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Cold process soapmaking method (CP)
Details: (2) making soap.

Back to Overview

When the oils are around 45º C / 110º F and the lye solution has reached the same (or cooler) temperature, you can start getting ready for mixing the soap.

  1. Place the soap pot on a flat, safe surface (the stove is not safe enough, in my opinion).
  2. Add the lye solution to the oils in a steady stream, but not too fast, while stirring continuously with your long handled tool.
  3. Stir with slow, even movements to avoid splashes.
  4. The mixture becomes opaque and starts taking a lighter colour.
  5. Once all the lye solution has been added, keep stirring for a couple of minutes.
  6. Get your stick blender ready (you can leave the soap mixture unattended while you do this).
  7. Place the stick blender in the middle of the pot, resting it on the bottom (or as close to the bottom as you can if you're making a large batch). Make sure the level of the soap mixture is at least a couple of inches lower than the motor of your stick blender, and the blades of the stick blender are covered by at least 3 inches/7 cm of soap mixture!
  8. Start the stick blender and operate it in short bursts.
  9. As the mixture gets lighter in colour, and starts assuming a creamy appearance, you can operate the stick blender with no interruptions for longer periods.
  10. To avoid overheating the motor, turn the stick blender off and use it as a manual stirrer periodically.
  11. Within 3 to 10 minutes (depending on the type of fats/oils, and other variables), the soap mixture will be smooth and glossy, with similar consistency and "feel" to thin custard.
  12. This is the beginning of "trace", a.k.a. thin trace. This is an important stepping stone for adding some particular ingredients or carrying out some special operations (for instance, dividing the batch if you're working on a swirled soap).
  13. Unless you have some special reason for stopping at this point (see above, or refer to your recipe instructions), keep stirring until the mixture reaches full trace. When using a stick blender, this might take anything between 20 seconds and a few minutes after thin trace.
  14. You'll know you have reached full trace when a little bit of the mixture, dribbled from the stick blender, will leave a "trace" before sinking.
  15. You can now add the fragrance or essential oils and the other ingredients you have reserved for adding at trace.
  16. For this, you can set the stick blender aside and go back to your long handled spoon. Make sure you blend the oils (or whatever) thoroughly, and don't forget to scrape down the sides of the pot.
  17. Pour the soap into the mould(s). It is best to do this slowly (see the picture above? the pot was very full and very heavy, and I thought I could get rid of the weight quickly.... Luckily, the "soap splash" remained inside the mould!)
  18. If you're using individual moulds, you might find it easier to ladle out the soap mixture, at least in the beginning.
  19. Pour out as much of the soap mixture as you can, and scrape down the pot properly (you'll find here some ideas on how to clean the pot).
  20. Cover the soap with the towels (or blankets, or rags). Remember to place a piece of baking (greaseproof) paper on top, if the mold(s) are filled to the brim.
  21. Arrange the towels/rags so that all the mold is covered - top and sides.
  22. Leave the soap undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. Insulating the soap helps speeding up the saponification process (the chemical reaction), and properly mixed and insulated soap is usually caustic-free after as little as 24 hours.

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last update 24 sep 2011