Beginner's Guide to Cold Process soap

Making soap is a time honored tradition. And back in the day, it certainly didn't come from a pump squeeze bottle.

Soap is made by combining an oil with sodium hydroxide (lye). This causes a chemical reaction called saponification. This is the reason cold process soap needs time to cure, so that there are no bits of sodium hydroxide in the soap you are using and so that water used in the recipe can evaporate to give you a nice hard bar.

Wait, sodium hydroxide makes soap? Yes, yes it does. But let me explain. In the same way that you add a wee bit of sugar to your active yeast to bloom, or add sugar to your tea liquid when making kombucha, you must mix your oil with sodium hydroxide to ensure saponification occurs. And when you've given soap time to cure, the sodium hydroxide is blissfully consumed by the oils giving you nothing but cleanse and lather and bubbles.

Exciting, right?!

Cold process (also abbreviated as CP) is the primary way we make soap at Homestead Soapery. There are other methods, including hot process, rebatch and melt and pour. We like to use melt and pour for fun designs in interesting moulds (think donut soap!), but you can use cold process blends in various shapes also. 

And when making soap, we chose the CP method so that we have full control of the recipe and the creative process. Feel like using an oil infusion? Great, you can do this in a CP soap. Feel like adding exfoliants or decorative petals? Or using a mixture of fragrance oil and essential oil? Perfect, you can do this in CP soap.

With its versatility and customisation, we chose to make the majority of our soaps using the cold process method. But don’t worry! We absolutely do not shy away from other methods (nor do we have any comments about anyone that chooses these other methods as their primary soap making choice). 

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