I have been making soap for several months now and I am also in the process of trying to get my soap business off of the ground. It’s tough, financially, organizationally, and a whole slew of other tough things. I’m not going to give up though! I have so many ideas related to my company, GrammaVedora Soap Company, that I want to pursue. I actually have to rein myself in from trying to do too much!
Now, from the start I have been trying to master rebatching, also called hand-milling. I always thought it would actually be easier than making soap from scratch, but it apparently has its own inherent issues. Rebatching (or hand-milling) is when a soap bar(s) is ground up or shredded and then heated so that it melts and the soap can be reformed into a different mold or other additives can be added to the melted soap. For example, adding organic elements to cold process soap can be tricky. It oftentimes turns brown due to the interaction of the organic components with the lye. When you rebatch, these organic elements can be added and the chance of browning is somewhat minimized. Also, the important benefits of the additives may stay intact and not be potentially destroyed by the lye reaction.
I have tried rebatching several times in the past with minimal success. I have wanted to make a soap with fresh strawberries and blueberries in it so I figured rebatching was my best option. I didn’t want a brown soap bar, but something with more interest. Anyway, my first attempt I used my old crock pot and melted up some cold process soap I had made about a month earlier. I think I added way too much strawberries and water. My soap turned into a soupy mass of brown goo that bubbled out of my crock pot and onto the counter top. It was disgusting. Being borderline optimistic, I still put the goo into a mold to see what would happen. Surprise, surprise, it was still a mass of goo the next morning so I dumped the mess into the trash.
My next attempt I tried using blueberries. I still used the crock pot since I don’t own a double boiler. I added much less blueberry puree and minimal water. I also added a small amount of vitamin E oil. The mixture didn’t get runny like the first batch. It had more of a mashed potato consistency. I put the soap into a silicone mold and set it on the counter overnight. The next morning I had to stick the mold into the freezer for a little while so I could remove the soap. It looked much better than my first attempt, but still even after sitting for a month or more, it was a bit soft. I tried a similar batch using strawberries and got similar results.
A couple of weeks ago I decided I wanted to try rebatching again. I had to master this seemingly basic skill! It was driving me a little crazy that I hadn’t been able to figure it out. I shredded some more soap base bars and put it in my crock pot. I added a small amount of pureed blueberries after I had melted the soap. Mixed it carfully and then added some melted cocoa butter and beeswax to the mixture. At this point, the soap looks a little soft and not as “mashed potato-y” as I wanted so I grated 2 more bars of soap and added it to the pot. After allowing the new soap to melt and mixing only occasionally, I felt confident I could mold. I used a wooden lined mold my husband had made for me and filled it with the soap. I then placed the soap into the refrigerator for a couple of hours. When I checked the soap after about 3 hours, I cut the soap and noticed it already felt much harder than my previous attempts. I was elated! Finally! I figured something out!
After my success with the batch of blueberry I made some with strawberries and it also came out beautifully. I love the look of the fresh fruit in the soap. The seeds and hint of color add so much interest to the soap and the added cocoa butter makes it so moisturizing. Here are some photos of my recent successes!
I love the hint of color in each! The strawberry is lightly tinted with and orangey-pink and the blueberry has a blue-purple color. Yay! Now I have to make some more base soap so I can do some more rebatching in the future. To buy some of this awesome soap, visit my etsy shop : http://www.GrammaVedoraSoapCo.etsy.com
Look out for my next blog post in a couple weeks. I plan on running a contest where one lucky winner will receive a soaping gift from GrammaVedora Soap Company. I hope to be able to outline the details of the contest in my next blog post.
For more information about my company, please visit my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/GrammaVedora