Let’s Make Some Soap!

Hello everyone! A couple of weeks ago I made another batch of soap. It was a remake of the first recipe I ever tried. This time, rather than using two Pringles cans for the molds, I used the loaf mold that I purchased at Michael’s.

There are a ton of web pages with step by step instructions on soap making so I won’t go to deep into that here, but let’s start with some basic safety measures. Since we will be working with lye, which is also called caustic soda, we need to protect ourselves with long sleeves, closed toed shoes, gloves, and eye protection. Also when mixing lye with any liquid, always, Always, ALWAYS, pour the lye slowly into the liquid and NOT the liquid into the lye. Bad things will happen and we don’t want that. When purchasing the lye, make sure it is 100% lye.

There are also some tools that will make your soap making venture a lot more fun if you have them. These include a digital scale that displays ounces or grams, a stick blender, and for hot process soap making use a designated crockpot for soap making.

The recipe I used here is from chickensintheroad.com and consists of the following:

9.6 ounces – Crisco

9.6 ounces – olive oil

6.4 ounces – lard

6.4 ounces – coconut oil (with a 76 degree melting point)

12.16 ounces – distilled water

4.463 ounces – lye

One very good habit to get into right away is to always double check any soap recipe with an online Soap Calculator. I like this one here at soapcalc.net but there are more out there to choose from. Find one you like and please do use it every time.

After weighing out the hard oils, I put them into the crock pot to start melting them. After they have completely melted I add the liquid oils to the pot.

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While everything is melting, weigh out the lye and distilled water. It is very important to ensure all of the lye is dissolved in the water before progressing, so I took multiple pictures of this part to show you how it looked at different stages. The chemical reaction creates a lot of heat and some fumes, so it’s best to do this step in a well ventilated area, or even outside. You also want to make sure pets and kids are not in the area either.

In the first image you can see how clear the water is when I start adding the lye.

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After all of the lye is added the mixture is very cloudy and HOT, so make sure you have your gloves and eye protection on.

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As you continue to slowly and carefully stir you can see the mixture will become clear again, and at this stage you can be sure all of the lye crystals have been dissolved.

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When making hot process soap, you really don’t need to pay much attention to the temperatures of the oils or the lye since you will be cooking them anyway. However, when you venture into the cold process soap making you will need to keep an eye on the temperatures of each component before adding them together. As you can see in the next image, I am carefully adding my lye water to the melted oils in the crock pot.

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It’s always a good idea to gently stir the mixture first with a spoon to begin combining the oils and lye water.

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After a few minutes you will need to break out the stick blender, or you will be stirring for hours and hours. Alternate stirring the mixture with the blender and using it on low speed until it all comes together.

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What you are looking for at this stage is called “trace”. You will know when you have reaches this consistency when it looks like pudding and a drizzle the soap mixture will stay on top of the mixture.

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Then all you do is put the cover on, make sure the temp is on low and let it cook. There are different thoughts about whether you should just leave the soap alone, or if you should stir it as it cooks. I prefer to stir the mixture every 15 minutes or so. During the cooking process I took two pictures, one to show what it looks like after that time and one to show the consistency after stirring it.

In the first set of pictures you can see that after 15 minutes it is starting to cook around the edges of the crock. The soap has also gotten a lot thicker in consistency too.

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After 30 minutes of total cook time you can see things have really gone a little crazy! This is why you should never walk too far away from your hot process soap making. If I had left this any longer it very easily would have boiled over and gone all over the counter top. So please, stay close! The consistency is also close to mashed potatoes at this point.

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After 45 minutes of total cook time you can really see a difference in the soap. It is now starting to look more like Vaseline which means it is going through the gel stage.

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I let this cook for an additional 30 minutes for a total cook time of 1 hour 15 minutes. At this point you should test it to make sure the lye has completed the saponification phase. There are a couple of different ways to do this. One way is the “zap test” in which you take a bit of the soap, cool it down and then touch it to the tip of your tongue. If you feel a zap like you would with a 9 volt battery, you need to cook your soap longer. Another option is to use a Ph test strip. But what I prefer to do is take a bit of the soap, cool it and then wash my hands with it. If it doesn’t burn or tingle you can be sure that the lye is completely incorporated and your soap is safe to use.

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While my soap is cooking I prepared my loaf mold with butcher paper, shiny side up. After the cook time is complete you then carefully spoon or glop, which ever term you prefer, your soap into the mold. As you can see the soap is really thick, but it is also really hot so please be careful.

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During the filling process, you should tap your mold on the counter top to make sure any air bubbles come out. If you remember the round bars of soap I showed in a previous post, they had holes in them from trapped air pockets. Again, it’s not a big deal, but it’s better to get them out if you can.

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This particular mold says it will hold 3 pounds of soap. As you can see, not all of it fit into the loaf mold, but since it is already cooked and a gloppy consistency, I was able to put the excess onto a scrap piece of butcher paper. My husband thought we could get even more of the soap scraped out, so that is the top little blob of soap. I like to keep these extra pieces by the kitchen sink.

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Since this soap has already gone through the saponification stage, all you really need to do is let it cool before cutting it into bars and tossing it into the shower. However, letting the bars sit for a few days to a few weeks will harden them even more so they will last longer.

After getting off of work the next afternoon it was time to unmold the soap!

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It’s very rustic looking and that’s one thing I like about the hot process. Using an old cheese cutter I was able to cut 9 bars that are about an inch thick.

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And here’s a close-up of the cut bar, ain’t it pretty??

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Thanks for joining me on this soaping journey.

 

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