Monday, 31 January 2011

Make your own Soap Mould (mould)

Make Your Own Soap Mould
Many thanks to Penny, from Get Back to Basic Living, who has graciously allowed us to post her entry on making a soap mould/mould.
You can see her original post here and her blog here
When I first started making hand made soap, I used what new soapers' typically use as a mould - a shoe box lined with wax paper. This mould works very well, and for anyone making their first batch or two of soap, I highly recommend using a shoe box or any other similar box.
But after a few batches of soap, I wanted a soap mould that would hold up and provide more uniformly shaped bars. I ordered one on-line and it worked very well. I still have it and still use it. But it was rather expensive, only made about 1.5 pounds of soap at a time, and the bars were rather small for my tastes.
I have a couple of hand made soap boxes now that I just love. Bernie made one for me that makes 6 pounds of soap, and I use it most of the time. I also have one that makes up to 3 pounds of soap, and I use that one quite often as well.
I am going to show you the smaller soap box and explain how it is made

As I said, this soap box will make up to 3 pounds of soap. I recommend making a lid for it as shown above, but that is not absolutely necessary.

What you will need:
Plywood (or similar) cut as follows:
1 piece 17 1/2 inches by 6 1/2 inches (this is the bottom of the mould)
2 pieces 17 1/2 inches by 4 1/2 inches (these are your sides)
2 pieces 4/12 inches by 3 3/4 inches (these are your ends)
2 6 inch bolts
4 washers (that fit bolts)
2 wing nuts (that fit bolts)
4 small hinges
1 roll of heavy duty non-stick oven liner (optional - but highly recommended)

Once your plywood is cut, but sure to sand any rough edges.
Now it’s time to assemble it.
You will want to drill holes through the two side pieces - be sure to make these just slightly larger than your bolt size. Drill the holes 1 1/2 inch from the end of your plywood on each end. Your bolts are going to slide through these holes, so be sure they are in the same place on each side piece of wood.

Now, you want to install your hinge to attach the two side pieces to the bottom of the mould. The outside edge of each side piece should be 1 inch from the outer edge of the bottom. Install each hinge about 4 1/2 inches from each end of the bottom piece. Be sure to install them so that the sides can flap OPEN.
When you are finished, you should be able to run your bolts through both side pieces, with washers on each end, and a wing nut on one end like this:

Now insert the small end pieces on the INSIDE of each bolt. Be sure they are snugly against the bottom of the soap mould and tighten the wing nuts as snugly as you can.
If you are using oven liner, cut two pieces to cover both end pieces, being sure to leave enough to wrap around the sides so that you can staple them in place. Cut a piece that will fit the inside of your soap mould and crease it to fit snugly inside the mould.
If you are not using oven liner, be sure to line your soap mould with wax paper before each use.
Now you are ready to fill it with your favourite soap recipe!
To remove the finished soap, simply remove the wing nuts, remove the bolts, lay the side pieces down flat, pull away the oven liner (or wax paper) and end pieces, and viola! You have a log of soap to cut into bars of your desired size!

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Monday, 24 January 2011

Let's Make Soap, a recipe

Click here to see our entry on equipment and basic procedures for making soap.
'Base Recipe'   
Sunflower       784      gr         28.0%
Coconut          560      gr         20.0%
Palm               1400    gr         50.0%

Lye/ NaOH     371.03g
Water/ distilled 930.62g
Lye Discount:   7%
Water Discount: 0%
Fragrance  Or  Essential oil 112g
Pouring Oil

This recipe has no colour but you can add it if you wish.
Heat Fats/ oils- 100 F, melting the solid first then adding the liquid oils.
Cool H2O/ lye- 100 F
Once oils and water/lye are at the correct temps then add your Lye to your oils and stick blend until trace.
Trace 2

Add your fragrance or Essential oils.
Pour into your mould. Wait for about 24 hours for the soap to harden.
Innoxa (3)
Take it out of the mould carefully and cut.
You have made your first soap.
Innoxa (37)


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Thursday, 13 January 2011

Making Cold Process (CP) Soap - a Tutorial

Making Cold Process Soap
Thanks to Soap Making Essentials where this information came from.
Before you make cold process soap, be sure that you have everything you need. A little extra time spent on the planning pays off in the end.
1. Choose your location carefully.
- Your soap making area should be free of distractions, have a microwave or stove, have access to water and have a large, work surface.
2. Protect your area.
- Lay down a protective layer on your work surface. I use a fabric cloth. When it is dirty I throw it in the wash. You can also use plastic. It's cheap, easy to wipe clean so I can reuse it, and oils won't leak through.
- Remember your floor needs protection too.
3. Assemble all equipment and ingredients.
soap equipment
- Set up all your soap making supplies (listed below) and ingredients in a way that works for you.
Keep in mind, however, whatever you confiscate from your kitchen should not be used for anything but soap making again.
a. Your most expensive purchase will be a scale that is accurate to the nearest gram
b. A stainless steel 8 - 12 quart/litre pot, a 2 quart/litre plastic juice jug and one or two mid-size plastic mixing containers (for mixing colour and a small amount of soap to create multi-coloured, marbled soaps).
c. Mixing and measuring utensils - a whisk and/or hand blender, silicon or rubber spatulas (2 would be best), plastic spoons (NOT wooden ones) and measuring spoons.
d. Candy/Meat thermometers (2 - one for the lye and one for the oil).
e. Small lightweight bowls for weighing materials on the scale. I use empty margarine tubs.
f. Some Wooden soap moulds or plastic soap moulds.
g. Butchers paper/ plastic/ silicone paper to line the soap moulds.
h. Old wool blankets to insulate the soap with.
i. Safety equipment - rubber gloves, apron or old clothes and safety goggles.
j. A thin, sharp knife to cut the soap.
k. One plastic 2 quart/litre juice jug to mix the water and lye in.
4. Prepare soap moulds.
Mantra Log Mould

- Line your soap moulds with butchers paper or plastic wrap.
5. Prepare insulation area.
- Lay down folded wool blankets in a warm, draft free area. This is where your cold process soap will cool down for 24 hours.
Step 2 - Preparing your Additives.
When you're first learning how to make soap, it's best to limit yourself to just a couple of additives to begin with. As you become more familiar with making cold process soap, you will be more confident about adding in other techniques.
1. Measure additives and essential oils.
- Measure out any botanicals or colorant you will be using and place them in ramekins.
- Measure out the essential oils, rosemary extract if using, and superfatting nutrients and place them in a small sealed jar.
2. Assemble decorative pieces.
- Using any cold process soap making decorative ideas like confetti soap bits or pebble soap bits? Now is the time to prepare the soap pieces and place them in a container. I have often used clean, empty beer flats. They're free and allow the soap bits to spread out.
Step 3 - Measuring the Base Ingredients.
All the steps in cold process soap making are important but it is crucial that you pay particular attention to measuring accurately. Make sure you are familiar with your scale before you start.
Inaccurate measurements can produce lye or oil heavy cold process soaps which you will either have to re-work or throw out. Learning how to make soap is a lot more fun if you don't have to throw it out!! Make sure you get a good's the best investment you can make.
1. Prepare the lye solution.
- Measure out your water and place it in the juice jug.
- Before using sodium hydroxide, put on your safety equipment; goggles, gloves and long sleeve clothing.
- Measure your water FIRST, then
- Measure out the lye and add it slowly into the water stirring as you pour. Keep stirring until the lye crystals are completely dissolved.
- You will notice fumes being produced while you are mixing the lye solution. I hold my breath until the lye is dissolved and then leave the area for a few minutes until the fumes disburse.
SPECIAL NOTE: Always add the sodium hydroxide (lye) to the water. NOT the water to the sodium hydroxide. An unpleasant, violent reaction occurs if you do. Kind of like vinegar and baking soda is my understanding.
2. Measure base oils.
- Starting with the solid oils, measure each and place it into the stainless steel pot or heavy duty plastic container.
- Place the pot on the element or plastic container in the microwave at medium-low. As you continue to measure, the solid oils will melt.
- Once the solid oils have melted and before putting the liquid oils into the pot, remove the pot from the element. Add the liquid oils and the grapefruit seed extract (if adding).
3. Check temperatures.
- The goal is to get the temperatures of both the oil mixture and the lye solution to 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit or 32-35 degrees Celsius.
- The lye solution can be heated/cooled in a hot/cold water bath in the sink.
- The oils can be heated on the element/ microwave or cooled in a cold water bath.
- Getting the temperatures similar can be tricky at first but it gets easier as you develop a feel for how long it takes the lye to cool.
Step 4 - Mixing the Oils and Lye.
This is probably one of the most confusing steps when you're learning how to make cold process soap. "How do I know how long to mix for?" and "What is this 'trace' that everyone is referring to?" are a couple of the common questions asked.
In answer to the first question - It can take anywhere from about 5 minutes to hours and hours. The ingredients you use will determine how long you must mix for. Most of my cold process recipes take about 5 to 10 minutes to trace using a stick blender and whisk alternately.
The second question: trace is when a “trail” of soap is left on the surface of the mixture.
Trace 2

1. Combine lye solution and oil mixture.
- Slowly pour a thin stream of the lye solution into the pot of oils while using the whisk to stir the mixture.
- Maintain a steady, strong stirring motion. Stir fast enough to keep the mixture in constant motion but try not to splash. The idea is to get the oil, lye and water molecules to meet and combine to make soap.
- Make sure to stir thoroughly all areas of the pot. The mixture will turn creamy and opaque
(like condense milk) and begin to thicken.
2. Stir mixture until it begins to trace. Pictured above
- Keep stirring until the mixture reaches a thin trace.
- Remember - just a thin trace at this point. We still have some ingredients to add yet.

Step 5 - Additives and Pouring Soap.
1. Incorporating additives.
- Mix in the additives, starting with the ramekin of colour and botanicals. Next, stir in your jar of essential oils and nutrients and anything else if you are adding.
- You will have to work quickly while mixing since some of the ingredients may speed up the saponification process causing the soap to become too thick to pour.
 2. Pour the soap.
- As soon as the ingredients are mixed in thoroughly and the soap is showing a good trace, pour the soap into your soap moulds.
- Carefully take the filled moulds over to the location you will be insulating it at.
- Place the moulded soap on the wool blankets. Make sure there is enough of the blanket on either side to wrap around the soap moulds.
- Fold the blankets up around the soap making sure it is well wrapped.
***NOTE***Insulating may or may not be needed depending on how hot the weather is, the recipe used, the temperature that you mix at and what type of mould you use! A lot of factors contribute to how hot the cold process soap will get so you will need to keep an eye on your soap for the first few times until you are familiar with what works best for you.
3. Clean-up.
- Cold process soap must be left for about 24 hours or until it reaches room temperature. Your soap should have a smooth, creamy, even appearance.
- While cleaning up, be sure to wipe all pots, bowls and utensils with paper towel first to remove as much of the oil and soap as possible. They are not kind to your drains.
Step 6 - Cutting and Curing.
The next 24 hours will feel like an eternity. You finish making soap and are anxious to see what the final result will to be. You will notice the soap going darker and having a clearer look to it. This is called the gel stage. Once your soap reaches the gel stage you can start to take off some insulation to prevent overheating.
1. Unwrapping.
- You've waited about 24 hours, remove the soap from the mould and take off the butcher’s paper. Place the soap on a piece of paper.
2. Cutting.
- You can either cut the cold process soap into bars now or wait a few days for the soap to firm up.
- I use a soap cutter (made by a friend) that requires you to push the soap block through a thin wire, so I prefer to wait and not damage the soap while it's too soft. We will have more on making a soap cutter later.
- If you are using a knife, this might be the best time since the soap is very flexible right now.
3. Curing.
- Once you have cut the soap into bars, they need to cure for about 4 - 6 weeks in a cool, dry, dark location.
- Place them in a single layer on a beer flat or tray lined with paper towel. Turn them each week so that all sides are exposed to the air.
4. You have now finished – until next time. It is a little addictive!
Choc Swirl Curl-013
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Monday, 3 January 2011

Planning for 2011

Planing 2011

I have never been much of a planner in that I never actually sat down and made a written plan for anything. I just had an idea in my mind and I went about getting things done, but there are a number of problems with this way of working:
You can easily forget what you had in mind.
You can change the goal posts as you go from day to day.
You never get anything done.

As Riverlea Soap grows and takes more of my time I realise I cannot carry on aimlessly getting things done at my own pace. I need a PLAN. So for the first time ever Linda and I drew up a plan for 2011. I do have to say a big THANK YOU to Anne Marie for all her entries here, here, here, here, and here that helped make this so much easier for us.
It is amazing the weight off my shoulders knowing that the year at a glance is laid out with the monthly ideas in place and now I can go about doing a weekly plan so that every night when I go to bed I know what I will be doing tomorrow. YAY.

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