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Cold process is a method of making soap which does not require an external heat source to initiate saponification (the chemical reaction that creates soap). It is the process of making soap from scratch with fats, lye and distilled water and is the purest and most basic form of soap. It may be formulated to hold essential oils for fragrance and extra conditioners (known as superfatting). In Cold process soap making, all the components of the oils are retained, particularly glycerin which is often removed from mass produced soap.

One common requirement for either hot or cold process is a good quality oil. Traditionally this was in the form of animal fats, such as lard or tallow, both of which make a very nice bar of soap, but more recently, with the trend towards vegetarianism and non animal based products, the use of vegetable oils has become predominant, the favorite oils among soap makers being Olive, Palm and Coconut oil.

You will need a Lye Calculator for Cold Process Soap Making, this will enable you to determine the precise quantity of lye required for a given amount of each type of fat used. I cannot stress enough how important it is to read the instructions and warnings listed on the lye container, in the wrong hands lye can be a very dangerous chemical. When you make the lye-water solution for your cold process soap, you will notice the lye reacts with the cold water and it gets very hot, to avoid this becoming an issue, you can either use chilled water, or make the lye solution the day before, however the lye and fat needs to be a similar temperature about 100° F, so you may then need to re-heat the lye solution. The next step is to carefully combine the lye solution with the fats.

To try to prevent extra lye from remaining in the soap, cold-process soap makers add up to 10% extra oil. Then, in 30 days, the lye will have completely combined with the oils and the result will be good quality homemade soap. In a finished soap, all the oils are saponified and no longer contain any lye, only soap and glycerin.

Instead of simply using distilled water to dissolve the lye, milk, fruit and vegetable juices, or herbal infusions can be used. This offers a great alternative and makes for some great soaps. A great way to create unique, decorative bars of soap that you can sell or use as gifts.

Coconut oil and palm oil are both very commonly used to make soap. Any vegetable oil will do, yet olive, almond, canola, and sesame oils are the best. White castile soap is officially recognized and is made from

olive oil.

Why use natural soap? How does natural handmade soap differ from commercially made soap? A bar of handcrafted soap is kind to skin, natural, and versatile, you can even wash your hair with it. If your soap is handmade it tends to be fresh and contain more natural elements. Adding natural herbs is neat, as well as other goodies. Natural bar soap retains glycerin which forms during saponification in cold process soap. A natural glycerin is formed from the cold process method that is much less drying to the skin. Use soap that is hand made with all natural ingredients and natural oils and your skin will thank you.

The cold process method of making soap is often avoided by budding soap makers because of the potential dangers of handling lye, but if the proper precautions are taken there is little risk and the resulting soap that is created is unique and delightful and can be offered for sale or can be used as gifts.

Copyright © 2007 Gary Everson

All About Soap Making: Cold Process

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