Friday, February 26, 2010

Mango scented soap - Part 2

Here is the second installment of my mango scented soap. I made the soap 2 days ago and it has been sitting, encased in towels, on my dining table for 2 days now. I am having my parents over for a birthday dinner tonight though so I need my table. This was a great incentive as I also really needed to complete the next process in my soap making adventure.
This is how the soap looks in the mould after it has cooled. It needs to sit in the mould for between 24 to 48 hours. Once it is dry, it will start to pull away from the side of the mould. It is important that the mould you use is flexible as, at this stage, you need to loosen it from the sides of the mould before inverting it to remove the soap.
This photo shows the soap once it has come out of the mould. The greased proof paper is still sticking to the soap but will peel away easily. It is a similar process to peeling the greased proof paper from the bottom of a cake or slice.
These are the materials I will use now. I dry my soap on a metal cake rack. It allows air to flow around the soap and leads to even drying.
This shows how I prepare my drying rack. I buy the chux wipes on a roll and take 2 sheets and fold them over. I then cover the rack with the chux towels. I did not do this initially and, as the soap dried, marks appeared on the soap in lines. I think that these were places where the soap didn't dry as quickly. Once I started lining my cake racks, I stopped getting lines in my soap which affected the look of the soap.
My soap has now had the greased proof paper removed, my drying tray is ready and it is now time to cut my soap. I love this part. My kitchen now smells like mango and the soap is so soft, smooth and silky to touch.
This is showing the second cut in my soap. I am using a ruler this time so that I can ensure that my soap bars are all an inch wide. It is very easy to cut at this stage, just make sure that your knife is big enough to span the width of your soap. It makes for a much smoother cut. I also prefer to use a smooth bladed knife as I think a serrated edged knife would leave marks on the cut sides of the soap.
My soap is now all cut. It will stay on this drying rack for the next 4-6 weeks before I put it into a container. I tend to turn my soap every day for the first week and then only once or twice a week after that.

Final close up of a finished bar. I love having some waves and ripples on the top as I think it adds character. The colour is a light apricot but, every now and then, there are swirls and ripples in the colour. Every piece is different and unique. Hope these 2 posts have helped any potential soap makers. My next project with be a red soap with raspberry scent. The raspberry oil smells just like a redskin lolly so I can't wait.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mango Scented Soap

I have been asked by a friend on the Simple Savings forum to explain how I make my cold processed soap. Since a picture tells a thousand words though, I have decided to let the pictures (mostly) speak for me. Hopefully this helps some people on their foray into soap making. I have made an orange coloured and mango scented soap as requested by my son Harley. Orange is his favourite colour and he had great fun helping me prepared the mould and also taking some photos. Here goes.

 Here are the ingredients I used. The caustic soda is also referred to as lye and is the chemical that causes the saponification reaction to turn these different ingredients into soap. I originally learnt to make soap from following a tutorial on the Down to Earth blog at There is a link there to a fantastic lye calculator that I used to create my own recipe. I have learnt through experience and research that you need at least a 50/50 ratio of oils that are solid at room temperature to those that are a liquid at room temperature.

500g vegetable oil
250g rice bran oil
500g solidified oil (animal fat)
250g copha (coconut oil)
570g water
217g caustic soda

Here comes the process.

I keep all of these bowls, utensils and various other items specifically for soap making. They have all come into contact with the caustic soda mixture and are therefore unsafe to use for food preparation. I also have a stick blender that I will use later and is kept solely for soap making.
I like to start by weighing my oils first. I begin with the liquid oils. I used to measure the oils into the stockpot but found it too hard to read the display on my scales. I have measured into a bowl this time. I have no problem using this particular bowl for food again as it is only holding oil and will not come into contact with anything that has been used with the caustic soda.
I then cut the solidified oil and copha into cubes so that it will melt quicker. This is then put to one side while I mix the caustic soda into the water.

This photo shows the safety precautions I have taken. I have put several layers of newspapers down to protect my benchtop. I also have a cheap pair of rubber gloves as they cover my wrists and forearms as well as my hands. I also have a bottle of rain water as it is best to use either rain water, distilled water or water that has been left sitting for at least 24 hours so the chlorine in the water can evaporate off. I like to measure my water so I get the full 570g.

Here I have my oils at the back of the stove as I will heat them last. I chose to use my stove for the caustic soda stage as I turn my rangehood onto high which sucks the fumes out and I don't breathe it in. I have measured out the 570g of cold water into my glass bowl. I have my 217g of caustic soda in the little purple bowl. Always pour the caustic soda into the water. If you reverse the process, you with have an explosion on your hands.

Here is the caustic soda mix just after I added it to the water. At the moment, the caustic soda is sitting in a layer on the bottom of the bowl. The fumes have not started to form yet.

Stir the mixture gently, being careful not to splash any of this liquid. The vapours are now forming and are sucked out by my exhaust fan. It is a similar consistency to stirring sugar into water as the caustic soda is granulated. During this process, a chemical reaction is occurring between the caustic soda and the water. This creates a large amount of heat.
I have now moved the bowl with the caustic soda mix to my paper covered bench. Now that the caustic soda has dissolved into the water, the fumes have all gone and it is safe to leave on the bench. It is still dangerous though and can cause chemical burns so should be handled with care. I have my candy thermometre in it to check the temperature. It is currently about 70 degrees celcius and needs to cool down to 50 degrees.

It is now time to heat the oils to melt the solidified fat and copha. I cut mine into cubes so they melt quicker. I heat mine over a low heat until almost melted and then turned the heat off. The residual heat in the melted oils finishes the job off for me and, usually, results in the oil being the required 50 degrees celcius.

It is now time to prepare my mould. If this is your first time making soap, I would advise that you prepare your mould first. I have learnt now that I have more than enough time to prepare my mould while I am waiting for the caustic soda solution to cool down. I am using a rectangular plastic container that I picked up in the $2 Shop. The plastic is flexible and will bend a little.
The first step to preparing a mould is to spray it with kitchen spray or cooking oil. I gave it a liberal coat so that the soap will come out easily.

I have lined this mould with greased proof paper. You need a lining that can stand up to heat. I have tried this mould before and didn't line it. I had a lot of trouble getting the soap out so I have lined it this time to make it easier on myself. I have taped the paper to the side of the container too as it will be easier to pour the soap into the mould.
The oil mix and caustic soda mix are both at the correct temperature now. I have added them together. You need to added the caustic soda mix to the oils for safety. Notice how the caustic soda mix has sunk to the bottom and has changed colour. This mix is still caustic and can burn so make sure you are still wearing your gloves.

This photo was taken as I started the stick blender. It takes between 5 to 10mins for the soap to become stable and reach the stage known as trace.
This photo shows the signs of trace. You know you have reached the trace stage when you can stir the mixture and ripples remain on the surface. The mixture is very runny originally. As you mix it, it thickens up in a similar way to making a white sauce or gravy on the stove. Once it is thick enough, the ripples form and don't break down when you stop stirring. The soap is now stable and can be put into a mould to set. If you choose to use colours or scents, now is the time to add them.

In this photo, I have added some orange soap colour and also a mango scented oil. I am mixing it with a spoon at this stage as I find it provides a more even consistency. It smells lovely at this stage.

The soap is now ready to be poured into the mould. You can clearly see the trace in this soap. It is holding the patterns I have made in the top of the soap and has even withstood several bangs on the bench to smooth it out!

This is the last photo for now. I have transferred the soap to my dining table to cool down where it is not in the way. I have covered it with 2 towels so the the whole container is enclosed and it can cool down slowly. It takes about 24 hours until it is cool enough to set and can be unmoulded. I will cover the un-moulding and cutting of the soap in my next post.

I hope this has helped to make the process of cold process soap making so much more achievable and less daunting for you. Have fun with it. I must warn you though, once you start, soap making is quiet addictive. Most of my family and friends will be getting home made soap as a part of their presents this year!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I have set up this blog to record my craft endeavours. I have decided to have a year of simplicity. To do this, I have stopped purchasing packaged foods and have decided to bake everything from scratch. My son, Harley, started school this year so I need to be organised and bake enough snacks to keep him going through school and beyond.

I am a single mother who is studying full time. I have one semester to go until I finish a double degree in primary education and science so it will be a full on 6 months to finish it all. On top of this will be the usual school and family committments.

I have decided that I will make all of the presents I give this year. I can cook, preserve produce and make jams and pickles, sew, knit, crochet and make my own cards. I have also just started exploring soap making which I am really enjoying at the moment. I have actually made a batch of soap today and plan to post a step by step tutorial in the next post for a cyber friend from a forum I belong to

I am planning on using this blog as a visual diary of all the projects I am working on. I shall record the projects I make so that I can remember what I have made and, whether it is successful, so I know how to plan my present giving for the future. More to come!!