Making hand-milled soap is a simple way to repurpose soap. It is frugal and a great self-sufficient skill to have.
Hand-milling involves grinding, grating, or cutting premade soap and melting it to use again. This premade soap can be a melt and pour base, a botched hot or cold process soap batch, or the small unwanted soap pieces that you’ve collected from around the house over time.
Though you use a slow cooker, it’s different from hot process soap because you are not making it from scratch. There is no lye involved. It’s also different from melt and pour because you don’t need a melt and pour base with extra glycerin added for smoothness. The hand-milling process takes into account that you’ll be using fully made, regular soap pieces and adds moisture to counter the possible drying effect of the slow cooker. Non-natural store-bought soaps are not recommended for making hand-milled soap. They tend to become slimy because of their extra ingredients.
To make hand-milled soap, simply cut soap pieces into small pieces (1 inch x 1 inch) or use a large hole cheese greater or food processor to grate or grind soap.
Place soap in a slow cooker on the lowest setting and cover with plastic wrap or a lid that seals very well. You do not want to lose moisture.
Allow soap to melt fully before removing cover/lid. Melting will begin beside the hotter edges of the slow cooker and work its way to the middle. Once the soap is fully melted, remove the cover/lid, add natural additives, and blend. Scrape into a prepared mold and allow to cool.
You can use the soap as soon as it is cool, though letting it sit for 1–2 weeks will give it time to harden further and last longer.
This Cinnamon Oats Hand-Milled Soap recipe is a lot of fun, lightly exfoliating, and smells amazing. You can get a lot more hand-milling recipes and beginning soap making recipes for melt and pour and cold process as well in my book, Easy Soap Making.
Cinnamon Oats Hand-Milled Soap
Recipe from Easy Soap Making by Kelly Cable, “Grounding, Exfoliating, Body Bar”
For your hand-milled soap you’ll need 2 pounds of natural soap that doesn’t have additives like scents and coloring. Working with plain soap lets you add the color and scent of your choosing. You can use cold processed soap bars, cold process bases (milk or vegan), or pieces you have saved from your home.
Start to finish time: 20 minutes active work time. 1 hour cook time; more or less depending on the heat level of your slow cooker.
Safety: Hand-milling is hot once melted. Be careful when heating and pouring your soap, especially if children are helping.
What you’ll need…
- Large glass bowl
- Small bowl to measure essential oils
- Kitchen scale
- Food grater
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Rubber spatula
- Large stainless steel spoon
- Slow cooker
- Plastic wrap
- Immersion blender
- 2 pound mold
- Knife or pastry cutter
- 2 pound soap base
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup ground oats
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 0.60 ounces cinnamon leaf essential oil
- To begin making your hand-milled soap, weigh 2 pounds of soap and grate into a large glass bowl.
- Place soap into a slow cooker on its lowest setting and add the water. Stir and seal with plastic wrap, or a tight lid if you do not use plastic.
- The soap will begin to melt and bubble, usually starting from the edges and working its way to the middle. When the whole batch is melted and bubbly, remove plastic wrap, weigh and add essential oils, and add ground oats and cinnamon. Blend with an immersion blender.
- Scoop into prepared mold and allow to cool and harden for 24 to 48 hours. After removed from the mold, use a knife or pastry cutter to cut your Cinnamon Oats Hand-Milled Soap into bars and allow to harden for 7 to 14 days for a longer lasting bar.
- Experiment with your slow cooker until you know its heat level. If your slow cooker is too hot where the sides of the soap look like they are drying out, turn the slow cooker to its warming setting. If you feel like it’s taking forever to melt the soap, then turn it up one notch, but watch to make sure it’s not too hot.
- Use plastic wrap or a piece of butcher paper to pat the top of the cooling soap flat if desired, or use a fork or the back of a spoon to give a rough look to the top.
Enjoy your Cinnamon Oats Hand-Milled Soap!