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Cold Process



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Liquid Soap

These are just notes from my experience with making liquid soap, I am not an authority on it by any means.  Normal safety rules apply using Potassium Hydroxide that we use with Sodium Hydroxide (goggles, mask, long sleeves, gloves, yada, yada, yada).

I use MMS calculator when formulating my soap.  Fill in the boxes of your oils, make sure you mark the box potassium hydroxide.  When you get the calculations look at the amount that says 0%, then add 10% more.  I know this is against the rules that we have with cold process but unless we get all the oils saponified then your soap will be cloudy or after it's cooled it will separate into 2 layers, a clear on the bottom with a thick opaque layer on the top.  When it's done with the diluting phase it will be over-alkalized, we'll take care of that later.  Unlike cold process where I discount the water suggested by MMS I always use more water.  I use 3 parts water to every part KOH (30 oz KOH = 90 oz. water).    A good rule is of thumb is 2 parts soft oil (any oil that is liquid at room temps) to 1 part hard oils.  

I have made small batches of the following oils to see the properties that each brought to liquid soap:  

Castor oil (thick lather, mild and makes a very clear)
Olive oil (close, persistent lather, mild and makes a clear soap)
Almond (Close, persistent lather, very mild and makes a clear soap)
Apricot kernel (medium lather, very mild and makes a clear soap)
Avocado (dense lather, mild and makes a clear soap)
Canola (Medium lather, mild and makes a clear soap)
Coconut (foamy bubbles, harsh and also makes a clear soap)
Palm (lasting bubbles, very mild but makes a cloudy soap)
Palm kernel (large bubbles, harsh and makes a clear soap)
Tallow (lasting thick bubbles, very mild and makes a very cloudy soap) 

I then played around with blending the different soaps to come up with my recipe.

Now it's time to make soap.  We'll be cooking this soap in a double boiler so take your larger pot, add water and get it boiling.  Melt the oils in your smaller pot on low (around 160 degrees for those of you who actually keep track).  After it's melted then add your KOH to your water, stir until it's clear (just a minute or two).  Catherine Failor's book (which was my bible when I started) states you should add the KOH/water mixture slowly to your oils.  I don't, I just dump it in.  I then stir with my handy dandy stick blender until it's looks like it's mixed.  KOH soaps do not trace like NaOH soaps.  I found that it takes longer, and it goes from really liquid to hard fairly quick.  After the soap looks like it's mixed I add about 16 oz alcohol (for a 10 lb batch), it foams up your mixture, stir, it will look like it wants to separate, stir, it looks like it's mixing back up, stir.  After about 3 minutes I put a lid on it.  I check back in about 10 minutes and it's a hard paste, if not then stir some more.  Now it's time to cook it.  Put a lid on it and set in the larger pot, turn the heat down to a low boil.  Check back after about 15 minutes to make sure it's not separated, if it is then guess what?? yeppers, stir.  Put the lid back on and check it again in 15 minutes.  If it's not separated then I just make sure the big pot hasn't run out of water.  After 3 hours it's done cooking, it will look slightly translucent and a medium amber color.  Now I take my larger pot, wash it and put 2 gallons of water in (remember my batch is 10lbs of oil, you have to adjust the water amount for your batch), real scientific, huh??  Get that water boiling and put my paste in.  At this point it's usually late at night so I just put a lid on it, turn the burner off and finish it up the next day.  

The next morning (after several cups of coffee) I check my soap, if it's not all melted then I turn the burner back on (very slowly, this stuff will boil out of that pot quickly) until it's all melted.  I now have 3-4 gallons of liquid soap that is really, really harsh.  To neutralize you need to add 0.75 oz of borax solution (6 oz borax to 12 oz boiling water) to every lb of paste.  My recipe calls for 10 lbs of oil/fats and 6lbs 14 oz of water to give me a paste that's about 17 lbs.  I use 12.75 oz of the borax solution.  I then add about 1 lb of glycerin.  Now it's ready to sequester (bottle and put in cool dark room, jeez, sounds like wine to me).  Catherine Failor suggests scenting and coloring while it's hot, I don't.  I just put them in thick gallon bottles and then when I make up my soap I add the scent/color, works great for me.  

This recipe will make for a very thin liquid soap, works great for my foamy bottles but many people want a thicker soap.  I noticed when I made my tallow only soap, just as I added the borax it turned thick, like a gel.  It was cloudy though.  So the only options that I might suggest until I play around some more would be to use tallow or after the soap has been diluted and borax added then take the lid off and simmer until it's the consistency you desire.  Remember it will be thinner when it's hot then after it's cooled so to take a small amount out and allow to cool, if it's not thick enough then cook some more.  I tried to dilute the soap with less water, all of it will not dilute unless there is enough water.

Courtesy of Diane