Cutting and Curing

Today I cut 8 lbs of my new  grapefruit soap and 16lbs of my very popular peppermint soap.  These are both 2 days old, I tend to cut my soap 1-4 days after it is made, when it is about as hard as cheddar cheese and then let the bars cure individually. In the above photos you can see how I cut my soap. I use a butcher knife and re-purposed old cookie cooling racks as my drying rack. While I still hand turn my soap every other day during the curing process, the wire racks help ensure that air it getting to all sides of the soap, helping it cure evenly.

A Brief Explanation of the Soap Making Process

Today I made some After Midnight soap, which is a toasted coconut lavender scent. This one uses a base of Rice Bran Oil, Palm Oil, Coconut Oil, and Castor Oil. I add black oxide and naturally purple clay to give it it’s color, and of course the essential oils for scent.  I included some pictures above to illustrate a little of what goes on in the process of making all my soaps.

I start by measuring all my oils by weight. Then I pour them all into a stainless steel pot and heat them just until they are all melted, usually the temperature doesn’t go about 120 degrees F.  Meanwhile, I put on goggles and gloves and mix the lye with water and let stand to cool, since the lye makes the water very hot. When the lye water and oils are both around 100 degrees F,  I mix them together using a hand mixer, which makes for a nice smooth blend.  After it is at a thin trace I add essentials oils and additives like clays and herbs.  After that I pour the mixture into a mold, and insulate with cardboard usually reclaimed from shipping boxes and old towels.  Often by the next day it’s hard enough to cut and then it needs to cure for 8 weeks before it’s sold.  At the end of 8 weeks the saponification process is completely done, which means there is no lye left, just solid gentle soaps.