Cold Process Soap, Day Three

As you know now, we are working on a basic formulation that has slight changed to determine WHAT effect an ingredient has. Today’s recipe is this:

6 oz wt Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
5 oz wt Coconut Oil
4 oz wt Olive Oil
1 oz wt Lanolin

6 fl oz Black Tea (yes, the type you would drink)
2.1 oz Sodium Hydroxide

2 TBSP Bentonite Clay

Make your tea. Set aside to cool. When cool, add sodium hydroxide and stir well. The color will look very strange compared to what we have been doing.

Heat the oils. When all oils are liquid, add the lye solution and stir. Mid way through the blending process, add the clay, and stir well. You may have noticed that I placed the clay in the soap solution and pushed it down with the immersion blender. This is to cause an immediate mixing through the blades of the blender. I will repeat this process later
in the week when adding color.

Mix until a light trace, pour into molds.

This batch took the same timing as yesterday’s blog, except, making the tea in advance. Here it is for your convenience.

Weighing time: 8 minutes
Adding lye to water (tea in this case): 5 seconds, followed by 60 seconds
of stirring
Heating of oils time: 2 minutes
Pouring lye solution into the fat mixture: 5 seconds
Using immersion blender to mix soap solution: 60 seconds
Adding clay to soap solution: 60 seconds
Using immersion blender to mix clay soap solution: 60 seconds
Pour into mold: 10 seconds
Allow soap to rest: 24 hours

Adding the clay didn’t change the process much, nor did it add much to the blending time. The soap was thicker, not only due to the clay but also due to the extra mixing time, 2 minutes compared to yesterday’s 90 seconds. We do NOT want the clay to settle to the bottom of the mold.

What changes could you make to this batch?
Changing the single oil, in our case, lanolin, to another oil. Changing the tea to another herb, maybe chamomile or calendula. Changing the clay to a different additive, maybe an herb or a different color clay. Tomorrow we will add an herb. The technique is similar, not exactly the same.

What can you expect when you pour into the mold? Should you wrap it in lots of blankets?

Here is a photo of the three soaps we have made this week. You can see the neem soap is heating up and going through gel phase. What is gel phase? It is a process of heating, the soap is creating the extra heat which is melting the soap. We expect to see this happen. We WANT to see this happen. If the batch of soap is wrapped up in blankets and you
can not see it, you will miss this exciting event. Unless you have curious cats or children, we suggest leaving the mold on the counter to watch the process. It is as gratifying as watching the cookies bake in the oven.

If you don’t have the oils on hand which are the basis for our testing; olive, coconut and hydrogenated soy, then please choose some oils which will add lather and make a decent batch of soap. They should be arranged in this format (6 oz, 5 oz, 5 oz). Then one oil can be reduced to 4 ounces and a single ounce of an exotic oil, otherwise known as a conditioning
oil, can be added. This makes a 1 lb fat batch, which can later be scaled for any size mold.

Today we have talked a bit about trace. What is trace?

Trace is a term that is vague, it is used in every soap book, yet is far more fluid than every beginner expects. Trace is an indication oil will no longer rise to the surface when mixing is stopped. If you aren’t sure if you have achieve trace then stop mixing, go get a glass, fill it with water, do not drink it. Come back to your soap. Is oil floating on the surface? Oil is floating if you see a dark appearance to the top and it appears very slick. A quick press of the button on your immersion blender will tell you if oil has risen. A dark swirl appears on the top of soap close to trace, but not quite there. Keep blending if you see this happen. If the soap looks homogeneous, pour into the mold.

Trace is sometimes explained as having the ability to hold an impression on the surface of the soap. This is true if you have a light across the room and you can see its reflection on the surface of your soap. Gently touch the surface of the soap with a spoon and draw a star or heart. If you can see the raised impression left on the soap from your spoon, you are at trace. Pour into the mold.

Trace is not about being as thick as a milk shake, or about being thick at all. If you could see the mixture we pour into the molds, you would be surprised that our soap looks more like pouring skim milk than it does look like cream of a milk shake. Think fluid!

Today’s summary:
1) The liquid can be changed to other water based items like tea as long
as the liquid is not extremely acidic or have lots of sugars. Examples of
what not to use: lemon juice, vinegar, orange juice, apple juice, beet
juice, soda pop. Examples of what can be used: black tea, herb tea,
coffee, aloe juice, water.
2) Keep the blankets in the closet.
3) Trace is a fluid mixture, not a thick mixture.

Andee
Next week is all about having luscious lips! Join in for the kissable fun!

Weigh your oils.

Weigh your oils.

Black Tea is ready for the lye.

Black Tea is ready for the lye.

Adding lye to black tea.

Adding lye to black tea.

Stirring the lye/tea solution.

Stirring the lye/tea solution.

Melt your oils.

Melt your oils.

Adding lye solution to oils.

Adding lye solution to oils.

Starting to blend oils and lye solution.

Starting to blend oils and lye solution.

Tilt the immersion blender.

Tilt the immersion blender.

Adding Bentonite Clay.

Adding Bentonite Clay.

Starting to blend the Bentonite Clay into the soap.

Starting to blend the Bentonite Clay into the soap.

Pouring mixed soap into the mold.

Pouring mixed soap into the mold.

Neem soap in the center going through the gel phase.

Neem soap in the center going through the gel phase.

Almost empty beaker.

Almost empty beaker.

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17 Comments

  • MB says:

    Great lesson,
    I now understand that I have been over blending because of the fear of “false trace”.
    Thank you for the time table and trace information.
    This lesson has been an informative refresher mini class for me.

    Thanks,
    mb

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  • sincerelyemily says:

    you mentions that if I don’t have a certain oil on hand for the test recipe – “then please choose some oils which will add lather and make a decent batch of soap” – where do I find out what oils lather, etc…..? next question: how do I know what the timing is before I use the soap? I have heard 4-6 weeks, turning it every day. So, I made a batch of “coffee” soap from a recipe in your files. you helped me through the trace process and with the heating pad what I should have done to cool it. so, now it has been cut and is drying for almost a week…..it firm to the touch and I notice after turning it when I rinse my hand it has turned from a very oily residue to a slicker – more soap feel. now I am wondering what the white residue all over the soap means, really only on the the bottom part of the bars (in the bottom of the mold when poured). thanks, Emily

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    • Andee says:

      sincerelyemily-
      Lathering oils are coconut and palm kernel. Olive is also a good lathering oil. Coconut and Palm Kernel are big fluffy bubbles, olive is dense and creamy.
      Some people describe olive as slimy. Keep this in mind when choosing.

      As far as curing, I will use the soap in 24 hours. Curing is not a dead on requirement, and is only for dehydration of a bar of soap. Once the chemical
      reaction is complete the soap is safe to use. The harder the bar (after drying) the longer it will last. This is why cure time is listed as so long. Since we live in the high desert, our soaps are dry in 1 week and the driest they will be in 3 weeks. If you live in a humid area try using a dehumidifier in the area where your soap is stored for drying. This will help reduce the excess moisture in the soap.

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  • sincerelyemily says:

    Andee, thank you so much for all the help you have given me and for answering my questions. What are your thoughts on the white residue on the coffee soap that I made? it was not there when I took the soap out of the mold and cut it but was starting to appear in the next day and is still there 10 days later. The soap feels hard and I have been using a little scrap piece and it lathers nicely. The residue is unsightly so I can’t give it as a gift just wondering if there is something I did in the process that would cause this….thank you again. Emily

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    • Andee says:

      Emily,
      I went to go ask Tina about this question, because she is the soap guru of our technical support staff. This is what she said.

      There is nothing wrong with your soap. The concern you have is the OCD side coming out. White residue on the top of the poured soap is where the lye has reacted with the air, it is called soda ash. It is powdery and sometimes crumbly in nature. This is easily washed away with a few mud pie hand washings. To avoid it, place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the mold just after pouring. It helps a lot!

      The white, 1/16th inch or less, layer that appears on the bottom of the poured soap mold is soap. It is the fatty portions that are converted to soap at a different speed than the other fatty acids. It isn’t harmful to the user and is not bad for the soap. It, too, will disappear with a few washings. If this layer bothers you, remember you are feeding the inner OCD monster, then shave it off with a vegetable peeler.

      We don’t remove this layer at all. It should be part of the hand crafted soap experience. Look at the soap as an imperfect body. It talks of the places it has been before it was soap, the processes it has gone through to be a soap, and that it is a unique bar of love offering a pleasure you can’t get from a liquid soap. Soap is to clean the body, it is a spiritual process for the soul as much as it is a cleaning process for the physical body. Each hand crafted bar offers this special bond between maker and user that a perfect, mass-manufactured bar can never achieve. If you short change the methodology of making hand crafted soap, then the users of your soap won’t have the same enjoyment when taking a shower. Ask yourself this, does my husband have the same connection with me when he uses Dial as he does when he uses my soap? No mass manufactured soap has the same nuance as a hand crafted soap.

      Does this make sense? If not, do a test. Go to the grocery store and get any bar of soap that has a television commercial you have seen in the last year. Go home and take a shower. After cleaning your body, head to toe, get out and dry your self off. Now write down the things you thought about during your shower. In the morning repeat this exercise with a bar of soap from your test batch, the one that has plastic wrap wrinkles, the white soap slick on the bottom, and the soda ash on top. What do your two lists say? One will be more chaotic and show the stresses of life in our society, the other will be more personal and calm. Call us weird, and we might even agree, but we like the hand-crafted bar soap list much better.

      I hope this helps,
      Tina

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  • RottenRebel says:

    Andee, I see the recipe calls for bentonite clay. Since there are other clays, can one clay be substituted for another? Or are there differences in the different clays available for cp soap making a substitute impossible? Why I am asking this is I made a batch of cocoa butter soap which I usually omit the clay (it is listed as optional) and this time I did add the clay but I used 1 T. bentonite instead of 1 T. kolin. The soap looked great until about 5-7 days later I noticed about one third of the bars had hair line cracks in them. Could this be result of substituting the clays or because this is a very, very hard bar to begin with that is poured into individuals molds instead of a loaf mold to be cut?
    Thanks, Diane

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  • Andee says:

    RottenRebel-
    Yes, generally a clay can be replaced by another clay. Exceptions occur when clays have funky mineral content or color is desired to be something else.

    The cracking is probably a problem with separating lye from the mixture. This is often the case with small molds or dipping out a portion to color. We tend to ask you to make a new batch for colored swirls because of this problem, and we tend not to like individual molds for Cold Process (CP) soaps. The clay isn’t likely to be the problem.

    For these types of soaps mix well. Pour one mold. Mix well again. Pour another mold. Repeat until all soap is poured. At no time should the soap sit to separate into layers of lye solution and fats.

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  • Julie Marcil says:

    Hi Andee,

    You mention that the water part can be replace by some other liquid, but nothing with sugar. Could you explain the reason behind that? I have tried one CP soap recipe with flat beer once (supposed to be good for hair) and I was tempted to try another recipe which mentioned using lime juice, but your comment stop me for the moment.

    Another question regarding using different tea or herbal infusion for the water part or using special conditioning oil. Do the liquid and/or oil retains its good property after been mix with the lye or after the gel phase? I know some oils stay partly unsaponified and may bring some nice properties to the soap, but for example does the vitamin A and E from the avocado oil remain intact after the soap is done or do they get destroy by the chemical reactions?

    Thanks,

    Julie ^_^

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    • Andee says:

      Sugars settle to the bottom of the mold and often separate into a brown, monster-snot type goo. Sugars make the soap too soft and not very pleasing. The soaps will smell funny or off. Lime juice is very acidic, and doesn’t have much sugars. The acidic nature of lime juice will cause problems with the lye. The soap will not look good, smell good or be firm. Beer could be a good choice, but do expect a nasty reaction with the lye. My suggestion would be to reduce the liquid in the lye mixture and add the remaining liquid as beer toward the halfway mixing point.

      I think many oils make great soaps. While looking for vitamins to be offered in the final soap, I would say they probably are not the same. Otherwise, I think the skin conditioning properties are there because the components that condition the skin are generally not saponifiable.

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  • Julie Marcil says:

    Thanks Andee for the explanation about sugary liquid in soap!

    You are right, beer and lye make a nasty smell when combined. My lye solution when for a little time out outside on the deck before I mixed it with the oils in my last shampoo bar recipe. Next time I may simply use beer yeast powder as an add on at trace instead of beer as liquid. This way it will add the yeast part to the soap, which is what supposed to help detangle hair, and skip the nasty smell part.

    Thanks again,

    Julie ^_^

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  • Simona says:

    I have recently made a CP soap with bear instead of water,castor oil, palm oil, coconut oil,jojoba oil (at trace) and shea butter . What I did was to let the bear sit for a day in a large mouth jar, so when I poured the lye in it there was no funny reaction. an awful beer smell, but no volcano-like reaction.

    The soap turned out to be quite a hard bar, it smells a bit like beer (which is kinda funky, so I kept rebatching some of it in order to add some EO), it does give my hair a thicker look, but there is absolutely no shine, and that does not make me happy. I am not sure if this is because I have dyed my hair or it’s just because of the beer in the soap.

    Do you guys and girls have any idea what can make a shampoo bar give to the hair that special shiny healthy look? I am just tired to spend that much money on professional shampoo for my every two days wash :)

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    • Andee says:

      Try a drop or two of cyclomethicone in your hand and rubbed through the hair. I think this is all you will need.

      I kept thinking you were making soap with bear fat and finally realized we were talking about BEER! Egad, you won’t believe the picture in my head.

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  • Simona says:

    Oh, damn… I did not add this one to any of my 3 orders :))). so I will have to look for a shiny hair recipe that can be made with the rest of the ingredients I have :)).

    Maybe next time I will order it , but for now there’s only so much a young mother’s budget can afford :D. Ok, not so young at 31, but it sure feels like 25!

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  • Jennifer Gale says:

    There are no links for the oils or the clay.

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  • Wanda says:

    I realize this is about 8 months since you wrote this but I hope you can still read my comment. I am fairly new to the soaping world and of course I’m totally in love. I have one statement and one question. 1st the statement you wrote not to use vinegar as your lye solution. Well.. My very 1st batch and by accident used white distilled vinegar instead of distilled water, I realized this the next day when I was looking for the vinegar to add to my rinse cycle of the laundry, I keep the water in the frig to keep it cool and make the cooling of the lye faster. That’s when I realized my mistake, low and behold that bar of soap is perfect. PERFECT. So I do think you can use vinegar however I used the oven hot process which may have made the difference. The question I have is can I use French green or white clay as an additive to my oven hot process soap? Thanks y’all for everything I’ve learned SO much by reading y’all’s blogs.

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    • Andee says:

      Vinegar is too acidic to make soap. Adding lye to it will react violently. I suspect you have a diluted or other mixture that was used for soap. Vinegar does not make a perfect bar of soap.

      Clays can be used in soap making. Hot process does not alter the addition of clay to the soap.

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