Soap Central

Well, Saturday and Sunday were huge.  There was more soap in the house than a season of Young and the Restless!

The day started something like this.  Up early to do my morning jobs.  Fed the chooks, cleaned the pool, harvested more tomatoes, refilled the water butts from the main tanks.  The light rain we had on Friday helped fill the tank by another quarter.  Then off to the dentist for more root canal work.  It was harmless, and after 30 minutes in the chair, it was down to the library to drop off some books.  A quick drive to the feed shed and a few bags of chicken feed later, it was off home again.

Kim was up by now (0830), and we began to write up the items needed to refresh the stockpile.  That took about an hour to complete, but we are now well supplied including ingredients for the afternoons activities.

The plan for the afternoon was to make soap, lots of it.  We had an order from an  friend for 50 bars.  She didn’t care if they worked properly (they do), just that they were home-made and smelled nice.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!  Castille soap was the easiest to make with minimal ingredients.  Olive oil, lye, water and fragrance.  I checked SoapCalc to see how much water and lye I needed to add to the 2kg of olive oil.  Then I put the goggles and rubber gloves on, and began to play with my big boy chemistry set.  It took me back.  I had a great chemistry set that Dad bought at the sale yard when I was a kid.  I was always blowing up something!

It took me about 40 minutes to produce a large batch of soap.  We chose two fragrances to add and a little yellow colour to tell the batches from one another.  Frangapani in one lot, and Coconut and lime in the other.  We used some small plastic storage boxes as moulds as there were just the right shape and size and well greased with cooking oil spray.  Kim and I worked as a team with me doing the main ingredients and Kim adding the colour and fragrances.  We even managed to stop mixing at the right moment so that I could pour the trace into each mould.  Happy with our achievement for the day, we wrapped the moulds that held 40 bars of soap in towels so that they cooled down slowly overnight.  The would be ready to release from the moulds in 24 hours.

The next day, we saw that the soap had set and I tried to remove a bar from the mould.  It didn’t matter how hard we banged the mould, the soap was stuck fast and would not budge.  Now, because we could not remove the bottom of the mould, the soap was held by suction.

Kim was upset and thought we would have to start from scratch.  Not I!  I did not yield to defeat that easily.  Into the tool shed I sprinted, and out I came with a paint scrapper.  It fit into the individual moulds well.  I worked around each bar and managed to lever them out, one by one.  They were shaped a little like a small banana by the time I had extracted them, but still worth saving.  After all, who likes wasting stuff?  Certainly not me.

About an hour later, I had pried each bar from its prison, and joined Kim at the dinning table, who had already begun to resurrect each bar by hand shaping it into the correct geometry.  This took us a good two hours to hand craft each bar into something that resembled soap and not playdoh.  I kept our spirits up by cracking soap jokes to keep Kim smiling.  Here’s one.  What do you call someone who steals soap?  A dirty crook! Ha ha.

We both hoped that the potential buyer would still take them off of our hands, otherwise, I know what everyone is getting for birthdays and Christmas for the next few years.  We can always grate them for soap flakes for the washing machine.  Or, we could sell them for a premium, being rustic and individually hand crafted.  No two are alike, I should individually number them all and charge $15 a bar! 

Looks like we have about two years supply on our hands, as Kim has decided not to sell them, and has purchased 2 x 2kg soap moulds to start again.  I am sure we will have better luck next time.  Now we have 4 more bead boxes for Kim’s jewellery fetish, and I am out of pocket for not only the old moulds and materials, but for the new wooden moulds as well.  Bummer.

Another soap star saved from an untimely death, and fun was had by all concerned.  I can’t think of a better way to spend time with my lovely wife (well I can, but not fit for this blog).

“The clear layer is glycerin. You can mix glycerin back in when you make soap. Or You can skim the glycerin off. You can mix the glycerin with nitric acid to make nitroglycerin. You can mix nitroglycerin with sodium nitrate and sawdust to make dynamite. You can blow up bridges. You can mix nitroglycerin with more nitric acid and parafin and make gelatin explosives. You can blow up a building, easy. With enough soap, you can blow up the whole world.”

– Chuck Palahniuk quotes (American freelance Journalist, Satirist and Novelist) 


  1. Anonymous says

    Hi Gavin, just found your website, hilarious. I was a bit serious making my first batch. Used silicone moulds and some plastic and didnt oil or line them. Started off mixing with a commercial paint mixer however after 1.5hours didnt take, then out with the stick mixer and walla….
    I tried removing the soap from the moulds today after 48 hours but still too soft. There are little pit holes in the soap ???. Will leave a little longer. I used 900g of olive oil and 500 of coconut oil and essential oils, less than indicated, with some colour and oatmeal.
    Any advice would be appreciated for next time. I found my recipe to be a bit untrustworthy from the web…
    Lyn, Perth, Australia

  2. says

    Hi Rebecca,

    yes it did work out okay. It went hard at about the two month mark, and we started using it from there. It is all gone now! I don’t know if I would make this soap again because even though it was creamy, it was a bugger to get a lather out of. My more recent recipe works much better.


  3. says

    as a soap maker i have learned that you can line/spray your plastic moulds with mineral (baby) oil and the soap will slip free….any other oil will simply soaponify and adhere to the mould. mineral oil will not turn to soap.

  4. says

    Oh, Gavin. You’ve had me laughing so hard….Thank you. I am so glad that everyone can see the humerous side of this. In short you need to get air in under your soap and it will release straight away. So, you either need to line the mould and or have a mould ideally that the bottom can be removed, so that your soap slips straight out. When stuck fast and no amount of face pulling and jumping releases it, then its off to the freezer – which will shrink the soap a little – enabling removal from the mould.

  5. says

    i used to use olive oiled pvc piping- just push out and slice for round bar or milk cartons as moulds. Fave frangrance blends – ginger and cinnamon and rose and frankinsense-delsih!

  6. Sis says

    Soooo am taking it I don’t need to bring my own homemade soap with me? I was kinda hoping I didn’t have to cause they always stop me at security when I bring it…how embarrasing… like I LOOK like a terrorist about to blow up the plane with my bar of soap! Geez! Don’t mind the body search they do though…(some attention is good…yes good…when your single!)

    I use Silicone moulds too Gavin… so much easier but you do have to wait a little longer for it to be set otherwise DISASTER.

    Can’t wait to get down there….Any pumpkins ready yet? Soup…fanging for soup!


  7. says

    Castille is really nice for a fast and easy soap. I usually use a taping knife to get the soap out of my wooden molds even if they are a lot smaller than yours :-).

  8. says

    Sounds fun!

    I bet with that last quote, your blog has now been marked as seditious in the ASIO database. Not that all your other stuff about breaking free of the system wasn’t already seditious :-).

  9. says

    Oh what a great post.

    What fun you both had. I am glad you were both laughing in the end.

    I had a similar experience with a really small hard plastic container I used. I sprayed with cooking spray – and there was NO way that soap was coming out after is set up. In the end I had the pliers out and had to break bit by bit of the plastic container away, a little at a time to get to the soap (the soap was more important than the plastic tray). Since then I have learned that cooking spray is just like the oils in your soap and it turns into to part of the soap that is poured into the mold (so now there is no “barrier” to help release the soap from the mold). Now, I am no expert, so I don’t know if I explained the correctly or not. Somewhere along the line someone told me to use Vaseline – that worked but I don’t want to use the petroleum based product and it is messy.

    Now I line my mold (a wood one we made) with freezer paper – lined so the shiny side is in contact with the soap.)

    thanks for the great soap.
    I love making soap.
    I really want to go into the kitchen and make some NOW after reading about yours.

    Emily in South Texas

  10. says


    I use a silicon bar mould for mine. it has to be very set for it to work properly but if the soap is hard enough it just plops out onto the table when you flex it.

    Kind Regards

  11. says

    I like the use of the paint scrapper, very creative solution to the problem. If it happens again, you could try putting them in the freezer for a bit, I’ve found that helps get the soap out of moulds if they are reluctant to come out.

  12. says

    Oh ack! I take it you didn’t line your moulds? I always line mine with baking parchment which makes for easy removal and cutting. Still, a good effort and well done. Hope they cure well!

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