Cold Process Soaps

People have been asking about cold press soaps, so I thought I would give a brief overview of the process. This is just my experiences with CP soaps and some things I’ve learned over time.

This *IS NOT* meant to be a tutorial on how to make cold process soap. There are some very good sites with great tutorials, a couple of my favorites are:

http://www.soap-making-essentials.com/cold-process.html

and

http://www.brambleberry.com/Cold-Process-Soaps-W2C146.aspx

Making  CP soaps comes down to remembering  4 things

 1) safely using  the lye;

2) accurately measuring ingredients ;

3) reading temperatures to ensure you are adding lye to fats at the right temps and

4) stirring till trace.

~See it’s simple!~

 A word about supplies

I picked up most of my supplies from a local thrift store. You will want to have items that are devoted strictly to your soap making and not reuse them for food items later.

Things you will need:

a crock pot (to heat and melt my fats)

a pitcher (to mix my lye in)

a electric hand mixer (mixing by hand until trace is HORRIBLE! trust me!)

a plastic long handle stirring spoon

a soap thermometer

a soap mold (you can use a variety of things to start with like old cardboard juice concentrate containers. My hubs made me a wood log mold)

and of course the actual lye, fats, scents, exfoliates, etc…. There are many good places to buy these online, but my favorite is Bramble Berry.

Lye safety

I’ve run into a lot of people who are intimidated by the use of lye in CP soaps. Don’t be.Yes, there are some dangers, but there are dangers in everything!

~Just read up on the subject and remember to follow the safety precautions~

*make sure you use your lye in a well ventilated area (the fumes  aren’t fun)

*wear safety glasses (you really don’t want to splash lye into your eyes)

* wear gloves and a long sleeve shirt

*always add the lye to the water, not the other way around.

Measuring

Okay so first thing, invest in a good digital scale. It is soooo worth it! You will need to accurately measure EVERYTHING!

Temperatures

You will be melting your fats until they rise to the desired temperature. Some people melt their fats on the stove top, I prefer to use a crock pot.

You will be adding your lye to water and letting it cool till it gets to the desired temperature.

The goal is usually to get them to meet in the middle and both to be around 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit.

*notice the pitcher is clearly marked for lye use only*

Trace

Once the fats and lye are at their desired temps you will add the lye (carefully) to the fats and gently stir them until they are mixed. That’s when I switch to the hand mixer. At this point you can add exfoliates or color if you wish. You will need to stir until trace. Trace resembles a thin pudding consistency. If you dip a spoon into the mix and pull it out dripping some on top of the mix you should be able to see the drip marks on top of the mix. I tried to capture it in this picture. (I’ve added burgundy pigment to color my Summer Splash soap)

A word about fragrances

Some fragrances don’t do as well in the heat of CP soap making as others, so don’t add it until you have hit trace.

Bramble Berry has some good suggestions on fragrances that hold up to heat well. Also a good rule of thumb is .7-1 ounce of scent per pound of soap.

Okay, at this point you’re going to pour your soap into whatever mold you’ve picked and let it sit in a draft free environment (I have a lid on my mold to let it cool slowly) for 24-36 hours. When it’s set to the firmness you want, remove it from the mold, cut it and let it cure for 4-6 weeks. Wa-la! It’s done.

As you experiment you can really get creative with scents, colors, adding scented glycerin chunks to CP soap, using different molds, etc… the options are endless! Enjoy!

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