Let's Make Soap - A Cold Process Soapmaking Tutorial Answered
I get a lot of curious people downtown who want to know how to make old fashioned, cold process soap. So for anyone who is interested in what making soap is all about, here's an overview of the soapmaking process. It is not meant to be used as a tutorial. Because of the many dangers associated with soapmaking due to the use of lye and the plethora of information to be had, I recommend that you carefully research the process before starting out on your own. Details on where to obtain additional information will be included within this article.
Soapmaking involves a chemical process in which sodium hydroxide (lye) reacts with oils to make soap. This process is called saponification. Because this process requires the use of lye, important safety precautions must be taken. Rubber gloves and safety glasses should be worn during the soapmaking process, and vinegar, which neutralizes the lye, should be kept on hand in case of an accidental spill or burn. In addition to the necessary safety equipment needed for the journey into making soap, there is other required equipment you'll need to get started. First and foremost you will need to acquire lye. Because without lye, there is no soap. You should be able to find lye in the plumbing section of your hardware store. I buy Roebic brand at Lowe's. The brand doesn't really matter, but it must say that it is 100% sodium hydroxide. You'll also need a large pot for mixing the soap. This can be any type of pot you like - I use my hubby's old beer making pot - as long as the pot is not aluminum. Lye reacts badly with aluminum so remember to never mix the two. You'll also need an accurate scale, I use a digital postal scale I purchased at Staples. And, you'll need a thermometer or two to measure the temps of your oils and lye solution as well. Additionally, you'll find that a stick blender is your best friend in making soap, and then of course there are the molds, soapmaking oils, and distilled water to be mixed with the lye.
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