Making soap is a bit of science and a bit of cooking. I read a book on how to make soap and it made no sense to me. I then found a class being offered at one of the local school’s evening classes. So I signed up and everything fell into place. I am more of a visual learner.
Anyhow, this is how I make a batch of soap. The first thing that I do is to gather all of the items that I will need to make a batch of soap. This would include; my base oils (coconut oil, vegetable shortening, and olive oil), my lye (I use sodium hydroxide), water, fragrance oil and other items that I might want to add (like lavender flowers or a pigment color). I also need bowl and pans to measure these items into. I then get my scale so that I can weigh and measure everything. Prior to making a batch, I will have run everything through a soap calculator so that I know exactly how much water and lye that will be needed. I have also predetermined how much base oils that I will need based on the size of the molds that I will be using.
Now that I have everything together, I can start. I start with weighing and measuring the base oils, putting the coconut oil and shortening in a pot so that I can melt them as they are solid oils. I leave the olive oil in a bowl until later. I then weigh and measure the water and lye in separate bowls for mixing outdoors. Then I weigh and measure the fragrance oil and anything else I desire to add to the soap.
It is now time to start the process. I melt the oils and mix the water and lye. Both are very hot and need to cool. As the oils cool, I add in the olive oil which cools the oils by about 10 degrees. When the oils and water-lye mixture get to about 100 degrees, I mix both the oils and water-lye mixture with a stick blender and add in the fragrance oil and other items and mix until they become thick like custard. This is called trace as you can now be poured into the mold.
At this point you let it set over night. Then you cut into the bars. I then put them on a shelf so that they can cure. This takes 6 weeks.
Now the bars are ready to be labeled and tied up with raffia. At this pioint they are ready to go out to sell.
I keep this process the same for all of my bars. People who make soap call this Cold Process soap making. There are 2 other processes, one is Hot Process and the other is called Melt and Pour. All I know of these 2 is that the hot process is hotter than the way I do it. Melt and pour is just that, you melt the preprocessed soap, add what you want and pour it into molds. I don’t call that making soap, some people like it.