Archive for February, 2010

Deciding on a process

February 16, 2010

Hot process, cold process, in the mold process. They all have their merits. How do you decide which to use?

Are you making soap for a craft fair next week? Hot process, or in the mold. If you can wait, or you’re just making product to sell, cold works fine. You can use any process on just about any soap. There are exceptions, of course.

If you are making a soap with a beneficial ingredient in it, say, cucumber, that really can’t be hot processed. Cold process is a good method for milk soaps, and soaps with beneficial ingredients that may be destroyed by heat. Our cucumber soap, for instance. Add the cucumber at heavy trace, when it’s resembling pudding used for pie filling. Put the soap in the mold. If you put it up on the fridge (where I put my stuff) to leave it alone, it will go into gel. Gel isn’t such a bad thing. But you have added the cucumber for skin benefits. The cucumber will cook if it goes into gel. The answer: Avoid gel. I put the mold in the fridge for that.

Mind, put it in the fridge, not the freezer. Once it’s frozen, soap doesn’t act right. Not working with it, not washing with it. Put it in the fridge, and don’t let it freeze.

Milk soaps are another reason to avoid gel. Soaps with milk and/or honey tend to get HOT in gel, and can burn the milk. Not only that, but in making a milk-based soap, the lye is added to the liquid at the beginning, not at trace. This is what I do in that situation.

Let’s say the formula calls for 8-12 oz of liquid. I’ll use the higher amount. I’ll dissolve the lye into 4 oz of water, and let it cool completely.  It will get gelatinous. Then, slowly, I’ll mix in the milk before adding to the fats. Milk stays cool, doesn’t burn. When you put your soap in the mold, put it in the fridge to leave it alone. This way you get the benefit of the milk.

(My observation only, handling the lye like this does seem to speed up trace.)

Remember in making soap that you WANT the milk fat. You’re putting it on your skin, not drinking it. I strongly suggest using full fat milk. This is an excellent skin conditioner. If you are making soap with buttermilk or cream, add at trace, you won’t be using so much. If you are making soap with ghee (clarified butter), or any kind of butter, add it in with your oils.

Try the different processes. You may find one formula comes out better with hot process than cold, or vice versa. Or treat each formula differently. It depends on what you want for the final product.


Oven hot process

February 15, 2010

Sorry about the huge break, my life went nuts for a bit.

Okay, folks, now you’re going to learn Hot Process.

Hot process doesn’t differ all that much from cold process in terms of the formulae. What hot process does is takes the soap through the whole saponification process in one day. There are different methods of hot process, such as in a slow cooker, or on top of the oven, with either direct heat, or in a double boiler. There’s even a method for doing it in the mold. The reason I chose oven hot process is that, in direct heat hot processing, you stand there and stir, for hours. And you can’t really walk away until the soap starts boiling up, looks like it’s rising. With the slow cooker and double boiler methods, you  can at least walk away long enough to use the bathroom. I don’t use those because of boilover issues. The oven I can line with something to catch the boilover. Can’t do that with a flame right there.

In the mold hot process is kinda like combining cold and hot process. You add everything, your superfat, your fragrance and such at trace as usual. Pour into the mold, lined, like I showed you in cold process. Then put it in a 250° oven for about 3 hours. Turn the oven off, and let it sit in the oven until cool. I don’t use this method because I didn’t like the way the finished product came out. At an outdoor craft fair, it was that soap, the soap processed in the mold, that melted in the sun. The others didn’t. So, I don’t use that process. Go ahead and try it. You might like it.

You will be learning oven hot process because it’s my blog, and that’s my favorite hot process.

We’re using the formula we came up with in the oil properties post:

16 oz olive oil

8 oz coconut oil

6 oz corn oil

2 oz safflower oil

8-12 oz liquid (I’ll be using spring water)

4.34 oz sodium hydroxide (this is for an 8% superfat)

Preheat your oven to 200-250°F

Measure out your water and lye. Remember, snow falls on the lake, lye to water. Set aside.

Measure out your safflower oil, which we will be superfatting with. Set this aside.

Now measure your fats, melt them, and stir a bit so they are mixed. Remember to fill the pot only a third of the way. You’ll see why.

Lye mix to fat mix. Stir the first 5 minutes with spoon, then zap with stick blender. Always stir down after using the stick blender, always end with the spoon. Mix until trace, then add your superfat oil, in this case, the safflower oil.

Trace. If you look, you can see the squiggles I made.

Covering the pan can slow a boilover, so is suggested. Place in the oven. Go away for 10 minutes.

cap it, put it in the oven

When you come back to stir, the mix will be kinda like a thick cake batter. Stir, cover, put it back in the oven. Go away for another 10 minutes.

it's kind of a heavy cream consistency here.

One of these times when you go back to stir, you’ll notice it’s separating. Don’t stress, it’s supposed to. Just stir, cap, put it back. However, this can move quickly, and I’ll post a picture next hot process I do. I missed it.

There will come a time when you go back to stir, and it’s foamy. This is what it’s supposed to do, and why you want the big pot. Just stir it down, cover, back in the oven for 10 minutes.

This is why you want an out-sized pan.

Eventually, you’ll go back to stir, and, when you stir it down, find yourself with a pot of something reminiscent of vaseline.

Fully cooked soap

Take a little of this on your glove (you remembered to wear them, right?), and add some water. If you get lather, you stick your tongue into what you have in your hand, testing for active lye. If there is active lye, you will know right away. It’ll stingle. Best way I can describe it. Not a lot, but enough. If the soap burns your tongue, back in the oven until it doesn’t. DON’T STICK YOUR TONGUE IN IT IF IT DOESN’T LATHER. Don’t ask how I know.

You didn’t really expect a picture of tongue testing the soap, did you?

Stir it a little, add your silk amino acids at this point, if  you’re using them. This is for the bacteria thing. Wait a few minutes for it to cool more, then add your scent and other additives. If the soap is too hot, it will evaporate the scent away.

Plop it into the mold. Smooth it over. Drop it from an inch or so above the table to level the top and fill in spaces.

plop it into the mold. I fold the plastic bag over it, and smooth it with my hands.

There is a theory I don’t know if I subscribe to. The theory is that, if you wrap the hot soap mold and all in a towel, it will return to gel, and smooth over the top. Now, so far, maybe it works, jury is still out. But I wrap it in the towel, set it in a level place and leave it alone.

This soap is ready to go when it’s cool. I’d like to add here that I let it dry for about a week after I slice it. I’ve used it when it cooled, but the finished product seems ‘more finished’ if I use it after a week.  I will, however, be using the pot scrapings in my shower tonight.