By Shelley Fluegge
When I first started researching soap making I found there were three ways of making soap. The easiest and least labor intense was melt and pour, this soap comes as a solid and is just heated up and becomes a liquid, you add in whatever you want to the soap, pour it in a mold and let it set up. Pretty simple but not what I was looking for.
The other two methods were the actual process of creating soap from oils, water and sodium hydroxide. Hot process did not appeal to me, I didn't think standing over a stove cooking soap sounded like an enjoyable time so I began to focus on cold process soapmaking. Cold process soapmaking does not require any external heat as the name suggests. I read instructions that detailed the oil had to be 110F and the lye had to be 100, but the next bit of information I found stated each had to be 100, or 95, or one had to be 95 and the other 100 and others stated ‘warm to the touch’ Im not about to touch hot lye water or oil to see if its cooled enough. It was making me crazy! But I settled on one and gave it a shot.
Then after many batches I read about room temperature soaping and gave it a try. I was very happy with the ease and efficiency I have while soaping at room temperature. This is my method: Measure several batches of oil at one time. I simpley line up all of my buckets and measure my oils out in assembly line fashion, cover and put away until its time to soap. Measure out two batches of my water-half in ice form and half in liquid form, add my 2 batches worth of lye and let cool. I place it in a cool locked room. Sometimes it sits overnight or for a few days. I prefer to leave it in an extra bathroom inside the bathtub just incase of a spill.
On the day I am going to soap I prepare my mold by lining it with freezer paper, measure out whatever I may be adding into my soap such as clays, dyes, essential or fragrance oils and grab one batch of oil. Since I use some hard oils in my recipe I take my stick blender to the oil mixture and make sure there are no solid pieces remaining and now its time to create soap by adding in the lye slowly and stirring until trace. Trace is the name for the stage where the soap looks like a thin custard, its ready to pour into the mold now unless you plan on scenting, layering, swirling or adding in exfoliants.
Once the soap is poured its time to put it to bed. I place mine in my oven, but many people prefer to put their soap in a box covered in blankets. The soap will become hot and go through another stage called gelling.You can cut your soap in a day or two but industry standard is 3 weeks of waiting before use or sale.
I chose room temperature cold process soap because of its efficiency. I dont have to wait for my oil or lye water to cool, I just grab and soap. Prior to this method I did the 100-110F method and it took a very long time from start to finish and each time I had a huge mess of oils all over and only one little batch of soap to show for it. Now I have one messy oily day and 6-8 batches of oil waiting to be soaped to show for it! My soaping sessions went from an hour or longer to no more than 20 minutes.
Shelley Fluegge is the owner of Bella Sapone a soap, bath and body business.
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