Saturday, August 29, 2009

The joy of making liquid soap

I just have to say this: I LOVE making liquid soap. I love it!

Bar soaps can be so touchy. The temperatures of the lye solution and the oils need to be within a certain range before you can combine them. Depending on the oils used, trace can happen quickly or it can take forever. ("Trace" is the soapmaking term for the point at which the soap batter is sufficiently thick to pour into molds.) Adding certain essential or fragrance oils can dangerously accelerate the saponification process and result in soap batter that thickens so quickly it can't even be poured.

In short, there are a number of problems one can run into when making bar soaps, you can't always predict them, and you've always got to be on your toes.

Liquid soap, on the other hand, is wonderfully low-maintenance and very forgiving. The oils just need to be very warm to moderately hot.  No thermometers necessary.  Just touch the side of the stockpot. And the potassium hydroxide solution doesn't need to be cooled down before it's mixed with the oils. As soon as it's dissolved, pour it in. None of the potential or unanticipated problems that can happen with bar soapmaking are applicable to liquid soapmaking.

Having recently made a number of small batches of bar soaps to test new fragrance blends for the fall and holidays, all of which were touchy and nerve-wracking, it was a particular joy yesterday to make a no-fuss, predictable, and wonderful batch of liquid soap. 

Just wanted to share with this one.  Thanks for indulging me . . . !

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