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Cold process soap tutorial

Updated on July 5, 2016

Safety first

When making cold process soap you will be using an ingredient called lye, which causes the soap to form. The chemical lye otherwise known as sodium hydroxide is very caustic and can cause serious burns on your skin. When using lye you will want to be in a well ventilated area away from kids and animals. You will want to wear gloves to protect yourself from burns, and protective eye ware. The way lye is used is you mix it with water, and it causes a chemical reaction that causes the mixture to get extremely hot (over 200 degrees Fahrenheit) because of this you will want to use a bowl or other dish that it will not melt through. Do not put lye in any kind of container that is aluminum as it react chemically with aluminum.

Cold Process Soap Making First Steps

Cold process soap making is a delicate procedure that has been used for hundreds of years across the world. The main part of soap making is a solution made of lye and water (or other liquid.)

To make cold process soap you will use whatever recipe you have (there will be several simple ones listed below to get you started). A recipe will be a combination of liquids and oils. To get started you want to weigh out your lye and water (you always want to do this with weight and not other measurements to keep it precise) Once you add you lye to your water and you need to add it in that order, if you pour water into lye it will explode. once you have this mixture created in a well ventilated area you want to start heating you oils. you want to stick a thermometer in your lye mixture, and one in your oils. Once your oils are completely melted you want to get it around 98 degrees Fahrenheit and your lye mixture needs to be within 5 degrees of your oils.

Trace

Once you get your oils and lye solution within 5 degrees of each other you want to pour your lye slowly into your oils in a large mixing bowl. Once they're poured into each other they will begin to react. You need to speed up this process by stirring it constantly with a mixing spoon, or if you would like to speed up the process you can buy a stick blender. If you choose to mix with a spoon it can take 20 minutes to an hour, but if done with a stick blender it will take only minutes. You will know that your soap has begun to trace when it starts getting the consistency of pudding. You will know you are finished when you can lift the blender and the mixture will sit on top before it goes back into the rest. At this point you will want to pour it into your molds, this can be a silicone mold a wooden soap loaf PVC pipe, or anything else it will not react to and can easily be removed. Once you pour it this will be the point that you will want to add any colorants, or other additives.

Curing

Once you have your soap in the mold and your additives added now it's time to cure. To begin curing what you want to do is insulate it very well, wrap it in several towels, the more the better. If you don't insulate it you will get something called soda ash on the top. This is harmless but it makes your soap less attractive. You want to keep your soap insulated for 2 days to a week. After this time you can unwrap it and if it is solid enough you can take it out of the mold and cut it. YOU DO NOT WANT TO USE IT NOW. If you use it now you will get lye burns because it is not finished curing. You want to cut it now, and leave it out in a well ventilated area that's not too humid. You will want to turn your bars once a day for about a week then after that you can turn them every 4 days. The entire curing process takes 4 to 6 weeks. I always do 6 just to make sure it's completely finished.

Simple recipe 1

This recipe makes about a pound of soap and calls for;

4 oz coconut oil

6.5 oz olive oil

5 oz palm kernel oil

.5 oz beeswax

2.35 oz lye

6 oz water

Simple recipe 2

This recipe will make about a pound and a half of soap and will be extremely lathery and hydrating to the skin.

5 oz palm kernel oil

4 oz coconut oil

6 oz olive oil

1 oz shea butter

2.37 oz lye

6 oz water

Simple recipe 3

This will make around a pound of soap and will be very nourishing to your skin

5 oz coconut oil

3 oz olive oil

2 oz cocoa butter or shea butter

2.3 oz lye

6 oz water

lye

5 Lbs of FCC /99% Pure Food Grade Sodium Hydroxide Lye Micro Beads
5 Lbs of FCC /99% Pure Food Grade Sodium Hydroxide Lye Micro Beads

This is a food grade lye that is cheap, you get a lot in it, and it will last you a long time. This is the lye I always use when I make soap because I love the container, and it lasts me many batches.

 

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