Making your own handmade Soap as a hobby is so rewarding. I now make cold processed soap on a regular basis, often using natural colours and essential oils as fragrance but also using mica and fragrance oils. Cold process soap making has taken some getting used to, I have some good soap making books with good recipes and we haven't bought soap from a supermarket in several years, hand made soap has benefits for the skin and I know exactly what has gone into it..........

I thought adding some step by step images would be useful as people occasionally ask me how to make soap, I am no expert and still have a lot to learn but thought that I would share. I have equipment specially for soap making and none of it can be used for food use; I use plastic jugs for the lye solution but I know a lot use glass, I have never had any issues with plastic jugs as they are often made using a plastic capable of holding hot temperatures but I make sure that I buy good quality jugs. I get everything ready in advance making sure that I am wearing eye goggles, good gloves and an apron.

So I have carefully weighed out all of my ingredients which were for this recipe, coconut oil RSPO palm oil, olive oil pomace, sodium hydroxide, water, essential oils and some mica powder. Many people tell me that they are scared to make cold process soap because of the sodium hydroxide also known as lye, I have to admit being worried about this and also the fumes that are expelled after mixing with water, it heats up, will burn if in contact with skin and the fumes can be very strong. I always mix my lye and water outside, make sure that I don't inhale fumes and never near children or pets. Always add the sodium hydroxide (Lye) to the water an never the other way round.

And so after mixing the lye it is left it somewhere safe to start cooling, at this stage it is really hot, I melt the oils in a large stainless steel pan.


I have mixed the lye and oils at various temperatures and never had a problem but the waiting until both lye and oils are between 35 degrees and 45 degrees celsius  is the most reported suitable mix temperature

Pouring the lye into the oils slowly and steadily will help prevent splashes and goggle must be worn to protect your eyes. When the lye is added I mix really well with a spatula before using the hand held whisk.


As you can see from the image above, as the oils and lye blend together the mixture starts to change colour, looks shiny and my mixture usually lightens in colour in the pot. Every few seconds when I know that the mixture is starting to thicken, and I compare soap batter to whipping cream, you can generally tell when it has reached trace and know to stop and check. Sometimes I whisk for too long and my soap gets thicker than I would like it to be but you know when you are at trace when you can see the soap settle on top of the soap, I test this by removing the blender and dribbling soap over the soap in the pan. The soap below is at quite a thick trace.


And so now I need to add the essential oils and any colour, I stir in colours and fragrance with a spatula, occasionally the soap batter will thin out again, some essential oils and fragrance oils can cause the soap to thicken and heat up.


Once the fragrance and colour is added and stirred well I pour the soap into the moulds and leave it to do its soapy saponification thing. Moulds used here available from www.themouldsshop.co.uk

 

 I leave the soap in the moulds for around 24 hours, I tend not to insulate and gel my soaps. After de-moulding I slice my soap and leave to cure for four weeks before using.