Where growing, making & good living come together

Soap-making questions – can you help?

Posted by on Monday 30 January 2012 in soap | 10 comments

Two people have asked me soap-making questions on Twitter this afternoon and I thought I’d post them over here as well because I know that not everyone is a Twit.

Firstly, Clare of Three Beautiful Things asked:

Do you have any soap cutting tips, please? I’ve just bought a large block and don’t want it to crumble when I slice it.

I couldn’t help with this one – my soap is still a little soft when I cut it so crumbling isn’t an issue. When my first batch was a bit harder, it did crumble a bit under the knife but I just accepted the rough edged soap bars and collected the crumbles for use as laundry/household soap. Any advice to avoid the crumbles in the first place though?

@AlisonJFews replied:

Don’t know about cutting it, but need a really good soap supplies website. With the one I chose, you had to spend £25 + a time!

And again, I couldn’t help! The soap I’ve made has always been from supermarket supplies and I’ve used misc things as moulds so I’ve not had to use any soap making supplies websites for specialist oils, fats or what-have-you.

For people like me who like to use what’s easily on hand, Sharon of SmithyCraft sent us this link for working out how much lye to use – thanks Sharon.

Has anyone else got any advice/ideas for the other questions?

(By the way, this has reminded me that I’ve been sent a soapmaking ebook to read and review – I’ll get that done this week!)


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Lynsey aka Swirlyarts

    I’ve never made my own soap so I have no idea if this would work but how about a hot knife to cut the soap?

  2. Alexis

    I’ve found that if you cut it the day after it sets you don’t get the crumbling. Also using a warm knife might help. The crumbling effect will depend on the ingredients you use. I know this only from observing the various batches I’ve made.

    While I do make batches in flat trays etc. that need to be cut. I’m lazy and went and bought molds. You don’t have to use “soap” molds. Any baking mold, or candy mold will work well. I’ve even seen a demo using an empty pringles tube (very cool – but you’ll need to cut that one).

    As far as ingredients – if you’re using anything other than supermarket olive oil and some 99p vegetable fat – I think it depends on what you’re looking for. I use three different online sources, one for oils, one for various “butters” and one for “other”. I suspect you’re going to encounter the minimum order for most suppliers. My way around this is to order enough to last me 4 or more batches. Easily done when you consider a kilo of two or three butters, and some other niceities when combined with supermarket ingredients will go a long way. I store the excess in a plastic box stacked in my utility room which is relatively cool & dark.

  3. datacreata

    Hi, just to let you know that I have given you a versatile blogger award as I love reading your blog. Please don’t feel obliged to accept or even ‘obey’ the acceptance rules.

  4. Sue

    A hot knife makes things slightly easier, but I just live with the crumbles and use them for handwashing things. I love the rough edges, very rustic and makes it look more handmade somehow.

    I use Just a Soap as a supplier if I want bought-in ingredients, they have always been very good.


    Hope that helps.

  5. louisa

    Hi guys, thanks for your suggestions/advice – and thanks to datacreate for the award :)

  6. Clare

    Thanks Louisa! I’ve just spotted this (only two weeks late…) I used a big sharp knife and the soap crumbled, but I got some good big rustic chunks. I’m going to stuff the crumbs in an old sock and use them up that way.

  7. elenmirie

    I’ve just made my first batch of soap and was able to cut it after it set (about 48 hours) with a good sharp chef’s knife. I got my oils from the same supplier Sue mentioned, Just a Soap. Great stuff.

    On molds – I used some plastic packaging stuff that I’d kept. Worked a treat. I had some overflow and used a small glass baking dish for that. The plastic stuff was much easier to get the soap out of, but aside from that the glass baking dish was fine.

    One more thing – if using olive oil for soap the cheapest kind will work best – it’s called pomace and costs £5/litre from Just a Soap. Don’t waste your extra virgin olive oil that costs at least twice that on soap!

    Blessed be!

  8. cora

    Question Why does homemade soap sweat?
    I have the worst time with that.
    thank you,

  9. JanA

    We’ve made soaps before, and I don’t know if it would work for you… for straight edged bars, we used strings to cut though them… :) it worked perfectly fine for us… :)

  10. wanjala

    i have made soap from tallow and palm, ratio (1:2) but it crumbles badly under the knife

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *