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Virgogoddess

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I’m getting started in making cold process and I want to know what are the basics you think I need to start with? I have a list in brambleberry, nurture and amazon. Any tips? Thanks in advance
 

shunt2011

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Hello and welcome,

I highly recommend reading the most recent 1o pages of posts in the beginners section. Some things you'll need are gloves, goggles, stick blender, mixing containers with #5 or #2 in the triangle on the bottom. Stainless steel spoons or silicone spatulas, you can use almost anything for a mold (no glass), container for mixing lye (no glass).

Also, since you're new here be sure to go over to the introduction forum and tell us a bit about yourself.
 

Todd Ziegler

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Do a small, simple batch first and keep your ingredients to a minimum. 3 or 4 oils for a 16 ounce batch is a good place to start. Also get familiar with a soap calculator. I use the saponicalc app from Google play. I don't know if they have an apple version or not. It has been my best friend in soap making.
 

Virgogoddess

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Thank you. Yes, I’ve been watching all soap making videos for about 3 months now. I like the small batch idea and I was thinking about keeping is simple.
 

Todd Ziegler

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Thank you. Yes, I’ve been watching all soap making videos for about 3 months now. I like the small batch idea and I was thinking about keeping is simple.
A few things that I didn't understand well before I did my first CP batch was the gel phase, ricing and volcanoes. Those 3 things are something to look for after you have your first batch in the mold. Gel phase is something that you should understand as best as you can before you start making soap. You will need to decide up front, wether you want your soap to go through it or not. If you don't want your soap to go through the gel phase, then it is pretty simple. Just put the full mold of soap into your refrigerator or freezer. You will have to use the freezer if your soap is getting really hot, really fast and that is based on your recipes ingredients. Having a good IR thermometer will make it a lot easier to check your soaps temperature.

If you want to gel your soap, then you need to keep it from getting to hot or if it keeps cooling down, then you need to insulate it with towels to keep the temperature up.

The gel phase is not necessary. It is a matter of personal preference. I gel all my soaps because it makes the colors brighter and helps harden the soap just a little quicker but that hardening only applies to being able to unmold the soap and has nothing to do with the curing time.

Read as much as you can about what to look for after you pour your soap into the mold because that could be the difference between a great experience and a bad one.
 

Virgogoddess

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Thank you for this useful information. I’ve watched so many soap videos and they like to tell you what temp they soap at but nothing about gel phase. If you choose to just keep your soap out and not refrigerate/freeze it then does it not go through gel? Or is it a crapshoot?
 

Todd Ziegler

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Yes
Thank you for this useful information. I’ve watched so many soap videos and they like to tell you what temp they soap at but nothing about gel phase. If you choose to just keep your soap out and not refrigerate/freeze it then does it not go through gel? Or is it a crapshoot?
It can still go through the gel phase. What sometimes happens is that you get a partial gel phase. That you won't notice really until you cut your soap into bars. The middle of your soap will look a little darker than the outside of your soap. It is completely harmless and basically is a matter of taste. I didn't like the look so I made sure my soaps went through the gel phase and so I keep them wrapped up in towels to make sure the whole batch gets warm enough to gel all the way through.

Your ingredients will play a large part in how hot your soap gets naturally. I use a recipe that does not accelerate to trace quickly and does not warm up much on its own. So that I can control the temperature easier. I also start my soaping at a low temperature. I start with my oils at around 95-100°F and my lye water around the same, then I mix the 2 together. Your starting temperature combined with your recipe will dictate the temperature of your soap at the pouring stage. I start with the low temperatures because it allows for more time to mix colors and do swirls.

Reading up on what ingredients causes soap to heat up is a good place to start. For example milk, honey or any liquid you use in place of water, that has a high sugar content, can cause your soap to get really hot. In the case of milk, it can get hot enough to burn the milk. So stay with plain water until you have a good knowledge of how the different ingredients will heat up your soap.

I still haven't tried anything but water yet.

One thing that I have not been able to find a solid answer for is how long to keep the gel phase going and what is the optimal temperature. Someone out there might have the exact answer. I just keep the temperature between 100°-120°F for at least a couple of hours or until it looks the same shades of color on top from one end of the mold to the other. Basically it is just a mix of experience and guessing. As long as it does not volcano or get brain head, I will keep the heat going for 2-3 hours but once you become confident in your soap making, you will know when to stop or keep going.
 
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IrishLass

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Welcome to the forum! :)

Re: gel phase: Ditto what Todd said^^^. If you just leave your soap out, it may or may not go through gel phase depending on certain variables, such as your water amount (more water increases the likelihood of gel occurring) the types of oils you used (e.g. 100% coconut oil soaps gel on my counter without any added heat whatsoever), your soaping temp (warmer temps are helpful to gelling), etc... even your fragrance oil or essential oil choice can cause a soap to gel at room temp on your counter (clove essential oil for example). And of course ingredients such as honey can cause it to gel at room temp on your counter, depending on how you add the honey (e.g., I mix my honey with my lye water and I actually have to encourage my soap to go through gel in the oven. But if I add it to my batter instead, I have to refrigerate so it doesn't overheat).

Before you begin soaping, here is a good read concerning lye safety, what to do or not do if you get it on your skin, etc...: https://www.soapmakingforum.com/threads/lye-safety-again.63895/

The two top essentials I recommend before starting are goggles and gloves. I would not soap without them.

Best container to mix lye solution are those made of either PP #5 or HDPE #2 (look on the bottom of the container at the triangular recycle code). Quality stainless steel will also work..emphasis on 'quality'.

Soaping bowl should be made of the same type plastic or quality stainless steel.

Stay away from aluminum. Lye and aluminum do not play well together.

Mixing utensils: silicone or plastic spoons, spatulas are great, as are quality stainless steel utensils. Get yourself a stick-blender if you don't want to be mixing for hours. Avoid wooden utensils, as the lye breaks them down over time.

Mix your lye solution in a well-ventilated area and avoid breathing in the fumes. Outside downwind is perfect, but if inside do what you can to protect your lungs (and also wear goggles to protect your eyes and gloves to protect your hands). I myself use a makeshift mask made of three 3-ply cotton diapers folded 3 times over themselves one way and 3 times over the other way, and then hold that over my mouth and nose with one hand as I am mixing with the other hand.

Some types of dry lye can hold a static charge and fly about the air as you are weighing it out. The best preventative I have found is wiping the outside of my lye container all over with a dryer sheet like Bounce, et al. It sounds weird, but it really works to keep the static at bay. The bead type of lye is supposed to better where static is concerned.

Always add your lye to the water....not the other way around.



IrishLass :)
 

Arimara

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Molds
1 lb mold
6 cavity bar mold

Pitcher
Funnel pitcher, 3pk I am only showing this in case you'd like to color soap. You do not need it but these make pouring more precise.

Spatula
Silicone Set These are just a suggestion from personal experience. This style is less likely to get soap bits and water trapped in it.

Hello and welcome. Sorry if I over stepped anything. The above is just a few things from amazon that would be useful. I suggest investing in the bar cavity mold until you get a feel for your soap technique. It's how I started and it saved me a lot of headache. I can't speak for this mold right now since it's been almost 5 yrs but the mold should handle a 16oz or 450g batch of soap well.
 

Arimara

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@Todd Ziegler I just used a pitcher set I bought from Walmart. I might have to invest in that set when I can reconfigure my storage.
 

Todd Ziegler

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@Todd Ziegler I just used a pitcher set I bought from Walmart. I might have to invest in that set when I can reconfigure my storage.
It has been a really durable set. I can't remember for sure but I think they are safe to use for temperatures of up to 325°F. I put them in my double boiler and microwave (for 10 minutes) without any problems. I bought 2 sets of them and this set too.
Both have been outstanding. They have raised marking so they won't disappear after washing them and you can use volume or weight with them.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MCXHWNN/ref=cm_sw_r_apa_i_cq5GEbCHQM2T6
 

Arimara

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It has been a really durable set. I can't remember for sure but I think they are safe to use for temperatures of up to 325°F. I put them in my double boiler and microwave (for 10 minutes) without any problems. I bought 2 sets of them and this set too.
Both have been outstanding. They have raised marking so they won't disappear after washing them and you can use volume or weight with them.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MCXHWNN/ref=cm_sw_r_apa_i_cq5GEbCHQM2T6
Lotion making would have been miles easier for me with those. Oh well.
 

Zing

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Welcome! I can't add much more to what's already been mentioned. Have fun! Let us know how it goes. I love photos, too! It's a very rewarding and addicting pastime!
 

Virgogoddess

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I want to thank everyone for giving me some great advice. I’m gathering supplies and I think I can actually start next week!
 
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