Thursday, July 1, 2010

The ABC's of Soapmaking (cold process): Gathering the Equipment You Need (Cold/Hot Process Method)

Mary Welty, author of "The ABC's of Soapmaking (cold process): Gathering the Equipment You Need", explains what equipment you will need to make to make your batches of cold process soap.  If you are making hot process soap, you will need alot of the same equipment but you will need a heat source.  Most will will use a slow cooker, but some will make their soap in the oven.  According to Mary, here is what you need:

"Ready to try making your own soap? Then the first place to start is gathering the supplies you will need. Nothing could be worse than starting a project dealing with caustic lye and suddenly find out you're missing a key piece of the puzzle. So, before you begin make sure you have these materials and supplies close at hand.

A Kitchen Scale: You'll find out very quickly that unless you have an accurate kitchen scale, you're going to have problems with your soap. Some of the features you'll want to look for include: A scale that can be readjusted to zero each time you use it. This will permit you to set your pot on the scale, set the scale to zero, and still achieve the accurate weight of the ingredients. You will want a scale that can measure accurately up to 5lb's.

Soap Pot: You will need a large kettle for mixing your soap. This should be made of unchipped enamel or stainless steel. Lye will corrode most other materials. Smaller pots may hold your batch of soap but they won?t leave enough room for stirring. When choosing a pot, select one that is tall and narrow, rather than short and wide. Soap made in a taller pot will mix more efficiently.

Plastic Pitchers: You're going to need two plastic pitchers for missing and pouring the lye solution. The pitchers should have pouring spouts, removable lids that either snap or screw on tightly, and secure handles. Select pitchers that are "dishwasher safe". These types of pitchers will be able to accommodate the lye solution that can heat up to 200 degrees. Do not use glass or metals. Metals can react with the lye and glass may crack when subjected to the high temperatures of the lye.

Long Handled Spoons: The spoons are used for stirring the caustic lye solution so be sure it has a good long handle. Spoons can be of plastic or wood, though the lye will eventually chew up a wooden spoon. Plan on reserving these spoons for soapmaking only.

Kitchen Thermometer: You will need 2 kitchen thermometers. Each must be capable of registering temperatures as low as 100 degrees F. The probe end should be made of glass or stainless steel. Lye can ruin most aluminum probes. Purchase thermometers with hooks so you can attach them to the side of your pitcher or pot. Make sure you know how to read your thermometer, as inaccurate readings can ruin a batch of soap!

Safety Glasses: Always wear safety goggles/glasses when mixing soap to protect your eyes from the caustic lye.

Rubber Gloves: You will also want rubber gloves to protect your hands and lower arms from the possibility of a chemical burn. Protective Covering: You will also need an adequate supply of newspaper or plastic to cover all counter surfaces and protect them from the caustic lye. Lye will absolutely destroy Formica and other laminated surfaces. Make certain you have all work surfaces protected before your begin.

Ladle: A ladle comes in very hand for transferring the soap from the pot into the mold. Use either wood or stainless steel.

Knife: You will also want a sharp knife for cutting up suet or beef fat for rendering and also for cutting your soap into bars.

Large Plastic Container with a Lid: This will used as a primary mold and will hold your basic liquid soap. It must, of course be large enough to accommodate your soap batch. Clear plastic works well because it allows you to spot any problems with your soap before you attempt to remove it.

Blankets or Towels: These will be used to wrap up your primary mold to keep the soap from cooling too quickly. A Screen, Freezer or Butcher's Paper. After you cut your block soap into bars, you will need a place to let them cure. Do not cure bars on color impregnated material like cardboard as the color may transfer to your soaps. Kitchen Grater: If you plan to turn your basic bars into hand-milled soap, you will need a grater to grate the soap into small pieces.

Soap Molds: This can be the most creative part of the soapmaking process. Use your imagination when selecting a soap mold such as old-fashioned gelatin molds, microwave containers, candy molds, or my personal favorite ? the hexagonal container for the Folgers specialty coffee. These make great bath-sized bars with wonderful cropped corners. Some considerations you need to give your molds are:

Flexible Molds are preferable to ones that are completely ridged, as the bars will be easier to remove. Mold material must be able to withstand the high temperature of hot soap. The open end must be larger than the closed end or you will not be able to remove the soap.

Plastic and stainless steel are generally the best mold material. Glass and china molds might be acceptable, but the soap won't be easy to remove.

Additives: What you add to your soaps is limited solely by your imagination and the desired result. The best way to determine what to add to your soaps is to think about what you hope to achieve with the end product. Are you attempting to treat a specific skin condition like dry skin or acne? Or are you hoping for a more generic soap that can be milled into a variety uses like shampoo or laundry soap? Some soap additives are: Herbs: Herbs make a wonderful soap additive and can treat a variety of skin conditions. For ideas or properties of specific herbs try for detailed information on herbs, their properties and uses.

Essential Oils: Essential Oils are perfect for scenting your soaps. Unlike many other types of oils they are extracted from the plant source and are very potent, their scent often lasts longer than synthetic scents.

Fragrance Oils: These oils are commonly used in potpourri and are made synthetically. While generally not as long lasting as essential oils, they do offer unique scent combinations. So, at least we've made a start. Once you've gathered all of your supplies, check back and we'll discuss basic soap making techniques.

MK Welty hosts an informational site for soapmakers at: From beginning to end, you will find everything you need including soap recipes, soap making instructions, and suppliers."

Article Source: and—Gathering-The-Equipment-You-Will-Need&id=288159

No comments: