Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Shredding and Milling

Inspired by the Crone's Mount Mulch, I decided to get the shredder out of the shed on the weekend and convert some prunings into mulch. Well, I ended up converting Mount Prunings to Mulch Molehill! It is absolutely amazing how much the pile shrinks when shredded.

On a totally unrelated note, I finally got back to milling some soap a little while ago and thought I'd share the results with you.

I know a lot of you are making basic soaps, but I'm not sure how many of you are milling your soap. Milling soap is when you grate up your basic cured soap and remelt it. You can then add all sorts of things and they don't react with the soap ingredients, so you don't lose the fragrances, colours, etc.

To mill soap, add 3 parts of water by weight to every 4 parts of grated soap, eg, to mill 600g basic soap, you add 450g water.

Slowly remelt it over a low heat, stirring occasionally but not too much or it will go frothy (if it does, you can always turn it into floating soap by giving it a good stir to incorporate lots of air).

When the soap is remelted, add whatever ingredients you like, eg, nut butters, pureed fruits, oatbran, honey, etc. Remove from the heat and stir gently until the soap stops shrinking and is relatively thick. Pour into moulds. Lightly tap moulds on the bench or table top to remove air pockets. Place in a warm spot. Remove from moulds in a day or two, then leave to dry for a couple of weeks before using. You can trim off any little extra bits if you like to neaten them up, but I don't usually bother.

Most authors recommend milling within a few weeks of making the basic soap. I've found, however, that if you are patient with the remelting process, that you can mill soap at any age. The older the soap, the drier it tends to be, so you may need to add a bit extra water, but it still seems to work. For example, the soap I used recently was actually about 8 or 9 years (yes, years!) old. Admittedly, there are some white parts in the finished soap where the base soap had not melted completely, but I think that just adds to the charm.

For moulds, I use whatever little containers I can get my paws on - generally the little plastic containers they put camembert in are a good size. You can also use milk cartons, then cut across to make soap slices.

Now, to satisfy your curiosity - the soaps are (clockwise, from top left) mandarin and passionfruit (pulped mandarin and passionfruit fragrance); pawpaw (pulped pawpaw skin); jasmine scented yoghurt soap (out of date berry yoghurt found in back of fridge); and shea nut butter and honeycomb (from bees, not confectionery).

Milling soap is such a fun thing to do from time to time that I recommend you try it! And the finished products make great gifts.

love and light


flmom said...

Your soaps sound wonderful ... especially the mandarin and passionfruit!

Cheryl said...

I love homemade soap....I have tried several times, and while they have been ok....they were a bit disappointing....I will try again, yours look lovely......

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tammy_rks said...

Great ideas here! Can't wait to try milled soap. Thanks for the wonderful tips.

Rapunzel said...

mmm..your soaps sound good enough to eat! I imagine that the fragrance is heavenly!

seemie said...

Hi, my partner was looking for some instruction for homemade soap, now I can tell him to read these... I'll provide the herbs!