Crafting · Essential Oils · Homesteading · Soap Making

Hand Milled Soap

Cold process soap is a fascinating hobby (or business) to get into. Long ago, when my oldest was a baby I taught myself how to make soap. In the pre-internet days (for me), it was so much harder to learn. There wasn’t videos, and books were sparse at best. As I taught myself how to do it, I found a side niche I enjoyed, which was making hand milled soap from the cold process soap.

And what is hand milled soap? It is taking cold processed soap an extra step. You are left with custom bars of soap that are often much harder than first batch is. It saves on essential oils, but also allows one to make multiple types of soap from one base.

First, you must have soap base. Either make your favorite cold process soap, and let it cure fully – or find a soap maker who can sell you bars.

The not as fun part is grating the soap. It takes time. Use an old school metal box grater, or if you have it, a food processor with a cheese grating option. Or beg older children to do it…..

I use 2 pounds grated soap (weighed after grating). You will need a large stainless steel double boiler (though you can do this in a large heat safe glass mixing bowl in a pinch, however an actual double boiler is easier to use). Put a few inches water in the lower pot, bring to a simmer over medium heat. Put the double boiler over the water, add in the soap and ½ cup filtered water. Lower the heat to low and let slowly melt, stirring very gently with a silicone spatula, as needed. If the soap looks dry, add another ¼ cup water and mix in. The longer a soap has cured, the more water you may need. This isn’t a bad thing though. You learn after a few batches how to “read” how much water is needed.

You can use goats milk, but realize your soap will need to be used up much faster. Water gives a nearly indefinite shelf life.

As the soap softens and melts down, gently stir. It will go from looking like grated cheese to where it is a spreadable thick mixture, and pockets may appear slightly clear. Once all the soap appears melted, stir in any add-ins and essential oils. I use 100 to 120 drops of oil, you may prefer more. The smell won’t be strong at first, however as the soap cools and hardens over time, the heady smell of the soap goes away, and the essential oil smell becomes dominant (especially if you store your soap in plastic totes later). Add more if you are unsure, even up to 200 drops. I keep the add-ins at ¼ cup or so.

Scoop melted soap into a silicone rectangle mold (they are bread pan shaped), placed on a small cookie tray. Spread each scoop across the mold and gently rap to pack it in tight. Once all the soap is in the mold, smooth out the top, and rap firmly on the counter.

Let cool and set up overnight.

To unmold, place a piece of parchment paper on a cooling rack and turn the mold over gently. Pull the sides gently and press the bottom to release the soap. Remove the mold, and let the soap sit for another day, turning over halfway through, so all sides get a chance to dry.

Honey Oatmeal Orange Soap & Peppermint Soap.

Using a soap cutter, slide it through the soap to the size you prefer. I trim the ends as well, giving a uniform look to the bars. I cut between 5 and 6 bars, depending on which rectangle mold I use (one of mine is a little narrower and longer)

Separate each bar, and let sit for up to a week to dry.

Once the sides feel dry, line a storage tote with parchment paper and place the soap inside, and cover. Keep in a cool, dry and preferably out of direct sunlight. Once fully cured you may wish to box or bag the soaps individually.

This soap is Peppermint (peppermint leaves, dried and crushed, and peppermint essential oil).