Cold Process Soap Method
Information on what cold process soap and how it is made. Homemade soap is not Lye soap and the finished product does NOT contain active lye in it..
A cold-process soapmaker first looks up the saponification value of the fats being used on a saponification chart, which is then used to calculate the appropriate amount of lye. Excess unreacted lye in the soap will result in a very high pH and can burn or irritate skin. Not enough lye, and the soap is greasy. Most soap makers formulate their recipes with a 4-10% discount of lye so that all of the lye is reacted and that excess fat is left for skin conditioning benefits.
What is saponification? Saponification is the name given to the chemical reaction that occurs when a vegetable oil or animal fat is mixed with a strong alkali. The products of the reaction are two: soap and glycerin. Water is also present, but it does not enter into the chemical reaction. The water is only a vehicle for the alkali, which is otherwise a dry powder.
The name saponification literally means "soap making". The root word, "sapo", is Latin for soap. The Italian word for soap is sapone. Soap making as an art has its origins in ancient Babylon around 2500 - 2800 BC
The lye is dissolved in water. Then oils are heated, or melted if they are solid at room temperature. Once both substances have cooled to approximately 100-110°F (37-43°C), and are no more than 10°F (~5.5°C) apart, they may be combined. This lye-fat mixture is stirred until "trace" (modern-day amateur soapmakers often use a stick blender to speed this process). There are varying levels of trace. Depending on how your additives will affect trace, they may be added at light trace, medium trace or heavy trace.
Essential oils, fragrance oils, botanicals, herbs, oatmeal or other additives are added at light trace, just as the mixture starts to thicken. After much stirring, the mixture turns to the consistency of a thin pudding.
This is what the soap looks like after mixture has been blended to a think pudding like consistency. It is ready to be poured
The batch is then poured into molds, kept warm with towels or blankets, and left to continue saponification for 18 to 48 hours. Milk soaps are the exception. They do not require insulation. Insulation may cause the milk to burn. During this time, it is normal for the soap to go through a "gel phase" where the opaque soap will turn somewhat transparent for several hours before turning opaque again. The soap will continue to give off heat for many hours after trace.
After the insulation period the soap is firm enough to be removed from the mold and cut into bars. At this time, it is safe to use the soap since saponification is complete. However, cold-process soaps are typically cured and hardened on a drying rack for 2-6 weeks (depending on initial water content) before use. If using caustic soda it is recommended that the soap is left to cure for at least 4 weeks.
We use vegetable oils in all of our soaps that are made from scratch. No animal fats.
Whipped Cold Process Soap
Whipped Cold Process Soap
Whipped soap is just Cold Process soap put together a little differently and at room temperature therefore the same respect must be given to it as you give your cold process soap. Whipped soap takes a few days or even a week to get really hard and it is still saponifying during this period. The soap is blended using a mixer not a stick blender. This gives the soap a nice whipped texture. When color is added, it give the soap a nice pastel color.
Hot Process Soap
Hot Process Soap
Hot-Processed Soap (also known as HP soap) - This is a soapmaking technique right out of the dark ages when they used to boil soap in vats over open fires. Heat is applied (using a double boiler, microwave, oven, or crockpot) after the trace stage to accelerate saponification. The soap is thoroughly cooked until saponification is complete.
Hot-process soap finished product does not have a smooth texture like the Cold process soap but more of a rustic natural look to it and can be used right away unlike the cold process soap which takes several weeks to cure.
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