Soap Making is a therapeutic and calming space for me, it’s a journey that I started off with Melt & Pour soaps. But soon after, I decided to take the plunge and try my hand at cold process soaps. Initially I was a bit sceptical about trying Lye(Sodium Hydroxide), which is a crucial ingredient in cold process soaps…. but by following the safety precautions my fear faded and soap making become a safe and fun zone for me.
I’ve been trying different recipes and playing around with ingredients that I love. It’s been fun so far and so I’d like to guide you through on the process. But know that it’s a subject that requires some background research. You got to find what works for you, whether it’s the oils or even a base recipe.
Here’s the flow of steps that I like to follow through while making Cold Processed Soaps
1. Choose a Recipe and Gather Your Ingredients
There are various recipes on the internet for making cold process soaps. My advice would be if you’re just starting out pick one that is basic oils and easy to work through. It could be something as simple as a basic olive oil soap to begin with.Once you know what oils and fragrances you would like to work with, gather all your ingredients and gear.
You would need the following :
– sodium hydroxide
– fragrances if you choose to add any
– a measuring scale to get all the measurements spot on
– a digital thermometer
– safety glasses & gloves
– a stick blender
– 3 different pans/ glass bowls to mix everything in
– a mould to set your soap in
– a spatula
2. Prepare your mould
For cold processed soaps I like to use a big loaf mould. Initially I tried using the mould I was using the round silicon cupcake moulds. The soap batter for cold processed soaps is quite thick & so it is difficult to pour and get an even soap in those moulds. So in my opinion a loaf mould or a box mould works best if you’d like nice even bars. So line it up with parchment paper if you like or put your silicone moulds in wood boxes.
3. Weigh The Water
Now all your liquids need to be weighed in a measuring scale. You can take like 1-2% margin with the oils and water. So to do this you would need a container, I like to use a stainless steel container.
4. Weight The Lye
First of, get your goggles and safety gloves on for this one. Then measure out the amount of lye needed for your recipe, preferably in a stainless steel bowl. While doing so make sure you dont drop any flakes outside.
5. Pour The Lye Into Water
Pour the lye flakes into the water. As you do this know that it would create some fumes which might be unpleasant. If you like wear a mask too along with the goggles and gloves. Also the bowl would heat up as the lye & water solution is hot. Make sure all the lye flakes mix well with water & keep this aside till it reaches about 40degrees Celsius.
6. Weigh Out the Oils & Butters In Your Recipe
This would be where you weight all the oils you are using for your cold processed soaps recipe and any additional butters or fats requirement. Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter and even Coconut Oil sometimes are in solid form. So melt those separately and wait until all your oils reach about 40degree Celsius.
7. Combine Lye Solution Into the Oils
Once the lye solution and the oils have reached about 40 – 50 degrees, you can add the lye solution slowly into the oils.
8. Blend Till You Get A Trace
Now using a stick blender slowly blend in your solutions till it starts to thicken. Very soon you’d notice the batter reaches trace.
Trace is when the batter thickens up and leaves a mark on the top surface. This is tricky to understand so watch a few videos to know if you got this one right. Some say there’s a thing such as a false trace, but with a basic recipe you wouldn’t have a lot of issues…. at least with the recipes I’ve tried so far, its been an easy one to get at.
Once you achieve trace, add in the additives and mix a bit more to have them incorporated. Now here’s the thing, every thing reacts differently. Some essential oils seize up the batter, some thicken it too quick… so this is where some differences could arrive. But more or less this too works out well if you make sure to not blend for too long…. or the mixture thickens too quick.
9. Pour Into Moulds
Once you’re done, pour into your mould. This one needs to be done quick and as you pour tap the mould on the surface to make sure there aren’t any empty air pockets. Once you’re done cover it with a cling wrap and a cloth and keep aside for 24-36 hours. Some soap bars seem soft even after 36 hours and this would depend on the oils used… so if that, then keep it for longer. But usually 1-2 days works just fine.
10. Un-mould and Cut Into Bars
When you feel like the soap has hardened and would pop out easily, take it out of the mould. Gently pull on the edges and then push it out of the mould. Once the bar comes out you can cut it into your desired sized soap bars. Some people use a slice cutter which gives you even cut soap bars. So far I’ve just been using a bread knife.
11. Let The Soaps Cure
Once you’ve got your soap bars keep them in a fairly open space. Turn the sides every few weeks and let them cure for about 4 weeks. Curing helps the soap too harden. And four weeks later, your cold processed soaps are ready to use.
Cold processed soaps are fun to make and make for a very thoughtful handmade gift. They are such a joy to use and I love that you can experiment to such a vast extent with these. You can customize on the oils and every other ingredient you use to make these, all base on what suits your skin best. So do give this a try and let me know how you went.
Also Read: How To Make At Home In 5 Easy Steps