Cold-process soapmaking instructions

Cold-process soapmaking instructions

Step 1
Melt the solid oils gently in a stainless steel pot. MUST NOT be an aluminium pot.
Add the liquid oils.
Set aside to cool to 40°C.

Step 2
With Step 2 you MUST be exceedingly careful.
At all times sodium hydroxide is a very dangerous chemical -- in all its forms. You must put on your safety glasses and rubber gloves and work in a well-ventilated area, preferably under an extractor fan.

Fill a container with the water in the recipe.
Pour in the sodium hydroxide and stir with spatula until dissolved. It takes about 30 seconds.
Hold your breath and avert your eyes.
Set aside to cool to 40°C.

This mixture is now often called lye or lye water.

It is still dangerous. Put it somewhere safe where no person or animal can touch it.

The chemical reaction is fascinating. The cold water turns to extremely hot water and toxic fumes are given off for about 30 secs.
If you splash your skin it will sting. Don’t panic. Dab the area with vinegar and/or flush with water for as long as it takes to take the sting away.

Step 3
Prepare your mould. If it is made of an inflexible material, grease it and line it with baking paper, especially the bottom.
If it is a flexible mould, such as a silicon one, you won't have to line or grease it.

Step 4
When both the oils and lye are 40°C, put on your safety glasses and rubber gloves.
Pour the lye into the oils and stir continuously with a stick blender.
Beware of splashing the soap mixture everywhere. Stop whisking often and give it a stir with a wooden or plastic/rubber spatula.
Gradually the mixture will thicken. This is called saponification.
Be sure to scrape the sides of the pot as the lye often seems to stick there.

Step 5
When the soap mixture is the consistency of thin porridge, add colour or herbs, if they are in your recipe.
Continue to stir until these are well blended.
Add fragrance and blend in well.
Continue to stir until the soap traces, ie, when some mixture is drizzled on top it doesn’t sink back in.

Step 6
Now pour into the mould and cover with a blanket, or similar.
Leave it alone for 24 hours. During this time the soap will heat up and then cool down.

24 hours later
Put your hand under the blanket to feel the container to make sure it is cold.
Leave it until it is cold.
When cold, put on your rubber gloves, uncover and unmould. If unmoulding is difficult, put the mould in the freezer for 30 minutes then try again.
Cut the soap into bars with a kitchen knife.

Space the bars a little bit apart, uncovered, for 6 weeks before using. 

NB: Sodium hydroxide, lye, lye water
This chemical is very caustic and must be treated with great caution at all times.
It will burn skin, blind eyes, remove paint and play havoc with everything it touches.
If it touches your skin, you will know. Your skin will sting. Dab with vinegar and/or flush with running water until the stinging stops. Keep it away from everyone, especially children and animals, at all times.
If you spill it in its dry form, put on your gloves and sweep it up. Dispose of it in your usual rubbish bag.
If you spill it in its lye (liquid) form, put on your rubber gloves and mop it up with towels or rags (the towels will become rags!) and dispose of it in your usual rubbish bag.