Soap Making Methods

Soap Making Methods

Soap can be made with different ingredients and can be made by using different methods.  Different methods of making soap each have their own advantages and benefits.  And by using different ingredients, you can actually create 4 different textures and consistencies: solid bars that are hard and firm, whipped bars that are solid yet airy, liquid soap, and cream.

Bar Soap Making Methods

Bar Soap Method #1:
Melt and Pour

Bars of soap can be made with several different methods.  The easiest method is called “Melt and Pour”.  This method uses a pre-made soap base that is melted and can be combined with oils, scent, color, and other additives of your choice.  You don’t have to handle the lye because it has already been done for you, but this method restricts the ability to have truly customized and personalized soap.  It reduces the control you have over the soap and isn’t quite as fulfilling as the “from scratch” methods if you are a serious soaper.

Bar Soap Method #2:
Cold Process

The Cold Process (CP) Method sounds like you don’t need any heat, but there is some heat involved.  As lye is dissolved into water or milk, there will be heat from the chemical reaction.  You will also need heat as you heat your solid oils like cocoa butter or animal fats.

Once the lye/water solution is mixed and combined with the oils, they are blended with a stick blender or immersion blender until the mixture thickens and is then poured into molds.  This is a “from scratch” method that is the most basic and easiest to learn.

Bar Soap Method #3:
Cold Process/Oven Process

The Cold Process/ Oven Process (CPOP) Method is like a bridge between the Cold Process Method and the Hot Process Method of making soap.  The Cold Process method only uses heat during the mixing of the lye/water and the heating of the oils.  Then the soap is blended, molded, sliced, and cured for 4 to 8 weeks to become mild and harder as the water evaporates.  The Cold Process / Oven Process Method uses gentle heat from the oven to evaporate the water and it speeds up the saponification process so the soap becomes mild faster and has a shorter curing time.

In the CPOP Method, the soap is blended and molded and the mold is placed in the oven.  Preheat the oven on the lowest setting, about 175° to 200°F.   Make sure you use a heat safe wooden or silicone mold and place it in the oven.  Once your mold is in the oven, turn off the heat and just leave the mold in the oven overnight or about 10 hours.  Leave the oven door closed to allow the oven to cool on its own.  Remove the mold from the oven and let sit for 24 hours before slicing into bars.  When you remove the soap from the oven it should be mild and pH neutral and will only require about 2 to 4 weeks of curing time to dry and harden completely.

Bar Soap Method #4:
Hot Process

The Hot Process (HP) method starts out the same as the CP and CPOP method.  The ingredients are measured and the soap is blended until it thickens and reaches trace, then the soap mixture is allowed to cook in a stainless steel pot or crock pot.

As the soap cooks, the water evaporates and the soap mixture becomes neutral as the saponification process completes during the cook time.  The soap mixture becomes thick like mashed potatoes and translucent like Vaseline.

The mixture is scooped into the mold and sets for 24 hours.  Unmold, slice, and allow to cure.  This method shortens the curing time the most.  After about 2 to 3 weeks the soap should be dry, hard, and mild.

Bar Soap Method #5:
Hand Milling

Hand Milling (a.k.a. rebatching or re-melting) is when you have soap that has already been made by CP, CPOP, or HP methods.  After the soap has been removed from the mold it is broken into small pieces or grated into shreds.  About 4 ounces of milk is added to each pound and heat is applied in a stainless steel pot or crock pot and the soap is remelted.

Once all the soap has melted, you can adjust the recipe or mix in additives like scent, color, additional oils or other goodies.  The soap  mixture is then poured into the mold and allowed to set for 24 hours.  After removing from the mold, the soap is cured until dry, hard, and mild.  Hand milled soaps are appreciated for their smooth texture, mildness, and ability to hold scents and other additives better and longer.

Bar Soap Method #6:
Whipped Soap

The last method for making bar soap involves a process similar to CP.  Whipped soap can be made by using a higher percentage of fats or oils that stay solid at room temperature, using a hand held or countertop mixer instead of a stick blender, and the temperatures throughout the process will be lower.  The lye is combined with water and allowed to cool completely.

After the lye/water and oils are mixed together, they are whipped up all nice and fluffy before being poured into molds or “piped” through pastry bags.  These soaps have a light airy appearance but dry solid and firm.  They make pretty pastel colored soaps and they even float in water.

Liquid Soap Making Method

Solid bar soap is made with sodium hydroxide lye, and liquid soap is made with potassium hydroxide lye.  The process is similar to Hot Process but takes a bit longer.  The soap mixture is cooked until it becomes a thick paste, and then water is used to dilute it and you have liquid soap.  By using this method, you can make liquid hand soap, liquid dish or laundry soap, even shampoo and shower gel.

Cream Soap Making Method

Soap that is smooth and creamy can be made by using a combination of sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide.  This process starts out the same as the HP method.  The soap mixture is cooked until it becomes a thick paste, and then oils and other additives are mixed in to make a smooth liquid.

The mix is then allowed to age or “rot” and is finally whipped with oils to create a smooth texture.  It’s more work than most of the other methods, but the result is often worth it.  The additional oils make it more moisturizing, and the smooth texture makes it feel luxurious and it lathers really well.

No matter what methods you choose to explore, you’re sure to find one that works best for you and the kind of soap you wish to make.  For more information on the Cold Process method of making soap, get your free guide on How to Make Soap and Start Making Soap today!

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