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cathyn: (Johnny!)
[personal profile] cathyn
I've been making soap since 1996 or thereabouts, when I bought a book on soapmaking at Pensic. Since that day, I have not purchased a bar of soap, and have been very very happy with the soap I make. Always wanting to expand my art, and the knowledge thereof, today I made soap using the "Hot Method". The cold method is simpler, by far. Get your oils melted, whatever, and get them to 90-100 degrees. Mix your lye into your water, and let this cool to somewhere under 120 degrees. Mix these, stir until they "trace", stir some more until it thickens, pour into molds. Let sit for a while (a week or so), remove from molds, cut (if necessary), and cure the bars by letting them sit loosely stacked for a couple of weeks. The longer it sits, the better. Use to your heart's content.

The hot method is similar. Make your lye-water solution. Melt your fats in a stainless steel pan over a low heat. Add the lye water to the warmed fats and stir until boiling. Set a timer for 20 minutes, and stir constantly. Remove from heat, let sit ten minutes, return to heat, and stir. Lather, rinse, repeat for several iterations, until the stuff in the pan goes from looking like a nice foamy beer, to something looking like a giant pan of oatmeal, until quite suddenly, the "oats" will seem to melt into each other and form a goop. Goop into molds, and prepare for the easiest clean-up of your soap-making equipment you've ever had. I followed the instructions found on this brilliantly illustrated page.

The author leaves out at least one serious point. MAKE SURE YOUR OIL IS NOT HEATED ABOVE 212 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT. Unless you greatly enjoy having your VERY CAUSTIC lye-water solution flash instantly to boiling, and in addition to making your pan almost overflow with proto-soap, and big volcano like glops of liquid roughly 250-300 degrees, which are both very hot, and very caustic, and when they burst forth from the surface of your very hot oil which is scaling the inside of the pot looking for the escape hatch, the boiling, chemically active, and somewhat sticky liquid might very well go BLOP, directly onto your hand, where it *will* stick, and *will* linger, until you've gotten your hand into the sink and under cold running water.

All turned out well, especially once I went to the garage and got my welding gloves, so I could pour the rest of the lye-water solution into the pan. Followed the rest of the directions, the stuff in my pan did what the stuff in his pictures did, and I feel I have won a major success. At least I have until I have removed the soap from the molds, anyway. There's still plenty of room for Mr. Cockup...
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