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The Science of Soap Making

Lesson 2 from: Make Your Own Bath & Body Products

Anne-Marie Faiola

The Science of Soap Making

Lesson 2 from: Make Your Own Bath & Body Products

Anne-Marie Faiola

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Lesson Info

2. The Science of Soap Making

Lesson Info

The Science of Soap Making

We're gonna talk a lot first about soap making terms, the science behind soap making. And if you ever want to delve more in depth about the science of soap making, this is one of my favorite books, because of course it's my latest book, Pure Soap Making. And it has lots of chapters on soap safety, and soap ingredients. Or my first book, Pure Soap Crafting that also has over 30 recipes, and talks about everything from fragrance oils to colors and more. That's something we're gonna be covering right now, as we get started on our first segment of the day, how to make natural soap. So the science behind soap making. Soap making is at its heart, a science. And the result of the soap making, is a result of a chemical process called saponification. And that's just a really fancy term that means, when oils and water and lye mix together, they turn into soap. So it looks a little like this. Say these are your oils, and say this is your lye water. When they mix together, they form something tota...

lly and completely new, and different. So the alchemy behind that is called saponification, or soap making. So before we dive into making our soap though, I want to talk about the different types of soap, so you have a really good understanding, and a very good basis, in kind of knowing what kind of soap we're making, what the benefits are to different types of soap, and how you can get into all kinds of different soaps, and what the good parts about the different types of soap are. So this is cold process soap. And these beautiful examples showcase how versatile cold process soap is. So you can do things like this gorgeous layering. You can do things where you swirl many many different colors. And in fact this is from my very first book, and it swirls over 13 different colors together. This is from my second book, it uses beer, and also is another example of a beautiful swirl. With the cold process soap, you can do things like this beautiful funnel pour, gorgeous toppings and layers. You can do embeds. You can create gorgeous mountain scenes. Or any beach scenes. You can do layers with confetti inside. There are a lot of different techniques and recipes that you can do with cold process soap making. And cold process soap making is called cold process soap making because technically, you don't need an outside heat source to make soap. We're gonna be using the microwave, because we have microwaves to use today, but when our ancestors were learning how to make soap, they didn't have microwaves. And so what they learned was that the chemical reaction, when you add the lye to the water, actually heats up hot enough that you technically don't need an outside heat source to make soap. That's why it's called cold process soap making. Cold process soap making takes four to six weeks to cure, and harden out. And it's also using a caustic chemical called lye, which we'll cover a lot more in the next few minutes. But it uses a caustic chemical called lye. And so that makes it not appropriate for children to soap. So that's one reason why many soap makers that start making soap start with melt and pour. Melt and pour is for beginners, it's for kids, and it's for crafters that like instant gratification. It is a pre-made base, I got that right. It is a pre-made base, that you can buy pre-made, and it already comes cured and dried. And the way that works is you literally buy a pre-made base, you chop it up, melt it down in the microwave or a double boiler, add color and fragrance, and then you can make all kinds of designs. So for example, this gorgeous geode soap. Whoa! This gorgeous geode soap, it was made with melt and pour soap. These beautiful ombre soaps, melt and pour. And even this really fun, adorable stripe soap was made with melt and pour. So melt and pour, you can use it right away. Totally kid and... Kid friendly. And you have a lot of options in terms of coloring and fragrances. The downside to melt and pour is, it might not contain exactly the ingredients you want. It's not 100% natural, and some people find that melt and pour doesn't last quite as long in the shower, because one of the ingredients in melt and pour to make it remelt down easily, is called glycerin. Glycerin is a humectant that draws moisture to the skin, and it's also a liquid. It's very soft. So some people find that melt and pour doesn't quite last as long in the shower. This is another example of a pre-made base. So this is called re-batching base. And re-batching base is made from cold process soap that is uncolored and unscented. So it's great for beginners, because you don't have to handle the lye. So you can, buy pre-made shredded bases from companies like, and then have a cold process soap that's all natural, where you can control the ingredients, but don't have to handle the sodium hydroxide or the lye if you're concerned about that. It's super easy to make. All you do is grate the soap, or buy it shredded already, and heat it up in a double boiler, and then add fragrance and color, and then in one to two days, it's dry and it's ready to use right away. So you get that instant gratification. The soap is really rustic looking, and that's because when you add some moisture and you add some water or oils to this, what happens is it melts down and it turns kind of into a gloppy, oatmeal consistency, but never really gets very pourable. And so if you're looking at this, and you're like wow, that's really beautiful, it's because we used, we're very very thin with this. This never will get, kind of that thin, gorgeous, beautiful wispy lines. However, instant gratification, totally all natural, and you get to control your ingredients in it. The next type of soap is another type of cold process soap making concept, only this is called hot process soap, because, I bet you can guess why, you apply an outside heat source. So like, it's the same basic steps as cold process soap. You take your lye, water, you take your oils, you mix them together, but rather than just pouring it in the mold and letting it sit in the mold and then cure and harden for four to six weeks, you apply an outside heat source. So this could be anything from a stove, to an oven, but it'd be an outside heat source. And what that helps is that it forces the saponification process to happen much faster. Technically, you can still use this... You can use hot process soap within 24 hours. Yes! But why wouldn't you want to do hot process soap, right? 'Cause you can use it within 24 hours, it's instant gratification. One of the reasons the hot process soap isn't more widely done is because it's very difficult. Hot process soap is an oatmeal like consistency just like re-batch. So it's very difficult to kind of get these gorgeous and easy beautiful fine lines. You end up with a much more rustic look. It's beautiful, it's gorgeous, and again, instant gratification, but you don't have quite all the design options. Another reason why hot process soap isn't always as popular as cold process soap is because, when you first make it, it's still pretty squishy. And it's still... It can be used right away, but it needs four to six weeks to evaporate out excess water. So while technically you can use it right away, it's still pretty soft, and you might not want to use it right away 'cause it could end up in a mushy goop in the bottom of your shower. But instant gratification, so if you're thinking, my goodness, I'm really watching this, I'm taking this course because I want to have a business, I want to sell soap at farmer's markets and craft shows, but how much should I make? I don't know. This is a really great option for you if you have sold out the week before of your hand made soap. Now like what am I gonna bring to the craft show, I want it to be all natural, I want to have control over the ingredients, my customers expect all-natural, hot process soap is a great way to augment your cold process soap making, so that you can have just in time inventory. Additionally, with hot process soap, some delicate fragrance oils and essential oils work better at hot process soap because they're not exposed to the sodium hydroxide or the lye, which is a very high pH of about 14, which can eat or weaken or damage fragrance oils and essential oils.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Cold Process Soap Keynote
Shaving Soap Keynote
Scrubs Keynote
Cold Process Soap Recipes
Emulsified Scrubs Label
Lavender Soap Labels
Lotion and Balm Recipes
Salt Scrub Labels
Scrub Recipes
Shaving Soap Recipe
Lotion and Balms Keynote

Ratings and Reviews

Alexandra Paniagua

As a "Seasoned" Soaper this workshop was very instructive, fast paced and not boring at all!!!!! As everything else, we have to be up to date with new trends and ingredients, every day is a learning process, thank you very much to Creative Live, Anne-Marie and Bramble Berry for this AWESOME work shop and I hope you have another one soon :) :)

Julz P

Love this class! Second time watching it, wish there were live classes at this level in my City, I would love to make stuff on the weekends :-) Great job - love the class, come back soon!

a Creativelive Student

Anne-Marie was a very thorough and thoughtful instructor. Her knowledge and enthusiasm were inspiring. She had everything organized and presented it in a very comprehensive sequential order. GREAT class as I never knew anything about soap/lotions/scrubs/balms/etc. I'd recommend purchasing the class!

Student Work