Deciding on a process

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.


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