What is Soap?
The definition of soap in the dictionary is – a substance used for washing and cleansing purposes, usually made by treating a fat with an alkali, as sodium or potassium hydroxide, and consisting chiefly of the sodium or potassium salts of the acids contained in the fat.
There are a few methods of soap making but Cold Process and Melt & Pour are probably the more common, but what are the differences. Each method has both positives and negatives depending on the result you require.
Cold process is a manner of making soap from scratch. You have complete control over your base ingredients. By combining different types of oil (commonly coconut, olive or palm oil) with lye (sodium hydroxide) to make, what many consider to be, true natural soap. You do have to be careful to use the correct quantities or you may otherwise end up with mess of oily gloop or soap that is unusable. There are also serious safety issues to consider because of the chemical process. Not all essential oils and fragrances or colourants survive in cold process, thus you are limited over your design.
It is still possible to have a bit of fun with cold process soap. You just need to be organised and understand what can and can’t be achieved. You also however must be a bit careful about the moulds you are using. Silicone and wood are more commonly used as it is easier to release the soap from them. Once hardened initially you can then cut you soap bars up from the big slab of soap, depending on the shape of your mould. You also then have 4-6 weeks wait before your soap is usable but once cured it will last a long time.
Melt & Pour
This is becoming more popular as a soap making method. Melt & Pour is a pre made soap base that means you have not had to go through the process getting lots of equipment, buying ingredients, making everything from scratch and waiting weeks for the soap to cure. However, you are not truly in control of all the ingredients that have gone into making the soap. Anyone else can buy the same pre made soap base and make a very similar soap bar.
It is easy to melt down and add colour, fragrance or essential oils and other ingredients. All sorts of things can be used as moulds and Melt & Pour soap can be removed from moulds a little bit easier. You can also have lots of fun embedding smaller bits of coloured soap into larger bars as it hardens quickly and doesn’t need curing, which also means that it can be used straight away.
For all soap making ingredients www.thesoapkitchen.co.uk