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Safe Cold Process Soapmaking

Basic Equipment List:

· Safety goggles
· Apron
· Long rubber gloves
· Scales (accurate)
· Liquid measure
· Plastic / stainless steel long handled spoons
· Plastic bowl (to weigh lye)
· Container for melting oil
· Large mixing bowl (plastic or stainless steel)
· Hand/stick blender
· Soap moulds
· Vinegar (neutralises lye)

Prepare Yourself

· Prepare your work area first as things can move rather quickly once the batch gets going.  Clean the work area, worktops etc… and ensure the area is dust-free
· Prepare your moulds read because once a batch has started, it can move fast
· Although glass or ceramic utensils are good to use, it is safer to use unbreakable utensils such as plastic or stainless steel.
· Wear rubber gloves (the long sort), an apron and safety goggles & don’t allow the lye coming into contact with the skin.  Lye can cause severe burns and even blindness if it comes into contact with the eyes
· Prepare the lye first making sure you follow the instructions & weight it precisely (too much lye in the finished soap can lead to skin irritation or burning)
· Higher quantities of excess fat produce softer, more emollient soaps & it is recommended that excess fat ranges from 5-8% to prevent irritation
· Add the lye to the water and not the other way around as it can cause an eruption that could lead to injury
· Avoid breathing the fumes
· Keep lye in a clearly labelled container and keep well out of the way from children and animals

Basic Process

Place the water into a large plastic or stainless steel bowl and add the lye to it carefully, mix well

The mixture will get very hot and give off very strong fumes so it is better to mix in a well ventilated room or, better still, in the open air.  Avoid breathing the fumes

Allow the lye to cool while you prepare the oils

Melt the solid butters, waxes, oils and add any liquid oils, mix well

Add the oils to your lye solution and mix well using a stick blender for 3-4 minutes, allow mixture to stand for 5 minutes, mix again.  Keep mixing and standing until your mixture reaches ‘trace’ (thickens to a pudding-like consistency - dip a spoon in allow the mixture to run off back into the bowl, if the drips off the back of the spoon don’t blend in, it leaves a ‘trace’ or leaves stir marks).

Get your fragrances and any other additives prepared during the resting periods of the mixing stage.  Add the less fragile additives when your mixture has reached trace and mix well with a stick blender and your more fragile additives such as essential oils and herbs lastly and mix thoroughly with a spoon.

Pour into your moulds, cover and allow to set.  As it finishes curing it will go through a clear phase and the temperature will increase.  Cover it well to help retain the heat.

Clean all your equipment with hot soapy water and avoid pouring any soap down the drain as it can cure a block drain pipes and drains

Allow the soap to cure (loosely covered) for up to 3 days before attempting to remove from the moulds.   During this period keep them in a cool, dry area.   The soap can take up to three weeks to completely cure and harden ready for cutting to size.

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