Cold Process Soap Making – Beginner Style

I think i wrote recently, or as recently as my posts get these days, about soapmaking. I have been teaching myself two different methods of soapmaking,  hot process and cold process soapmaking. In this post I  am going to share with you my first soapmaking endeavour.

I used the soap recipe I found on this website.

Firstly, gather all your utensils and ingredients and have them measured/weighed. It can not be stressed enough that in soapmaking, a caustic substance is used.  It is therefore essential that you take the precautions necessary to eliminate any risk of hazard.  This may sound rather dramatic, but believe me when i say that there have been reported cases where the general misuse of caustic substances have blinded people, caused skin burns and worse. It should go without saying but it is of course, extremely important that  soapmaking is done when there are no pets and small children around.  Another cautionary note: never use utensils/pots/moulds that you use for food use unless you have retired them from food usage.  In which case, clearly label these items.  Apart from all that scary stuff, soapmaking is incredibly fun 🙂

Firstly, melt/heat the oils and waxes. Check out the link above for the specifics of weights and measurements and temperatures.

Add the caustic soda , very slowly, to the water. NEVER add the water to the caustic or it could spurt and burn you.

The caustic and water will reach an extremely high temperature and you must wear gloves and goggles when you make soap.  Like moi, pictured below!

How sexy do those DIY goggles make me look eh? (and how GREY is my hair!)

FAIL!

Ahem, anyway.…when your caustic mixture is at the correct temperature and your oils have all melted (when they are both at the approximate same temperature) pour your oils into a caustic-proof vessel…for this session i used the ceramic bowl from my crockpot (I did not place the crock pot in the electric thingy – that would be hot process soap making which i will show you next time).  In the photo below you can just see a bottle of lemon juice, you may want to keep some lemon juice or vinegar on hand and if you do spill any soap mix at all on you, immediately pour it on the burn BUT for as many articles that suggest using lemon or vinegar to neutralise the caustic, there are probably as many to say that it intensifies the temperature of the burn so please use your own discretion when choosing what to do with this. See combox for some more talk on this.

Gently, gently pour the caustic mixture into the warmed oils (wear your gloves and goggles and maybe even a facemask – think anti-viral, not blackhed reducing). Whisk/stir the mixture until it thickens (this is known as ‘trace’)

If adding fragrances or botanicals etc, add them now and continue stirring.

Now comes the time to really use some elbow grease.…or alternatively, use an electric hand whisk, but be careful not to splash yourself.

If you have worked the mixture really well, you should end up with a potful of soap mixture that looks not unlike the photo below…

I used parmarosa essence and dried rosemary to fragrance my soap mixture and the smell was just wonderful!

Next, get your mould, I used a sillicone mould because the soap will easily come out of sillicone once it has set. Other moulds may need to be lined.

Work reasonably fast to pour/scoop your soap mix into the mould and cover it with a blanket, some cardboard or some other insulating material…but this must only cover the soap mould, not touch the soap mix.

Now comes the ‘gel’ stage (the chemical reaction that causes the mixture to reach a v. high temperature)

When the soap in the mould is practically set you may gently remove it from the mould.

The ‘gel circle’ will eventually disappear andyour soap will soon have a consistant colour and texture. After 24 hours you can cut it up into bars, but you will have to wait for 6 weeks for the soap to no longer be caustic and  then you can use it. I test my soap’s PH values with universal test papers/litmus paper, you might want to try that too.

See how easy it is to make soap?

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial.

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14 Responses to Cold Process Soap Making – Beginner Style

  1. Mary Lou says:

    You never cease to amaze me! And you are so cute dressed up in your gear for the process. I’m thinking about trying it.

  2. Jane says:

    Hi Deb,
    I am learning to make cold process soap, too! I’ve read up on it a bit but haven’t tried yet. One thing – I think putting lemon or vinegar on a lye burn will raise the temperature and make it worse. It is recommended that you flush the burn with cold water. Vinegar is OK for neutralizing the lye on your pans and utensils when you are cleaning up.
    Best of luck with your new hobby!

  3. ukok says:

    Jane, thanks for your advice about the vinegar and lemon juice….i had read on a few sites prior to making soap myself, that vinegar was suitable for soap splatters…

    http://www.downsizer.net/Projects/A_sustainable_home/Soap_making/

    http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Your-Own-Soap

    http://www.everything.com/safety-gear-soapmaking/

    http://www.madsci.org/experiments/archive/854443814.Ch.html

    and there were quite a few more, but i suspect there are just as many advising soap makers not to use lemon or vinegar so I will edit the post accordingly and then individuals can choose for themselves. Thanks for raising this point, it could help other readers of this post 🙂

    • Jane says:

      Your’re right, there’s a lot of conflicting information out there about soapmaking! I got this from ‘Smart Soapmaking’ by Anne Watson.

  4. You are SO clever. Love the picture of you with the goggles. I can tell by the little smile on your face that you would be a fun person to do this kind of project with. God bless!

  5. Gabrielle says:

    Wow. You do make it look easy, ukok, but it sure takes a lot of loving effort! After seeing the last photo, I was wondering if that is why people started to say a “cake” of soap. It looks good enough to eat!

  6. Hi! I was watching for some tutorials for doing soap by myself and I think this one you posted is the better I’ve read. I’ll try it tomorrow!
    Thank a lot and compliment for the blog.
    Bye,
    Francesca

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