Melt and pour soap and cold process soap are both made by emulsifying sodium hydroxide lye and a variety of oils. Both are skin loving and far more gentle than store bought, detergent based soap. Despite these similarities, melt and pour soap have very different textures. These textures lend themselves better to different soaping techniques. For example, it’s easier to achieve straight layers with melt and pour soap, while the fluid texture of cold process soap allows for easy swirling.
Melt and pour soapers often ask if swirled cold process soap recipes can be recreated with melt and pour soap. Unfortunately, the answer is usually no. Cold process soap batter has the ability to stay fluid for a long time. This fluid texture is crucial for dragging the soap with a chopstick, dowel, hanger swirl tool or comb swirl tools. Melt and pour on the other hand, begins to harden once it cools to about 125 ° F, which only takes a few minutes. For example, as shown in the how to do the Peacock Swirl in Cold Process Soap video on Soap Queen Tv, the soap must be fluid and workable during the mixing, pouring the swirling process which can take 10-20 minutes!
While it’s not possible to recreate complex cold process swirls with melt and pour, swirls are still achievable…they will just look a little different =). Check out the Soap Queen TV Episode 3: Swirling M&P above to see an example of the beautiful swirls you can create in melt and pour. The key to creating swirls with melt and pour soap is temperature. When liquid, melt and pour soap is much thinner than cold process soap. The causes the colors of melt and pour soap to easily blend together. When attempting to swirl melt and pour soap, this can cause a muddled look rather than defined swirls. As melt and pour soap cools, it also becomes thicker. The cooled, slightly thicker texture helps avoid the colors from swirling together too much.