I took some pictures since I think the soap making process is pretty interesting and I love sharing it..
First picture is of my soapmaking *set-up*, my recipe hanging on the wall so I know what weights of each oil/butter/etc I need. Next to that is the metal pot where I mix distilled water and sodium hydroxide and next to that are my soap pots.
I added coconut milk powder to these soaps to make them creamier and more moisturizing. It's always been my goal to make a non-drying soap-- and handmade cold process soaps to begin with are less drying than cocommercial soaps because they are made with oils and butters, not detergents and fillers. But-- a little lesson in soap making, soap qualities are dependent on what oils and butters you use, and at what percentage. I've always used a high percentage of olive oil and added some sort of butter (shea or cocoa)- but recently I've been lessening my coconut oil (which tends to be a bit drying although it creates good lather) and adding larger amounts of butters. I'm planning on using both cocoa and shea in my future batches and at a higher than normal percentage (Most add maybe 1-5%, I'll add at least 10-20%). While this is expensive, it will create a ~luxury~ soap bar and that is my goal. And like I said, I am also using different additives to create different qualities.. such as the coconut milk powder in these batches.
After I added the coconut milk powder and the saponification process began- I separated the soap into different pots so I could add the different fragrances and additives. It can become a fight against time when you do it this way because one batch of soap might become harder faster than another (as it saponifys it basically turns from oil into thick "cream" and hardens overnight) and the goal is usually to pour while it's still pourable ; ). However, since I make limited edition batches in small quantities, this is the easiest way for me.
I added some soap shreds from a previous batch (you have to plan ahead for this kind of stuff! so in another batch I used a little bit of the same fragrance and left over soap to create soap shreds and a soap oval log (made from leftover bits of my Brown Sugar soap) which I put in Santa's Pipe to give a 'pipe' effect?..haha, you'll see pictures later, I like the way it turned out) and some luffa for Creme Brulee for gentle exfoliation and lastly, apricot seed for Santa's pipe, for a not as subtle exfoliation/texture to the soap.
I also tried out my new cameo mold and I love(d) the way they look(ed)..sadly.. I cannot get them out of the mold. If I ever get them out, I might try the mold again in the future and just oil it a lot before pouring soap in..hope that works. I really wanted to make a variety of cameo soaps for all the holiday craft fairs..seems like a nice 'gift' type item, right? (image on right: made a bit of a mess, didn't I?)
Soap making is a long process. Some people are shocked to hear that you should wait a month to use (or to sell) after you make it. I stole this from David Fisher on about.com:
Cold Process soap needs to age or "cure" before it is finally ready to use. Cured soap is harder, milder, and more "finished." Reason to cure:
- To make sure that the saponification process is completely complete. This generally takes about 24-48 hours. Yes...I know it sounds like blasphemy...but your soap really IS safe to use after a couple of days.
Now...before you all yell at me...it does become milder as it ages and cures more...but only a TINY TINY bit. 99% of the ph changes happen in the first 48 hours.
- The real reason to cure your soap is for the water to evaporate. A harder bar of soap will last longer, lather better and just be overall better soap. For this, yes, wait a few weeks.