Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Natural Soap Making Instructions

You would do well to read all of my “soap” posts before getting started as there are many variables depending on your ingredients such as milk and honey.

Check September's post for Natural Soap -Tips for Beginners; Natural Soap and Oils; Natural Soap and Essential Oils; Bar Soap Recipes and tips: Fixing Failed Soap.

Safety Precautions: Wear rubber/plastic gloves and safety glasses.  I have had caustic splashes to the face and on my glasses. You may not feel any pain initially but wipe it anyway as it will become painful, raised and red in a short time.
Keep Vinegar handy to neutralise any splashes on your skin if you are not covered.  Wipe off large splashes with a paper towel first as vinegar does heat as it neutralises the caustic batter.  Some people say to wash under running water.  I have found that it resists water at this stage and would rather use the paper towel and vinegar.
Do not use Aluminium equipment. Wood will be eaten away quickly.  Plastic or Stainless steel is ideal.

Cold Process
Prepare your equipment and ingredients first having everything ready so nothing is forgotten.
Pot                         Blender                                Scales                    Gloves                  Glasses                 Mould                   Oils
Containers             Essential Oil or other ingredients.                      Vinegar                Spatula
Paper towels          Don’t have little children or pets 'under your feet' – it’s not safe.

Check your recipe.
Goat Milk ice slurry dissolving as lye is mixed in.
Measure out your ingredients putting oils /fats into a slow cooker or stainless steel pot and keeping the lye and water separate at this stage.  Mix the lye slowly into the water stirring till dissolved.  The lye will heat the water as it dissolves.

If you are making a milk soap, you must keep the temperature down or it will burn and stink.  Some people use a 50/50 water milk mix.  I like 100% so freeze the milk to an ice slurry or in cubes.  I have a bowl of ice water available to double bowl it if the mixture begins to go orange.  This is ok to a point and will fade.  If you had to melt your oils (eg bees wax) let them cool prior to this.

Once all your oils/fats are liquid (eg Tallow and Palm oil need heating mostly, Coconut sometimes), pour lye water into the oils and begin blending with a stick blender.
You could use a hand beater or whisk if you are patient and have good stamina.  A hand held cake mixer would also work.  Some people are confident that they can wash them properly but some wouldn’t use them for any other purpose – your call.

Your aim now is to bring the soap batter to trace.  This is when it thickens enough to leave slightly
Milk Castile soap with Turmeric (it fades as it cures)
raised marks on the surface as you stir or dribble batter over the surface. You will probably have to turn the blender off regularly and to let the motor cool especially as the batter thickens.

Solid oils thicken a lot quicker, especially Palm and Coconut.  Olive oil takes a very long time.

Once the batter has come to trace, add your essential oils/fragrances or other ingredients like oats and honey etc.

When all ingredients are stirred in properly pour into moulds.

Cardboard boxes lined with plastic rubbish bags are fine.  Just make sure the volume is enough to contain the soap and that the walls of the mould are sturdy enough not to sag or buckle.
1 litre of oil will make 12 bars of soap a little over 100gm when dried, but has had about 350gm of water and 200gm of caustic soda added so make sure your mould can contain over 1.5L.

Partial gel of very white coconut soap.
The soap will heat up as the chemical reaction turns oil and caustic soda to a glycerine based soap. Gel stage.  This will give a darker, more translucent soap.  Added colours will be more vibrant.  OR you can keep it cool and prevent the gelling resulting in a lighter coloured soap.  Sit the mould on ice packs or refrigerate.  A partial gelled soap will have the lighter colour around the edges where it was cooler and a ring of darker colour soap in the centre of the bar.  Purely cosmetic.
You can cover it to keep the heat in and encourage the gel so the whole soap is gelled.

Any soap with sugars in it (honey or milk) must be kept cool or they run the risk of erupting.  The bigger the mould the harder it will be to keep the centre cool and you will probably end up with a partial gel even with it sitting on ice packs or in the fridge.  Shallow or individual bar moulds make it a lot easier to prevent gel.

Cover with plastic wrap to prevent soda ash forming. It's not a problem if it does form.

Turn out of mould when solid (12-24 hours).  Shorter if you have had it in the freezer it or longer if you let it heat and gel.

Make a little soap slurry with water after about 24 hours and test the pH, to make sure you don’t have too much lye

Hot Process Soap
You can use a double boiler, but a slow cooker is very convenient.  I brought mine for $10 second hand.
Don’t discount your water (reduce water to speed up trace and drying time) as there will be evaporation and this will cause your soap to harden up quicker while trying to get it into the moulds.

Once the soap has come to trace, turn the slow cooker on.  I do not add my essential oils at this stage
Cooking soap raising up the sides (coconut is very white)
as a lot will evaporate in the heat.  Cook for about an hour.  The soap will raise up the sides of the cooker as it heats and fold in on itself.  Check that it doesn’t overflow and stir it back down a few times.  It will become more translucent.  Test with a pH strip to make sure it is between 8-9pH.  Turn the heat off, stir in your essential oils well and scoop out the mix with a large spoon into your moulds.

It will not be caustic now, though the heat can burn you if you drop some on your skin.

Shake your moulds and give them a bang on the bench to settle the mix into the corners etc.    

This will give you a rustic bar (rough top) but can be used as soon as it cools and hardens.  It will harden further if left to dry more and give you a longer lasting bar of soap.

Things can go wrong and I have had to fix a few batches of soap but never wasted any ingredients.

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