Cold-Process Soap Making - A basic understanding

Working with a new ingredient or in a new style is always fun! We made a new soap today and would like to use it as an opportunity to give ya'all a little bit of understanding about the cold-process method of soap making.

The first thing to remember about making a new soap, or soap for the first time, is it's important to keep an eye on batch size. No one wants 10 pounds of a terrible soap. On the plus side it looks like our below experiment went pretty well, but not perfect. But that's how amazing things are created!

In the below collage you can see the main steps of the cold-process soap making. This process includes so many variables that you can create once in a lifetime creation every time. However, the trick is to provide consistent quality. We ensure this through using high quality ingredients and by making sure to pay attention to the minutest of details.

This small batch of marbled, activated charcoal cold-process soap is sure to be a winner. Made with orange and eucalyptus essential oils this soap is made with a blend of oils that creates decadent and luxurious soaps.

The cold-process soap making process is deceptively easy. It is also slightly dangerous. A very dangerous duo of items to occur simultaneously. Necessary safety precautions are required while making the soap. You must wear close toed shoes and long sleeved shirts and pants. You must also wear rubber gloves and eye protection. Lye is a caustic chemical and will burn or scar you for life. Think about the lye scene in the movie Fight Club before you think about forgoing safety precautions.

You should also always have vinegar handy as it will neutralize lye.

After taking the necessary safety precautions the first step in making cold process soap is measuring your oils and other ingredients. Before getting all suited up to make soap hopefully you determined what type of soap you are going to make. When we make a small batch like this we are usually experimenting to try and figure out the effect a new ingredient or process will have on the final product. As you can see with our first picture we generally get everything handy before we begin measuring it out. You don't want to get half way through a recipe when you figure out you've got too little of a key ingredient.

Once you get all the oils and other ingredients measured you combine your oils and make your lye solution. We do not have a picture of this step in the below collage. It is important to note you always add the lye to the liquid, never the liquid to the lye. When you mix the lye mixture and oil mixture they will emulsify and combine to form a milky liquid. This happens when the lye combines with the oils. Continue to mix your oils and lye solution together until you have a trace. A trace is a phenomenon where a trail remains behind something drawn through a substances. Think a a wake behind a boat. You can add the essential oils with the other oils our after the lye solution depending on what you want to do with the mixture.

Once you have a trace it is time to add the colorants if you are making a colored or marbled soap. If you are just moving the soap to a mold you can wait for a heavy trace, which means the trail of the trace maker lasts longer. When marbling you want a lighter trace.

The collage shows three various steps of our marbling. Once you layer your soap into your mold you drag a thin stick-like item through the poured soap to marble it.

We had fun today making a small batch of soap. We got to experiment with new materials and look forward to giving this soap to our friends and family. We will take our experiences drawn from today and use them in our fore-coming soaps. We can't wait to share the photos of the finished product!

Cold Process Soap Making