There are a few reasons to hand-mill soap. Sometimes, It can save a batch of homemade soap with some imperfections in it. Mostly though, you do it for nicer soaps. There are materials you can put in hand-milled soap that you can't put in regular soap. Also, compared to hot process soap, hand milled soap takes to molds much better.
I've shown you how to make crock pot hot process soap before and that's where hand milling soap begins. Well, it can be where it begins. Really, It begins with plain, already made soap and a cheese grater. You can make it (hot or cold process) or get some at a craft store. I'm not sure if it'd work with store bought soap or not, since it's really detergent, not soap.
Grate all of your soap with a cheese grater (not a foox processor, you want ribbons not powder) and set it aside.
Next, you create a recipe. For each 12 oz. (by weight), you can add:
- 4.5-9 oz. (by weight) of Fluid (this is necessary) (Water, Goats Milk, Rose Water, Fruit or Vegetable Puree or Juice, Prepared Coffee or Tea, Buttermilk)
- up to 1 c. Texture Items (corn meal, Fine Sand, Pumice, Dried Lavender Buds or Coarse Dry Herbs, Oatmeal, flower petals)
- up to 2 tbsp. Powders (Powdered Herbs/Spices, French Clay, borax, citrus zest, ground coffee, cocoa powder, Powdered Milk)
- 1/4-1/2 c. Gels (honey, Natural Aloe Vera, Glycerin)
- Essential, Baking or Fragrance Oils to taste
Find an old pot just big enough for your batch and add soap and liquid. You don't by any means have to do 12 oz batches, just adjust amount of add-ins accordingly. Every recipe I have ever read calls for 9 ounces of liquid, however I have found that with very water-like liquids, that is often far too much liquid and when the soap dries, it wrinkles or gets large divots as it releases the excess water. 9oz of Fruit/Veggie Puree works out alright though.
Put soap and liquid in your pot and heat on low until it is all melted with no chunks, stirring often enough that nothing burns but not too often, cuz you can create suds.
When all the soap is melted, remove from heat land let cool for a minute or two, then add in you fixin's.
If you would like floating soap (like Ivory), at this point take out your mixer and fluff some air into the soap on high for about 2 minutes.
Transfer soap into any type of mold you prefer (Soap Molds, Tupperware Containers, Candy Molds, Old Sour Cream or Yogury Containers, Muffin Tins, Jell-o Molds). I really like the decorative silicone muffin tins.
Put the molds in the freezer until frozen solid then remove to dry. Drying surface should either be elevated and porous, or you'll have to flip the soap now and again. Part of me actually wants to use a modified version of Alton Brown's box fan dehydrator, but i'm afraid I'd loose a lot of the scent from the soap.
Some combinations I've tried thus far:
9oz. Goats Milk, Peppermint Essential Oil (9 oz was too much, it's the wrinkly white one up top) (also, I learnet that the canned goats milk is concentrated and to get regular strength you have to mix with equal ammt of water)
4.5oz. Water, 1 c. Dried Lavender Blossome, Lavender Essential Oil (I was surprised at the coloring leeched into the soap after unmolding. When I first took that soap out of the molds, it looked white not brown)
9 oz. Pumpkin puree, 1 tbsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice (looks like i jumped the gun and it wasn't all melted)
9 oz Goats Milk, 1 c. Ground Oatmeal, Cinnamon Essential Oil
9oz Water, 1 c. Cornmeal
9 oz Goats milk, 1/4 c. Honey, 1 c. Ground Oatmeal
9oz water, 1 tbsp Ground coffee, 1 tbsp Cocoa Powder (It's supposed to be a deodorizing soap for kitchen use. It's the one up top with the huge divots forming as it dries. Obviously, 9oz was too much water)
9 oz Goats Milk, 2 tbsp Ground Ginger