I have a new soap mold, thanks to the husband! I have him the plans and he bought the wood and built me a fantastic mold. The plans came from Modern Soapmaking’s website and you can find the link here. I decided against using her plans, but Marie at Humblebeeandme also posts about her soap mold right here if you’re interested, and gives dimensions and useful information.
You’ll notice that my soap mold does not have a lid. I never concern myself with getting my soap to gel, and right now I’m more concerned with keeping things cool than warm as it’s summer in Kansas and my house doesn’t have central air. My kitchen is pretty toasty most of the day, meaning I soap in the morning and at night, but saponification is happening during heat of the day and no insulation is necessary. It’s why I haven’t made beer soap, or tres leches soap yet, or anything else that needs things cool and cooler instead of being able to take a little heat. No milks or sugars or honey in my soap. The honeybee idea I had is on hold. But I have plenty of ideas. I’m afraid I’ll never be able to be a soap maker who has signature soaps and no creativity. Maybe I could have three signature soaps and one that changes all the time?
Sorry about the segue. Having a hard time focusing today.
If you click the link for Modern Soapmaking you’ll also get exact dimensions, but essentially? It’s long enough to accommodate parchment paper precisely and wide enough to allow easy calculation for oils. Each inch equals 100 grams of oils, so if I use all 15 inches of the mold, I can pretty much guarantee I will need 1500 in oils, and whatever water and lye that uses, and if I want to use less I measure off, put in the spacer, and work from there. Look at these pictures:
My mold, from the top. See the one inch markings?
My mold with a spacer wedged in there. It will now make ten 1″ bars or 1000 g of oils or about 4 lb of soap. By making sure the end bolts are very tight, the spacer stays in place.
To make two, 700 g oil batches of soap (what I will be doing today, in fact). This is better for the first few batches so the center block can soak up some water and swell a little and also so the weight of the soaps push against each other.
The ends. To remove the soap, you unscrew the bolts and remove them, then pop the long board near the wing nuts free. It’s held on strictly by pressure. Only the other long board is screwed and glued down. Then remove the ends, using the blade of a chef’s knife if necessary to pry free (although if you oil them with mineral oil or Vaseline before hand it isn’t usually necessary), and lift your soap and parchment paper free. Peel the parchment off and you’re ready for slicing. I also grease up the spacer bar with petroleum jelly so it pops out easily. All in all, it leaves very little residue on the soap, and only on the ends which I trim anyways before slicing to cure.
In this photo, you can see I pulled the board away and popped the end off. It is a very easy soap mold to use and I am very happy with it. I wanted to have J make me a 10″ one to replace my silicone mold which is getting very battered, but I don’t think we had enough wood for the sides left. That’s the size I use the most often and it would have meant I didn’t have to pull out this beast every time. However, I think I will enjoy working in grams very quickly-I like working in metric usually-and if it means whipping up two kinds of soap in smaller batches at first to “balance” the mold, well, that’s ok by me. It’s not breaking my heart.
Note: Unless I need the extra water for a very slow trace-or in the case of the fishing soap, a slow cure-I work at a 33% or 30% water discount, not 38% in Soap Calc. That decreases how much water I have in my batches slightly and makes them a little smaller. However, I don’t like my soap to be really huge and piling up over the mold like some people do, I want it pretty flat. Just take that all into account when I say these calculations work for me, ok?
Today I have planned fishing soap in anise and garlic. Sounds delicious, right? Probably not, but it catches catfish and I like catfish. Catfish are weird in that they bite on bait based on their sense of smell and they like odd smells…like soap and garlic and anise. Whatever, because I like catfish.
I smoked the last one on the grill and it was amazing.
I also want to make a whipped soap. This is like Ivory Soap in that it’s whipped so full of bubbles it actually will float. The technique sounds interesting and I’m curious to try it. I also want to add blue, yellow, and white color to it and have Swedish colors in my whipped soap today. Let’s see how creative I can get with this mess.
I need something in the other half of the soap mold so I’m putting in a batch of green clay face soap. When I made this the very first time, it didn’t turn out, so I rebatched it with some milk and made it into a soft scrub cleanser that EVERYONE liked. I now need to send out small bars to people who had the soft cleanser and ask which they prefer. I can also attempt to recreate the original with half this batch. I also want to take some liquid soap paste and dilute it with green clay and make a cleanser for my friends to test out. So there’s a lot going on there. But first, the bars of soap today!
And finally, today, I have to get more liquid soap in the crock pot. I didn’t realize how low I until I got a call for more and I ended up diluting out my last jar of concentrate for them. So except what’s in my hand wash container and dish soap bottle, I’m officially out of liquid soap.
I need to make lard and coconut oil laundry soap but I think it may have to wait until J gets home. I think we should be ok. If I make it in ten days, and it takes three weeks to cure, that means what I have needs to last a month. I have two more bars I can grind up beyond what’s in the coffee can, which is half full. It’s good. If we get deluged with bedding, I will break out the soap nuts, and if we get hit with a bunch of mud and filth, worst case scenario, I’ll can back up to my liquid soap and oxyclean. Period. I just hate tearing through the liquid soap because it is time consuming on a level that bar soap isn’t. Bar soap is all down time. You make it, you ignore it while it chemically reacts quietly on the counter. Liquid Soap needs attention. It’s the attention whore of the soap world. And I just added “whore” to my dictionary!
On that note, I’m out!