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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Soap and Tell

Hello everyone! I hope your January is progressing nicely and the weather where you are isn’t so bad.

Today I want to share and show another item I added to the ladies gifts this year, something I had been thinking about trying for years, but never went beyond the thinking stage; handmade soap.

There are different ways to make soap for yourself or your loved ones. You can go to your local craft store and purchase some melt and pour soap base, or you can make it from scratch with oils, butters, lye, and liquids. I didn’t want to do the melt and pour method because it seemed to expensive for what it was. However, when thinking about starting from scratch, the biggest hold up for me was working with the lye. I did a lot of research and just decided that with the proper precautions and a whole lot of common sense I had nothing to worry about.

When you talk about making soap from scratch, there are a couple of different ways to accomplish this, Cold Process and Hot Process. The traditional way that grandparents and great grandparents used is referred to as Cold Process. With this method all of the ingredients are mix together, pour it into a mold, left to sit for a day or so, remove it from the mold and cut into bars and then they sit for 4 – 6 weeks to cure, mellow, and harden. During this wait the soap goes through its chemical process of saponification and becomes soap.

The new and some would say “faster” method is called Hot Process. Here you will mix all of the ingredients as before but everything is added to a crock pot and it is cooked through the saponification stage. The mix is then scooped into the molds and left to cool before removing and cutting into bars. While you can use this soap as soon as you cut it, a general rule of thumb is to still let it sit for 2 to 4 weeks to harden. I found one site online that suggested you weigh one of your bars of soap and keep a record of the weight change or water loss of that one bar. When it stops “losing weight”, it’s ready to use.

I have used each method to make soap, but my personal preference (so far) is the hot process method. I haven’t completely ruled out trying another batch or two of cold process, but I think for general soap making it’s the crock pot for me. 😉

That was the “tell” part of the post and now for the “show”!!!

Here is my very first batch of hot process soap! Isn’t it pretty??? LOL This recipe uses Crisco, olive oil, lard, coconut oil, and a water lye solution. I used two Pringles cans as my mold for this soap, (something that can only be done with hot process) and as you can see I didn’t get it packed down completely so there are some holes in my bars. Not a big deal since this was a first time try and for our personal use.

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My next attempt was a goat’s milk honey soap. I didn’t understand how much this recipe would make, so I made an error in splitting it into two molds, hence the short stack! Lol The recipe for this soap includes olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, shea butter, sweet almond oil, a goat’s milk water and lye solution, and a tablespoon of honey is added after the cook time.

 

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For the actual gifts I remade this same recipe and put it all in one mold to make a full bar. I also added a piece of bubble wrap to give the illusion of the honey comb. Pretty cool, but I didn’t take a picture of the finished bars! But you get the idea of what that looked like and it was a pretty cool idea so thank you to whoever first mentioned that on your soap blog!!!

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The third (and fourth) batch of soap was a coffee scrub kitchen soap. This only has three different oils in it, coconut, olive and soybean oil (otherwise known as vegetable oil). The lye is mixed with a strong coffee and a teaspoon of coffee grounds are added for exfoliation.  I decided to try this recipe using both cold and hot process and you can see the difference in the picture below. The hot process is the darker bar and the lighter one is cold process. The hot process bar also has a more rustic look and texture to the top of the bar, versus the smother look of the cold process. The reason for this difference is when the cold process soap is poured into the mold it is the consistency of pudding and the top will smooth out. With hot process, after cooking the soap it is the consistency of mashed potatoes, so you just sort of glop the mixture into the molds. I’ll do another post soon and show you what I mean by that.

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This has been a fun process to learn and there is still so much left to learn! With the help of more experienced soapers out there, I hope to one day know enough to try and come up with my own recipe, but until then, I have tons of different recipes to choose from online!

 

Thanks so much for stopping by!