for Making Soap
Preparing to make soap reminds me of a television cooking show. You watch the person take all their pre-measured ingredients and add them to what ever it is that they are making. So it is with soap. You need to get out all your ingredients, set your equipment out, measure all your ingredients and put them in bowls, etc. You do all the prep work ahead of time. The easy part is simply making the soap!
To begin with I prepare my soap molds. I line the molds or do any type of preparations that are needed. Then I gather together all the oils, scent oils, lye and liquid. I also gather together all my equipment; my scales, spoons, pans, measuring cups, etc.
If I am making a batch of soap with water as my liquid I start by measuring my water and my lye. I mix this together and let it begin to cool down. All the necessary safety precautions should be taken. Lye is dangerous and can burn. Put your gloves and goggles on, wear long sleeves, and carefully pour your lye into your water. Never ever do it the other way around and pour your water into your lye. You could end up with a rupturing volcano! So pour your lye into your water, have windows open and/or a fan going. The fumes from this are smelly and not good to directly breathe. As you add the lye to the water stir, stir and stir. The mixture will be cloudy. Continue to stir until the water clears. You can take the temperature of you lye mixture now. It will be very hot.
Next I measure all my oils into my pot and set this on the stove to melt on low. I then measure out my scent oils and if I am adding any other ingredients to the soap (ground up oats, flower buds or petals, etc.) I prepare those and set them aside. If you are adding any coloring to your soap you would get that ready now as well.
While the lye is cooling and the oils are melting I set up my work space. I lay newspaper on my counter, get out my stick blender, set all my pre-measured additions to my soap near by.
Now check the temps of your lye/liquid and of your oils. Sometimes I need to cool one or both down. If I am impatient I will do this in a sink full of cold water.
The proper temps for your soap are usually indicated on your recipe. Typically for basic water type soap I aim for between 100 and 110 degrees for both.
When the lye solution and the oils are at the correct temperature it is time to start the fun!
Put your gloves and goggles on again and slowly pour the lye/liquid into the oil while you stir with a spoon. As soon as all your lye has been completely added to the oil you can begin using your stick blender to stir.
Now you will stir your soap until your soap ‘traces’. At first your soap will remind of you thin vanilla pudding. As you continue to stir your soap will start to thicken up and you will notice that the blender leaves a little trail as you are stirring it around. The mix begins to look like thicker pudding.
When it looks creamy and mixed together, this is called a light trace. At this point I add my scent oil and any other additives. I don’t add coloring to my soap, but if I did this would be the time to add it.
Now you will continue to mix the additions in well and check to see if the soap has traced yet. Your mixture will look begin to look like thick pudding. To check for trace stop the blender, lift it out of the pot and drizzle the soap that is dripping back into the pan back and forth. When you can see some of the drizzled soap stay on top of the mixture for a few seconds before falling into the rest of the mix this is called tracing and it is time to pour your soap into the mold.
Take your pot over to your mold and pour it in. Put this soap in a place that it will not be disturbed for 24 hours. Cover and insulate your soap mold with a thick blanket or towels. This is necessary for your soap to continue the soap making process. Your mold will get very hot due to the chemical reaction that is taking place. This reaction is called ‘saponification’ and this is what’s turning the lye, liquid and oils into soap.
After 24 hours you can remove the blanket. Sometimes I let the soap set another 24 hours in the mold. I do this especially if the soap still seems soft. After that I remove it from the mold. I may let it sit another day or so to harden up a little more and then I cut my bars.
Now put the cut bars of soap on a shelf that has been lined with a brown paper, a paper sack or cardboard. The soap will need to cure. More than 90% of the lye is gone, but it will now take about 3 to 4 weeks for the last 10% or less of the lye to evaporate.
At the end of your cure time your bars of soap are ready to use!
Safety Note: If for some reason at any point of the soap making process you get lye on your skin rub some white vinegar on it to stop the burning.
Lets Make Soap!