Want to master this art called Cold Process Soap Making? It’s all about commitment and practice. The habit of keeping meticulous notes is something that I have always done and I recommend it to newbies in the field.
In my years of teaching the Cold Process, I see the same errors from my clients and thought that it would be helpful to share these, with a view to avoiding falling into the same error pit.
Cold Process soap making produces, in my opinion, the best quality handmade soaps . If the process is meticulous, we can almost be guaranteed that the results will be amazing.
So here it it, the 6 biggest mistakes of new soap makers.
1.Don’t try to get too complicated too fast.
New soap makers are bombarded by images of all kinds of handmade soaps. Soaps that have multiple layers; soaps that have impossible looking swirls- it really is inspiring to see all these designs in the soap world. As a newbie, someone who is just trying to master the skill, it is an error to attempt complicated recipes from the beginning.
There is great value in getting a feel for the actual process and becoming familiar with the different stages of soap formation. Focus on gaining a thorough understanding of how trace works; the rate of saponification using different base oils; the feel of the immersion blender; the curing process. There is no rush. This is not to say that you shouldn’t be adventurous and try new things. The point is, that the time for this will flow naturally. Allow the process to happen without rushing it.
2.Don’t ignore safety:
It may be tempting to diminish the importance of safety in the soap making process. Don’t be one of those persons who must “burn to learn”. Sodium Hydroxide or lye which is absolutely necessary for soap formation can be a dangerous substance if you ignore safety precautions or if you feel you can skip that part of the process.
Ensure your space is well ventilated; work with gloves, mask and eye protection. It also helps to cover the arms and the feet. It may sound like overkill, but it is only for a very short time and it makes the process painless.
Use no aluminium in the Cold Process as lye reacts to it. Stick with glass, stainless steel; heavy plastic. This also refers to molds. Remember, soap is still quite caustic right after ingredients are combined.
3.Don’t include random fragrance oils.
Use fragrance of course! Sometimes this can be the best part. It is best practice to check the suitability of the fragrance oil before including it in a precious batch of soaps. Even if fragrances are of the highest cosmetic grade, they can still have an effect in the soap that you should know about in advance.
Some fragrance will accelerate trace. Whether the acceleration is mild or pronounced, I am sure this is something you would want to know before placing the fragrance in your soap. Other fragrances may cause ricing. Still others may cause discolouration, Be informed about the fragrance oils that you choose to avoid mishaps.
Have you checked our Fragrances? Check them out here>
4.Don’t forget why you are creating your own soaps
I’m assuming it is because you care about the health of your skin. It means that what you put into your soaps is just as important as what you leave out. If health is your primary consideration, it informs the decisions that you will make when it is time to create.
I have noticed that this primary consideration of health often gets lost in a sea of other considerations. How colourful should this be? Should I include X ingredient or Y ingredient ? If any practice or ingredient will jeopardise the health of the skin, then perhaps the decision about whether to include or not becomes very easy.
5. Don’t try to dictate every part of the process.
This one is going to sound very strange. Listen to the soap in front of you. While you may have a perfect recipe and you know you have done everything right, this is not a theoretical process, you are creating something and that something is in front of you. Look at it and make decisions from what you see and not from what you think things should be.
In other words, stop trying to force the soap to be what it isn’t. If the soap was supposed to be green but it is brown- just accept it and move on.
Try to understand what might be minor variations and distinguish these from major errors. Will the soap be safe and healthy for use in the end? Every soap may not be a vision of perfection (there is an obsession with perfection), but those imperfect looking soaps may be exactly what your skin needs.
For me, there’s a certain appeal to a soap bar that looks like someone handcrafted it. An artist who just went with the flow and enjoyed the process of creation.
6. Don’t use tap water or bottled drinking water
Use distilled water to create your handmade soaps. This may seem like a small, very inconsequential thing. Distilled water is free of minerals which is exactly what is needed.
Trace minerals in tap water will be deposited into the final soap. Rancidity can begin in those spots where impurities reside causing those dreaded orange spots (DOS) in your soaps.
Keep in mind that dirty containers and tolls will also cause impurities to be deposited into the soap, so be meticulous with cleanliness as well.
I hope this list serves as a useful guide. Feel free to post your questions if you are having challenges and I’ll see if I can help.
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