Soap is made with lye. Lye is a chemical that will burn and scar and is rather dangerous but when processed (cooked) completely it no longer exists in the product in which it was used. For example, in soap it is not listed anymore because once the soap has finished its curing process the lye is no longer in the soap. The lye is used to turn the fats (oils) and liquid (water or goat milk) into soap.
– this is the original way to make home made soap. Basically the oils are melted together and brought to a proper temperature. The lye is added to the liquid (water or goat milk) to dissolve. This is the dangerous step. The liquid gets very hot from this chemical combination. The lye is activated by the liquid. The lye mixture is then added to the oil mixture once both are at appropriate temperature levels and then the two are mixed together. Once they are well mixed and no trace of separation is visible then the soap is poured into a large mold to cut later or individual molds that do not need cutting. These are left in the molds until they have cooled and solidified. Once they have been released from the mold and cut into bar size individual soaps they must be left to cure for 4 – 6 weeks. It is only then that they lye is completely processed out of the soap. Cold Process has a shorter working time for the soap maker, but a much longer wait time. Cold Process soap has a smooth look to it.
– this is a fully cooked way of making soap. Many people use crock pots dedicated to the soap making process. The advantage of HP is that once it has cooled down completely it is ready to be used. By cooking it all the way through the saponification process the lye has been fully cooked out, basically skipping the curing time. The disadvantage of the HP for the soap maker is that this process takes much more time on the front end. It can take up to 4 hours of soap cooking babysitting and that is hard on the feet. 😉
Melt and Pour
– melt and pour is essentially what it sounds like; it is a soap base that has been pre-made (already saponified) that can be melted down and poured into molds. These bases are almost always industry made. No one has come up with a smooth melt and pour base that can be made at home easily. These M&P bases usually have other ingredients added to them to help with their consistency and stability. Because these are not technically home made soaps there are soap making purest who do get upset by these being sold at fairs and markets and being called home made. All one has to do is melt it and pour it into a mold adding fragrance and color as desired. But these soaps do have their place in the soap making world. Usually these soaps do not hold additives (like herbs or flowers or oats) well as they tend to float or sink completely in the base. The consistency of M&P soaps is very much like the bars of soap one buys at the store.
Here’s a comparison my eldest daughter and I thought fairly fitting:
Cold Process hand crafted soap is like a fine aged cheese: cheddar of edam
Hot Process hand crafted soap is like a delicious soft (fresh) cheese: cream cheese or fresh chevre
Melt and Pour soap with added fragrance or color is like queso that is made from Velveeta and RO*TEL. 🙂
Here is a great read by another soap crafter. It is a long one, but a very informative one.