Back to Basics: Cold Process Soap Making

Handmade soap has been around for centuries and has become increasingly popular in recent years. It is an all-natural alternative to commercial soaps that contain harsh chemicals, synthetic fragrances and preservatives.

Before I tapped into the world of soap making, I did not realize how versatile it is and can be. From different designs, to different types of methods. The possibilities are endless...

Different soap making methods

When I decided I wanted to learn how to make soap, I quickly found out that there are several soap-making methods, each with their own unique characteristics and benefits. Some common soap-making methods include:

- Cold Process: This is the most traditional method of soap making, where the soap is made from scratch using oils, sodium hydroxide (lye) and water. The soap is left to cure for several weeks to allow the lye to completely saponify the oils.

- Hot Process: Hot process soap making is similar to cold process, but involves cooking the soap mixture in a crockpot or other heating device to speed up the saponification process. This results in a more rustic-looking soap.

- Melt and Pour: This method involves melting pre-made soap base and adding in fragrances, colors, and other additives. The melted soap mixture is then poured into moulds and allowed to harden.

- Liquid Soap: Liquid soap is made by mixing potassium hydroxide (KOH) with oils and water to create a liquid soap base. Fragrances, colors, and other additives can be added to create a variety of liquid soap products.

From Lye to Love

From these different methods, I instantly gravitated to the cold process method. A method that allows for complete control over the ingredients used in the soap.

As the soap is made from scratch, I can choose to use only natural, and high-quality ingredients, resulting in a soap that is gentle and nourishing for the skin. I can ensure that my soap is free from harmful chemicals and additives. 

In addition to that, cold process soap making is a sustainable and eco-friendly option. I can avoid using plastic packaging and reduce my overall carbon footprint, while encouraging customers to do so as well. 

How it's done

Cold process soap is made by precise measuring and mixing oils and/or butters, lye, and water together to create a soap batter. The mixture is then poured into a mould and left to cure for a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks, during which time the lye reacts with the oils to create soap - through a process called saponification

The natural glycerine that is produced during the saponification process, helps to moisturize and soften the skin. Like wine, the longer is cures, the better and milder on the skin it gets! 

In conclusion, cold process soapmaking is a satisfying and rewarding way of creating soap. Its flexibility in terms of ingredients and design, as well as the ability to create unique and personalized soap bars, make it my favorite soapmaking method.

It's a great skill to learn. However, if there's one thing I've learned, it's that patience is a virtue. Waiting 6 to 8 weeks for soap to cure has me asking "are you done yet?!" more than I can count.

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