Friday, June 18, 2010

A Definition of French Milling Soap

Have you ever wondered what French Milled Soap was? Well, a customer question How do I French Mill Soap? came into the Wholesales Supplies Plus and Debbie May graciously supplied a detailed answer on her blog:

"Rebatching, or hand milling, is a soapmaking technique used by hobbyists and artisan soapmakers. The commercial equivalent is French milling.

In rebatching, previously made cold process soap is shredded or diced finely and mixed with a liquid, into which the soap shreds begin to dissolve. It is then heated at a fairly low temperature until the mass is more or less homogeneous. When it becomes translucent and reaches a thick, gel-like consistency, it is spooned or piped into molds and allowed to harden.

Soapmakers frequently use rebatching as a way of adding substances that could not withstand the high temperatures or caustic chemical environment of cold process or hot process soapmaking, such as certain essential oils (for example, those with a very low flash point). The choice of liquid affects the character of the finished soap; milk is frequently used to give the soap a smooth, creamy consistency. Rebatching can also be used as a way of salvaging soap that cracked, curdled or separated while being made. Triple milled soaps are often considered some of the finest true soaps in the market.

By definition of the process and creation of the "gel state", adding to a "liquid" and "rebatching", french milling cannot be physically accomplished with melt and pour soap. Calling melt and pour soap "french milled" is a deceptive marketing technique that I would not recommend.

Here are some of the comments that appeared on this post:

Anonymous said...If you grate the soap and add the liquid (milk) heat and stir until gel-like, then pour into molds, dry, then why isn't it french milled if you use M & P? Not trying to be argumentative, just curious because I have done it and added milk and botanicals and wonder why it wouldn't be considered french milled since that was the process. Nancy

Wholesale Supplies said...French Milled refers to how soap was milled or re-batched in 19th century France. French Milled is a process. It cannot be done with melt and pour soap.To grate mp soap and melt it is no different than melting a big block. It does not hit the gel phase of soapmaking.I don’t take your comment as argumentative. I think there is confusion in the market that needs to be cleared up. It benefits all soapmakers to discuss this. Debbie

Sara much liquid to soap ratio is recommended? i have a hp soap that crumbled on top. now i have lots of crumblies left over that i am not sure what to do with. this is a great option.

Wholesale Supplies said... This is the method that I used years ago: 4# Shredded CP Soap (cured no more than 5 days)3 cups MilkPlace shredded 4 pounds shredded soap and 2 cups milk in crock pot. (Recipe works best if pot is completely full). Set temperature at 150º-200ºF. Cover and allow to cook for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the lid and gently stir. If you can still see soap shreds, cover and allow to cook further. Every 15 minutes check on soap to see if shreds have melted. The soap will look like runny mashed potatoes. The maximum cook time is 3 hours. Remove from heat and add 1 cup of milk. Add 2 ounces of fragrance (if not added to original shredded soap) and color as desired. Stir until fully blended. Spoon mixture into molds. Allow soap to become hard and unmold. Allow to cure 3-4 weeks .Notes: The more fluid you add to the recipe, the more shrinkage you will experience with the final bar. Debbie "

So, if you were wondering what French Milled Soap I hope that helps. I have heard of this type of soapmaking, but I never have tried making soap this way. I was more familiar with the term handmilled and was not sure if there was a difference between the two. Now I know. Thanks Debbie for clearing that up.


1 comment:

Karla Clark said...

Thanks for the helpful information! I did not know I was "french milling" my batches of CP that I wanted to "fix" in some way.

My question is . . . does this process add any benefits to the end product? as opposed to the CP version?

Thanks! Karla