Hot process, refined vs unrefined, optimal temperature, lye resistance

Soapmaking Forum

Help Support Soapmaking Forum:

Druantia

New Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2022
Messages
4
Reaction score
10
Location
Hungary
Hi,

I'm about to make my first batch of soap and I would have some questions to which I did not find many answers.

  1. Does it matter whether I use refined or unrefined oils? (not for superfatting)
    My understanding of what really matters here is the ratio of the different fatty acids in oils and fats. Does the fatty acid ratio differ in the case of refined and unrefined oils?
    I would use unrefined oils only for superfatting (only if it doesn't have too strong smell)
  2. Material of Crockpot
    All crockpot has a ceramic inner bowl. Is ceramic resistant to alkalis? Can lye eat through ceramic over time? I see everywhere people using it, but I have concerns about it.
  3. Optimal temperature range for hot process
    What is the optimal temperature range for cooking soap? Slow cooker's low setting can vary a lot from brand to brand. Is 80-90C (176-194F) considered a good range?
  4. Almost every youtube video and article is about cold-process, but doesn't hot-process superior?
    I read many advantages of the hot-process (more stable and stronger essential oils, shorter curing time, controllable superfatting, etc...)
    Meanwhile, the only upside of cold-process is that the outcome is prettier which is not a priority for me.
    Isn't hot-process considered a much better, advanced technique? Why most of the tutorials, videos, and articles is about cold-process?
Thanks! :) :)
 
Joined
Nov 16, 2018
Messages
5,018
Reaction score
12,434
Location
Hamilton, New Zealand
I can only answer the first question - unless it's for label appeal I would buy the cheapest version of oil available. For OO - extra virgin may be great for haute cuisine but it's not necessary ( and very expensive) to use in soap. The fatty acid profile remains the same which ever you use.
I don't consider hot process more advanced - but you will need to ask an expert there. I only do cold process because I don't like the rustic look of hot process.
 
Joined
Nov 15, 2018
Messages
8,394
Reaction score
15,060
Location
US
I agree with @KiwiMoose that using unrefined oils is primarily for label appeal. Refined oils will often give you a lighter colored soap, where as unrefined oils (EVOO, for instance) can really change the final soap color.

Hot process is not a "more advanced technique" than cold process. It does have the advantage that the soap is fully saponified when it goes into the mold, but hot processed soap still needs to cure just as long as cold processed soap. Just like cold process, without 4-6 weeks of curing time, your hot process soap will melt away quickly in the shower, and will be more harsh on the skin. After a good cure, the bars will last longer and be more mild on the skin.

Many people enjoy cold process because they can make more intricate designs, and they don't have to stand over a hot stove or crockpot to watch the soap cook. Thus, making CP soap is much less time-consuming than HP, and uses less utilities. That being said, many CP soapmakers do "cook" their soap after pouring it in the mold, by putting it in the oven or on a heating pad. That ensures it is fully saponified within 24 hours and also safe to use at that time. But again, all soap needs to cure if you want it to be ideal, as opposed to merely "safe to use."

I'm not against hot process - that's how I made soap for the first 5-6 years. It does require less fragrance, and the fragrance can last a bit longer. It's also nice for using "naughty" fragrances that would cause acceleration or ricing in cold process soap. Still, I've gradually moved away from HP and do mostly CP today. It really is much more convenient, and the bars come out looking much more smooth and pretty, even without fancy designs. Hot processed soap almost always has air pockets inside and uneven spots on the top.

After weighing all the pros and cons, you should make whatever type of soap you like to make. And when you do, we hope you will share pictures with us!
 
Last edited:

Druantia

New Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2022
Messages
4
Reaction score
10
Location
Hungary
Thank you both for the advice!
The heating pad or the oven seems a nice combination of the two methods.
Maybe what concerns me more is that the lye somehow disintegrates the essential oils, but I will put it to test.
I will try several recipes both with CP and HP, I'm curious about how much difference will be in design, smell, and texture.
And yes, I definitely will document it and I'll be back with some pictures and my experiences!
 

Latest posts

Top