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Cold Process



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Cold Process Soapmaking (CP)

Cold process soapmaking is a fairly easy way to make soap.  Granted you have to use lye and that's a bit scary at first.  But, like anything else, if you respect it, you can work with it well.

My personal preference is for CP soapmaking.  I like the smooth texture, the ability to swirl and the variances you can make to the soap. 

A while back, when I first began making CP soap, I put together a web page for beginner soapmakers, written by a (then) beginner soapmaker.  Here is a link if you'd care to explore it a bit more.

In the meantime, here is a basic outline of how to make cold process soap:

  • Gather all your equipment together in one spot. Turn on the answering machine and get rid of the spouse, kids and pets.
  • Choose your molds. Grease them ~ petroleum jelly works well. Note that if you are using PVC, you don't need to grease.  If you are using a wooden mold, use freezer paper (glossy side toward the soap) to line the mold.
  • Place the oils in a stainless steel, glass or enamel pot over low to medium heat.
  • Measure and pour your water into a pitcher.
  • Wearing safety goggles and rubber gloves, measure the lye and pour into the pitcher. Do not look into the pitcher while pouring!  Stir the mixture until the lye dissolves.
  • When the oils have melted, remove them from heat.
  • Check the temperature of the oils and of the fats. Depending on the recipe, wait for the desired temperatures. I use a water bath method (cold water in my sink, add the pan and pitcher 'till they cool) because I'm impatient and I haven't had any problems.
  • Once temperatures have reached the desired level, stir the lye into the oils.
  • Stir, baby, stir. What you're looking for is a trace. Tracing is where the mixture thickens to the point where you can trickle some soap off the back of a spoon or spatula and it will leave a trace line on the surface of the mixture.
  • Add the coloring and essential oils, as required.
  • Stir then pour into your molds.
  • Cover the soap with a towel or blanket and leave to set for 24 hours.
  • After 24 hours, remove the soap from the mold.
  • Cut the soap (if necessary) and set it out to cure.
Courtesy of Laura Doerner