Cold Process Soap Making Infographic
If you are looking for a creative hobby that is fun, yet practical. Then soap making is it. People have been creating their own soap for thousands of years, and once you get over the anxiety of using lye, you can do it too. The beauty of it is that you can choose the scent, color, size, and ingredients that go into it. Making soap is much more cost-effective than buying soap at the store.
In as little as an hour you can be done with the main part of making soap. You must factor in the cooling and curing process, which takes around four weeks. So, if you are making a batch for yourself or for gift giving, take that time into consideration. Here is some basic information on soap making and how to make scented bar soap using the cold process method.
Cold process is the most common, basic soap-making process. You can make soaps in a variety of different shapes thanks to the abundance of molds available on the market today. I however, just use a shoe box or other simple, sturdy cardboard container. You can spend money on wooden molds, which are ideal for cold-process soap making, after you get the hang of the process.
So, with just a few ingredients (found at the local whole foods store) and the proper equipment (found in your kitchen) , you can make your own handmade bar soap.
Working with Lye for Soap Making
Before you begin, it’s important to know a little bit about working with lye. Soap making is impossible without it. Lye is also known as sodium hydroxide. The chemical reaction between lye and fats produces a solid soap, also known as the saponification process. Therefore, you have to be careful and protect yourself during projects like this. Wear rubber gloves, goggles, and an apron to help protect your skin. Some fumes may rise when mixing lye with water, so be sure to move your face away. The fumes will only last one to two minutes.
I have a glass bowl that I’ve dedicated just to using for the lye /water solution, along with a wooden spoon. These were “retired” from my kitchen cupboards, so it doesn’t have an additional cost. You can find something suitable at any second hand store. Do not use aluminum or copper, it will react with the lye.
You may not be able to buy lye in a grocery store (at least in big cities), but you can find it online. I’ve always been able to find it in the local hardware store near the drain cleaning supplies. If you are planning on making a lot of soap, have them order some for you. When you purchase it, make sure it is 100 percent sodium hydroxide like the one in the picture to the left.
Basic Soap Making Instructions:
Follow the directions and you’ll be fine!
1. Protect your work area with newspaper, put on your protective gear, and measure your water and lye.
2. Prepare your molds by covering them with enough plastic to hang over the edge.
3. Combine the coconut oil and palm oil, and place them in a preheated pot until they melt. You can use different types of oils; however, remember that for this step, the two oils you choose must be solids, and in the same proportions.
4. While the oil is melting, pour water into a separate bowl, and then slowly pour the lye in the water. Always pour solid into liquid to reduce splashes. Don’t forget, there will be some fumes and heat! Stir the mixture until the crust on the bottom has broken up and ensure that it is mixed well. You should not be able to see or feel any granules.
5. Now it’s time to combine your liquid oil from step 2. Measure your olive oil and then add it to the melted solid oils. You want the temperature to be about 110–120 degrees F. You may have to wait a bit of time for it to reduce. Consider placing your pan into a sink of ice water to reduce the temperature faster.
6. Once both the lye mixture and oil mixture reach about 110–120 degrees, pour the lye mixture into the pot with the oil mixture. (Again, I have a separate pot that I use only for soapmaking) Blend with a hand blender for a full five minutes. You can also use a wooden spoon, however you may need to stir for up to 30 minutes. You are looking for the “trace.” It’s when the soap mixture has become thick enough to leave a trace of itself when drizzled on the top of the batch.
7. Add about a teaspoon of the essential oils of your choice. You can also add colorant and/or herbs if you’d like.
8. Carefully pour your mixture into your mold.
9. Cover your mold with plastic wrap, and then put a towel over it to keep the heat in.
10. Place the mold in an area that will ensure it will not be disturbed for 24 hours.
Curing Handmade Soap
Allow your mold to set for at least 24 hours. When you check on it, the soap will be hard and opaque. If the soap is still warm, allow it to cool for a few more hours. Once the soap is completely cool, remove the mold.
Cut the soap into thick bars. Allow it to cure for about one month in a dust-free area before you use it. You can turn the bars over frequently during curation.
Pin this handy infographic from fix.com to have for your future soapmaking endeavors.
Carol L says
Just wondering, now that Amazon is no longer selling pure lye in bulk, where do soapmakers get their supplies? I DON’T want to buy the drain cleaner stuff, as it contains additives and isn’t “pure”.
I had put the bulk on my wishlist, but never got around to buying any, and now that I’m ready to make soap, they quit selling it in the larger quantities! GRRRRR!!!
Unfortunately, I’m not use where you can get lye Carol. I have only used the drain cleaner kind from the hardware store. My understanding is that as long as it says 100% it’s what to use. There are several soapmaking supply houses like Brambleberry http://www.brambleberry.com/Lye-C427.aspx that you can still purchase from.
Ray Hillhouse says
Also Hoegger Supply Company sells Red Crown Lye in 2lb. containers for $9.95 in their soap making section of their website.