So, our first batch of soap turned out quite well. We used it ourselves first to ensure no major problems, then passed it around to as many people as we could for feedback. Most of the feedback we received was positive, which was great to hear.
We learned two things from our initial experience:
- Use a stick blender. Stirring by hand is crazy and literally takes hours.
- A bad mold = bad soap.
The mold we used was one I bought online and the shape made it challenging to cut. We tried our best and ended up with awkward bars. With that in mind, I spent several hours online trying to find the perfect soap molds and ended up frustrated. So, I decided to try drawing out my own. Wayne (always the dutiful husband) was kind enough to build them for me.
I'm very happy with the result of the project. We now have two molds that are (hopefully) sized appropriately to produce 4 - 5 oz bars. Each has a top that fits tightly to be used in the first 24 hours after pouring, one hinged side to allow for each removal of the soap, and a end piece with dowels to ensure the mold stays together during pouring and initial curing. If I did my math right (we'll see!), they should fit 1/2 batch each.
I also drew out a soap cutter that Wayne built so we can produce uniform bars.
I found the dough cutter on amazon cheap and the wood for the project cost us less than $50. Pretty good considering the molds I did find that I liked were $40-50/each.
The plan is for us to make a full batch this weekend. Mountain Rose Herbs has become my new favorite site. I'm sure the Fedex guy thinks I'm nuts.
I'm hoping to do 1/2 batch each of two varieties so that I can start to build some stock. Wayne and I started taking about where we were possibly going to cure all this soap which prompted me to draw out a plan for a drying rack. Stay tuned for the result of that project.