*Soybean oil can be substituted with castor oil or olive oil.
In the video the color has been adjusted, as the warm lights made all things orange, but in adjusting the color all the color of the yellow soap dough has been eliminated. It is a bright yellow color.
The “flour” used for dusting is cornstarch, in a muslin bag. More corn starch would generally be used, for example, when making cookies, however, with soap its ideal to avoid over use, as it dries soap and could produce cracks. So, the soap appears to be a bit sticky, however, produces a much nice result.
I see so many new soapers ask for a simple soap recipe, so I decided to share one of my best go-to recipes. This recipe is ideal for new soapers and new to the art of hand molding cold processing soap.
A few things to keep in mind:
#1. Watch your oil and lye temperatures. The best results I’ve gotten so far have been at room temperatures. For Arizona that is generally about 85 degrees Fahrenheit. I have soaped colder, but this temperature is convenient. I don’t have to chill it, just mix oils/butter, lye and leave it for a few hours.
#2. Mentally walk yourself through your recipe, no matter how simple, and get all your duck in a row. This tip has helped me so many times I have to stress the mental state you are in when soaping (unless you’re on automatic pilot) is the type of soap you’ll get. This is why this soap recipe is so good for new soapers, not much to think about.
#3. Follow general safety guidelines for lye handling, covering exposed skin, eye safety and closed toe foot wear. I once got one grain of lye between my toes while wearing flip-flops. Last time I’ll do that.
#4. I used soybean oil for this recipe, although it can turn if you keep the soap for too long, because its easy to get and good for practice. No pressure about expensive oils and butters. All these ingredients can be gotten from just about any local grocery.
Never, ever add water to lye! Always add lye to water.
Simple Soap Recipe
Recipe Type: Cold Process Soap
Author: Bhakti Iyata
Water : Lye Ration: 2.298 : 1
A simple soap recipe for your rotation, to build on, or a good go-to. An ideal soap recipe for cold process hand molding soap.
Lard – 50%
Coconut Oil – 30%
Soybean Oil – 20%
*Soybean oil can be substituted with castor oil or olive oil.
Melt the lard and coconut oil in microwave or double boiler to incorporate these ingredients.
Add your liquid soybean oil (or other liquid oil) to the heated mixture. This will help cool the oils.
Add lye water to your oils, not the other way around (please read about how to handle lye).
Stick blend your oils and lye until trace.
Pour into mold.
Cover with plastic wrap.
Twenty four to 48 hours later, un-mold.
Wrap in plastic.
Place in sealed plastic bag.
Use as needed to make your hand molded cold process soap!
This is what has worked for me, and although I don’t think most of you need to know this, I will state it to be clear. There are many ways to do anything, hence the cliche, “there is more than one way to skin a cat.” (I have no hard feelings toward cats either.)
To make hand molded soap without a silicone mold takes a few ingredients.
A reliable soap recipe
Now, if you have these ingredients, you can begin.
I’ve given a lot of thought to this post.
There are many seasoned soapers offering their recipes – simple, hard and slow trace cold process soaps and many others. These are not difficult to find. I do have recipes I’ve used and I’ve posted here. This recipe will work for hand molding too.
One of the great protected secrets of any Soap Witch (or any soaper) is their recipe.
Why? Because not only does it take a lot of time to figure out what you like and then achieve the ideal soap, it can take many mistakes, anguish at less-than-desirable results and effort researching EVERYTHING. This is part of any good Soap Witch’s apprenticeship and therefore, her initiation into the Soapers Secrets. Secrets only known by those who have traded time, efforts, energy, money and creative desires to know. Its a fair trade. To give recipes to anyone is to take away from her process and her self initiation.
Copy a Design
It is my belief that if someone is striving to copy another design, it will surface. If someone is striving to find their own creative path that, too, will surface and therefore their intentions will come through the art.
I am not fearful of someone copying my designs. It will never be exactly like mine, and that is the beauty of art.
When it comes to painting, in ancient times, apprentices would copy the master painter’s work until the secret of the stroke, the paint consistency, the intention (in part) was revealed. I have done this many, many times. The honorable thing is NOT to claim the results as one’s own, but to state that it is a reproduction. In fine art, there are experts who will authentic art. In soap we have honor.
I do not want to take credit for something I did not manifest into this world. It is a wondrous thing to see something in your minds-eye and then have the ability to manifest it into the material world. This, the world at large, takes for granted. I do not.
With that said, get ready for my contradiction… Nothing is new. So, how do I reconcile these ideas? I understand that this is the first time I’ve made this art… My hands, my eye, my design execution are all different. I will, if asked, say where I first saw an idea, or if I came up with it without a prompt. I have not seen anything I’ve made in soap anywhere else. If its out “there” I have not seen it and can’t claim to have copied it. That’s not to brag, but to state how I like to create. I enjoy what is in my mind and want to share it.
I watch videos on fondant, gumpaste and clay molding, then use that idea to make it into soap. Those videos are easy to find on youtube. I also thank each artist in a private email or comment. I have even sent soaps, as a ‘thank you’ to people who have inspired me. They didn’t do anything particular, but I wanted to acknowledge that I found inspiration from them and how they are in the world.
I’m stating this to be clear where I stand on copying my work. If you want to hand mold soap some copying might be necessary. Its good to practice what you see.
Once you’ve made your soap, which I suggest making a pound to begin, let it cure for 24 hours. No need to put it in the freezer. Sodium lactate is unnecessary. Unmold it and you may be able to use it immediately, depending on your water amount. I do not alter this and use the suggested rate.
I’ve found that letting it cure in a air tight bag for a few days makes the soap even smoother and more pliable. It needs to be the consistency of soft clay. A touch of silk can help.
Only take what you’ll need and keep the bulk of the soap wrapped in plastic and in an air tight bag or container. If it seems the edges are drying out, spray some water on it or put a wet paper towel in the bag.
At first touch, after its unmolded, it will feel slightly hard. Just keep working it, heating it up in your hand and squeezing the crap out of it. Its a good hand exercise, or so I like to tell myself.
When molding the soap, I spray with alcohol and water, depending on the design. Alcohol will dry. Water will moisten.
Soap behaves differently than clay, fondant or gumpaste. It does not like to stick to itself after exposed to the air and it can be immediate with some soap base. You’ll see as you work with soap in this way. Because of the lack of stickiness of soap, and the fact that it can crack as it dries, can limit designs.
The rest, now that you’ve unmolded yourself from traditional silicone soap molds, is up to your imagination. Go forth and create soap!
I was inspired to use this recipe because I wanted a simple recipe for a more complex design. I had an idea about the slanted design, but hadn’t tried it yet, so I just held the idea loosely. I had to see how the soap preformed to know for sure.
I approached the recipe with a color scheme in mind. I wanted blue and purple with some bright white. I would use the white as a line, since I’m terrible at doing line of powder. I did once with a cocoa dusting that was just ok, but it smears when I cut it and that goes against my desire for neatness.
Super Fat & Water Reduction
This is cold process using Lard, Olive Oil (inexpensive pomace), Palm Oil, Coconut Oil and a touch of silk.
You can superfat this at your desired amount. I used 5% superfat. I also did not reduce the water from the SoapCalculator’s default settings. I need time to work, and water buys time.
I made the recipe using a general cold processing method. If you need help with the recipe you can write me directly, but there are great videos already on how to make cold process.
I made the batch and added Pink Grapefruit fragrance oil to the entire batch before I colored it. I like this fragrance oil since I know it preforms well, does not discolor or accelerate trace. Its a bright clean fragrance and one I rely on for producing stable results.
Setting the Mold
Setting my 4 pound silicone mold on an angle, I leaned it on a towel and propped it up with another towel so it wouldn’t slide. I poured the purple amount, which I guessed at, and dropped in a few hand rolled embeds. I tapped it, I did not pound it, to get the air bubbles out. Its too delicate to pound. When I was satisfied, I sprayed with alcohol and put it in the freezer for a few minutes. I set the mold the same way, on a tilt, in the freezer.
When I could jiggle the mold, and the soap didn’t move, I proceeded. I pulled the soap out of the freezer and put it on a tilt again on my soap table. I spooned a thin layer of white batter and put it back in the freezer. Now, my soap is beginning to firm. The saponification process is happening so the soap is beginning to harden, which always causes a bit of anxiety in me. Patiences, I tell myself. I take a breath and wait a few more moments while this soap stiffens.
I remove the mold and set the mold level on the table, and spoon the rest of the soap on carefully and smooth the entire layer out. I now can tap the entire mold a little harder to try and release any trapped air bubbles. When I say, spoon carefully, I mean that literally. I am extremely gentle to not penetrate the bottom layers.
I spray the top liberally with alcohol and stick the finished soap in the freezer for about 30 minutes. No longer because I don’t want to freeze it. Remember, there is still water in it and it will freeze. I just want to hinder the heat from full saponification. I don’t want cracks or gelling in the center.
I take it out and spray the top again. I don’t mind ash on the top and don’t want to chance gelling, so I leave it uncovered to evaporate and minimize heat. I’ve seen soap, after removing it from my chilling-process, heat up to 180 degrees. I’m cautious to control the heat in the direction I want it to go.
I unmolded the next day and cut it. Its a smooth, hard bar now after 4 weeks. I have it for sale, yet I want to keep this one. 🙂
What I learned from this pie soap and other soaping adventures.
I’m in love with soaping, so this makes me want to learn. I watch, experiment and chart what I learn. I have made one recipe over and over, with only design variation. Here are some of the things I’ve learned.
1.) I always prepare before I begin soaping. I set out everything I could or might need. I visualize what I want to my soap to look like and what steps are in place. I ask questions like, “what temperature do I want my oils and lye to be when I mix them?”
2.) If I over pour my mark with one oil I account for that gram with another oil, so I reach my total desired oil measurement.
3.) I mentally walk myself through the entire recipe before I begin. I sit for many moments before I begin. Often times I’ve had the idea in my head for days, letting the idea roll around before I even think seriously about making the recipe.
4.) I research all my questions about the reactions of the oils before I begin. If I run across a question I have during soaping, I stop what I’m doing to research it.
5.) And only if I love the idea do I forge ahead.
The image on the left, the entire pie, has plastic wrap strips underneath to help loosen the soap from the ridge glass pie plate. The plastic wrap was unnecessary as I used a pie spatula to loosen the soap, after I let it chill for an hour. I unmolded after 16 hours of curing.