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|Note: Some erroneously call rebatching 'handmilled soap', which is a different process entirely.
The water I used for my 'perfect rebatch' had been sitting in my refrigerator for several days. Use 16 ounces of grated soap to 12 ounces (or less, depending on how fine the grind is) of water. The water should be softened water. I've used it both boiling hot and room temperature. I do NOT use cold water for rebatches. The finer the grind of your soap, the less water you'll require to make that gloppy mess. The only time I got what looked like freshly made soap was when I used 1) room temp water, 2) a new double boiler and 3) a fragrance oil from the Body Shop. That batch was gloppy until I added the fragrance oil. IMMEDIATELY after I added the FO, it smoothed out into the nicest looking rebatch I've ever had.
1. Grate your soap as finely as you can. I use a food processor, but grating by hand is acceptable!
2. Fill the bottom pan with water and start it heating up. The level of the water in the bottom pan should be sufficient to contact the bottom of the top pan, yet not boil over when the two are stacked together. The bottom pan should be kept to a slight/slow boil.
3. Put the grated soap into the top pan and stack it onto the bottom pan. Add some of the hot water to the soap, stirring while you add. This step should remind you of adding the lye to the oils when making a regular batch of soap. You can pour the water a bit faster than pouring the lye, though. What you're looking for in this step is when you get the dry soap completely wet. If you make brownies, then you know when to stop! ::grin:: Once all the dry pieces of soap have become moistened with the water, stop adding the water and stir the soap.
4. This is the hardest/easiest part. I stir the soap for a few minutes, making sure the bottom doesn't scorch. Put lid on the top pot and let it go for a few minutes...say, the amount of time between commercial breaks while watching a TV show.. Continue for one hour. At some point during this hour, the soap will smooth out almost completely.
5. When it seems that the soap will melt no further (i.e., you've stirred through a couple of commercial breaks with no apparent change to the texture of the soap), add whatever nutrients you want to add, such as color, scent, Vitamin E, etc.
6. Stir the nutrients into the melted soap thoroughly. Depending on what you add, you may get to a completely liquid stage at this point. Fear not...it's happened before! Let it cook a little longer, repeating the "commercial break" routine. Another note: when using a lid (which is advisable!), always stir the condensed water from the lid back into the soap.
7. When it seems that you've achieved a trace, if you got a liquid soap here, turn off the heat, remove the top pot from the bottom one and let the soap cool off a bit. If you didn't achieve a liquidy soap, don't worry. If your soap seized when you added the nutrients, you can either add more water and continue to cook a bit or go ahead and push it into a mold.
8. If you want floating soap for sure, use a stainless steel handmixer and whip the daylights out of the rebatched soap. You want to almost achieve a whipped cream consistency. Perhaps you should achieve it, but I suppose I don't have the patience to wait for it....never having made whipped cream by hand before!
9. Once soap has cooled off, no matter the consistency, if not poured it into a mold yet, do so now. During this whole process, sides of bowl should have been scraped while stirring, so that whatever was on the sides of the pan was also incorporated into the rebatch. If so, you can scrape the soap off the sides of the pan and into the mold. If not, try to avoid anything that doesn't look like the rest of the batch, since it won't be fully incorporated.
10. Cover mold and put it somewhere draft-free and insulated for the night. Treat it just like new soap. The next day, put it in the freezer for several hours before unmolding; freezing is necessary for this soap.
11. Remove frozen soap from mold, let it thaw completely before cutting. Let rebatched soap cure for three weeks.