Some of you may have noticed the link at the top of the page that says DraxisSoaps (or the banner graphic here). For about a year now, we have been selling some Home Shaped soaps on Etsy but now we are branching off into all natural homemade soaps. So what’s the difference and why am I writing this blog you may ask? Well the why is easy it’s mainly because that now that we are getting into the real soap making nitty gritty, I have been doing a lot of research online and I keep seeing articles that make absolutely no sense what so ever.
One of the ones that has made me laugh the most was “Making Soap Without Lye!” After reading the article, I thought that the biggest lie was in the title itself and what these people were thinking was soap making. What they talked of was using a pre-made soap base known as Melt and Pour to make soap. The thing is, the Melt and Pour is already soap so you’re not really “making” anything. You’re shaping this base into a bar or whatever else you may be making with a mold (we specialize in geek shapes) and then adding things like scent or color. The other huge lie in this article was the whole no lye thing. Melt and Pour soap is made with NaOH also known as Sodium Hydroxide or LYE! So not only are you not really making the soap but it still has lye in it because all homemade soaps are made with lye.
This by no way means that you can’t actually make soap at home. Making soap can be a very fun and fulfilling thing to do, and to tell the truth, now that I have started to do it I doubt I will ever buy a bar of soap again because what is sold in stores just isn’t nearly as good and pure as what you can make yourself at home. If you look at all homemade soaps including M&P you have 3 real ways to do things, 2 are true making and 1 is just shaping. So I’ll touch upon what each thing is and I’ll start with the shaping.
Melt and Pour is not true soap making as I have said but Soap Shaping or Molding. Commonly known in the industry as M&P this is truly the fastest way to “make” your soap and in many ways it gives you the most flexibility with the ending look of things. Basically, when you work with M&P soap you are buying a glycerin based soap that has been made into usually a 2, 5 or 10 pound container. These soap bases can come in many types such as Shea Butter, Double Butter, Clear Glycerin, Honey and even more! What you do with the M&P base is simple in fact the name says it all. You chop off what you need, melt it, add color or fragrance or whatever you want or even nothing, pour into some sort of mold. You then let the soap harden which takes only an hour or so and then you have a finished soap that could look like anything. Below is a small sampling of what we have made with M&P bases.
Now as for true Soap Making there are two main ways to do things and for you to choose between them you just have to ask yourself “How patient am I willing to be?” If you are the type that wants things right away then you will be wanting to learn how to use Hot Process Soap making, which is what I do now. If you don’t mind waiting a little while then you can use Cold Process. With both of these Soap Making processes you take Water (or sometimes milk, tea, coffee etc) and mix in lye then you combine it with certain oils to create your soap. Every oil has something it can lend to your soap whether it makes it creamy in the lather or bubbly or makes it better for the skin whatever there are a ton of oils you can use. I use a website that has been highly recommended in just about every book and website I have done research in and that’s SoapCalc.net to figure out my oils. A lot of the oils you can get at your local food market! One of the main oils you will want due to it’s cleansing ability is Coconut Oil as only a handful of oils give you true cleaning and of them all this is the cheapest. Some of my favorites to go along with the Coconut oil have been Canola and Grapeseed oils. So as you can see the hardest thing to get especially right now due to stupid people using this to make drugs is the Lye but some hardware stores still carry it, if you can’t find it in your town however I would suggest BulkApothecary.com or BrambleBerry.com to purchase your various soap making items. The only drawback with these sites is if you’re just doing one or two little batches the shipping sucks these sites are truly made for the people making LOTS of soap. Anyway onto the differences between Cold Process (CP) and Hot Process (HP) Soap Making.
Cold Process is the way to go if you don’t mind waiting to see how your soaps are going to turn out. What you do with Cold Process is you mix your water and lye and then mix that in with your oils and blend it until you get it to a thick trace (think pudding consistency). Now I haven’t done as much research into the CP method as I have the HP method, but if I am remembering correctly it is at this point in the CP that you go and mold up your soap. Now the way soap making works is the lye/water mix is now chemically responding to the oils and sorta churning and bubbling away inside itself and creating soap and this can take several hours. From what I have seen, you want to keep your soap in the mold for at least a day if not more. At this point once it has set in your mold for a day or so you can unmold your soap and if you did a loaf you can cut it into your individual bars. The problem with CP is that at this point you’re still not done, not nearly you see there is still a lot of water and liquid in your bar of soap making it soft even though it is now soap. You could use it now, but it won’t last very long in this stage of things. So now that you have it cut you have to put the bars somewhere to dry. The longer you set them out at this point the harder they will become and better in the shower due to this as the water in the bar gets dried out of it. This process can take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to truly be completed. So now we go to Hot Process and why I chose this method.
Hot process needs all of the same things as the Cold Process does as well as the added ingredient of a crock pot or double boiler system (Crock pot is easier to use and safer). So everything in the beginning is the same, you use the same recipes you use the same oils and lye and water and you put them all in your crock pot and like above bring it to trace. Now STOP….don’t mold it as this is where things change! The reason you have the crock pot is that now instead of letting it just cook and go through all the stages of getting to soap on it’s own you now cook it to bring it to those final stages faster! This is why it is known as Hot Process (I know how did they ever come up with that name?) Anyway, at this point you stop blending and let it sit in the crock pot stirring it every so often. You will see it go through several different looks like bubbling, sometimes it will kinda volcano up and then it will go and separate kinda the soap from the oils. Some of the oils and water will cook off here and still more of the oils gets reabsorbed into the soap until as you’re stirring it it becomes like a Vaseline consistency. At this point, you can mold it, then in a few hours when it cools you can cut it. It can usually be used right away but we opt to let it sit for a few days simply so that it can still dry a bit more just in case. That is the basics of the HP process we use for all of our natural soaps. You can see the various looks of the soap during making in the gallery below.
So there is the difference between Soap Making and just Soap Shaping. We at DraxisSoaps do both and maybe one day will even start creating our own M&P so that even our geek soaps will be all Homemade and better than what you can buy at the store as well!