The Crock pot Method of Soapmaking

The Crock pot Method of Soapmaking

As Presented By

Debora Yavas

 

After a year of research I finally felt I had obtained enough knowledge and confidence to make my first batch of soap.  My research consisted of reading all the soapmaking books that I was able to get my hands on.  I spent hours on-line reviewing posts from soapmaking clubs particularly those on YahooGroups.com.  This document is dedicated to the caring, generous soapmakers on Yahoo Groups who graciously share their knowledge everyday.  This is my attempt to pass on a little knowledge regarding this method and to provide prospective soapmakers with the final boost that propels them into trying the art of soapmaking.

 

The purpose of this document is only to provide a pictorial of the crockpot method and should be used in conjunction with soapmaking reference books.  This should not be the only research that you do before making soap, there are many comprehensive soapmaking guides on the market that discuss every aspect of soap making in excruciating detail so use those references as well.  I have included some of my most used Internet references for your use. 

 

I hope you find this document helpful and I wish you many hours of blissful soaping.

 

Debora

 


Equipment

 

This is my soapmaking equipment.  It consists of a 1970’s era crock pot, 4-cup glass measuring cup, 2-cup glass measuring cup, gloves, small glass bowl for fragrance/essential oils, postal scale accurate to 1/10th of an ounce, a selection of stainless steel spoons, a stainless steel whisk, a plastic tub for measuring sodium hydroxide, and a set of measuring spoons.   I don't use thermometers.  Not pictured are safety items such as safety goggles, facemask used during the mixing of water and lye, long sleeved apron, and pants and shoes.  You might also want to consider covering your flooring with a tarp to protect it.  Since I process my soap in my sink I omit this step.  Also, lye is very corrosive on vinyl countertops so consider protecting your countertop if it is made of something other than ceramic tile.

 


Important safety considerations

 

1) Sodium hydroxide (lye) is a dangerous substance.  It can cause serious burns if it comes in contact with your skin.  Vinegar should be close at hand as it neutralizes lye.  Care must be taken when using this chemical in order to protect yourself, family, friends, and customers, if you distribute your soap products.  When making soap a minimum amount of skin should be exposed.  It is prudent to use goggles and to wear a long sleeved shirt.  It is also a good idea to wear pants and shoes rather than shorts with no shoes.

 

2) Minimize potential distractions before you begin.  Children and pets should not be in the vicinity.  I have heard stories of soap makers forgetting an ingredient only to remember as they were pouring the soap into molds.  I have also heard a story about lye water being drunk by the husband when it was left unattended by the soapmaker.  The husband died.  This is a serious chemical and must be respected.

 

3) Use stainless steel utensils when working with lye.  Lye will eat right through aluminum, Teflon, copper and tin.  Wood stirrers will eventually splinter.

 

4) The crock pot method that I have documented below employs heat to make soap creating a possible burn hazard.

 

5) Do your homework by reading as much as you can on soap making processes.   Determine which method(s) will be right for your circumstance.  I chose the crock pot method because I have two children and did not feel comfortable with the long curing time of cold process soap. 

 


Resources

 

Authoritative Agencies

 

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

www.cpsc.gov

 

U.S. Food and Drug Administration - Cosmetics section

http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/cos-toc.html

 

Resources

 

Yahoo Groups is a great resource for meeting others with your same interest.  You sign up and then join the groups of your choice.  There are thousands of groups on every subject.  Search on soapmaking and see what you get.  Search for toiletries too.

http://groups.yahoo.com

 

Thomas Register of American Manufacturers is an excellent source for finding suppliers in your area.  The closer they are the less shipping charges will be, and shipping can add up when you purchase heavy oils.

http://www.thomasregistry.com

 

HAPPI Magazine - Online magazine.  You can also subscribe to their free monthly printed magazine covering soaps, detergents, cosmetics & toiletries, waxes and polishes, insecticides, aerosols and related chemical specialties.

www.happi.com

 

Soap & Cosmetics Magazine - Online information as well as a free subscription.

www.soapandcosmetics.com

 

Freebizmag.com - Free subscriptions to various business magazines.

www.freebizmag.com

 

Entrepreneur.com - Business information.  You can also sign up for a free trial issue of their magazine.

www.entrepreneur.com

 

 

Lye Calculation Assistance

 

Majestic Mountain Sage has an on-line lye calculator for you to use.  You can enter all of your oil quantities and then print out a document for your records.  Their site also contains other useful information.

www.thesage.com/calcs/lyecalc.html

 

Rainbow Meadow, Inc. has a wonderful tutorial on how to manually calculate the proper amount of lye.  If you haven't seen their site it is well worth the look.  Their site also contains other useful information.

www.rainbowmeadow.com/soapsap.html

 

Soapcrafter's Lye Calculator

www.soapcrafters.com/rwriter.html

 

Must-See sites full of useful information - These pages are not in any specific order.

 

Kathy Miller's Web-site

http://users.silverlink.net/~timer/soapinfo.html#Soap%20Contents

 

Bob Sherman's Candle and Soapmaking site

http://candleandsoap.about.com/cs/soapsubjects/index.htm

 

Make Your Cosmetics.com

http://www.makeyourcosmetics.com

 

A Garden Eastward - Blending characteristics of essential oils.

http://addy.com/brinkley/gowith.htm

 

A pictorial of the hot process by Melanie Dunstan.

http://members.tripod.com/allcrafts/

 

Sabrina's Soapmaker Resource Site

http://www.ziggurat.org/soap/

 

 

Holly Deyo's Soapmaking Made Easy

http://www.millennium-ark.net/News_Files/INFO_Files/Soapmaking.html

 

Linda Coffin's Toiletries Listservice - Soap and toiletries recipes and suppliers

http://www.luxurylane.com/thelibrary/index.htm

 

Soap Naturally Resource Listing

http://www.programmer-software.com/soapnaturally/toc.html

 

TLC Soaps and Sundries

http://www.tlcsoaps.com/soapmaking.htm

 

Walton Feed, Inc.

http://waltonfeed.com/old/soaphome.html

 

Cranberry Lane -

http://www.cranberrylane.com/soapmaking.htm

 

Here is a lot more information

http://hometown.aol.com/oelaineo/supp.html

 

 

 


Recipes

 

Here are some recipes that are tried and true: The ingredients are by weight not volume so a scale accurate to 1/10th of an ounce is necessary.  If you choose to discount at a different rate than is called out in these recipes, then run the oils through one of the available lye calculators (see resources pages).  After you are comfortable making soap using the following recipes you can then begin to experiment with different oils and botanicals.  Then the real fun starts.  But nothing gives you the lightheaded feeling like the very first successful batch of soap.  Tip:  When you use a recipe posted on a web-site, book, or even in this document it is a prudent idea to run the oils through the lye calculator to make sure the recipe is accurate. 

 

* * Important note: The ingredients must not fill up more than 1/2 of the crock pot.  You must allow room for the expansion that will occur in the last stages of the soapmaking process.   You may divide the following recipes in half for your first batch so you get the feel for how the mixture expands. * *

 

These batches fill up one 15-inch Rubbermaid drawer divider leaving a little bit extra for some soap balls.  Tip:  These are great for guest soap or for travel soap (yes, I take my own soap wherever I go).

 

Tip:  I purchase my olive oil from Middle Eastern markets.  Middle Eastern cooks use a lot of olive oil in their recipes and it is usually pretty inexpensive.  FYI:  Pomace olive oil is extracted from the seeds

 

Tip: You can let the soap mixture cool a little bit before adding your fragrances.  But don't let it cool too much or the soap will start to dry and it will be very difficult to get it neatly into the mold.

 

Tip:  When adding coloring and botanicals it is best to add them to a small portion of the soap, in a separate bowl, mixing thoroughly before adding to the remaining soap batch.  It makes for more even distribution of these added materials.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe #1

 

14 ounces pomace olive oil                          

8 ounces coconut oil                                   

8 ounces palm kernel oil                     

2 ounces jojoba                                           

 

4.6 ounces sodium hydroxide (4% discount)                   

11.6 ounces distilled water                           

 

3 - 4 tablespoons fragrance                          

4 - 8 drops food coloring if desired                                          

 

Recipe #2

 

16 ounces pomace olive oil

8 ounces coconut oil

6 ounces palm kernel oil

2 ounces caster oil

 

4.6 ounces sodium hydroxide (4% discount)

12 ounces distilled water

 

3 - 4 tablespoons fragrance

4 - 8 drops food coloring if desired

 

Recipe #3

This is a mild recipe, however it renders a softer bar of soap.

 

24 ounces pomace olive oil

8 ounces avocado oil

 

4.1 ounces sodium hydroxide (5% discount)

10.3 ounces distilled water

 

Add fragrances, colorants, and botanicals as desired just before placing soap into molds.

 

 

 

Recipe #4

 

17 ounces pomace olive oil

9 ounces coconut oil

6 ounces palm kernel oil

 

4.7 ounces sodium hydroxide (4% discount)

11.9 ounces distilled water

 

Add fragrances, colorants, and botanicals as desired just before placing soap into molds.

 

Recipe #5

 

14 ounces pomace olive oil

9 ounces coconut oil

9 ounces palm oil

 

4.7 ounces sodium hydroxide (4% discount)

11.7 ounces distilled water

 

Add fragrances, colorants, and botanicals as desired just before placing soap into molds.

 

Recipe #6

Castile soap.  This renders a very mild, yet soft, bar of soap.

 

32 ounces pomace olive oil

 

4.1 ounces sodium hydroxide (4% discount)

10.4 ounces distilled water

 

Add fragrances, colorants, and botanicals as desired just before placing soap into molds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe #7

 

10 ounces pomace olive oil

9 ounces coconut oil

7 ounces palm oil

6 ounces shea butter

 

4.6 ounces sodium hydroxide (4% discount)

11.6 ounces distilled water

 

Add fragrances, colorants, and botanicals as desired just before placing soap into molds.

 

Recipe #8

 

14 ounces pomace olive oil

8 ounces coconut oil

6 ounces palm kernel oil

4 ounces shea butter

 

4.7 ounces sodium hydroxide (4% discount)

11.7 ounces distilled water

 

Add fragrances, colorants, and botanicals as desired just before placing soap into molds.

 

Recipe #9

 

16 ounces pomace olive oil

8 ounces coconut oil

6 ounces palm kernel oil

2 ounces almond oil

 

4.7 ounces sodium hydroxide (4% discount)

11.8 ounces distilled water

 

Add fragrances, colorants, and botanicals as desired just before placing soap into molds.

 

 


Process

 

 

2:47:29   << actual time so you can see how long each step took.

Protect your scale with plastic wrap. Accurately weigh out your oils into the 2-cup measuring cup.  My scale is a postage scale that comes in handy when I ship my products.  It also has a tare feature that makes weighing very convenient.  The tare feature allows you to start the weigh with the glass measuring cup registered at zero so when you weigh your materials you see the exact weight without needing to subtract the weight of the measuring cup.  Weighing accurately and verifying that the recipe you are using is correct is a very important step.  Don't forget to check your recipe with a lye calculator or check it manually.  Another good habit to get into is to keep good notes on each batch of soap that you make.  So if you want to recreate a fantastic batch you will have the information at hand.  Tip:  The log sheet that I use is included for your convenience.

 

 

 

 

2:52:34 

Turn the crock pot on and set it on the high setting for the entire soap making process.  It will be turned off during the volcano stage (about 52 minutes from now).  Each crock pot is different so you will probably experience stages at different times.  Tip:  You can speed up the process by melting the oils in a pan on the stove rather than in the crock pot.  When I have enough time to make multiple batches I'll measure out oils in 4 pans and my crock pot.  Then at just the right time I'll melt the next batch of oils.  Come to think of it, my crock pot is sure a workhorse; considering the abuse it takes.  Maybe one day I'll get two (or three?) crock pots going at the same time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3:04:49 

While your oils are melting you can weigh your distilled water.  I use the 4-cup measure to weigh the distilled water because it has more room to stir in the lye with my whisk.  This is exactly 11.6 ounces of distilled water.  I place the measuring cup with the water in the sink where I will stir in the lye.  I add the lye to the water.  I have been told that if you add the water to the lye you can end up with injuries because of the quick heat buildup.  There are differing opinions in this area.  To me it makes sense to add the lye to the water.  Part of doing research is to figure out what makes sense to you.

 

 

 

 

Now it is time to take the lye out of your secret hiding place.  I stash mine in a cabinet all the way in the back behind a drawer (I had to lie on the floor for this shot).   I do not buy sodium hydroxide in bulk because it is so dangerous to have around children, and because I do not relish the thought of scooping it out of a large tub. Another reason that I do not buy sodium hydroxide in bulk is because by the time I get to the bottom of the bucket it is more likely that it will have absorbed moisture.  With added moisture it will not weigh properly and your soap batch will be ruined.  There is also a hazardous material handling fee that is assessed on larger purchases. 

 

 

 

 

 

I place my lye in a large Jif peanut butter jar.  The lid screws on tight and small hands cannot even fit around it to open it.  I have also explained the dangers of lye to my children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3:09:37 

With gloves and safety wear on, measure your lye very carefully into a plastic container that has approximately two times the volume of the lye that you are measuring so that you reduce the risk of the lye jumping out of the container.  When the proper amount is measured secure the lye and place back into storage.

 

 

 

 

3:12:01 

Pour the lye into the distilled water slowly while stirring continuously.  The lye water will cloud up, stir until it becomes clear again.  If you do not stir continuously the lye will form a hard crystal on the bottom of your measuring cup and will need to be discarded.  The lye reacts with the water and becomes very hot creating a toxic steam.  This process should be done by an open window or under a stove vent so as to decrease the chances of inhaling the steam.  Hold your breath as long as you can so you don't inhale any fumes and damage your lungs.

 

 

 

 

3:13:02 

When the lye water becomes clear pour it slowly into the oils while stirring continuously.  I was taking this picture with one hand and pouring the lye water with the other.  My camera hand is usually stirring at this point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3:13:33 

While stirring the lye water and oils I begin to rinse the items that have come in contact with the lye.  I usually let the water run for a couple minutes.  You will now be stirring for about 20 minutes.  If you stop stirring you run the risk of producing soap containing lye pockets.  Some soapmakers choose to use an electric hand held mixer that greatly reduces the stirring time.  I have used my stick blender in the past, but I don't find that it really speeds the total soapmaking time. 

 

 

 

 

 

3:14:42 

This is what the mixture looks like after about a minute of stirring.  It looks oily and slides down the side of the crock pot without sticking.  Please note that the crock pot is not even half full in order to leave room for the expansion phase coming up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3:21:14 

The mixture begins to lighten as the lye reacts with the oils.  This photo was taken after 7 minutes of stirring.  You will also begin to notice the mixture becoming thicker like thin gravy.

 

 

 

 

 

3:25:22 

The mixture now has the consistency of thick gravy.  As the mixture thickens you are able to stir quicker without splashing any of the mixture out of the crock pot.  The faster you stir the faster you will reach trace.  The heat also speeds up trace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3:29:22 

A film begins to appear on the side of the crock pot.  Keep stirring, we are almost at trace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3:30:26 

Now the whisk has a thick layer of mixture coating it.  Keep stirring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3:30:59 

This is trace.  You can see the tracks from the whisk on the surface of the mixture.  Keep stirring.  The next step is separation, which occurred 1 minute 10 seconds later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3:31:10 

Very soon after trace we can see separation.  Stop stirring.  The mixture now has a mottled look and you can see the oil now floating on the top.   You wouldn't want to see this if you were doing CP because it would be too late to pour it into the mold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3:31:18 

The mixture now begins to bubble around the edges as it starts the self-turn process.  Approximately 18 minutes have elapsed since the lye/water was added.

 

 

 

 

 

3:31:49 

Close the crock pot and stay close.  It is a good idea to have a fan close at hand for the upcoming volcano stage.  J  Tip:  An even better idea is to keep your hair dryer handy.  Mine has a no heat setting and it sure is easier on those upper arm mussels.  My husband thought it was really funny to see me fanning frantically with one hand and stirring frantically with the other.  Maybe I should have included a picture of that.  Can you picture it…gloves…goggles…etc.

 

 

 

 

While keeping an eye on the crock pot I prepare my fragrance and/or essential oils and other additives using utensils not used in food preparation.  Use glass for fragrance and essential oils because they can eat right through plastic.  Cover the fragrance with plastic wrap so that it does not evaporate.  Don't wait until the soap is ready before preparing additives because you will not have enough time and might miscalculate amounts.  Also, remember to document your additives for future reference. 

 

 

 

 

The mold has been lined with wax butcher paper (which is heavier than regular wax paper) and secured with masking tape.  The corners of the paper have been mitered to fit perfectly into the mold's corners without wrinkles.  This is an important step because your soap will take on the shape of all wrinkles and creases that are allowed to remain in the paper.  In the background is my 8-inch taping knife that I use for slicing my crock pot soap as well as my glycerin soap logs.  FYI:  The hardware store is a wonderful resource for tools and molds.  My hardware store has 3" PVC pipe already cut into 12-inch lengths.  Tip:  Staples wraps reams of paper in the perfect paper for this purpose.  Everyone I know in an office setting saves it for me.  I have had little luck finding butcher paper lately, though my local butcher has given me a couple of yards of it in the past.

 

 

3:35:58 

This is what it looks like if you peek under the lid.  This stage is referred to as the champagne bubble stage.  That dark area in the center is floating oil.  Can you see how much it has risen?  Let it turn onto itself until it meets in the center.   Keep the lid on only removing it to stir down the mixture when it starts getting close to the top.

 

 

 

 

 

3:36:28 

After stirring, your mixture will take on the appearance of applesauce.  Cover and continue to watch the self-turn process take place for a second time.  Keep an eye on your crock pot because it has a tendency to keep rising.  You might have to stir it down before the self-turning meets in the center for the second time.  You will continue stirring down when necessary and in the mean time replacing the lid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3:41:49 

The mixture has been allowed to self-turn for another 6 minutes.  You can now see the mixture rising in the crock pot.  It almost got away from me while I was photographing it.  Now you will want to continue stirring as necessary to keep it from growing right out of the crock pot.  Stir only as quickly as you need to, to keep it from overflowing and replace the lid when you can.

 

 

 

3:42:18 

It is now filling with air and rising even more.  Now you will see less oil floating as it is incorporated into the mixture.  As the water continues to evaporate the bubbles become smaller and denser.  Keep stirring as necessary and replace the lid when you can to prevent the water from evaporating too quickly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3:44:47 

Stir it down before it overflows.  The volcano stage is nearing, as it becomes increasingly difficult to keep the mixture in the pot.  At this point you should notice an increase in your heart rate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3:44:52 

The mixture will rise right out of the pot if you stop mixing.  Turn the crock pot off now and stir until the white creamy bubbles turn into a gel.  Use the fan and hair dryer if you need to.  Oh yeah…..if you use the hair dryer, make sure you hold it far enough away from the soap pot so that it doesn't blow molten soap all over….ask me how I know…

 

 

3:45:23 

Now the bubbles seem to elongate as the mixture is stirred.  It still wants to climb out of the pot.  The mixture is starting to firm up with very dense bubbles.  This reminds me of rising bread.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3:46:09 

The mixture is very hot.  Can you see the steam? The mixture is made up of very small bubbles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3:46:20

I am now stirring as fast as I can just to keep the mixture from doing the volcano.  If I had a free hand I would be using my fan (hair dryer) at this time (on the crock pot not on me, though I could use a good fanning right about now).  My heart is pounding now.  Even after over 100 batches of crock pot soap my heart still pounds right about now.

 

 

 

 

3:46:49 

The mixture is now beginning to gel around the edges.  Continue stirring only as quickly as necessary.  The mixture is not as tenacious as it was 1/2 minute ago.  Continue stirring, allowing evaporation to occur, until all the white bubbles disappear and the mixture relaxes into a gel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3:47:12 

You did it.  It’s soap now.  To make sure that the lye is no longer active you can smear a small amount of soap on the finger of your gloved hand, cool it off by blowing on it, then gently touch your tongue.  If there is no sizzle then it is a success.  Wash and dry your gloved hand and proceed.  FYI - small amounts of lye are used in pretzel making to make the shiny crust so don't worry about using your tongue to test for lye in your soap.

 

 

 

 

 

3:47:35  Add your fragrance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3:48:11 

Add colorant.  Tip:  Add your colorant to 1 cup of the hot soap mixture, mix thoroughly, then add that to your soap pot.  The coloring used here is food grade coloring.  I used only 6 drops of the blue.  Botanicals should be added the same way.  If you don't first mix the botanicals with a small amount of the soap you will end up with a lumpy, mottled bar of soap unless you stir like crazy.  If you stir too much the soap will cool off too soon and it won't go into the mold easily.

 

 

 

3:48:42 

Stir until all of the soap is of uniform color and consistency.  You shouldn't be near an open window at this time because you don't want too much more water to evaporate and you don't want it to cool off too quickly until it is safely in it's mold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3:49:45 

Your finished soap is now the consistency of Vaseline.  Work quickly to fill the mold before the soap cools off too much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3:50:05 

Place the soap into the butcher paper lined mold.  After every 3 or 4 spoons full tap the mold on the counter to flatten out the soap and eliminate air bubbles that might have formed.  Also, encourage the soap into the corners of your mold with the spoon.

 

 

 

3:58:11 

Cover the soap with plastic wrap and flatten with the cutter.  Allow the soap to cool about 30 minutes before taking off the plastic wrap.  If you don't let it cool the soap will stick to it and when you pull it off it will pull sections of the soap with it.  Tip:  Wax paper works better.  As soon as the surface is smoothed out you can carefully lift the wax paper off without waiting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3:56:20 

I make soap balls or patties out of the small amount of soap that remains.  These are for my family and me.  They make great guest soaps and travel soaps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4:00:04 

Let your equipment soak in the soapy water.  What an easy hobby to clean up.  Everything is already coated with soap.  Look….Now you see it…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4:22:30 

Now you don’t.  My sink doesn't always look like this.  It was on it's best behavior for the photo shoot. J

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The soap log was removed from the mold after cooling off.  The wax paper was left on for another hour until the log was firm to the touch.  (not shown)  

 

The soap log was placed on a paper towel, then the wax paper was carefully torn away.  This photo was taken the next morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rough corners were then trimmed using the potato peeler and the log was cut into 16 bars of soap.  With the crock pot method the size of the batch is limited to the size of the crock pot that can be found.  Tip:  Garage sales are a great source of crock pots.  Just make sure that they are not too old.

 

 

 

 

These bars will be allowed to dry for 1-2 weeks before labeling.  During this time they will loose some water and shrink somewhat.  Labeling too soon will cause the labels to be too large and they will slip off the downsized bars of soap.  Super Tip:  I now use plastic flats from the nursery for my drying racks.  They can be stacked up 4 high and they work beautifully.   And, they're  F R E E !

 

 

 

The ends and shavings are fused together with water and my treat is being able to use my soap right away without having to wait until it has cured as with the cold process method of soap making.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is my finished product.  I would love to see your finished product using this method.  Please e-mail a photo to me at:  dyavas@yahoo.com.