What are the main methods used to make soap?
There are four different methods you can use to make soap. In this unit you will see a description of how to make them, but the rest of the course will describe in detail how to make soap using the cold process method.
Melt & Pour (M&P)
- You can buy the melt & pour soap base already made from soaping supplies shops. So the process of making soap is significantly simplified;
- To make the soap you have to cut the M&P base into cubes, melt them in the microwave oven or double-boiler;
- Add colours, fragrances or embeds to make them more luxurious;
- Pour the soap into moulds, let it cool and harden, and you can use in 1 or 2 days;
- It’s the easiest soap making method, and you can make it with children as you don’t have to use dangerous substances such as Sodium Hydroxide;
- It’s great for soap making parties, either with children or just adults, like birthday parties, hen parties, team buildings.
Cold Process (CP)
- The soap is made from scratch from oils, butters, water and Sodium Hydroxide;
- The soap is made at room temperature, and this is why is called Cold Process (because the soap is not cooked);
- The ingredients are mixed and emulsified with a hand mixer. A high shear mixer is needed, preferably one with at least 600W power (see here);
- The soap is fragranced with essential or fragrance oils, and coloured with natural or man-made colours and then poured into a mould;
- The soap must cure for 4 to 6 weeks before you can use it.
Hot Process (HP)
- The soap is made just as in the case of the cold process method from scratch with oils, butters, water and Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) for soap bars and Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) for liquid soap;
- You can use the same recipes as for cold process soap, but instead of pouring them in the mould, you “cook” them, so the soap is hot processed;
- Mix the ingredients and then cook the soap in a crock pot or double boiler/Bain Marie;
- The heat of the cooking process will accelerate the saponification and evaporate the water;
- Because the water will evaporate during cooking, the soap will be a thick paste after it’s cooked. That will make it too thick to mix with colours and make patterns or swirls;
- HP is great if you want to make soap that you can use fast, if for example you run out of soap. But not if you want to make decorative designs. So it’s a matter of convenience over beauty;
- You don’t need to wait for 4-6 weeks for the soap to cure, you can use it after 1 to 2 week.
- Re-batching is the method of “re-making” soap by cooking it;
- You can use soap shavings or grated leftover soap with a small quantity of water to make a new batch of soap;
- You don’t need to add too much water, just enough to allow it to cook, the water will evaporate;
- You can re-batch cold process soap which didn’t turn out well (if the soap is lye heavy, it’s split, it lost its fragrance, etc);
- Just as with hot process soap you can use the re-batched soap after 1 to 2 weeks.
Note: if you use a new formula to make soap, always check it in a soap calculator first and write it down. If something goes wrong you can recalculate the formula and add the ingredients which need to be added. And then you can re-batch the soap and use it, instead of throwing it away.
If you don’t have the formula you won’t be able to recalculate the quantities of ingredients, and see what needs to be added i.e. either oils or lye, and how much.
Write down the weight of ingredients when you add them too. Sometimes the formula is correct, but the ingredients were not weighed properly, and that can ruin your formula.
During this course we will be learning to make soap with the cold process method, and we will be discussing the re-batching method in Module 21 – How to repair your soap.
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