I know what your thinking…a manly man making soap? Well, the way i’m thinking is, “Hey, I have means to make a product to sell for a decent profit margin, why not?” Plus, who likes to smell like a yak in heat all the time? Besides, I love chemistry and I can always say the wife made me do it, right?
This is our first attempt to make cold process soap, and after a lot research we decided to acquire the components, tools, materials and found a basic recipe to use, courtesy of soapqueen and soapdeli.
Our setup consists of a scale, hand blender, thermometer, several non-aluminum pots, spatulas, dyes, oils, lye, fragrance, googles, gloves, wooden spoon and soap molds. I made a wooden mold that holds about 3.5 lbs and a wooden cutter template out of pine board.
I went into this thinking the process was going to be somewhat messy and difficult. I was surprised to learn that it is very easy. Almost easier than reloading bullets, and like reloading, you need to pay attention to what your doing and not get distracted. Takes about 30 mins to mix up a batch.
Sodium Hydroxide (lye) solution is not something you want to splash on you or anyone around you. Googles and gloves are a minimum when you mix the lye with water, some people use aprons and masks in addition to those. We got the lye flakes, so it was easy to mix into distilled water. By the way, the temperature when mixed is near 190 degrees F. I suited up like a hazmat technician and mixed it outside the first time.
Sodium Hydroxide (Lye) flakes
This is what our first batch looked like after 24 hours. The soap was hard enough to cut into bars at this point. Kinda looked like a large maple doughnut bar.
Transferred soap loaf from mold to cutter template
Cutting each bar, which is 7/8 inches thick to fit into a 1 inch deep cardboard packaging box
The first bar cut from the first batch ever made by us. I shall call him….”One Eye”
Each batch yields 13 bars around 3.8 oz each.
Here is the procedure that we used:
- Measure out your lye according to the recipe and add the lye to the distilled water slowly into a container that isn’t aluminium. Mix it up with a wooden spoon, then let it cool to about 100-110 degrees F.
- While its cooling, mix up your oils, butters etc in a large stock pot and let it cool to about the same temperature.
- Add the lye solution to the oils slowly, then hand mix and pulse the blender until it starts to turn to a light custard like consistency or light trace.
- At this point you can add dyes and fragrances and continue to mix until a medium trace develops. Mix well.
- Pour the soap into the wooden mold lined with either plastic or parchment paper. We used the latter.
- Drop mold on concrete to remove bubbles.
- Cover with cardboard and then place a insulating blanket on top for at least 24 hours.
- Cut into bars and let cure for 3-4 weeks.
The next few batches we will get a little more creative and use dyes and try some more artsy fartsy stuff.