Monday, November 21, 2011

Cold Process Soap Article

I just got back from a visit to Barnes and Noble. I had an interesting visit. During this visit I happened to browse the magazine aisles to find a magazine called Handmade Living. It is from the same publisher as Making Sense (which is no longer being published).

In the November 2011 issue of Handmade Living had an article on making cold process soap by Emma Heathcoat James. I have taken cold process soap making class previously but have not made my own batches as of yet, I was interested in reading the article. What I found interesting and want to through out there to the experienced cold process soapmaker two points maybe you can clear up for me. The first one is adding the essential oils last and stirring in only enough to disperse into the recipe because if you stir too long can result into a discolored bar of soap or an uneven texture in the finished bar of soap. And the second is covering the mold and insulating it with a towel or blanket for 18 to 24 hours. The author says that this is a myth. That if you have the correct ratios you should not have to cover your soap batches. The soap will continue to saponify and generate heat whether you insulate or not. The author says that she does not cover hers.

So I am going to through these two issues out there for all of those experienced cold process soapmakers out there to shed some light on this. IF you can clear this up for me that would be great.


TygerMae said...

I'm not sure about essential oils discoloring soap if you mix it up too much. I do know that some fragrance oils and essential oils will turn soap colors. Like vanilla is guaranteed to turn soap a nice brown color. I thoroughly mix my fragrance in so I don't have pockets of irritating fragrance in the soap. Fragrances (essential oils or fragrance oils) are usually added at the end because you don't want the fragrance to burn off, cause seizing, cause ricing or speed up trace.

Soap generally is insulated to insure gel phase of the soap. If you soaped at the proper temps, you may not need to insulate. I make milk soaps and do not insulate them as I don't want them to gel at all and get brown or tan. There can be problems with soap not setting if it isn't insulated but generally it isn't needed. I do like most of my soaps to go thru gel phase because I like the look and texture.

I hope that helps a bit.

Soap Crafter said...

Thanks for your input. I know that some EO's like vanilla and orange can color your soao.

Ruth at The Nova Studio said...

Discoloration or uneven texture from stirring too long? I've never had that experience. Stirring too long can lead to reaching a thick trace before pouring the soap in the mold. Some essential oils can cause that thickening to happen more quickly, too. So that's one good reason to hand stir just enough to blend it. But I've never heard of having a soap discolor solely because it was stirred too long.

And I agree that it's not necessary to insulate in order to make CP soap. It does help if your goal is for your soap to go through a gel phase. Soap that is not insulated will still turn out fine, but may need an extra day or two before it is firm enough to cut.

Soap Crafter said...

Thanks Ruth for your input. I have never heard of EO changing the texture of a soap. Nor have I heard of not insulating. From the classes I have taken, insulating was taught.

Deb from Peterman Brook Herb Farm said...

I have never experienced essential oils discoloring soap either. I do, however insulate my soap, not because I have to but because I like the log to be completely gelled from one end to the other. Also, even after making and teaching for years, I still like to peek under the towel :)

Nigel & Deby Coles said...

It's been interesting to read the questions and the comments. Thank you everyone for passing on your knowledge and experience.
I'm new to cold process, and have just made a couple of batches of cupcakes. I normally insulate the logs, but how do you insulate the cupcakes? I found that they went all dull and lost their color, like a light ash on the surface, but were darker just underneath the surface. Could this be because they cooled too fast. By the way, I live in the Caribbean where it is a constant 82, so its not like it was cold out!