Okay, in Hot Process Soap Making Pt. 2, we’re going to pick up where we left off last week. If you recall, we reviewed the necessary equipment, I gave you an overview of the process (just 4 steps!) and we began weighing our products to begin the soap making procedure. So at this point, we’d melted our solid fats and heated our liquid fats in a crock pot. As that was melting, we created our lye water by combining distilled water with an accurate measurement of lye…preferably outdoors….completely covered from head to toes to avoid any accidents….and well away from children and small animals that could be injured. This resulted in a chemical reaction that stank to high heaven and doubled or tripled the water temperature in seconds. Okay, so now our mixtures are ready, let’s move on to step 3, combining the lye water and oils.
Step 3. Combining The Solutions
Now we’re going to do some crazy science and combine the cooled lye water (100 degrees) and melted oils to create yet another chemical reaction, though it will be nowhere near as dramatic as the first. Very carefully and very slowly, pour the lye water into the crockpot containing the melted oils. The water will sink to the bottom of the crock as it’s heavier than the oil and you’ll end up with a goopy, sludgy mess. Totally normal.
Using a spatula, plastic whisk or a highly recommended immersion blender, begin to gently combine the oil and lye mixture. As you stir, you’ll notice the mixture becoming opaque rather than clear. It will also begin to thicken and resemble pudding…but keep stirring. (With an immersion blender, this step could take less than 1 minute; with a whisk or spatula, 10 minutes or longer.)
Keep stirring and watch for a point called trace, when the soap mixture that drops from your spatula or blender holds its shape on the surface of the mixture for a few seconds before it “melts” into in the bowl. It’s hard to explain but you’ll know it when you see it. (Remember in the Lord of the Rings when the Ring of Power sort of lingered on top of the magma inside Mt Doom before it disappeared and was destroyed? Yeah, it’s like that!) Once you see trace, stop mixing. I took a quick video to show you what trace looks like….it was always the step that unnerved me! Pardon the length, but soap waits for no (wo)man!
Step 4. Curing The Soap
Once trace has occurred, put the lid on the crock pot and allow the soap to cook on low for approximately 1 hour. While you don’t have to babysit the crock pot, you do need to stay close and give the soap a quick stir every 10-15 minutes. The soap likes to…grow. It’ll bubble up and out of your crock if you don’t keep an eye on. It can also scorch on the bottom, so just be mindful of those facts. Your soap will change in appearance as it’s cooking: from pudding-like to gelatinous, like Vaseline. Again, totally normal, just keep cooking til the soap has a gloppy, mashed potato appearance.
Once the soap has cooked for an hour and has reached that mashed potato appearance, you can add any essential oils (approximately 50 drops) or natural additives. I love peppermint leaves and oil, lavender, vanilla and brown sugar, milk and honey, ground oatmeal. Any combination you like is fine. After you’ve personalized your soap, spoon the mixture into your prepared molds and use a spatula to smoosh the mixture into the corners. Give the mold a few hard taps on the work table to remove any air pockets. Allow the soap to set for 12-24 hours til completely cooled and hardened, then remove it from the mold. Cut the soap into bars and allow to dry for several more days on a piece of plastic canvas….no metal cooling racks, please! I allow it to dry a week or two, as the more water that is removed by evaporation, the harder the bar will be and the longer it will last in the shower. Once cured, store your soap in a covered plastic container.
Now the fun part: if you plan on giving this soap as a gift, there are great options out there for creating cute, custom packaging. For packaging soap that I plan on giving as a gift, I prefer to use 4X6 Ziplock Reclosable Bags. The 4X6 inch-sized bags will hold almost any size bar, regardless of the thickness of the bar, and the ziplock prevents the essential oils from evaporating. For labeling, I love brown kraft labels! Just download the template from the Avery website and you can make your labels as simple or elaborate as you want them to be! I love the simple, rustic look, especially when the package is tied up with a bit of twine and a simple pick, but the kraft paper label can also lend itself to a minimalist look, with a modern, modern black font. As I mentioned in Homemade Holidays, presentation is everything when it comes to a homemade gift, so wrap up a bar of homemade soap with a cotton spa cloth, a loofa sponge, a spa CD or any other accessories that will round out the package!
A Couple Dependable Recipes
Okay, now that we’re finished, I want to share a couple recipes that I’ve used numerous times and have found pretty much fail-proof. These are plain as can be, nothing fancy and you should be able to find all the oils right at your grocery store. The one I demonstrated today is courtesy of the Prairie Homestead and makes a small batch of perhaps 6 bars:
- 10 oz olive oil
- 20 oz coconut oil
- 9 oz distilled water
- 4.78 oz 100% pure lye
- Essential oils for scent (optional)
The second recipe is Rachel’s Tried and True Soap posted at Millersoap.com. This recipe makes an enormous batch of soap, I can’t even guess how many!
- 48 oz Crisco (3# can)
- 21 oz soybean/olive/grapeseed/canola oil or a blend
- 18 oz coconut oil
- 28 oz cold water
- 12 oz pure lye
So who is brave enough to try their hand at homemade soap?! If you love the idea of homemade soap, but are still a little leery about making it yourself, perhaps you’d like to visit my Etsy shop to purchase some of the soap you watched being made?
Shared to the SimpleLifeMom Homestead Blog Hop