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December 09, 2020
Every year around October I think I'm going to make soap for Christmas presents and every year October and November pass me by and the Christmas soap does not get made. You will not be surprised to hear that this year is no exception. I like to make my soap using the cold process method that needs curing for 4-6 weeks so if I make it in October that would be absolutely perfect, the beginning of December not so much!
As I was mulling over this it came to me that hot process soap has no such curing requirements. Admittedly it comes out of the crock pot a hot gloppy mess but it is completely saponified i.e. not caustic! and just needs a week or two to harden up. The other advantage of HP soap is you put any essential oils, colouring etc in at the end of cooking which can be more successful. I repurposed the slow cooker I use for pickling jewellery (I use citric acid so nothing a good scrub couldn't clean up), rolled my sleeves up and set to.
The other thing I forget about soap making is what a god awful mess I make doing it. For some reason I am utterly incapable of weighing out coconut oil without smearing it the length and breadth of the kitchen. You really have to weigh soap ingredients with care, a couple of grams off can completely sabotage your efforts. Also fresh lye is pretty vicious, it can really burn if you get it on your skin, much like molten glass. so the weighing, measuring and mixing part of the operation is prolonged, messy and very sweary!.
It took so much longer than I was expecting, I started testing the acid levels far too early but then I actually read the hot process instructions, I put the lid on and let it to do it's own thing for a bit. Once the phenolphthalein tested clear I mixed in some honey and lots of lavender oil, mixed it like billyo and glopped it (technical term) into the soap mould, man that was one ugly batch of soap. I left it to cool overnight but at this point I was unconvinced it was going to be anything other than a lumpy mess.
By this morning it was hard enough to unmould and cut, lo and behold it looks like a really nice soap. I tested a bit and it has a lovely creamy lather and a strong lavender fragrance. I much prefer the smoother look of cold process soap but tbh I like instant gratification more, having to wait 6 weeks for my soap to cure was like torture. I'm pretty sure making hot process soap is going to be a new Christmas tradition.
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