making soap. . .part two

hello again, i am back with the exciting conclusion to making soap part one, with making soap part two!  i hope you were all able to sleep even though the anticipation was killing you.  so lets talk about soap molds first.  my first batch of soap i used a shallow cardboard box, that once held a 6-pack of soda, and lined it with plastic.  that worked ok, but i found it hard to cut and it didn’t look as nice as i wanted.  so i spent way too much time researching and drooling over expensive soap molds on the internet.  i wasn’t sure i wanted to invest that much since it was only my second batch of soap.  so soap mold dimensions are made according to how many pounds of soap you make (most recipes tell you).  mine didn’t, so i added up the weights of all of the ingredients and figured out that my recipe made 8lbs of soap.  most soap molds are sold as 5 or 10 lb molds.  but i found this site that sells 8lb molds and used their dimensions.  now i can assure you that i am quite handy and have a number of skills that are useful on the farmfront, but i am not a power tools kind of lady.  my father was a shop teacher, so you would think i was weaned on table saws early, but i have always had an aversion to loud noises and a penchant for crying during blender use.  so what i am getting at is, if i can make a soap mold, so can you.  i found some 1 x 4’s that we had been using to support trays under grow lights when we were starting seedlings and got an idea.  i also found a hack saw (they are very quiet).  in about 30 minutes i was sweaty but had cut 5 pieces of wood to make my mold.  i covered each side of the mold with freezer paper (shiny side out), like i was wrapping a present.  then i taped them together with packing tape and i had a mold!!  so back to soap.  once your soap has reached trace and you have added your fragrances and texture (optional) you want to pour the liquid soap into your mold box.

pouring soap into the mold

as you can see the mold is a very simple construction!  once the soap is in the mold and the top is evened out cover the mold with a piece of cardboard and then layer 2 bath towels over the whole thing.  the wood also works well at incubating the soap.  this is the magic part where is really turns into soap, i would explain it to you, but i prefer for it to be a mystery.  you want to make sure your soap is in a draft free area and don’t touch it for 24 hours (no peeking).  after your 24 hours take off the towels and cardboard but leave it in the mold to firm up for 2 more days.

soap curing for 2 days in the mold

once your soap is cured for those two days it is time to take it out of the mold.  it will still be softish at this point, which makes it easier to cut.  with my mold i just cut the packing tape and pull the sides away from the soap.

pulling the mold off of the soap

you can see from that photo that it looks like a square soap log.  once the 4 sides are off i like to score the soap so i know where to cut it.  i do that with a metal ruler and a box cutter.  you aren’t trying to cut too deeply, just give yourself a guide line.

scoring the soap

once the entire log is scored it is time to cut the soap into bars!

cutting the soap along the score marks

you can see that i am cutting the soap along the score marks.  i am also just using a bread knife.  i bought a pastry scraper to cut with but it still needs to be sharpened (hint hint pa).  once the bars are cut they will still need to cure further.  i usually lay them out on some cardboard and turn them once a week, because you want them to have air circulating around them.  cure them for one to two months before you use them!  and then your oven fresh soap is ready.

using the empty pizza box in our kitchen for a curing rack

the longer you let the soap cure the harder it will get, and the longer it will last in the dish.  so thats it for soap making.  then you just clean up.  make sure you wash everything that touched lye really well (i wash them all twice) and wear your gloves!!!  feel free to send any questions or needs for clarification our way.


5 responses to “making soap. . .part two

  1. nice article. i have safety glasses if you need some…

  2. i just made a batch of oats and lavender soap today! i can’t believe i haven’t made a soap mold yet, i usually just pour my batch into small loaf pans lined with parchment paper. the idea of wrapping the wood and tapping it together is awesome. i’m getting over my fear of power tools and i built a peg-board workbench for the bike shop, so i hope i can handle a box 🙂

    i usually find that if i mix the water-lye solution first, by the time i measure and melt the rest of my fats the lye has cooled to 100 degrees and i can get both to the right temp.

    i also just find a recipe that works and stick to it. i’ve found a lot of books and internet resources, but every time i go back to what i learned from one zine i got at leopold’s called “how to make soap without burning your face off”. sometimes you just have to find one personal account to make it seem possible.

  3. Pingback: another shawl | Stacey Malasky

  4. So cruel to include the link to the soap molds hahaha! Anyway, thanks a bunch for posting this 🙂 Love to read about others’ experiences before trying new things and soap making will be a new thing. Just have to stay away from Brambleberry!

  5. With the mold, can you keep the freezer paper there to reuse continuously?

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