Thursday, December 27, 2007

Hot Process Soap Making Tutorial

Tamara Dourney of Natural Magic Soaps is generously allowing us to post her tutorial on Hot Process Soapmaking!

This soap is made with a basic cold process soap recipe (including lye) but then is cooked at the end to speed up the curing time.

Before you make something like this, make sure you are prepared. Use all the safety precautions for working with dangerous chemicals- gloves, protective eyewear, etc.

Make sure that none of your tools are aluminum, as lye will eat it. I recommend you visit some sites like Kathy Miller's website and read up on the soapmaking ingredients, methods, and safety before you decide to try this. Done? Good.

Here we go!

Step One: Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.

Step Two: Measure out the water for your lye. I used a very heavy anchor hocking batter bowl.Don't use glass if you can avoid it- the lye will cause the glass to become brittle and it can shatter. (This is a do as I say, not as I do


Step Three: Measure out the lye. Add it SLOWLY to the water and stir well. I use a special high temp rubber spatula for this. Sorry I don't have a pic of this particular operation, but lemme tell you what a bear it is to hold the lye as you're pouring it, stir AND take pictures. Without sprouting a few extra appendages, nigh on impossible for a clutz like me.

Put the lye water someplace SAFE to cool. I sit my lye in the kitchen window- it's up high where my kids can't reach and the fumes go outside.


Step Four: Measure out the oils and add them to the pot to melt. I melt my oils in an enamel pot at a very low temp. Once melted, remove from heat so they can cool.

Step Five: Once the oils and lye have reached a point where the outside of their container is only warm to the touch (110 degrees for most of my batches for those of you who have a thermometer and want to do it the RIGHT way) Mix the lye water into the oils slowly and stick blend until it gets thick and you can see lines in it from where your mixer moves.

Step Six: Put the lid on the pot and pop it in the oven. Well...don't pop. Set gently. The pot will be warm and kinda heavy, so popping is probably not a good idea. At this point, turn the oven down to about 180 degrees.

Step Seven: Go check your email, play with your kids, surf craftster or otherwise occupy yourself for 20 minutes.

Step Eight: Open the oven, remove the lid and stir. Replace lid. Close oven. At this point the soap kinda looks like custard to me. Now go play on Craftster for another 15 minutes or so.

Step Nine: You patiently waited 15 more minutes! Now open the oven, remove the lid and stir. Replace lid. Close oven. The soap is cooking nicely- if you look at the edges of the pot (in the picture) you can see a dark ring- that part of the soap has gone from looking like white custard to looking like applesauce (in consistancy and color!). This is good, this is normal, this is what we want it ALL to do. Once it passes this stage it will turn into mashed potatoes-looking goop. Which is how we know it should be done.

Step Ten: Get your fragrance oil, essential oil, additives, etc ready. This helps pass the 15-20 minutes you'll be waiting. Possibly more. Check the soap after each 15-20 minute interval and make sure that it has gone all applesaucy and then mashed potatoey. There is no set time on how long this is going to take- I have had batches done by the 45 minute mark and some that have taken two hours. Pray to the soap goddess that your's is a short cook and hope for the best.

Step Eleven: This picture is my soap at 55 minutes. You can see how it now has the consistancy of mashed potatoes. Which is good, because now you have to stick your tounge on it, and it might help to pretend it's potatoes instead of soap. Because soap tastes icky.

Anyway, you'll want it to be about as thick as the picture above. You should be able to take a small amount and roll it into a ball- it should stick to itself at this point. Make a ball, let it cool, then pick it up and GENTLY stick the TIP of your tounge on the soap ball. If you feel like you just licked a 9 volt battery, the soap is still lye heavy and needs to go back in the oven. If it doesn't 'zap' or 'sting', it's done. In my case, the soap tasted pretty nasty but didn't sting. Yay! Take it out of the oven and turn the oven off. Yes- TURN THE OVEN OFF NOW! It really sucks to soap late at night then get up to make coffee the next morning and realize the oven has been on all night. Don't be like me.

Step Twelve: Hmm. A 12 step program? No not really- more than 12. This particular step involves adding your colorant if you are using one. I pull a healthy bit of soap out of the main pot and mix my color into it. In this case, I wasn't really adding color but some additives that would GIVE color and I wanted them to stay more concentrated. So there is my soap-in-a-bowl-with-misc. stuff-added.

Step Thirteen: You can't see it, but I'm stirring the fragrance oil into the main pot of soap now. Once it's stirred up, I add the soap-in-a-bowl-with-misc. stuff-added back to the main pot and stir that in. If you want a swirl, be gentle. If you want well mixed, go to town. You're ready for the mold!

Step Fourteen: Smoosh your mashed soap into the mold. It'll all kind of glop together and won't look very smooth or even. That's ok.

Step Fifteen: Bang the mold. Seriously. I like to hold mine about 2 inches off the floor and drop it. You may prefer a less jarring method, but the idea is to force the soap down into the mold and pound out any air bubbles. Once that's done, I like to lay a sheet of saran wrap over the top and just use my hand to press out the top and make it smoother.

Step Sixteen: Put the lid on the mold and go to bed. Well, only go to bed if you're like me and making soap at 2 am. Otherwise, just occupy yourself with other things until three or four hours have passed. Check the soap then and see if it's cooled off. If it is cool to the touch ALL THE WAY AROUND (bottom too!) then you can take it out of the mold and cut it.

This is the finished soap from this batch:

Here is a better picture of the soap as it starts to turn translucent:

Sometimes I see people panic because their soap gets too thick to stir and 'appears to be siezing'. When this happens I cook the soap a little more and see if it starts gel (it gets REALLY thick right before then). If it looks like it's not getting to gel properly, you can add a little extra oil a tiny bit at a time.

Here's a picture of how thick this batch got. I could barely stir it. Five minutes later it was gelling.

Here is the 'cooked' soap:

If you have questions, contact Tamara Dourney of Natural Magic Soaps


Thank you, Tamara, for an educational treat this holiday!!




Michelle said...

Thanks Joanna for the tutorial. I've been thinking about giving this hot process a try.

Heidi said...

Thanks to Tamara for sharing, and to you for posting this! This is a very thorough tutorial. I'll be giving it a try this weekend = )

Alyssa said...

This is great but what about the measurements!

Joanna Schmidt said...

Michelle- Try and then share. I want to know! :D

Heidi, do share how it went!

ALyssa, go to more recent post for extra information.