An inside peek at how I make my soap...
First, you need to get all your supplies ready. Make sure you have your mould ready to go and all your oils and lye ready. You will be pouring immediately, so you don't want to be scrambling to find your mould.
This is the lye water. You want to mix this very carefully. Lye is caustic. I add the measured water to the pot and then I add the measured lye. You want to do all your measuring on a digital scale. It must be precise. When adding lye, always add the lye to the water and not the water to the lye. Remember "snow on the lake" If you add it backwards you will have a lye volcano...No heat is put on this pot. The lye creates it's own heat when it reacts with the water. :)
Next, while the lye is doing it's thing, you will want to melt the oils you choose for your soap. I don't use lard and instead use a blend vegetable shortening, coconut oil, and olive oil. I keep it simple. :) (I don't give exact amts due to it being a recipe for my business) I choose to have an all vegan soap.
When they are melted down, it will look like this. You will want both the lye and the oils to be around 95 degrees. I don't use a thermometer. I do it by touch. (no I don't touch the lye) I start my lye water and leave for 5 min. I come back and start to measure my oils and melt them. After they are melted, if I can stick my pinky finger in the oils without pulling it back out from too much heat, it is ready.
I then add the oils to the lye water like this. Do this very slowly. You don't want any splashes. Lye is very caustic.
After stirring in the oils with a spoon, I then use a stick blender (mine is a kitchen aid) to mix the oils and lye together to get to trace. You can see it is changing color....this is normal.
Here it is changing to a lighter color and getting thicker.
You can't see it too good here, but it is coming to a light trace. Trace is where you take the soap mixture and drizzle some on top and if it leaves a mark or "trace" it is getting close to moulding. For this chocolate batch, I removed some at light trace to mix in the white chocolate and the other half was mixed with dark chocolate and organic chocolate oil.
Here is the white chocolate half and you can see more of the trace on the surface of this.
Here is the chocolate half and you can see how thick it is. You want it to be the thickness of pudding. Here I added the white chocolate to swirl in the pot. (no pic)
Here is the soap mouled. You can see some of the swirls that were made...
After you mould the soap, it needs to be insulated so it will gel. Gelling helps saponify the soap, which is the lye eats all the wonderful oils and become neutralized. In the end, there is no lye in the soap. I insulated this chocolate soap because there wasn't much sugar in it due to the dark chocolate being a bitter chocolate. If your soap has a lot of sugar in it from say honey, you won't want to insulate it as it will heat up enough on it's own. If you insulated a sugary soap, you run the risk of it overheating and not coming out like you want.
I hope this little tutorial helps you understand a bit more of what I do when I make soap. :) It is so fun for me to do. :)