8 Tips for Making Amazingly Perfect Hot Process Handmade Soaps in Your Crock Pot
I’ve written a great deal about making handmade hot process soaps, both for personal use and for selling in your own soap making business. Some topics have included, making soap without lye, common soap making mistakes, and complete picture tutorials too. This time, I thought I’d go over some basic tips to create perfect bars of hot process soap every time.
Maybe you are wondering right now about the difference between cold process and hot process soap? Well, there are some strong similarities, and some very marked differences too. This article is going to address tips specific to the hot process soap making method (except for #5 and #8—-these tips also apply to cold process soap).
8 Tips for Perfect Hot Process Soaps Every Time
I’ve had experience with all of these issues when making soap, and I’ll share those with you here. I’ve had soaps that did not turn out for a wide variety of reasons: too much plant matter, not blending a powder correctly, forgetting to add an oil…oh my gosh. I could go on!
And this is the life of any natural soap maker! You’re going to make some mistakes (learning opportunities) in your soap making journey, but it’s likely you won’t make them again! But I believe in learning from others’ experiences if you can, right?
I thought I’d go ahead and compile the best tips I can share with you about making your hot process soaps!
Soap Tip #1: Air Pockets in Hot Process Soap—How to Be Sure You Don’t Get Them
So, with hot process soap, you have to press the cooked soap mass into the soap mold HARD. In fact, I’ll often pick up the mold and let it drop onto the counter a few times besides pressing the soap into the corners really well.
If the soap cools around a tiny (or large) air bubble, you’re going to get a Swiss cheese hole. It’s no big deal as far as the usefulness of the soap, but it does mar the appearance a bit. So, press, and press, and PRESS until you’re sure the soap is mashed into the mold completely.
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Soap Tip #2: Does Hot Process Soap Need to be Cured?
This debate is just ridiculous, if you ask me. The fact of the matter is, hot process soap can be safely used the next day (I’ve even used mine the very same day) after it’s cooked and cooled completely. I don’t care if it’s a special soap like castile or bastille or any other kind of soap—-
Once the completely cooked soap is cooled and removed from the mold and is cuttable—-it is usable. This is because the lye is completely cooked out.
BAM. That’s it.
However! Some soap recipes can be rather soft for a few days after the cook time. Not all of them. But I have experienced some that are. With these, a “cure” time of a few days is nice as it allows the extra moisture to continue to evaporate from the soap.
I’m honestly not even sure that’s true “curing,” as all you are doing is giving the soap time to harden up a bit more so it doesn’t become a mushy mess when lathered in water.
I will say this, though: If you have a good hot process recipe, you will not have to worry much about it disintegrating or having too soft soap.
I’ve heard different soap makers say so many things about the cure time for hot process soap. My opinion is: if it’s soft, let it cure for a few extra days if you want to. If it’s hard—-go for it.
Either way, whether you give it a few days or not….the soap is just fine to use if you have made the soap correctly.
With that said, a harder bar of soap is more desirable. It doesn’t disintegrate in contact with the water as easily, and it feels great in your hands.
This is a personal decision you get to make!
Soap Tip #3: Smooth Top on Hot Process: Is it Possible?
Hot process soap, by its very nature, has a rather “rustic” appearance. The top is often wrinkly and some would even say “strange” looking.
I’ll be honest. When I was selling my soaps, I just cut the wrinkly tops off, leaving a nice smooth bar. And that’s only because I was able to sell more of the bars that way. The rustic look doesn’t go with everyone, you know?
There are other ways to make your hot process soap a bit smoother on top besides cutting them off. Some soap makers will use a tablespoon of yogurt per pound of soap at the end of the cook time. This helps liquify the soap a bit for a smoother pour.
Adding the yogurt may also help you get those artsy designs and swirls that so many cold process soap makers adore.
I’ve also heard (but not tried) adding a bit of water at the end of the cook time too. Water needs to evaporate in the soap completely for a nice hard bar, and if you are adding extra water, this water must come out at some point or the soap will be “mushy.” Personally, I don’t recommend this method.
Anyhow, as you can see, you’ve got several options here for creating a nice smooth top on your hot process soap!
Soap Tip #4: Keep an Eye on Your Soap as It Cooks
Once you’ve made hot process soap a few times, you’ll be very familiar with the stages the soap goes through as it saponifies (turns into soap). You’ll be able to spot problems quickly if you learn to keep an eye out as it’s cooking.
Also, if you are using a new recipe, you don’t really know how it will act as it cooks. A soap that boils out of the crock pot is no fun. If you see it climbing the sides quickly, it’s time to stir it down FAST.
Soap Tip #5: No Batch of Soap is Ever Exactly the Same
And isn’t this the beauty of handmade goods?
All soap batches will be slightly different from each other, anyway, but if we start discussing various recipes, then it really becomes evident how wide a variety of hot process events there are.
Therefore, even though you may be very familiar with all the phases your hot process soap will go through, you’ll see lots of differences between recipes and also between batches of the same (or similar) recipes.
The fact is, soap recipes behave differently. When you’ve got different additives such as salts, clays, essential oils, fragrance oils, herbs, milks, and on and on in your batches, you can just know your soap will react, cook, and work differently.
And that’s the exciting thing about making your own handmade soap!
Even if you become obsessed with just one BEST recipe for a time (like I did there for awhile), you will learn the batches all have their own unique personality
Soap Tip #6: If the Soap Continues Cooking Longer than an Hour or So,….Something is (Probably) Not Right
In my experience making lots of different recipes, hot process soap usually takes between 20 minutes and an hour to completely cook and be ready for the mold.
In the one soap making event where I was still stirring and doing the zap test after an hour and a half…something was definitely wrong. If you make even one mistake with your ingredients, you could have a complete soap making fail. In my case, I had left out 12 ounces of oil!
When I mentally went back over my steps and made this realization, it was a real “DOH” moment. I’ve since got some measures in place, like my Hot Process Soap Making Checklist, which you can download for free at the end of this article if you like.
Soap Tip #7: You Can’t Always Convert a Cold Process Recipe to Hot Process As Is
OK. Now this is a tricky tip. USUALLY you can take a cold process soap recipe and just use the hot process method on it. Usually.
However, there are some recipes that call for certain ingredients (like milks) that will affect the outcome of the soap. You may need to add certain ingredients at different times or change their state of matter somewhat (freezing milk for example).
Also, some cold process soap makers will use something called a water discount to make a harder bar of soap and to help the soap remove from the mold easier.
That’s not such a good idea in hot process soap. Nor is it a good idea to add much more liquid to the HP soap because you’ll either have to cook it longer or it will need an actual cure time.
Any time I am going to use a cold process recipe for the hot process method, I run the oil ingredients through a good lye calculator to be sure I’ve got the correct lye and water measurements. And I don’t change things.
But that’s just me.
Perhaps others have other ideas, but that’s my opinion.
Soap Tip #8: You’ll Become Addicted!
You know what?
I’ve had a lot of friends out there who’ve started out with cold process….and they become a convert to the hot process method of making soap after a time.
Well, you can find out more about hot process vs. cold process soap making here, but suffice to say, most people love having their soaps ready to use more quickly. And once you’ve learned a few tricks, you can make your hot process soap look almost as (or just as) amazing as cold process soaps.
Making handmade soap is a creative art and science that is simply addicting.
Final Thoughts on Tips for Making Perfect Hot Process Handmade Soap Every Time
I love making soaps. I wish I could make soap every single day! There have been times I’ve had so much soap made that if I didn’t give it away to friends and family, I’d have had enough for a good year!
Have you had this experience?
And if you are just starting out on your soap making journey, just expect that if you love it the first time, you will probably always love making your own handmade soap. If you follow these tips, you’ll have perfect bars each and every time you make a new recipe, too!
Alrighty then! I’m off to make some more hot process soap! I’ll share pics with you too!
And if you’d like a wonderful place to share your natural soap recipes, get tips & ideas, ask questions in a supportive learning environment I think you’ll enjoy my private Facebook group: Handmade & All Natural Body with Heidi. If you are trying to keep the toxic chemicals off your bod, it’s the place for you!
You might also enjoy these related articles:
And there are a TON more recipes and tutorials over on the blog! You can also find out how to start making your own hot process soap with confidence if you are new to the whole process in this eBook: How to Make Y Customize Your Own Hot Process Soap: Perfect Soap with 22 Variation Recipes.
Leave a comment in the comments section! And don’t forget to check out the Facebook group for natural handmade products. :-)
Hugs, Health, and Self-Reliance,
P.S. Would you like the Hot Process Soap Making Checklist? It’s a wonderful guide to keep you on track so you don’t make the mistakes I’ve made in the past. You can get it by completing the form below for my newsletter. You’ll get immediate access to the Resource Library, where the checklist is housed, along with lots of other downloadable goodies for you to use! :-)
Just complete the form below:
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