Answering the questions

Alice says hello. ;- )

Good morning! We've had some wild weather these past couple of days with about 250 mm (nearly 10 inches) falling in our area in 24 hours. We have a permanent creek in our backyard that drains water from the surrounding mountains and takes it to the sea. Sometimes I think it will flood into our backyard but in all the time we've lived here, that has never happened. We are fine.

I haven't had a chance to answer questions from the last two days so I'll do that now. If you ever want an answer to a question, you should add it to the latest post because even on a good day I never have the time to go searching back through the archives to answer questions on old posts.

Joanne, in addition to book shops, the book will be sold from this blog, so yes, it will be available anywhere I can post it. I'll sign it for you too if you would like. : - )

Hi Kathryn, thanks for your comment.

Steelkitten, are they real hedgehogs?

Chance and Rois, Hanno loves collecting what I call ' junk' and he calls 'I can fix that'. LOL! Luckily he's a very tidy man so we never have junk on display, it's all in his shed waiting for its time.

Betty, thanks for wishing me joy as I write. I really appreciate that.

Tansy, yes it's a template. The details at at the very bottom of the page.

Bunny, that's nice looking bread. Well done!

LOL Allison. I'm glad you found that dehydrator.

I do remember your Welshie, Maggie. We are really looking forward to welcoming a new family member. I think she will make Alice's future years joyful ones.

Sheila, I think Alice will be renewed too. I can't wait to see them together on that first day.

Brenda, thank you for your thoughts. I write with a sense of inclusion and warmly welcome everyone who takes the time to read here. I'm pleased to know your Christian ladies feel comfortable here.

ithinkican, I don't know of anyone else who had problems posting a comment yesterday. Hanno has written up some notes on garden tool maintenance for me to post soon. It's a good idea to have a few posts from him. He doesn't want to write posts but is happy for me to write up his notes.

Sharon, our cat Hettie likes fish FULL STOP. We've tried her on other foods but she refuses them. It is very difficult to retrain cats to eat different foods but if we ever got another kitten, we'd feed it on homemade cat food. Here is some info on feeding cats written by a vet.

Becky, hello to you and Padfoot! Airedales are great clowns. Rosie and Alice used to chase each other around the yard every afternoon at 4pm. I'm still not sure how they knew what time it was. They have many distinctive traits and are wonderful family dogs.

Gail, I am one very plain and simple gal and I never put anything extra into my soap so I can't really advise you. I am sure one of the soapmakers here will know. My feeling would be that you'd dry the leaves and crumble them up before adding them and you would do that at the trace stage. Can anyone help Gail?

Margaret, it's good to know you've gained encouragement here. I hope for that every day. Good luck with the chooks and the soap.

Cyn, I think Carla's book will go on for a ling time to come. My son Shane has read my book and would like one for himself. I think her message is timeless.

Annie, we are a two person family and that amount of soap would last us about four-five months. I usually give some to my sons, both their girlfriends love it; I use it for hair washing, general cleaning and in the kitchen. Each bar lasts a long time but they can be used for many things.

Toria, thank you so much for that link! I will order some today and make some liquid dish soap.

Carolyn, working with lye is just another skill to learn. You can do it, love. Take it slow and work alone.

Shirley, Hanno made my favourite wooden mould. They're very good, aren't they. You have an excellent site. I discovered it fairly recently and visit you with my other list of current favourites when I have time.

Rose, it's your next step. You'll be fine. Anyone who can make cakes can make soap.

Laura, we bought our scale secondhand from ebay. That was about five or six years ago now but I'm sure they still have them. Ours is a postal scale which gives you great accuracy.

Renae, never throw it out. I think soap can always be rescued. You did the right thing. Let your rebatched soap cure and test it with hand washing but I'm pretty sure it will be okay to use. The thin film may be caused by not mixing it enough. If you're sure of your measurements and have used a reliable recipe, try mixing over a longer period of time. Are you using a stick blender? That is the best method of mixing soap.

Debbie, rebatch it by melting your soap in a saucepan. When it's melted and about 50C, mix it again. Hopefully that will work. If you want to add fragrance, never add it until you've reached trace.

Diana, it does become gel-like and gluggy. It might also separate. That's okay. I just mash mine up with a potato masher and when I use it, make sure I add the gel and water combined. Like masterpiecemom below, I now use the powder. It's much easier to make and dissolves well in my frontloader.

Tansy, I just weighed a few bars from that last batch - they're around 130 - 135 grams each (about 4.5 - 4.7 ozs). My blue resin mould above is 20 x 26cm (8 x 10 inches) and the wooden one is 10 x 30 cm ( 4 x 12 inches).

Hi Jenny, I hope you grow many loofas. I cut mine up and pour soap into them. I have a photo of it somewhere in the archives.

Mrs Mac, thank you so much for sharing how to make your scrubbing soap. It's fabulous.

Donetta, I use this soap to wash up in the sink. You can dissolve it but it will turn to gel. It still works but it's a pain to get out of the bottle. I just rub the bar onto my dishmop. I'm going to be making some liquid dish soap soon. It uses a different type of lye and now that Toria has given me the link to a local supplier, I'll be able to make it regularly. I have made laundry detergent using this soap but I usually use bought soap flakes.

Hi Babs! Can you share how you add the honey and oatmeal? I'm very interested and I'm sure some of the others will be too. Thank you.

D, I don't think you reached 'real' trace. Was it cold the day you made your soap? Your mix might have looked like trace but it had lost its heat and thickened.

Pam, I have read that too but I don't believe it. I always wash my utensils in the sink, using hot water and a scrubbing brush. My mixer is an old one and used mainly for soap but I do occasionally use it for cakes.

Diane, sorry, I don't have time to make soap for sale. Maybe one day I will. There may be other readers here who sell their homemade soap. Who is selling homemade soap? Does anyone have it in their Etsy shop?

Lori, you're using the wrong mould. You need one that will allow the soap to slip out easily. Any of the resin cake forms are very good. I bought mine for $2 at a dollar shop.

Monique dear, this is the question I am asked more than any other. I should put it permanently on the home page. The pots are traditionally used so a gardener will not poke their eye out on the stake while bending over. I just like the look of them and have been gardening with them for many. many years. Good luck with your garden changes.

seanymph, maybe one of the soapmakers here would supply your store when you open. I wonder who is making soap for sale. Anyone?

Jody, the measurements are above.

Elaine, thanks for sharing.

I am really delighted that so many of you are making soap. Slowly, step by step, changes are happening around the world. It feels good to be part of this significant change, doesn't it.


  1. What a wonderful responsive post. I love how you interact with your readers! You are a very good blogging example.

  2. my goodness, this makes me wish i'd asked a question;)

  3. Wow, what a lot of questions to answer. Thanks Rhonda, this is all really helpful. It looks as though the weather might be easing a little up your way. I thinking of you both often when we see the weather map on TV. Hope it didn't do much damage to your garden.

    Blessings Gail

  4. Dearest Rhonda,
    I have made 2 batches of soap, & I mix them using an old sunbeam mixmaster. I have found that both times it takes about 15min to reach trace. After the soap comes out of the mould it does have a whitish film on top. I have used the soap & haven't had any problems but was wondering if this is normal. It leaves my skin feeling beautiful, not dry & itchy.
    Thanks Rhonda.
    Take care & God bless

  5. i have yet another question for you. in your liquid soap recipe, you suggest using grated sunlight soap (we don't have the lux flakes). but can i grate a homemade soap instead, as this will have more glycerin in it than sunlight? or maybe the glycerin is unneccessary in laundry soap? also, the only sunlight i can get here is a lemon type (perfumed). is that ok?
    i also want to ask (again) whether it's ok to leave out the borax, as this is pretty hard to come by here. it seems to me that the washing soda has many of the same qualities/effects that borax has.
    i've also read that it's not completely safe (see this link for a measure of the health risks of any ingredient in cosmetic/personal care products ), although i know most chemicals has some kind of hazard and we shouldn't become too hysteric about it.
    thanks again for your thorough and good tutorials :)

  6. For Gail,
    My friend and I made soap and added dried lavender and dried rose leaves at trace, we thought it was a good idea. Unfortunately the caustic turned them black - not a good look. If you want to add geranium leaves I would suggest drying the leaves, making your soap and then when it has cured, grating your soap, melting it and then add the leaves and re mould your soap. Its more work but black bits in the soap just isn't appealing.

    Good luck with your soap making. Its a bit cold here to make soap at the moment. I wait until the weather warms up and then make enough to last through the winter months.


  7. Hello Rhonda, so glad you and your garden are alright up there. We had the worst day we have ever known in 28 years on the Gold Coast yesterday. My vegie garden is very battered but so far I have managed to save the tomatoes.It is still blowing!
    Unable to do much else, I made your hot cross buns with great success. I am now ready to make soap. Thanks for the helpful post.It is very clear and easy to follow and I feel confident to go ahead.


  8. So glad to hear that you are all OK during the wild weather up your way. Cheers.

  9. At first I was a little put off by the soap making, I confess it scared me a bit! I've never done anything remotely close to it...but since you said it's not just bath soap, maybe I'll give it a go! Is it an abrasive cleaner? I'm looking for something to wash walls with (we're moving) but I don't want to take the paint off. Would this work?

  10. PS Sorry my question is so late! I guess I should have asked what it could be used for earlier. :D If you don't have time to respond, I understand! :D

  11. i sell my soap. the website is:

    thanks for answering my questions rhonda!!

  12. Thank you Rhonda - yes, it was a cold day when I made the soap, so I guess it didn't really trace. I thought the reaction had happened really quickly (the book said 10-15 minutes!)...that must be the explanation.

    I really want to make a successful batch....I'll keep plugging away!

    Thanks again

  13. When I saw the picture of your doggy I just had to drop you a comment and tell you that I too have an Airedale called Alex. He is wonderful and I love him to bits! There is something about that furry face that just pulls and my heartstrings!

  14. Hi, Rhonda,
    I posted this question on an earlie post but don't see an answer here, so I'll try again. :)

    We have 2 dogs and are trying your dogfood recipe. However, I'm not sure how much to feed them & have had trouble finding info about this other places online. We tried making up your recipe and dividing it into equal portions for a week, but it just doesn't seem like enough to give them each day. It's difficult to judge the correct amount when we're used to giving them dry dogfood.

    About how much does your dog weigh, and how much of your food do you feed her each day?

  15. Hi Rhonda,just thought i would tell you i'm in love with Alice, she's so beautiful,love your site as usual, read it every day, x Carol

  16. Alice is a beauty!
    I'm using your recipe for dog food, but my new dog (she's 8 months now) seems to eat too much. How much food (in grams, please) do you feed Alice?

  17. Thank you for the answer about how long the soap lasts. I would have never thought of using it for washing hair. It must be relatively mild then. Vinegar or lemon rinses and voila!, clean hair.

    I so enjoy my visits here. You have so much to share and do it so well.

  18. I use stake toppers in my garden too, but mine aren't as pretty - they're upended plastic water bottles that I got out of the recycling bins. They not only keep me from poking an eye out, but when I have to cover the garden with a sheet during a cold snap, they keep the sheets from getting ripped by the stakes.

  19. skymring, you can use your homemade soap but glycerin is not needed in the laundry. Just use whatever laundry soap you can find. When I grate laundry soap I use the generic brand.

    You can leave out the borax. It does duplicate some of the actions of washing soda but in hot water, it also acts like peroxide, and whitens your clothes. It softens water too but if you already have soft water that won't worry you.
    You are wise to be cautious of everything you put on your skin. Like almost everything else, borax can cause problems if there is a build up of it in soil or if you ingest a large amount of it. The small amount used in laundry powder, I believe, is no cause for alarm.

    Thanks for those tips, Lynda.

    Sorry to hear about your garden, Patricia. I hope the wind and rain have eased.

    bookflutterby, you could use the soap to wash walls. Maybe add a cup for of white vinegar to your bucket of warm water and rub the soap on your cleaning rag.

    ISLMA and Sandra, it depends on what else your dogs get during the day. This is a guide for the amount of food dogs need per day:
    5 kg .............270 g
    10 kg ............460 g
    15kg .............620 g
    20 kg ............770 g
    25 kg ............900 g
    30 kg ...........1000 g

    Alice weighs about 22kg and we give her two cups of homemade dog food at night and a cup of omega dog biscuits in the morning. She also gets snacks during the day, like a corner off a piece of toast, or a piece of banana or apple. She maintains her weight well.

  20. Gail, like Lynda I've added lavendar flowers to soap. Not a good idea - I've since read that you get a result that looks like mouse droppings & I'd agree with the description :-). Pity I didn't read that site before my experiment.

    Anyway, this page on Aussie Soap Supplies has a good run down on natural additives for soap, hope it helps:

    Natural Additives for Soap

  21. You asked if anyone is selling homemade soap. My sister makes excellent soap. Take a look at She can make a batch to your fragrance specification. Her soap for babies is incredible.



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