Hot Process-When is it Cooked/Finished?

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Hello!
I'm new to the Soapmaking Forum and recently started making hot process soap. I believe it will be my preferred method but I am a little confused about a couple things, mainly because I have found varying info for the same subjects...

1. Do you have to go through all stages (full gel, applesauce, mashed potatoe, vaseline) to have a fully cooked and safe soap?

2. Is there an optimal temp inwhich lye is neutralized? Does it matter since soap will continue to cook in the mold?

3. What is the least amount of time you can cook your soap and how do you know when it is finished if it doesnt go though all staged?

4. Does low or high temp make a difference or is it really just preference?

Thank you all so much!!
Tara
 
Hey, I don’t do HP but I can answer some of the questions.

1. Once it goes through the gel phase you can place it in a mold.

2. There is no optimal temp to “neutralize” lye. As long as you run your recipe through a soap calc and follow the directions you shouldn’t have excess lye.

3. When your soap has gone through the gel phase you know it’s saponified.

4. How high are you thinking of with temps? You just need it hot enough to go through gel phase.
 
1. Do you have to go through all stages (full gel, applesauce, mashed potatoe, vaseline) to have a fully cooked and safe soap?
No, not every soap will go through every stage. It is fully cooked when it doesn't zap anymore. I assume that by "safe" you mean "safe to use right away." Same answer - when it is no longer zappy. Just remember that "safe" does not equal "ideal." You can use any soap, whether CP or HP, as soon as it's not zappy. But it won't be ideal. It will melt away quickly due to its high water content, and it will be much harsher on the skin than it will be after a few weeks of curing.

2. Is there an optimal temp inwhich lye is neutralized? Does it matter since soap will continue to cook in the mold?
As noted above, lye isn't neutralized by cooking or by temperature. I think you are confusing this with saponification, which happens whether you cook the soap (faster saponification) or don't cook the soap (longer time to saponify).

3. What is the least amount of time you can cook your soap and how do you know when it is finished if it doesnt go though all staged?
There is no set time. Because you aren't working in controlled laboratory conditions, every recipe and each batch is going to be different. You have to zap test it if you want to be sure that it is fully saponified. Alternatively, you can decide not to worry about it, and just mold it when it is still fluid enough to make molding easy, and then cut it when it's firm enough. As you noted above, it will saponify on its own even if you didn't cook it all the way to that point.

4. Does low or high temp make a difference or is it really just preference?
I wouldn't say preference, but rather, intended goals. If you want it to saponify faster, you may want to work with higher heat. That comes with higher risks of volcanoes and burns. If those risks aren't acceptable to you, work with lower heat.
 
Hello!
I'm new to the Soapmaking Forum and recently started making hot process soap. I believe it will be my preferred method but I am a little confused about a couple things, mainly because I have found varying info for the same subjects...

1. Do you have to go through all stages (full gel, applesauce, mashed potatoe, vaseline) to have a fully cooked and safe soap?

2. Is there an optimal temp inwhich lye is neutralized? Does it matter since soap will continue to cook in the mold?

3. What is the least amount of time you can cook your soap and how do you know when it is finished if it doesnt go though all staged?

4. Does low or high temp make a difference or is it really just preference?

Thank you all so much!!
Tara
I have been cooking soap for years, (instant gratification).
I find that when my batch is "shiny" and no longer soupy it is done.
Another way to know is when it begins to stick to the sides of the crock.
Also, I wait until the very end to add my fragrance. I find that it maintains its fragrance much longer...in fact, I have never had any of my scents disappear. Once I put it in my loaf molds, it sits 24ish hours.
I cut it and cure it for a minimum of 2 weeks.
I like to go longer, because it makes for a harder bar.
 
One great thing about this forum is the free sharing of tips that work for different soapers. Not everyone’s crockpot will be the same size or temperature, and different recipes produce different results. So the signs of being done that one person may see under her soaping conditions, may not work for someone else. But they can be a good place to start experimenting and learning. 😊

Regarding when to cut, it's also good to remember that different recipes will harden at different rates. For instance, if you wait 24 hours to cut a high-tallow or high-CO soap, it will probably shatter. At the very least, it will break your cutter wires. On the opposite end of things, a high OO soap, esp with lots of water, may need several days to fully firm up. That's why it is best to learn the visual and tactile signs of a soap being ready to unmold and cut, rather than waiting any specific amount of time. :)
 
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I have been cooking soap for years, (instant gratification).
I find that when my batch is "shiny" and no longer soupy it is done.
Another way to know is when it begins to stick to the sides of the crock.
Also, I wait until the very end to add my fragrance. I find that it maintains its fragrance much longer...in fact, I have never had any of my scents disappear. Once I put it in my loaf molds, it sits 24ish hours.
I cut it and cure it for a minimum of 2 weeks.
I like to go longer, because it makes for a harder bar.
Hello!
Thanks for your help. So, just to clarify, I think it is soupy when going through the "applesauce" stage? So I don't have to wait til after the "mashed potato" stage to add fo & additives and then mold? What I am ultimately trying to do I create a fluid batter. I feel like I am overlooking by waiting so long to finish the soap.
 
I've been making soap for about 5 years and have always only done hot process. There have been many lessons along the way. :)
1. Do you have to go through all stages (full gel, applesauce, mashed potatoe, vaseline) to have a fully cooked and safe soap?
Not all recipes will visibly go through all stages. The key is the dreaded zap test. I do it on every single batch because I don't want to add anything or mold it until I know it is fully saponified. Vaseline is also key if you want it fully saponified before pouring (and before zapping). The soap will look a bit translucent, like a gel more or less, although a lot of mine gets kinda puffy (not a volcano) before hitting Vaseline. This is when I remove the crock from the pot.

2. Is there an optimal temp inwhich lye is neutralized? Does it matter since soap will continue to cook in the mold?
When I make soap it is fully saponified before it ever even comes near a mold. There is no optimal temp, although I seem to like living on the edge so I do cook at a high temp. Just don't mix the oils and lye together if either or both are above 180. Even then, don't turn your back. Volcanoes are real.

3. What is the least amount of time you can cook your soap and how do you know when it is finished if it doesnt go though all staged?
There is no set time. Your soap is done when it's zap-free.


4. Does low or high temp make a difference or is it really just preference?
Just preference. But whether you choose high or low, it needs to be below 160 before adding most after-cook additives. Less than that for some additives.
 
Here's a couple of pics, the first is close to the end of cooking.
For me (I don't know why) it gets kinda foamy looking, maybe this is what people call mashed potato. lol, I don't know. I know this never happened when I first started making soap. At this point, it still has a tiny bit of a zap, but not much. I turn off the crockpot at this point and pull the crock out of the pot.

The 2nd is full saponification. 100% zap free. I just let it cool and add additives once it's down 160.

1711836777028.png
1711836958692.png
 
Hello!
Thanks for your help. So, just to clarify, I think it is soupy when going through the "applesauce" stage? So I don't have to wait til after the "mashed potato" stage to add fo & additives and then mold? What I am ultimately trying to do I create a fluid batter. I feel like I am overlooking by waiting so long to finish the soap.
Tara, no matter what I say, someone will contradict me, so I would just as soon keep my knowledge to myself. I am TRULY Sorry!
 
Tara, no matter what I say, someone will contradict me, so I would just as soon keep my knowledge to myself. I am TRULY Sorry!
I don’t think anyone was correcting you, just pointing out that each experience is truly different. Please continue to share your experience and knowledge. Your post was helpful especially the fragrance tip.I’ve only tried HP once, but I overcooked it as I wasn’t paying attention.
 
I agree, @Mommawolfe please do share your experiences, and I do apologize if I came off as correcting you.

When one of us chimes in about different experiences, we are trying to ensure that there is a full spectrum of information. That's not to say that your experience was wrong, rather, that some of what you shared was limited to the specific circumstances under which you were soaping. Finish time and cut time just happen to be two of those things that will vary greatly depending on recipe, amount of heat, etc.
 
Tara, no matter what I say, someone will contradict me, so I would just as soon keep my knowledge to myself. I am TRULY Sorry!
I meant to say over cooking, not overlooking (auto correct 🤪). But yes, knowing when the soap seems to done is still a mystery to me. And I do so appreciate everyone's input. It is truly helpful, even with multiple viewpoints.
 
I meant to say over cooking, not overlooking (auto correct 🤪). But yes, knowing when the soap seems to done is still a mystery to me. And I do so appreciate everyone's input. It is truly helpful, even with multiple viewpoints.
Nothing in soapmaking is written in stone. There are a lot of variables. Water discount and superfat are just 2 examples, another would be altitude. I keep my superfat at 5% and have never had a bar go rancid.
 
Is water discount when you hold water back and add after the cook to help with fluidity? Or am I thinking of something else? Speaking of holding water back, how much can you hold back? If I am understanding what I have researched, you need at least equal water to sodium hydroxide in order for it dissolve? Is that right? So anything extra I can technically reserve? Or is water discount just when you use less water overall in your recipe?

Here's a couple of pics, the first is close to the end of cooking.
For me (I don't know why) it gets kinda foamy looking, maybe this is what people call mashed potato. lol, I don't know. I know this never happened when I first started making soap. At this point, it still has a tiny bit of a zap, but not much. I turn off the crockpot at this point and pull the crock out of the pot.

The 2nd is full saponification. 100% zap free. I just let it cool and add additives once it's down 160.

View attachment 76972View attachment 76973
It looks pretty fluid. Do you use any additives? I hear so much about yogurt but I keep my recipes vegan. I wonder if coconut milk based yogurt would do the same?
 
Is water discount when you hold water back and add after the cook to help with fluidity? Or am I thinking of something else? Speaking of holding water back, how much can you hold back? If I am understanding what I have researched, you need at least equal water to sodium hydroxide in order for it dissolve? Is that right? So anything extra I can technically reserve? Or is water discount just when you use less water overall in your recipe?
This might help explain water discount: https://www.soapmakingforum.com/posts/988419/
You can also read @DeeAnna 's Soapy Stuff about water and lye ratio's. This one you might have to read a few times, but it's worth the effort, I promise. :)

It looks pretty fluid. Do you use any additives? I hear so much about yogurt but I keep my recipes vegan. I wonder if coconut milk based yogurt would do the same?
I sometimes add yogurt, but not always. In that batch there was no yogurt, but I do reserve 100g of water to mix with goat milk powder and sorbitol for after the cook. That particular batch was 2100g, so smaller batches, less reserved water. For a while I was using 3:1 water to lye ratio, but have recently gone back to 2.7:1. The batch in the pic is 2.7:1. I also add sf after cook which helps with fluidity as well.

Here's a couple of recent soaps. The first one is a hanger swirl and the 2nd is an in the pot swirl. Both batches were 3:1 water to lye ratio. Of course, this ratio is for HP and I stir ... a lot. :)

Edit: Forgot to mention, I don't know if coconut milk yogurt would work or not, but it's worth a try. Just be sure to wait until the temp of the batter is below 160.

1712112603641.png
1712112649768.png
 
Thank you so much! So you reserve the water from what would be combined with your sodium hydroxide? Nothing that is actually extra? I really like that in the pot swirl, really pretty monochromatic colors. Gonna have to try that. I use a chopstick to get "chunkier swirls," I think it works pretty well.
 

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