Hot Process Soap
There are two ways to make soap. Hot process and cold process. Cold process takes to long to cure, and I'm impatient. So I do hot process.
Now before we go to far, I've heard too many times that lye soap is harsh and can be dangerous, blah blah blah. Here's the deal: there's no soap without lye. Soap is fat plus lye. The fat can be lard, oils, shortening of you wanna go vegan, even milk. Goat milk is pretty common.
When the a fat and a lye molecule bond together, there is no more fat and no more lye. The new molecule is soap. That's called saponification. Now, there's no way to know exactly how many molecules of each are in your batch, so if you've got more of one molecule than the other, you want more fat and less lye. You don't want left over lye in your soap. But, if you've got too much fat, you're gonna have mushy, fatty, greasy soap, and nobody needs that.
Heat makes saponification go faster, that's why I hot process.
Wha'chu Need For Hot Process
Well, fat and lye, obviously. You'll need something plastic to mix your lye in and something wooden to stir it with. Lye is crazy corrosive. Do not use metal utensils!
You'll need something to cook it in. I use a crock pot because it keeps a low, steady temperature that I don't have to babysit. I also have a hand mixer that I use to bring it to trace. You can use a wooden spoon, but you'll be stirring for a long, long time.
Let's Talk Safety
Most of this is common sense stuff, but I'd be remiss to not hit on it a little.
I keep my lye, the cup I mix it in and the spoon I use to mix it in a marked container. I keep I on a high shelf over my washer.
I suggest you wear latex (or latex free) gloves to work with lye. I didn't have any today, so I didn't. But I should have.
When I am working with lye, it never leaves my sight. I mix lye with water outside because it gives of fumes. I never ever leave it outside unattended for a second. If a curious animal, like my cat, found out, of never forgive myself. Don't take your eyes off of it!
Because lye mixed in water can reach temps of 200* F, I suggest you be very careful. 200* corrosive liquid on you, your kid, your animal will ruin your day.
I start with melting two pounds of lard on high in my crock pot. My crockpot is old, and doesn't get real hot. You don't want it to burn, so if yours gets real hot, take it down to low. You want it to melt. That's about it.
While that's melting, I put my mixing cup, plastic, in a larger container, also plastic, and fill around the cup with ice. I pour 12 ounces of water into the cup and take it outside. Once it's outside, I add 4.4 ounces of lye, that I've measured into a paper cup that can be thrown away, and stir it till it's just about clear. It won't get completely clear.
In this picture, I'm using a new spoon. You can see what a few seconds of stirring has done to it. Over time it will start looking pretty scorched.
The reason for the ice is to keep the temperature of the lye down. If the lye is much hotter than the lard in the crock pot it will start the saponification process to quickly. It's not really a big deal unless you're making soap with swirls or layers. I'm not doing that today, but I just make a habit of it.
However, if your lye mixture is much cooler than the lard in the crock pot it will solidify some of the fat when you pour it in and can leave greasy chunks in your soap.
I don't worry about it to the point of measuring the temperature of the lye mixture and the lard. I just make sure the lard is good and hot and mix my lye in a bucket of ice.
After letting the lye set for about 30 minutes I'm ready to pour it into the melted lard. I'm very careful to not splash. I mix it in with the wooden spoon and then break out my mixer. It's time to bring the mixture to trace.
Bring the mixture to trace is just stirring it until it becomes thick. I think the best thing to use is a stick blender, but I'm not willing to sacrifice mine, so I use an old hand mixer. It takes about 30 minutes, so grab a book, or turn on the radio.
Top right is melted lard. Top left, lard with lye mixed in. Bottom right, I've been mixing but it's thinner than trace. Sometimes that's as thick as I can get it, but it will thicken as it cooks. Bottom right is trace, like thin pudding. When it gets to trace, I add oatmeal.
Now put the lid on and walk away. Saponification will take 30 minutes to 2 hours. I know, super accurate! It's ready to test it looks like petroleum jelly.
Now, I know of only one way to test it. It's the zap test. Get a tiny bit, let it cool, and touch it to the end of your tongue. If you get zapped, something like a 9 volt battery, put the lid back on, it's not ready. I know it's crazy! If there's no zap, it's time for molding.
Let's test it....
My Mold and Jig
These are super simple bottomless boxes. When the soap is done and there's no more zap, I line them with wax paper, pour in the soap and let them sit for 24 hours.
Once the soap is set up, I'll cut it into slices, wrap it and done!
There are lots of methods and recipes for making soap. That's just how I do it. Thanks for stopping by!