Heating It Up with Basic Soap Making
Hot or Cold? For those that find the Cold process too long, tedious or finicky, the hot
process is definitely the way to go. With the assistance of heat to prop up the gelling stage or the saponification
process, the Hot Process is usually used in commercial soap making as one can save up on time, therefore more soaps
can be produced.
In the hot process, a lye solution and fat mixture is boiled together at 80-100 degree Celsius. What's great
about it is that all equipments for the process are everyday things usually found at your own home. A microwave
oven or a double boiler will do in mixing the batch. As the mixture tends to be sticky, one must protect his or her
workplace and leave it free of anything that may be stuck with the candle-like mixture unnecessarily.
It is important to have the right equipment when going for the Hot Process. Wooden Lined Molds are recommended
because as said, the mixture tends to be candle-like and sticky at first until fully air dried (which takes about 2
to 3 days). The batch will be rendered useless when using Plastic molds because the mixture tends to stick to the
panel and might brittle when forced out.
Like the cold process, accurate measurement is highly important in the process. Make sure the weighing scale is
working right and returns to 0 after something heavy is weighed on it. Lye or oil dominant soaps are considered
useless even for home use. Measure first the essential oils. When beginning with soap making, only a few essential
oils should be used until one gets used to the hot process and is more confident with using other additives such as
fragrances or colorants.
Afterwards, measure the chemical sodium hydroxide and add it to water and not the other way around as it produces a
sulfur-like chemical reaction. When handling such chemical, always use safety equipment like goggles, gloves and
masks in order to not let any fumes get into your system.
When both oil and lye solution is ready, combine them together by pouring the lye solution slowly into the oils.
Make sure that only a thin layer is added and mix continuously until the mixture begins to form a thin pudding like
substance called Trace. When manually mixing by using a whisk, Tracing occurs about an hour after continuously
mixing the solution. It is faster when using a blender.
The mixture is then fast forwarded towards full saponification by cooking it using the base of a double boiler,
microwave oven or crock pot. You can tell when the batch is ready when the Trace starts to have a clear look.
Experienced soap makers can tell its readiness when the taste of lye disappears or when it has a waxy feel when
touched. Molding and shaping the soap is then done.
Like all good things that grow better with age, the longer the soap is left to cure, the milder it becomes. Now
it's time to sample your own work. If it's to your own liking, then good. If not, the Hot Process is more
forgiving. There's always the second batch.