* this post brought to you by: U.N.I.T.Y. By Queen Latifah
I used melt & pour soap for the first time ever this month and I’m not sure how to react to it. It was super easy to use, almost too easy and set up really fast. Weird way to start off this post, I know, but the challenge for this months Soap Challenge Club was to mix cold process soap with melt pour soap. Your thinking, ‘what the hell is the difference, soap is soap.’ Not so much, cold process soap is waaay more involved than melt & pour. According to the Soap Queen:
Is the act of mixing fixed oils (common oils include Olive, Coconut and Palm) with an alkali (Sodium Hydroxide or Lye). The result is a chemical process called saponification, where the composition of the oils change with the help of the lye to create a bar of soap. One of the main benefits of cold process soapmaking is having complete control over ingredients. Depending on the ingredients you use, cold process soapmaking typically yields a long-lasting bar of soap. A downfall is that due to the chemical process, there are serious safety considerations to take into account and not all fragrance oils, essential oils, and colorants survive in cold process, thus limiting design options. Plus, patience is a virtue as this process involves a 4-6 week curing time.
MELT AND POUR:
Is the process of melting a preexisting soap base, most often adding color and fragrance or essential oil, then pouring the soap base into a mold. Once fully hardened, the result is a bar that is able to be used right away. Benefits of melt and pour soap include not having to handle lye, the wide variety of color and fragrance options available, kid friendly process, and no curing time. One downfall is that because of the additives in melt and pour to make it easily re-meltable and the lack of curing time, melt and pour soap does not last quite as long in the shower as cold process can. Because melt and pour soap is already made and the process is relatively easy, users are able to focus on the design of the soap. Most novelty soaps are made using MP techniques.
Seems like I should’ve started with MP when I got into this whole thing, but as we’ve already established, I never take the easy way of doing things, instead I get frustrated, cry, throw a tantrum and then realize there was an easier way the whole time. But, I digress, back to this soap challenge. First, lets just say, that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, not only was I gonna be using an unknown medium, I didn’t have a clue what the design was going to be. I was so used to working with a design and then just figuring out oils and colours that I was thrown for a loop this time around. My sister reminded me that February is Black History month and that maybe I should do something that pays homage to that. So, now I had an idea, but still no way to execute it, I didn’t even have the MP soap yet! Typical.
I also didn’t have time to wait for an order to come in, since I wasn’t sure how long it was going to take and if I would have to possibly remake my batch if it went wrong. So, I committed absolute sacrilege and blasphemy, that’s right, I went against the die hard soap maker’s mantra on where to get quality products and went to (gasp) that craft store that starts with an M. I know, I know, but I was desperate, I also committed some other forms of soapy sins as well, in the form of chemical colourants (meaning they were not plant, mineral or organically derived, which is my usual way) and my MP was not organic or ‘natural’ in any way, shape or form. Nope, it was just flooded with everything most people who started making their own soap tried to get away from in the first place, unfortunately there was limited choice available at my store.
Ok, now that you’re all done chastising me about poor soap choices let’s get on with what I actually came up with in the end.
Once it was melted, I added my first colour, red in this case and got it to the shade I wanted.
I then poured it into my brand spanking new mould (shout out to my mommy for this) and waited for it to harden. I read and saw on YouTube that it should normally take about 30-45min to harden, but as you can see in the pic that it was hardening before I was even done pouring. I’d say these were ready to take out in under 15min. Not that I was complaining, since I had A LOT of puzzle pieces to make.
They weren’t all perfect, but I got better as I made more, I even remembered to spray the tops with alcohol to prevent air bubbles by the 2nd batch. Then, I decided to add a different scent to each colour:
- Red – Grapefruit/Orange
- Gold – Patchouli/Bergamont
- Green – Mint/Lime
Now, it was time to move on to my CP part of the soap process. The part I was more comfortable with strangely (yes, I’m aware I’m weird). Some of you may remember, when I tried to make a perfectly balanced soap, with 50% saturated and 50% unsaturated fats in the bar. I went back to that recipe and tweaked it a little bit, mostly because I wanted to use cocoa butter, for a little bit of #blackgirlmagic in my soap. It was no longer going to be well balanced, but it would smell like chocolate, win!
The new recipe consisted of :
Once it reached about a medium trace I got ready to pour my design. First, I remembered to spray my MP puzzle pieces with alcohol, I used 91% rubbing alcohol, I read your supposed to use 99% rubbing alcohol, but you know I wasn’t getting my hands on that in time. So I went with what I had, and it seemed to work well. Plus, I figured with the water discount I was ok with the tiny bit of extra water in the alcohol.
I poured about half of my CP soap into the bottom of the mould, connected and placed my puzzle pieces into it.
Then I covered them with the rest of my CP and then topped it with more interconnected puzzle pieces.
I was a little disappointed with the way the black turned out to be more gray, but other than that, and the minty patchouli abomination (I mean scent) that is now wafting throughout my home, I’m very impressed with my growing skills.
For those of you wondering why I chose these colours to represent Black History month, here is an explanation of the Black Power Flag colours. NO, I’m not an overly political person, but I am aware of the state of our nation right now, and believe that one day unity and open communication will prevail.