Turn plain soap into into something special!
Years ago when I learned to make my own soap I also learned a handy trick for reusing those little bits of leftover soap that seem useless. You can make hand milled soap with those bits and create useful bars. The frugal gal in me loves that nothing goes to waste.
Hand milling soap is also the best way to incorporate additives into your soap without degrading their herbal properties. During the curing process for soap made with lye, the essential oils and herbs can lose their potency.
Not so when you make a hand milled soap batch.
This process is how I usually make my soap. I “cook” up a plain batch of soap. let is cure and then use it to make all kinds of fantastic herbal soaps to benefit my family. This may seem like an extra step to you, but it works well for us. We always have plain soap on hand that can be used for any purpose and we only need to hand mill a batch of soap to have something special.
What kind of soap should you use?
It’s all about the ingredients. Any soap will do as long as it has not been overly processed with additives. I have had great success with hand milling soap that I have received from a bed and breakfast that we like to frequent. Any pure castile soap or natural soap base will do, as well as any soap that you know was made by hand.
Once I tried to use an Ivory Soap® bar as a rebatch test subject, which did not work out. It turned into a goopy, icky, slimy mess. As a general rule, if there are no ingredients listed on the package, or there are ingredients that you can’t pronounce, skip it.
A natural soaps should always win out for your rebatching efforts.
The Hand Milling Process
Gather various bits of leftover soap that you have around the house. You can include a few commercially processed bars, if you have them, but don’t make it a full batch. Castile or other pure soaps bases are best.
Using a hand grater or food processor, turn your soap bits into a powder.
Gather Your Supplies
- 2 cups of grated soap
- 1 to 3 Tablespoons of liquid (water, milk or even witch hazel)
- medium saucepan or double boiler
- dried herbs (optional)
- essential oil (optional)
- sweet almond or jojoba oil (optional)
- Place 2 cups of grated soap into your saucepan and add 1 tablespoon of liquid. This is just enough to wet the soap but not make it overly soupy.
- On low heat, gently stir the mixture until the soap melts. This process will take some time so do not rush or stir the soap so hard that you turn it into a lather. The goal is to incorporate as little bubbles into your new soap bars as possible.
- Add additional liquid, in 1 tablespoon amounts, as needed. You should not have to add any more than 3 tablespoons to achieve a complete soap melt.
- Continue gently stirring and NOT creating too many bubbles until you think it will not melt any further. You may have small leftover bits of soap and that’s okay.
- Stir in any dried herbs that you want. Calendula and lavender are especially good for your skin.
- Add a few drops of essential oil to give your soap creation a wonderful scent.
- Add a few drops of sweet almond or jojoba oil for added skin softening properties. (Don’t add too much or your soap won’t set!)
Pour your hand milled soap into molds
I like to use various items from around the house as my soap molds. Mostly that’s just because I’m frugal and don’t want to spend the money on fancy molds. You may want to consider purchasing molds if you will be giving your hand milled soap as gifts.
As you can see I use ice cube trays, small boxes, plastic yogurt cups, and even small cups. Anything that looks like it would make a bar small enough to hold in your hand is game for me!
The large bar from this picture is removed from the mold after 2 days and cut into bar size pieces. That lets me use just about anything I can find as a mold to make a bar of soap. If the item you’ve chosen in not flexible, add plastic wrap to help with removing the batch.
The Drying Process
Success! You’ve taken a few bits of soap that you thought were useless and made something new and good for you. Now comes a bit of curing time so you can achieve a bar that will stand up to hand washing and shower time.
You soap will need to cool and be allowed to set. After 2 days remove the soap from the molds and place the bars on a flat surface. If they are still sticky, leave them molded until they can be removed without deforming them. The more water you added during rebatching, the longer this will take, maybe even up to a week.
Once they are on the drying surface, leave enough space between the bars so air can circulate and aid with the drying process. After a few days, turn them over to expose the underside. In 7 to 14 days your bars should be hard enough to use.
If you need a simple tutorial to make your own soap try this post – Soap Making Basics.
In a hurry to make your own wonderful smelling creations? You can purchase soap base, ready for grating, at Amazon. Here’s a link for 2 pounds of Goats Milk Glycerin Soap Base for around $10. You’ll be surprised with all the soap bases that are available for purchase.
Hand milling soap is a fantastic and frugal way to take a basic soap base and give it herbal properties to benefit your skin. Have you ever rebatched a bit of soap?
Hi I also use a crockpot on low with a liner to melt my soap in. After it is melted and col enough to handle, I cut off the corner of the liner and pie it into designs. Or just put is into molds. Makes cleanup even easier. hanks for the great tips.
Great ideas Carla!
Vickie Westcamp says
I have rebatched soap before and thoroughly enjoy the process! I never thought, however, to add a little oil into the mix. I will have to try that next time – thanks for the suggestion! What I really like about rebatching is that the bars usually still have bits and pieces of the original in the soap, and I think this looks fantastic!
Soap World says
We developed a special soap calculator to calculate the % of Glycerin inside the natural soap
We would like to invite all the users to try it and let us know your comments.
The Soap calculator is here: http://www.soapworld.biz/soap-calculator-handmade-soap.html
Robin Piper Monterastelli says
I love your site & the way you think ..people laugh at me..always saying i should live on a farm..,ok by me..im going to try to make some of your soap .., i bet everyones at your home for the GREAT COFFEE & HOME MADE BREAD ETC… I willl be on your site alot ..thanks for sharing
This looks like a fun activity to do with the kids. We don’t use bar soap very often but at minimum this would make some nice gifts (obviously not used soap).
Mary Sue Sylwestrzak says
I tried to mill some cold process soap that I made about 4 months ago; grated it, and added way too much water when I melted (1/2 C to 8 oz grated). It’s been 3 days and it is still jelly-like in the mold. Is there anything I can do?
I want to point out that this is simply called re batching soap, and though it is a great way to use up the extra bits of soaps or messed up soap batches, the links or suggestions you posted for individuals to purchase soap bases on Amazon are not for making re batched soap or as you call it hand milled soap. Those are soap bases for Melt and pour soap, and the instructions for making that kind of soap are entirely different.
Caroline Gilliland says
I am new to soap making and i have a question. When making hand milled soap, we cannot get the soap to get runny enough to pour. what am I doing wrong?
Could you add a tablespoon or 2 of honey after the soap is melted?