October 25, 2010

Cold Process Soap Making First Attempt

Okay, so I learned to always find a video the hard way.

The directions I was using were written. They didn't have pictures, just the description of reaching trace as the oil and lye mixture becoming like thick gravy with motion trails following the spoon. So, I dissolved the lye in water, following all the safety procedures, and I melted my oils. I sacrificed my largest cooking pot since 42 oz. of shortening turned out to be eight cups when melted, and the big mixing bowl I'd gotten to mix my soap in was an eight cup bowl.

I stirred the mixture until it looked like gravy that'd thickened a bit too much, and I could see a motion trail behind the spoon. Then thinking I'd reached trace, I fragrances the "soap" and added in the honey, oatmeal, and cinnamon. I mixed it well, then I poured it into the molds.

I came back a few hours later to realize my "soap" had separated and it was little more than a layer of oils over a layer of oatmeal, honey, and cinnamon fused by the corrosive lye.

I went to research what had gone wrong. A diagnosis sheet said I'd stopped stirring too soon, so I went looking for videos of trace. It took a while, but I found one. Trace looks more like lotion than "thick gravy," and the "motion trails" refer to trails of soap dribbled on top of the soap holding there for a few seconds before blending back into the whole.

Also, all soap making is done by weight instead of volume, and I don't have a kitchen scale at present. I tried converting weight to volume, keeping in mind the fact different materials have different conversion formulas. However, the conversions usually come to measurements not marked on measuring cups, so trying to make more cold process soaps will have to wait until I can purchase a digital scale.

I was already thinking about using the all natural melt and pour soap bases for the first few months. This way, in the event certain scents are more popular and sell out faster than others, I could have a new batch ready to go within a day instead of six to eight weeks. Now it's certain. Until I have all the proper tools to make the exact measurements needed for making soap from scratch and have a clear idea of which scents are preferred, I will be using the all natural melt and pour soap bases for the signature scents I'm designing for the store.

More on how I plan to make Contented Comfort's bath line tomorrow.

* The picture is a product photo of the white, all natural soap base I plan to use, courtesy of Wholesale Supplies Plus.

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