavender Soap
Q: I am having a problem lately making plain lavender soap I have been getting this annoying white streaked stuff throughout areas inside the block of soap.  Not through the whole thing, just in places.  It isn't soda ash, since it is inside.  Does anyone else have this problem and, if so, how did you resolve this?  I don't have this trouble when I make any other kind of soap.  Only the lavender.

A: Yes. Increase your temps and extra super-insulate to avoid this. I get the EXACT same thing only with lavender.  I normally using about 90 - 100 degrees, but with the lavender soap, I found I need to be up 125 degrees and keep that puppy warm all night.  I wasted 24 lbs of lavender soap until I figured this out.  The last time I made it, I also slightly warmed my lavender before adding it to the traced soap--just a tad warmer than rm temp--so as to keep it from making the soap temp drop. Try this and I think your problem will be solved. Misty Simon.

Vitamin E oil, Lemon Rind powder, Benzoin, and Grapefruit seed extract, etc. can be used to help *preserve the shelf life of your soap. The question about whether or not to use it is controversial. Some soap makers claim that it is unnecessary, some would never make a batch without it. So, the decision is up to you. I use vitamin E oil, which is in a base of wheat germ oil for the majority of my soaps. These products can be purchased at your local health food store or through mail order. *The word reservative is often used out of place when the word "antioxidant" should be used, people often confuse the two, preserving soap is usually not necessary, an antioxidant can be used to extend the life of the oils/fats used and help prevent DOS, etc.

Super fatting oils
Super fatting is a term used for adding extra oil to soap that doesn't saponify with the rest of the oils. Most soaps can be super fatted with castor oil,  sweet almond oil, vegetable glycerin, and cocoa butter. Use 2 oz. pre-warmed oil per 8 lb. batch. (in most cases)

Losing Scent

 I have not had a problem with soap losing it's scent as long as I store them in the plastic boxes, each scent getting it's own plastic box.  I do a lot of craft shows on weekends, and find that even if they start to lose it during the show, once the cover's on the box for a few days, they recover beautifully.  I also sell in a small shop in town, where they sometimes sit in the basket for months, but if you put them up to your nose, no problem telling what they are.  Be sure to use enough fo or eo in your soap when you make it and use ones that work good in soap.  Not all do, ya' know.  Have fun! Lori

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