Saturday, May 1, 2010

Soap--Cutting and Curing--It's Kinda Magic

In my previous posts, I talked about getting your soaping equipment together and the soap making process.  I also linked to some nice videos, websites, and other blogs that give great information about making cold process soap. 

Now--where did we leave off?  Oh, yes, the soaps were in the molds.

Once you've let your soap sit in the molds for a day or two, it's time to get them out of the molds.  If you use oddball things for your molds, some release the soaps better than others.  Some last longer than others.  Some soaps cooperate better than others (oatmeal and honey is nice, shea butter is, well, stubborn). 

This is a photo that I showed earlier and you can see the various molds that I used for this batch of oatmeal and honey.



Not shown here are some "real" molds that are budget molds that I got at Brambleberry and Snowdrift Farm.  I line them with freezer paper with the shiny side facing the soap.  That helps the soap release easily.  Those molds are very nice, but they must have been saved for another soap (like the stubborn, but luxurious shea butter soap).  I'm just not sure how long they will last with the heat of the cold process soaps.  After a few batches, they're starting to warp.  I'm saving my pennies for one of the nice wooden molds!

I also use a drywall mud tray as a mold (at the top in the photo above).  It's not flexible at all, so I make sure to line it with freezer paper so my soap comes out.  It makes a pretty big bar of soap if you fill it or it makes a nice hand sized bar if you fill it just over half way. 

The "hospital" molds are very flexible plastic so I can flex them like an ice cube tray and convince the soap to come out pretty easily. 

The microwave dessert mold works well with some soaps such as oatmeal and honey, but not so well with others, such as shea butter.  And those molds work only two or three times before they break while you're trying to push the soap out.  They make fun looking soaps, though.  My mother loves to help make more of those molds available to me by eating the dessert out of the "molds!"

The silicon candy molds or baking pans (not in the photo) make great soap molds.  You have to support them on a flat and level surface or you get slanted soaps.  If that's the look you want, great.  When you're ready to unmold the soaps in the silicon molds, you'd better be ready because those soaps are practially FALLING OUT of the molds!  Some of the soaps may still be a bit soft, so you may need to gently pry the sides of silicon pans away from the edges of the soap so the soap doesn't come apart. 

Once you get the soaps out of the molds, you need to cut them.  I use a stainless steel dough scraper.  I cut my soaps about 1" thick.  They shrink a bit while they're curing, I'm pretty sure. 

After you cut them you need to let them cure.  That means sit.  Not used.  FOR A MONTH!!  Or maybe more. 

I put my soaps in cardboard box lids with paper towels or freezer paper in the bottom.  I turn the soaps every so often so all sides get exposed to the air.  Here are some boxes stacked up with soaps!


I keep my soap recipe with the soaps along with the date that the soaps came out of the mold.  That way I'll know when they should be cured and ready to be used. 

The little ball soaps are shea butter soaps that wouldn't come out of the molds easily.  When you make shea butter soap, make sure your molds are really prepared well to allow that soap to come out of the mold.  Otherwise, you end up with lots of little soap balls 'cause you had to use a spoon to scoop it out of the molds and a broken spatula 'cause you tried to pry the shea butter soap out of the mold.  Sigh . . .


Above shows patchouli in the top--smells good!  Honey and oatmeal is the orangish soap in the bottom.  I guess the particular honey I used made it that color.  Plus it's still pretty soft at this point.  A month later, it's mellower in color. 

The smell from the soap curing room (the back bedroom) is nice when you go by . . .

Here are some hearts from the silicon candy mold that makes tiny soaps:

You can see that one or two look a bit "drunk."  Those were the ones that weren't level.  A couple have "patches."  Those didn't come out of the mold so easily.  After I took those two out, I put the mold back and waited until the next day to take the rest out.  That worked much better!

After the soaps cure, then they're ready to be used.  If you want, you can use a vegetable peeler to peel off the rough edges (save the shavings for the laundry!), add some pretty decoration and a label and then you have something like this!


Now, I'm not saying I know it all, 'cause I don't!  Not by a long shot.  I have lots to learn and try new things every time I can.  What I do is pretty basic stuff, but they sure come out creamy and nice to my skin!!

Thanks for visiting and, if you have any ideas for future soaps, please let me know!

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