Cold Process Soap

Old 09-02-2014, 07:53 AM
  #1  
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Default Cold Process Soap

Does anyone on here make cold process soaps at home? I just made my first two batches yesterday.

Any favorite "recipes", tips or tricks to share with a newbie? Where do you buy your supplies from?

Any info would help!
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Old 09-02-2014, 10:44 AM
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Soap making is always something I have wanted to make but have never done it.
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Old 09-02-2014, 11:42 AM
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Oh....my, yes. I spent probably 6 years completely obsessed with making soap; and I do mean COMPLETELY obsessed. I started up my own business and was selling my soap in I think 6 different countries through my site. Problem was the profit margin was tiny so instead of having a job and a hobby I ended up with 2 jobs and finally quit in 2008. Still have my scales and molds and some of my oils though....every once in awhile I whip up a couple batches for my own use but my base oils are finally starting to go rancid. (Surprised they didn't go sooner, honestly)

I'm pretty far out of date on stuff now though...I don't know if Brambleberry is still in business but they were my absolute favorite for buying fragrance oils - huge selection and they test each one in cold process. My base oils & lye was all bought locally; I was fortunate enough to live near a soap supplier and I was buying 5-galon buckets of Palm, Coconut & Palm Kernal oils through them; and smaller amounts of things like Cocoa butter. Pomace olive oil I bought by the gallon at a restaurant supply store (also local). That was when I was living in Sacramento; I just checked and looks like they changed location but are still in business. No idea what their shipping prices are like though: http://www.soapsalon.net/ I recommend looking locally for supplies as much as possible....oil is HEAVY and you will likely pay a lot in shipping.

About the only fat I bought online was shea butter, and I would get in on co-op free trade buys and buy it bulk directly from African villages (so awesome to support those women directly, and the quality was usually amazing!)

A great resource, and a place where I spent countless hours, is a forum called Soaper's Asylum. I just googled it and it looks different but seems to still be thriving! That's where I joined up on co-op buys and learned a TON of stuff.

MMS is another good site (Majestic Mountain Sage) - their lye calculator is amazing and they have some good supplies too. (Or did, anyway...)

I recommend playing around...I made so many experimental batches and had so much fun with it. Aside from normal experiments with milk and honey and oats and the like, I aslo made soap with wine, with beer, with kool-aid, with crayons...I even tried making soap with Tang! (Made the soap really lathery - probably from all the sugar - but none of the scent came through regrettably)

Try carrot babyfood in your soap. No kidding, makes the soap lather really creamy! One of my most expensive soap lines had carrot babyfood as an ingredient and I couldn't keep it in stock.

Silk is another good one, add about a 1" square of pure silk fabric to your lye water. It'll dissolve completely but your lather will feel silky! Oh, and hair does the same thing, LOL - my dog soap contained dog hair!! After washing my lab I'd salvage her hair from the drain and use it in soap. Dissolved into the lye water, it's the proteins from silk & hair that give that later that creamy feel. That got lots of laughs and comments when people would read the ingredients!

And then there's technique!! I see a bit of ash on your soap there, do you force gel on your batches or let them go cold? Do you do full cold process or one of the modified versions? My favorite version was a totally bastardized version of cold process - RTOP is what we called it: "room temperature oven process". I would heat my solid oils just to melting point, no heat added to the liquid oils. Let the lye water cool until the pitcher was comfortable to touch bare-handed, then blend at "room temperature". (Quickly, because it'd go to trace immediately) Pre-heat the molds in the oven, pour the soap into the warm mold then toss it back into the warm oven (oven OFF at this point) and force gel.

I'm not sure how new you are, you may not know what gel is!! If not, don't worry, you'll learn! (And nothing at all wrong with the ash on your soap, btw, it just makes me think you didn't go to gel, which is an optional/preference sort of thing and that's all. Ash on soap is totally normal.) Your soap looks lovely and it sure does bring back some happy memories!

OK, and this email is way too long now! Ask me questions if you like! I'm out of date but this was a major obsession for me, for years.
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Old 09-02-2014, 12:17 PM
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I have made soap in the past but my family hated the scents of the drying soap. And I don't like using lye, I am just not careful enough.
Don't have any suggestions on buying, I got a lot of things from a private individual but my favorite fragrance oils were purchased at Sweetcakes.
It is a fun hobby, enjoy.
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Old 09-02-2014, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Sewnoma View Post
Oh....my, yes. I spent probably 6 years completely obsessed with making soap; and I do mean COMPLETELY obsessed. I started up my own business and was selling my soap in I think 6 different countries through my site. Problem was the profit margin was tiny so instead of having a job and a hobby I ended up with 2 jobs and finally quit in 2008. Still have my scales and molds and some of my oils though....every once in awhile I whip up a couple batches for my own use but my base oils are finally starting to go rancid. (Surprised they didn't go sooner, honestly)

I'm pretty far out of date on stuff now though...I don't know if Brambleberry is still in business but they were my absolute favorite for buying fragrance oils - huge selection and they test each one in cold process. My base oils & lye was all bought locally; I was fortunate enough to live near a soap supplier and I was buying 5-galon buckets of Palm, Coconut & Palm Kernal oils through them; and smaller amounts of things like Cocoa butter. Pomace olive oil I bought by the gallon at a restaurant supply store (also local). That was when I was living in Sacramento; I just checked and looks like they changed location but are still in business. No idea what their shipping prices are like though: http://www.soapsalon.net/ I recommend looking locally for supplies as much as possible....oil is HEAVY and you will likely pay a lot in shipping.

About the only fat I bought online was shea butter, and I would get in on co-op free trade buys and buy it bulk directly from African villages (so awesome to support those women directly, and the quality was usually amazing!)

A great resource, and a place where I spent countless hours, is a forum called Soaper's Asylum. I just googled it and it looks different but seems to still be thriving! That's where I joined up on co-op buys and learned a TON of stuff.

MMS is another good site (Majestic Mountain Sage) - their lye calculator is amazing and they have some good supplies too. (Or did, anyway...)

I recommend playing around...I made so many experimental batches and had so much fun with it. Aside from normal experiments with milk and honey and oats and the like, I aslo made soap with wine, with beer, with kool-aid, with crayons...I even tried making soap with Tang! (Made the soap really lathery - probably from all the sugar - but none of the scent came through regrettably)

Try carrot babyfood in your soap. No kidding, makes the soap lather really creamy! One of my most expensive soap lines had carrot babyfood as an ingredient and I couldn't keep it in stock.

Silk is another good one, add about a 1" square of pure silk fabric to your lye water. It'll dissolve completely but your lather will feel silky! Oh, and hair does the same thing, LOL - my dog soap contained dog hair!! After washing my lab I'd salvage her hair from the drain and use it in soap. Dissolved into the lye water, it's the proteins from silk & hair that give that later that creamy feel. That got lots of laughs and comments when people would read the ingredients!

And then there's technique!! I see a bit of ash on your soap there, do you force gel on your batches or let them go cold? Do you do full cold process or one of the modified versions? My favorite version was a totally bastardized version of cold process - RTOP is what we called it: "room temperature oven process". I would heat my solid oils just to melting point, no heat added to the liquid oils. Let the lye water cool until the pitcher was comfortable to touch bare-handed, then blend at "room temperature". (Quickly, because it'd go to trace immediately) Pre-heat the molds in the oven, pour the soap into the warm mold then toss it back into the warm oven (oven OFF at this point) and force gel.

I'm not sure how new you are, you may not know what gel is!! If not, don't worry, you'll learn! (And nothing at all wrong with the ash on your soap, btw, it just makes me think you didn't go to gel, which is an optional/preference sort of thing and that's all. Ash on soap is totally normal.) Your soap looks lovely and it sure does bring back some happy memories!

OK, and this email is way too long now! Ask me questions if you like! I'm out of date but this was a major obsession for me, for years.

I just started yesterday lol. Two batches in. I believe the ash you see is stuff that got blown into the batch (I was working outside and it was VERY windy). I will be sure to email you with any questions! Thanks!
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Old 09-02-2014, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by thart795 View Post
I just started yesterday lol. Two batches in. I believe the ash you see is stuff that got blown into the batch (I was working outside and it was VERY windy). I will be sure to email you with any questions! Thanks!
It could be windblown but it looks like standard soap ash to me - if that's not what it is on this batch, you'll get it sooner or later!

But don't worry, it's not a problem at all and nothing went wrong, it's just a by product of the saponification process; you see it more commonly when the soap didn't go through gel phase - gel phase is when the soap mix continues a chemical reaction and gets hot after going through trace; it changes the texture of the soap and it will temporarily appear be a translucent gel while it's happening - hence the name. Some people like it because the soap generally cures faster and (sometimes) results in a harder soap bar; some people hate it and deliberately chill the soap to avoid it because it tends to 'burn off' a lot of fragrance and they don't like the harder texture. Uneven gel can happen too, where the center of the mold goes into gel but the rest doesn't, which gives you some bars that are half-and-half. It's harmless as far as function goes; the soap works just as well, but it can look and feel a little different.

That's why I always forced gel phase with the whole warm oven routine; guaranteed consistency from batch to batch. Important for sales...not nearly as critical for hobby.
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Old 09-02-2014, 01:33 PM
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wow, what a lesson i just got!!
Cold version sounds easier to me. Is it difficult to do.
Should i try my hand at it, or should i just get the stuff
at Michaels and melt and mold that for now.?
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Old 09-02-2014, 03:00 PM
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Lynnie,

The stuff at Michaels is called 'melt & pour' soap ("M&P") and is a very different beast from cold process soap! Melt & Pour is pre-made soap that you can simply melt down and then add stuff to. It's not all created equally either - personally I find the brands usually carried at craft stores to be very harsh. If you or anybody you are giving it to have sensitive skin, it's not going to be a good fit. On the other hand, you can make some very artistic and gorgeous soaps with M&P that are really really difficult (if not impossible) to make with cold process, and if you're willing to shop around and spend a little more you can buy some M&P bases that are better quality and easier on the skin. It's a lot easier to play with than cold process (especially if you're new to all of this) and is generally a better choice if kids are going to be participating because there's no lye involved; that part is already done for you.

Cold Process ("CP") is actually MAKING the soap - you start with raw ingredients (essentially; lye, water & fat/oil; plus whatever color/scent/etc.) and actually go through the chemical reaction (saponification) to convert those ingredients into soap. For this you need an accurate scale and you need to be careful; lye is dangerous if you don't handle it properly. If you measure wrong it won't turn into soap, so a good scale is really important, and you need to carefully follow your recipe. BUT...in my (not particularly humble) opinion, cold process soap is FAR superior to M&P soap as far as quality goes, and since you have 100% control over the ingredients you can do specific things - like my father had very sensitive skin so I was able to tailor-make a very gentle soap just for him. And you can still get very artistic with the soap, lots of fun ways to jazz it up.

If you've got a secret inner mad scientist that enjoys things like formulas and learning about fatty acid chains, CP soap is totally the hobby for you. I even bought myself a lab coat. If you're more of a dabbler or just want to make some pretty soap that will smell good and look nice in the bathroom, go for the M&P. I did both! M&P is fun to make stuff for kids, you can do stuff like add plastic toys inside the soap. Can't do that with CP, the toy would melt!
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Old 09-02-2014, 03:15 PM
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I had to dig around and see; I think most of my soap pictures are on my old PC, but I did find this one.

This is cold process ("RTOP" I talked about earlier, technically) - it was made in 2 steps. First the blue soap was made, and as soon as it was firm enough (probably a day or so) I chopped it up and mixed it in with the white soap. If I remember correctly, this blue batch was colored with melted soy-based crayons! (A big no-no, but I ignored the soap police same as I ignore the quilt police!)

It had a mixed berry fragrance, so I named it "Chunk Berry". (Augh, painfully bad pun!).
chunkberry_bars-vi.jpg
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Old 09-02-2014, 03:53 PM
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thanks for more good info, there's a world to making soap, wow, it's just amazing
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