Learn to Make Soap

This tutorial reviews:

  • Room-Temperature Cold Processing;
  • Making goat’s milk soap from powder;
  • Using Oven Processing to speed up cure time.

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Instructions:

  1. Assemble all of your ingredients and equipment where you will be mixing your soap.
  2. Prepare your molds. I use silicone loaf molds, so preparing them means making sure they are clean and in position next to my mixing station.
  3. Set your crock pot to low. Using your kitchen scale, measure the oils and butters and pour them into the crock pot.
  4. Put on your protective gear. This is my son.  We made this recipe together (I didn’t actually let him work with the lye solution, but he sure looks cute in my gear!)
  5.                        fullsizeoutput_326cUsing your kitchen scale:
    • Pour appropriate amount of distilled water in a large glass measuring cup.
    • Measure the lye into a smaller glass measuring cup.
  6. While the butters are melting in the crock pot with the oils, go outside and add your lye into the distilled water. (Lye goes into the water, not vice versa! You could be splashed and burned if you do it the opposite way.)
  7. Stir with a metal fork or spoon until the lye completely dissolves.
  8. Leave the lye solution outside for the fumes to dissipate. (Note: if you have children or pets, be sure that the lye is somewhere safe.)
  9. Check on your oil mixture. Once butters are completely melted, turn off the crock pot and allow the oils to cool.
  10. While you are waiting, use the kitchen scale to:
    • Measure the powdered goat’s milk. Break up any chunks and set aside.  If you’re using fresh or frozen goat’s milk, check out this amazing article from David Fisher at The Spruce Crafts.
    • Measure the pumpkin purée. Set aside.
    • Measure the essential oils into a single glass container. Set aside.

 

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  1. Go outside to get your lye solution. Still have your protective gear on?
  2. When BOTH your oil and lye solutions have cooled below 90 degrees Fahrenheit, you are ready to continue. I let mine sit out overnight so that I could demonstrate “room temperature” soaping. If you don’t have the patience, 90 degrees is fine.

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  1. Take 2-3 oz. of the oil mixture and add it to the glass bowl/measuring cup with the goat’s milk. The amount of oil doesn’t have to be precise.
  2. Mix with a fork or whisk, making sure to break up any lumps. Set aside.
  3. With your protective gear on, slowly pour the lye mixture into the crockpot. You might notice that the combined solution turns cloudy. That’s OK.

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  1. Mix with a hand blender (always keep the top of the mixer below the surface when it’s powered on.)
  2. Mix in the pumpkin purée.

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  1. Continue mixing with your hand blender until the mixture reaches “trace.” (This is the point where it will be at the consistency of Elmer’s glue.) If you are new to soaping, here is another way to check: turn off the mixer and lift it out of the solution.  If the smaller drops that fall to the surface rest there for a few seconds before they sink in, you have reached trace.

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  1. Still have your protective gear on? I know, this reminder is probably annoying at this point. But I got a wake-up call on this batch, at this very step. Thinking it would be fine this far into the mixing process, I took my gloves off.  The tiniest drop somehow splashed up onto my arm.  Ouch!!!!
  2. Add goat’s milk and continue stirring.
  3. When your soap is a mayonnaise-like texture, you are ready to add your final ingredients.

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  1. Mix in the essential oils. This will cause your soap to thicken, so be ready to move through the remaining steps quickly.

** This is where we went wrong on this batch.  It was snack time… In the two minutes it took to get the kids their fruit, our soap had thickened. It didn’t hurt the soap, but it did spoil our plans to make it look pretty. (You’ll see it in the pictures below).

  1. You could stop right here and pour your pumpkin spice soap into the molds for curing. If you want to add color and some variability to the look of the soap, here are a few options:
    • Quick and Easy:
      • Add the paprika to the soap batter and mix thoroughly.
      • Pour the ground cinnamon and nutmeg over the top.
      • Using a wooden spoon, dip down, turn the spoon and twist as you pull up and over the surface. You want to get some of the spices down into the batter, but keep it quick and random!
    • The “swirl” technique:
      • Separate out 1/2 of the mixture, add the ground cinnamon and nutmeg, mix.
      • Return to your crock pot and add the paprika, mixing thoroughly.  IMG_0347 3.jpg
      • Scoop the soap into your mold(s) in alternating layers:
        • Begin by scooping half of the “paprika” (orange) soap into your mold(s);
        • Next, add half of the “cinnamon/nutmeg” (brown) soap. I used a butter knife to swirl the soap and smooth it over the entire surface;IMG_0350.jpg
        • The third layer is what’s left of the “paprika” soap. Swirl/smooth it over the entire surface;           IMG_0351.jpg
        • Finally, add the last of the “cinnamon/nutmeg” soap. Again, swirling/smoothing it over the entire surface.

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    • When you are finished with your design, tap the molds on the countertop several times to release any air bubbles. You can also do this between layers if you like.
    • Creating the “Swirls” – Option 1: Using a butter knife or another utensil, poke into the soap down to the bottom layer. Drag your knife through the soap in s-shaped curves. This will create swirls without the mixing the layers together.  IMG_0353.jpg

    ** This should still look like Elmer’s glue, not like our peanut butter mousse. Ugh!

    Option 2: – If you would like a more rustic look, poke your utensil down to the bottom of the mold and pull it back up, and over. This will mix the layers together for a less defined swirl pattern.                                                  IMG_0354.jpg

    ** This should like Elmer’s glue, not like our messy, cookie batter.

  2. Set your soap loaf(s) aside and let them cure for at least 24 hours.  After 24 hours, you can check to see if the soap has hardened enough to gently un-mold it.  If it’s still too soft, you will feel resistance when you try to let the soap slide out of the mold.  In that case, let it sit for another 24 hours and then check again.
  3. Cut and then trim your soap as desired.
  4. From this point, the soap will need 4 – 6 weeks to complete the curing process.  Be sure you store it in a cool, dry area and turn it every few days. Alternatively, if you have wire shelving that is coated, you can rest your soap directly on the coated rails and it will cure without needing to be turned.

Adding “Oven Processing” to speed up curing time:

Oven Processing may not be suitable for all cold process recipes.  For example, if you used a mold with a raised or indented design, Oven Processing is likely to ruin the crisp details. However, for this recipe, we can take about 2 weeks off of the curing time using our oven!

  1. First, make sure your molds are oven safe. Most soap molds will be fine, but if you’re not sure, you can usually find this information on the product’s website.
  2. Adjust the racks in the oven so that there is one rack in the center.You don’t want to be too close to the heating element.
  3. Line the bottom of the oven with foil, or place an old cookie sheet on the bottom rack.                                                                   IMG_0357 2.jpg
  4. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Fahrenheit (or the lowest setting your oven allows).
  5. Cover your oven-safe molds with Saran wrap, pop them into the oven, and turn off the oven.                                                                                                                                                      IMG_0363.jpg
  6. No peeking!! It can honestly ruin your soap.  Leave it in the closed oven until it cools down. (or longer if you like.)
  7. I took one mold out of the oven after about 4 hours (left) and the other mold stayed in over-night (right).  Look at the difference in color!  But don’t worry, that goes away as the soaps continue to cure.                                               IMG_0373.jpg
  8. Leave the soap in its mold and set aside for 24 hours. When your soap is ready to be taken out, pull the silicone away from the sides of the soap, turn the mold upside down, and gently press the bottom of the mold to separate it from the soap. Your soap will drop onto your counter.
  9. Once unmolded, you can cut and trim your soap as desired.
  10. From this point, the soap will need approximately 4 weeks to cure.
  11. Be sure you store it in a cool, dry area and turn it every few days.

Post-script:

If you hate to waste soap (like I do) and have more than would fit in your molds, consider making a few guest-sized bars for your powder room or to use as a hostess gift.

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