The Techniques Of Soap Making

soap, heart, drift wood

What Is Saponification?

Saponification is the chemical reaction by which triglycerides react with sodium or potassium hydroxide (Lye) to create glycerol and a fatty acid salt called soap. When sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is used a hard soap is produced, whereas when potassium hydroxide (KOH) is a soft or liquid soap is produced.

Why Make Your Own Soap?

The simple answer is to control what is in the soap. When you make your own soap, you are able to carefully choose each ingredient and leave out the ones that you are not comfortable with. The products that we put on our skin affect our overall health. Therefore not only you can know each ingredient, but you can also control the amount of each one. Some other reasons include:
  • Save money
  • Create beautiful and useful things
  •  Self sustainability
  • Learn a new skill

Classic Soap Making Techniques

  1. Cold – Process: This is the most common soapmaking technique where soap is made at room temperatures or slightly above by combining a sodium hydroxide (lye) solution with fatty acids (Oils, butters, and/or fats) and emulsifying them together. Cold – process soap needs to cure for 4 to 6 weeks to ensure the evaporation of extra water.
  2. Hot – Process: This technique is an extension of the cold – process technique. The emulsified batter is cooked for several hours, forcing it to neutralize. Hot – process soap is ready to use right away and doesn’t require curing. This is a time saver over cold- process soapmaking.
  3. Liquid Soap: Made by a hot-process technique, except potassium hydroxide is used to saponify the fatty acid. The mixture is then cooked to neutralization. The molecular structure of potassium hydroxide creates long strands rather than crystalline structure. This is the reason why the mixture will remain liquid rather than solidifying.
  4. Melt and Pour: It is the safest soapmaking technique as it doesn’t involve the use of a lye solution. Basically a melt and pour base is gently melt and color, scent and other additives get added. Then the mixture is pour into molds to cool down and harden. Melt and pour soaps are ready to use right away and represents a fun activity to do with children. It should be noted that the melt and pour base is made with lye, but it does not contain any active lye. An example of melt and pour base can be found here.
  5. Hand – Milling: The process consists of taking finished cold- or hot – process soap, grating it, heating it to soften, adding in chosen additives, and scooping it into a mold to set it.  It’s also called rebatching.

Final Takeaway

Soapmaking is an old art and there is a myriad of soapmaking techniques, countless ingredients that can be combined for different applications, textures and colors. If you want to learn how to make soap, first do your research and then decide which techniques you’re most comfortable with.

Based on what you have learned, which technique do you prefer? Leave a comment below or send me a private message here.

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