Soap that is cleansing, hard and moisturizing usually consists of both hard and soft oils. Soft oils are liquid at room temperature, while hard oils are solid. In order to use hard oils for soap and other recipes, they need to be melted to a liquid state. Heat resistant plastic pouches (in both large and small sizes) make this process easy.
Common soap making oils that require melting before use are coconut oil and palm oil. Packaged in Heat Resistant Plastic Pouches, these bags come in a large size that holds seven pounds and a small size that holds one pound. Many soapers place the bags into the microwave to melt the oils inside. This process is easy! First, make sure the cap of the bag is secure. Place the entire bag into the microwave and heat using one minute bursts until the entire container is melted. Be careful when removing the bag, as it may be hot. Then, pour the amount of oil that you need. The quality of the oils are not affected by the heat, so don’t worry if you need to melt down the oils several times. If you don’t have a microwave, you can also boil these pouches! While easy to do, there are a few things to keep in mind while boiling the Heat Resistant Pouches.
First, fill up a pot of water large enough to accommodate the bag of oils so the sides don’t touch the pot. Place a Double Boiler Maker at the bottom of the pot and center using a spatula. Using a Double Boiler Maker prevents the bag from coming into direct contact with the bottom of the pan, which can become extremely hot. While the bags can withstand high heat, the bottom of the pan can melt the plastic. The Double Boiler Maker keeps the bag from coming in contact with the bottom of the pan, so it won’t melt.
Turn the heat to high and allow the water to reach a low boil. Place the bag (large or small) onto the Double Boiler Maker, and let the heat do the work. To be on the safe side, keep an eye on the oils while in the boiling water. If the bag of oil begins to touch the side of the pot, reposition the bag to avoid any contact with the hot pot. Before you know it the oils will be melted!
Tip: When melting palm oil, it’s important to melt the entire container and mix it up well. Palm oil is composed of various fatty acids, one of which is stearic acid. The stearic tends to sink and solidify first as the liquid oil cools. This means the stearic acid is unevenly distributed throughout the palm oil container.
In the photo below, the majority of the palm oil is thoroughly melted and clear. But, there is a large amount of oil that is still solid. If you were to use the palm oil below, your soap would probably be softer than you had planned. Simply pop the oils back into the microwave, or melt in a pot of boiling water until all the oil has been melted and shake up the bag well to make extra sure the oil is completely mixed together.
The Heat Resistant Pouches are also used to package the quick mixes sold by Bramble Berry, which include the Basic Quick Mix, Swirl Recipe Quick Mix and the Lots of Lather Quick Mix. These mixes eliminate the need to purchase individual oils. Because these mixes do contain palm oil, make sure you melt down the entire bag before use!
How do you melt down your hard oils and butters for projects? In the Soap Lab, we have plenty of large microwaves, but having the boiling option is great!