Can I Make My Own Cold Process Soap?
Absolutely! You’ll need to learn some lye safety, buy some basic equipment, be comfortable with percentages and calculations, develop your recipe and then identify the best temperature and order of operations to produce the outcome you want. And then you need time and more time. Producing soap requires a lot of time!
This past Soapy Sunday I made a batch of 30 bars of Cold Process Soap. On Saturday evening, I decided how I wanted my bar of soap to smell and how I wanted it to look. I then entered my recipe in SoapCalc.net, made notes on the percentages of batter each color would use and then calculated that amount into grams. I then divided the total of my essential oils to match the percentages for each of the color variants and printed off my recipe.
Sunday morning I started by gathering my soap making tools and ingredients in my kitchen (after first covering my counter and cabinets with plastic sheeting; just in case). Making sure to don long sleeves, rubber gloves, a mask and goggles, I measured out the water and lye and added the later to the former. This results in a chemical reaction which produces a lot of heat, so the mixture has to cool for quite a while until it reaches my preferred temperature of @95 degrees. This allows my solid oils to remain melted while not overly accelerating the soaponifcation process which will occur once I add the solution to my oils. The time this takes can vary but, for me, it is usually about 2 hours.
While that’s happening, I began to mix my colors and measure out my essential oils. Next, I weighed my liquid oils, weighed and melted my solid oils and added them together (making sure the later were fully melted). Now it was time to get both the oil and lye mixtures to the desired temperature; a balancing act for sure.
Finally, time to add the oils and lye together and stick blend them until the result was just the right consistency. If you blend too much, the process speeds up and you might not have time to create your design (or maybe even to get it into the mold before it becomes soap on a stick). Next, divide the batter up based on Saturday’s calculations. I have found it works best for me if I then stir (instead of blend) the colors in followed by the essential oils. In the past, I used a stick blender for this and, yeah, not so good – perhaps not soap on a stick but not the liquid design ingredients I was looking for either. Now you pour it into the mold in whatever way you have chosen to achieve the desired design. Unless your batter is really liquid, you don’t want to dawdle too much here as the soaponification process is now well under way. If you do go for a more liquid batter, you have to make sure it is not so liquid that the colors run together and produce, well, mud. Now, wipe off any spilled batter and create a design on the top of the soap. Cover your soap to keep it warm and you are done……for now. So far, not counting Saturday, about five hours.
Then there is cleanup. I usually leave mine in the sink until the next day. That way, the excess has fully turned to soap and can be washed right off. Figure on about an hour to complete that.
Come back in 24 hours and see if your soap is ready to unmold. If not, come back in another 24 hours. Once you can remove it from the mold cleanly, you are ready to cut the soap into the desired size bars. This is the most exciting part as you know what you planned but you never know exactly what it is going to look like until it is cut. Lastly, the soap needs to sit and dry for 4-6 weeks before it is ready to use.
Finally! You can now enjoy the luxury of bathing with your very own home-made soap. Of course if you really don’t have all that much time, but you're tired of commercial "soaps", you could give ours a try by visiting OutsideInSoaps.com. Me, I’m almost retired, I can do this…….