Have you ever wondered how to make soap? I'll bet that you didn't realize how many forms of soap making there actually are!
When talking about bars soaps alone there are so many types, it boggles the mind.
Cold process, hot process, room temperature, melt and pour, transparent or glycerin, whipped bar soap.
And then, just to mix you up even more, we will add in variations to some of them.
How about cold process oven process, hot process oven process or crock pot hot process.
Of course we mustn't forget about liquid soap making and whipped cream soap making,
Below you will find a list of the different types of soap making methods used and general descriptions for each.
As I am able, I will be adding links to tutorials on how to make soap for as many of the methods as possible.
This is a tried and true method of soap making and the one I used when I first starting to learn how to make soap. It begins with melting the hard and soft oils together and then blending in a lye solution.
The oil mixture and lye solution must first be brought to similar temperatures (usually around 90 degrees Fahrenheit).
Once the oil and lye have been combined, the mixture is blended with a whisk or stick blender until it is thick (called trace) and then poured into a soap mold.
This method requires the use of a heating element to melt the oils and a thermometer to check temperatures. It then must cure for 4 to 6 weeks before it can be used.
My new favourite method on how to make soap. This type of soap making process does not require an external heat source or any thermometers.
It begins by pouring the hot lye solution onto the hard oils and gently stirring while the oils melt from the heat.
Once the hard oils have fully melted, the soft oils are then added to the mixture. The mixture is then blended until it is thick and poured into a soap mold. It then must cure for 4 to 6 weeks before it can be used.
Many soap makers like this method because it speeds up the time it takes for the final soaps to become hard.
Many soap makers will use hot process soap as soon as it can be cut though I prefer to let it cure for a couple of weeks.
With this method you melt the oils and and blend in the lye solution (no need to check temperatures). You blend until the soap is thick and then you cook the soap until it is very thick (resembling mashed potatoes) and somewhat translucent. It is then scooped into a soap mold and allowed to cool.
This method tends to produce a soap that is a little more rustic in appearance than the previous two methods.
Oven Process Method
This is a variation that can be applied to each of the three methods above.
With the cold process and room temperature methods, once the soap has reached a thick trace and been poured into your soap mold, it is then cooked in the oven at about 150 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit until it reaches the gel stage.
This technique can vary from soap maker to soap maker as well. Some will put the molded soap into a hot oven, turn it off and leave it for the night while others will cook it for a couple of hours.
With the hot process method, the oven is used as the heat source when cooking the soap until it resembles mashed potatoes. Other options are a crock pot or a double boiler.
Whipped Soap Bar Method
This is a really cool soap method that does not use heat to melt your oils. In fact, you don't want them to melt at all. With this method you will actually chill the lye so that there is no chance of melting the oil.
A whipped bar soap recipe is high in hard oils and has very little in the way of liquid oils. The hard oils are whipped until fluffy and creamy and then the liquid oils are blended in.
Once the mix is again fluffy, the cold lye solution is very slowly blended in until it is quite thick and creamy.
The soap can then be molded into a regular soap mold or piped like icing onto butchers paper in fun shapes. And guess what? Whipped bar soaps float!
For more information on how to make soap using this method, visit Nizzy's Whipped Soap webpage.
Melt and Pour Soap
Most of you have probably heard about melt and pour soap making. It is a ton of fun and a great place to start when you want to learn how to make soap.
With this method you do not need to use lye since melt and pour is a soap base that has already been made. The lye stage of the process has already been done for you.
All you have to do is cut up the soap, melt it, add your colour and scent and pour it into a soap mold.
Once it has cooled and hardened, you can use the soap right away.
Another interesting way of making soap. This method of soap making produces a soft soap that resembles whipped cream. Talk about cool!
It uses both sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide and is a bit more complicated than the methods listed above. This method is not a beginner method at all.
I've posted a link to my adventures with trying this method out but be aware that this is not a tutorial. It is more of a diary of my exploration.
Transparent or Glycerin Soap
My mother and I made transparent soap during our second year of soap making. It was lots of fun and we combined both transparent and regular cold process soap into our soap designs.
Transparent soap starts off as hot process soap making but takes a bit of a turn once it hits the mashed potato stage. At this point glycerin and alcohol are added to dissolve the soap base.
Once the base has melted into the glycerin/alcohol solution, a sugar solution is added to aid transparency.
After adding in scent and colour,it's poured into molds to harden and must be left for about 4 weeks before it can be used.
This method is not for beginners and in Canada, you have to get a special licence to buy denatured alcohol from a wholesaler.
For more information on how to make soap using this method, try reading Catherine Failors book 'Transparent Soapmaking'.
The process for making liquid soap is very similar to that of transparent soap making except instead of using sodium hydroxide you use potassium hydroxide. Potassium hydroxide is always used when a liquid or soft soap is being made.
Liquid soap making can be made in two different ways, the paste method and the alcohol lye method.
The paste method follows the hot process procedures until it is a mashed potato paste which is then diluted, neutralized and sequestered for a couple of weeks.
The alcohol method involves mixing the oils with the lye solution to which alcohol is added and the mixture is brought to trace.
The soap is then gently boiled for a couple of hours, then diluted, neutralized and sequestered for a few weeks.
This method of soap making is best tried after you are familiar with cold and hot process soap making.
For more information on how to make soap using this method, try reading Catherine Failors book 'Making Natural Liquid Soaps'.