Help for HP pot size

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I did not want to highjack another forum on HP soaping, but need some help. I currently do HP in my crock pot. I am getting to the point that the crock is almost more than I can handle. I would like to switch to a stainless steel pot but the equivalent one (6 quarts) that I have is also almost more than I can handle. I usually soap in batches of either 500 or 1000 grams. So at the most my total soap batch would be less than 2 quarts. What size pan should I look for to start cooking on my stove top? Is there a rule of thumb...say 2 times or 3 times the amount of the batch? Is one sort of pan better than another? Tall and narrow rather than wide and flat?

I would appreciate any advice you can give for shopping. I can always alter the batch size, but it would be nice to be able to do the larger batches without worrying about it overflowing onto my stove. Thanks for any help you can give me.
 

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You can either use a double boiler (but these pots are usually smaller like 3qts) or a larger pot that has a very thick bottom to diffuse the heat evenly (like a lobster pot).

Lids with vent holes can be probematic. (Over cooked soap or batter that's so dehydrated it's hard to spot the vaseline stage) Ideally you want a lid that seals well.

The other thing to consider is how hot are you going to be soaping? If you want to soap hot to reduce your cook time then having a pot 3x the size of your batch will give the soap more room to expand when it's volcanoing and you are trying to stir it down.

If you are in a smaller pot, you have to be a little more careful to not let the soap get out of control. But I like that stovetop HP lets you up or lower the temperature as needed.

The other weird thing that may be important is that if you are trying to use an infrared thermometer on melted oils (which is an almost clear solution) in a stainless steel pot, the light travels through the oils and reflects off the stainless steel which totally messes up the reading! When I melt my hard oils, I stir with a spatchula and aim to take the reading against it so it's not bouncing off the bottom of the pot.
 
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For cooking low and slow with a fairly tight lid, a pot that is 2x the batch size would be fine for me. For higher heat, I totally agree that 3x would be safer.

FWIW, I prefer the term "expand" to "volcano." The latter sounds out of control, which isn't the case for me. With expansions, I simply stir them down, and possibly reduce the heat, as well.

@Hermit I had no idea about the IR thermometer and stainless pots. Thanks for the tip!
 

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Yeah my dad has a high end probe thermometer; so when I bought my cheep infared one for soapy stuff it was tested for accuracy.... And then began the round of trouble shooting to figure out why the two were giving off different temps for the pot of oils🤪😆
 
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For cooking low and slow with a fairly tight lid, a pot that is 2x the batch size would be fine for me. For higher heat, I totally agree that 3x would be safer.

FWIW, I prefer the term "expand" to "volcano." The latter sounds out of control, which isn't the case for me. With expansions, I simply stir them down, and possibly reduce the heat, as well.

I like expand too...even with my crock pot I have them. Only once did I take my eyes off of the cooking soap and yes it was all over the counter. Since then I am more diligent! LOL

I do have a smaller heavy pan...can I assume that I want a heavy pan rather than a light one? Maybe I will test out a very small batch, keeping within the 2 X size, in that one before I go out and buy one of my own for soaping.

What about the type of handle? I know if I used my SS 6 quart pan that has two small side grips that I would need help if I tried to pour the soap into the mold. I was looking at one with a long handle, thinking I could lift and pour. Am I dreaming about that or will it be too heavy to maneuver?

Another question I just thought of. We always tell people to watch out for metal racks as sometimes even if they are listed as SS it is a light coating and easily worn off, leaving bare metal to touch our soaps. Is that something I have to watch out for? Are there "magic" numbers when shopping for SS cookware? Could I trust a pan that says SS on the bottom at a garage sale? Any brands to stay away from?

Or am I turning into my dear hubby who always over-worries things to the point of not ever taking that first step? They say you look like your spouse as you age...it's easy to pick up nasty habits too! LOL
 
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I have used both a heavy pan and a lighter one. While the lighter one cooked faster, I noticed after several years that the bottom of the pan was beginning to discolor. My guess was that the SS coating was being worn off, probably due to abrasion from a stick-blender that didn't have a deep enough bell housing to keep the blades from hitting bottom if the SB was anything less than perfectly vertical. So eventually I did upgrade to a nicer pan with a heavier copper bottom for more even heating. It does add more weight to the pot, but it also isn't discoloring after much use. I believe it is 18/8 stainless but am not home to check it, sorry.

If you find one that seems to be in decent shape for a decent price at a garage sale or thrift store, give it a try! You can try the magnet test, but apparently that isn't totally reliable since some stainless coatings do contain ions that are magnetic. Edit: a clear glass lid is nice if you can find one - lets you keep an eye on the soap while keeping it covered.

Regarding handles, I've used both types and don't have a problem with either. If your batch is small enough, I think a single handle would be fine. However, my nice SS set has a long handle on one side of the pot, and a shorter "helper" handle on the other side - best of both worlds, I think. Like this:

Screen Shot 2022-03-24 at 9.34.20 AM.png
 
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I have used both a heavy pan and a lighter one. While the lighter one cooked faster, I noticed after several years that the bottom of the pan was beginning to discolor. My guess was that the SS coating was being worn off, probably due to abrasion from a stick-blender that didn't have a deep enough bell housing to keep the blades from hitting bottom if the SB was anything less than perfectly vertical. So eventually I did upgrade to a nicer pan with a heavier copper bottom for more even heating. It does add more weight to the pot, but it also isn't discoloring after much use. I believe it is 18/8 stainless but am not home to check it, sorry.

If you find one that seems to be in decent shape for a decent price at a garage sale or thrift store, give it a try! You can try the magnet test, but apparently that isn't totally reliable since some stainless coatings do contain ions that are magnetic. Edit: a clear glass lid is nice if you can find one - lets you keep an eye on the soap while keeping it covered.
Thanks ever so much. This will help in my quest for a stove top pan, but also allow me to try the light weight one I have already. That way I can test out to see if I even like it, size of batch, etc. I am pretty sure that my SB bell covers the blades but it is something to look for if and when I have to replace it.

Both you and @Hermit have given me lots to look for, I just love how people are so eager to help out when someone has a question. I would have hated to give up HP soaping entirely.
 
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Of course, my pleasure (and Hermit's as well, I'm sure). We all take turns being the helper around here, including you on many occasions. Keep us posted how it goes!
 
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I sure will. Here's hoping the supplies don't take too long...I depleted all of them the last time I soaped. Am getting excited about it now. I'll need to re-size my recipes for the trial.
 
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Don't underestimate the humble ladle! I make big batches (8kg oils!) and trying to lift and tilt that when it's totally full is not fun at all. So I ladle most of the batter in to the mould before I look at tipping the rest in. Of course, seizing batters could be an issue with CP, but with hp you should always be able to ladle most of the batter out before tipping the pot
 

SueSoaps

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I did not want to highjack another forum on HP soaping, but need some help. I currently do HP in my crock pot. I am getting to the point that the crock is almost more than I can handle. I would like to switch to a stainless steel pot but the equivalent one (6 quarts) that I have is also almost more than I can handle. I usually soap in batches of either 500 or 1000 grams. So at the most my total soap batch would be less than 2 quarts. What size pan should I look for to start cooking on my stove top? Is there a rule of thumb...say 2 times or 3 times the amount of the batch? Is one sort of pan better than another? Tall and narrow rather than wide and flat?

I would appreciate any advice you can give for shopping. I can always alter the batch size, but it would be nice to be able to do the larger batches without worrying about it overflowing onto my stove. Thanks for any help you can give me.

I started with a crock pot but after increasing my batch size and having a few scary expansions, I started researching how I could do this in a safer way with more room and more distance between my hands and the soap. Three decades in occupational health and safety will do that for a girl. LOL.

I bought myself an induction cooktop and use a 16 (or 22) qt stainless steel induction-ready stockpot. I use a commercial 14” Waring stick blender. I try to have at least 3x the size of pot for batch weight of soap. I do a HTFHP cook and add hot lye solution to hot oils and blend continuously with heat set at 180 degrees on cooktop. Once soap batter hits 180, I remove the stockpot, place on heatproof mats and blend with stick on low while it finishes cooking. It can still expand out of the pot if you don’t watch it and manage it. I use a commercial long handle spatula. My soap usually hits 210-215 degrees and then it’s done. Once it starts to cool, I stop blending. I add my post-cook additives and then use a commercial long-handle ladle to get it into the mold and/or other containers to mix separate colours.

I’m very petite and I have carpal tunnel syndrome but this method works for me. I typically make batches of anywhere from 2kg to 8kg at a time.
Sorry for the long-winded response but I hope you’ll find some use in this.
 
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I started with a crock pot but after increasing my batch size and having a few scary expansions, I started researching how I could do this in a safer way with more room and more distance between my hands and the soap. Three decades in occupational health and safety will do that for a girl. LOL.

I bought myself an induction cooktop and use a 16 (or 22) qt stainless steel induction-ready stockpot. I use a commercial 14” Waring stick blender. I try to have at least 3x the size of pot for batch weight of soap. I do a HTFHP cook and add hot lye solution to hot oils and blend continuously with heat set at 180 degrees on cooktop. Once soap batter hits 180, I remove the stockpot, place on heatproof mats and blend with stick on low while it finishes cooking. It can still expand out of the pot if you don’t watch it and manage it. I use a commercial long handle spatula. My soap usually hits 210-215 degrees and then it’s done. Once it starts to cool, I stop blending. I add my post-cook additives and then use a commercial long-handle ladle to get it into the mold and/or other containers to mix separate colours.

I’m very petite and I have carpal tunnel syndrome but this method works for me. I typically make batches of anywhere from 2kg to 8kg at a time.
Sorry for the long-winded response but I hope you’ll find some use in this.
Great description of your method, which is very similar to my go-to method for HTFHP as well. I am not a fan of induction cooktops and can only envy your large SB. But then again, I'm not selling my soap, so arguably it would be overkill for me to make batches that big. You go, girl!
 
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Don't underestimate the humble ladle! I make big batches (8kg oils!) and trying to lift and tilt that when it's totally full is not fun at all. So I ladle most of the batter in to the mould before I look at tipping the rest in. Of course, seizing batters could be an issue with CP, but with hp you should always be able to ladle most of the batter out before tipping the pot
I have a large spoon and never thought of using a ladle....DUH. That alone could keep me in the crock pot a little longer. But will try my light weight SS pan first. Still waiting for supplies to come. I've resized the recipes and have been out in the garden with some very nice warm days. Next week chills off a little so it might be a perfect soaping day for me. Sure hope the last of my oils arrive.

And thanks @SueSoaps...long winded or not, it does help. Can't believe I hadn't tried a ladle...but my one spoon is pretty big...but a ladle will be a lot faster which helps getting the soap into the molds.
 

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