Cold Process Christmas Soap – Part One
I’m getting back to my roots with this project, an unofficial “Gift Series” addition. My first true love will always be Cold Process Soapmaking despite my propensity to do melt and pour and all manner of other fun toiletries. For this unofficial Gift Series project, I created a soap recipe that will fit in our 5 pound wooden mold.
Please be sure to follow all safety guidelines when handling Lye.
If you haven’t studied a comprehensive guide on Cold Process soap making I highly recommend the Everything Soap Book
.If you are new to cold process soapmaking, please purchase a book and read about the serious safety issues associated with lye. Another good book to start with is Susan Miller Cavitch’s “The SoapMakers Companion.”When working with lye, please always use gloves and goggles and do not breathe in the fumes. I also wear long sleeves during my soapmaking process and keep my goggles on the entire (entire, entire, entire!) time. Even I burn myself; if you missed the post last year where I dumped fresh soap on an open cut, click here to learn from my (idiotic) mistake.
Pyrex for lye water (32 ounce size at minimum)
Bowl or stainless steel mixing pot to hold 7 pounds
2 smaller glass, stainless steel or plastic containers for swirling colors (ideally, 16 to 32 ounceseach in size)
Mold (you can use a trash-bag lined shoe box or a nice log mold
or anything else you find that has give, won’t corrode with the fresh soap and isn’t aluminum)
Stainless Steel Spoons (3)
Scale (it doesn’t have to be digital but you do need to weigh all of your ingredients. I startedmaking soap with my Mom’s 1970′s Weight Watcher’s scale).Step 1
Weigh out all of your oils and make your lye solution (remember, always add the lye to the water). Stir the lye into the water taking precautions to not breathe in the fumes. Always use stainless steel or high temperature plastic for your stirring implement. Set the mixture to the side. You can put the lye water mixture outside if you are not in a well ventilated area. Make sure that small children and pets are not underfoot during this process. If you missed Konnor’s story about lye burns, click here to read it. Lye solution is caustic and can easily burn skin and damage eyes (you are wearing your eye proection, right?). Prepare your mold (this is a good time to line it if it requires lining). You want to have all of your tools ready and everything within reach.
Melt your oils and mix them all together. Add your lye solution and blend. Many soapmakers like to have their temperatures within 15 degrees of eachother for the lye water and the oil. If you’re a newbie, stick with a 105 to 115 range for your lye water and oils. I strongly recommend using a stick blender to help speed up the process. You’ll be blending for between two and five minutes before the next step. It will vary a bit based on your temperatures, blender and size of bowl.
Once your mixture has reached a light trace (what’s trace? Trace looks like thin pudding where faint trailings of soap stay on the surface of your soap mixture when lightly drizzled from a few inches overhead. You can barely see trace trailings on the soap in the bowl on the left in the photo below), pour some of the soap mix into two other containers so you have 3 separate portions of soap. Add a teaspoon of green chrome to one and a teaspoon of the burgundy to another – you can add more if you want a darker color.Step 4
Mix in the color with your stick blender until all the clumps are gone and you’ve achieved the color you want. Next, quickly hand stir in your fragrance to each container. Mix again and get ready to pour!
Tomorrow, I’ll cover swirling, the labels and cure time guidelines.