ADVENTURES IN CROCK POT SOAP MAKING,
OR HOW I LEARNED TO BE A SOAP ADDICT AND LOVE MY CROCK POTS
This is an expose on Crock Pot Soap Making and how easy it is to be an addict. First a little background. I began my journey to soap addiction a little over a year ago. I tried the Melt & Pour, it was fun and beautiful soap but left an "is that all there is" feeling within me. I then girded myself and tried the Cold Process, that was more like it-however - patience is not an easy word in my vocabulary. So I delved into the wide world of the internet, read forum after forum, at last count I am on nearly 25 forums-all in the name of addiction. I looked into the hot process, but using the oven in triple digit temps is not a good option, tried the cooler out in the sun, temp of 175 in the cooler, but still wasn't happy. The magic words "crock pot" jumped into my sight. It was love at first cook, what a joy errr addiction it has become. I now am the proud owner of 2 large crock pots, and 3 small ones, a mini crock pot and 2 extra crocks, o yes I even have one for cooking food-sometimes-the crock pot liners work very well for cooking food, so can even use that one if need be. From here I birthed "Trailer Soap" here in Mesa, Az. And hope to make a going business out of my addiction.
Enough about my journey into soap addiction and on to how I make soaps in crock pot. I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I do.
FIRST THE UTENSILS:
A crock pot, of course, remember to match the size of your batch to your crock. The best is one that has the 3 settings: low, high, and warm. I use a Rival 6 qt., a 4 to 5.5 lb batch of soap is perfect for this one. The 2.5 qt. crock is great for a 1 lb batch. These sizes all come with the warm setting. To me, it is vital to have that warm setting.
Of course, you will need the containers for the lye and water, a scale, spoons and a stick blender, a lye calculator, thermometer -- if you use, and of course, the protective gear you feel safe in using.
You must be comfortable with what you are doing and how you are doing it.
When you run your recipe through the lye calculator, do not use a water discount, the water will cook out. Your recipe is one you would use for CP or HP, just don't discount the water. Because the calculator can be so different in how they figure out your recipe you might need to play with the settings to get a good balance.
We will begin with a basic recipe and will go on the magical journey through crock pot soaping.
I would like to caution you that when you decide to try soap in a crock, that you match the batch to the crock. In other words a l lb soap batch should be made in no bigger then a 2 qt to 2.5 qt crock, if you use a larger one it makes it difficult to mix, it dries out too fast while cooking. In my 6 qt crock I make a 5 to 5 ½ lb batch. I have made a small batch in it but it just doesn't work right, hard to use the stick blender without splattering all over-even on you (OUCH). Remember-match the batch to the crock. Same caution about overloading the crock. You don't want the melted oils to fill it more then just over half way. No more then 65 oz total of oils in a 6 qt crock. You can do more but it makes it interesting, don't ask how I know. :O)
Ok, back to the main subject, making soap in a crock.
We have all the utensils and safety equipment ready to go. Now for the recipe. We will be making a recipe that I am anxious to try, I tweaked a very basic honey and goatsmilk soap. The original called for just lard or shortening as the only oil, it is a good recipe, but not quite the lather I like and I like to tweak, it is the mad scientist in me. Anyway, we digress, here is the tweaked recipe:
Shortening(US) 28 oz
Coconut Oil 14 oz
Castor Oil 5 oz
Almond Oil 3 oz
Sunflower Oil 2 oz
Total Oils 52 oz
I will add 4 oz of honey but not til the end.
Lye 7.46 oz (discounted 5%)
Liquid 22.68 oz (I will use just below 23 oz)
Please be sure to run any recipe through your lye calculator, no matter where you get it. Now because of the calculator that I use my liquid is set at a discount of -24%, you do not want to discount your liquid in making soap with a crock. The liquid will dissipate and if you discount the water the finished soap will be very dry. Again, don't ask how I found out.
I will try and do pictures, no guarantees. ;o)
Step 1: Run your recipe through your lye calculator, print out your recipe so you have a copy handy to work with-you don't want to be running back and forth between your pc and your work station.
Step 2: Assemble your equipment-safety equipment and your crock, scale, containers you will use to put your soap together.
Step 3: Put your recipe where it is easy to see, assemble your oils you will be using.
Step 4: Mix your lye liquid, (remember lye into liquid) . Use plastic container for the lye/liquid mix. Now the way I do goats milk is a bit different, but each of you have your own way that works for you. What I will do on this recipe, as I want a good percentage of goats milk, I will pour out my water to measure the near 23 oz, I will then cut it in take out 11 oz and put on the side. I will pour my lye into the remaining water, this I do in the kitchen sink, do not inhale the fumes and if you are so inclined, wear your safety goggles, etc.. Let me back track a bit, to the water portion I add a pinch of tussah noil silk fiber, 2 to 3 tsp Borax, 1-2 tsp sugar and 1-2 tsp salt. There are many different opinions on the adding of borax, salt and sugar, but it is what I do and it works for me, I think. You would add these before you add the lye, and stir til it is dissolved, the silk fiber won't dissolve yet, so don't worry about it, the lye will take care of it. Now we are ready to pour the lye into the water, stirring as we add, remember don't breathe the fumes, they last only a few seconds. If you are nervous about the fumes in the house, take the containers outside and mix there. It will heat up, so remember the container will be hot to the touch. Put the lye/liquid, once mixed, on the side, once the silk fiber has melted, I usually stick the container in the refrigerator til I am ready for it. You can mix the night before and put on the side til you are ready to use, you want it to be cool, it does not affect the viability of the the process. However, remember it is still active, so splashing will burn you. If this happens rinse with cold running water, immediately, then do a quick rinse with white vinegar, cold water first then vinegar. It works, ;o).
While the lye/water is cooling, take the 11 ozs of water you seperated out and warm some-in the microwave or stove, once warmed add 6 tbsp of powdered goatsmilk and whisk til well mixed and set it aside. I always use the powdered goats milk, powdered buttermilk, or milk powder, depending on what you are looking for. Doing it this way I don't get the burned milk, from the lye. If you wish you use the canned goats milk, substract 1/3 to ½ of the
total liquid required for your batch and measure out that amount in the goats milk, or whichever other liquid you wish to use. Set that aside, then proceed to mix the lye into the prepared water and let cool.
Step 5: Once the oils have melted, in your crock, you can use the low setting so as not to over heat, remove the crock and set aside to let them cool. If the majority of the more solid oils have melted and there are still a few islands floating around, they will finish melting even when you remove the crock. Once the islands have melted you can remove the lid and let it finish cooling.
Step 6: Once the oils are cool and the lye water has cooled, take the crock of oils and sit in your sink. Make sure your stick blender is nearby, and the lye water and goats milk(or whatever you are using. And you put on your safety garb, a quick stir to the lye water and pour in the goats milk, mix together then pour into the oils slowly stirring to mix well. Once it is all incorporated, bring on the stick blender, and start blending. After about 5-10 minutes of
blending, if it hasn't come to a full trace, rest the blender(I just let it sit in the crock) go do something or other for O about 5 to 10 minutes, go back and check it, give it a few stirs test for trace, if it isn't yet, give the stick blender a rest, take a break, just keep checking back and see how it is coming. Don't worry if it all of sudden is totally thick or a very hard trace, give it a hand stir, and pop the crock back in its cradle. You are on your way to making crock soap.
SIDEBAR: The key that works for me here is to only use the WARM setting on my crock pot. In the beginning my crock only had the two settings HI and LOW, you don't want to use the HI setting it will cause the mix to creep up the side of the pot, and really dries out the soap mix, the LOW setting really is still to hot. Once I invested in a $24 Rival with all 3 settings, I was really a happy crocker. ;o) It really opened up soaping for me and the addiction goes on and on. Since then I have purchased 3 - 1.5 qt crocks, my 6 qt. Crock, plus a 3 qt. Crock, and 2 of the crocks that only have the 2 settings, but those crocks will fit the 6 qt, but not as well as I would like, but they are backups, just in case.it is workable in a pinch. You can never have to many crock pots. I like to use the small pots for splitting off part of the main batch if I want to color or do several scents off one batch. I also found out that you can get replacement crocks from Rival and they are only about $10 plus shipping. I do have a 3 qt crock for food, but if I need to use one of my soap crocks, those crock pot liners work wonderfully.
If you don't have a 3 temp crock pot and don't want to purchase one til you try out crock soaping, I would recommend that you use no more then between ¼ and ½ crock of oils, and depending on the size you would have to determine how many oz of oils that would be. Then keep a close eye on the soap while it is cooking. It will process faster and will walk up the wall of the crock some. If it starts to walk up, just stir it down, it will be fine.
Back to our current batch. We have mixed in the lye liquid, brought it to trace and put it back into its' cradle. It was a nice creamy kind of off white color when we placed it on to cook. Now, we put on the lid and just let it do its' thing. We will not stir until towards the end, so just keep the cover on, if you have a glass cover you can watch it go through its paces. You will see a change starting around the edges, in time, this part requires the patience word. NOTE: If you notice that the oil seem to seperate, just carefully blend with the stick blender til it is back to the thick blended state. This happens occasionally with some oil combos, not a big deal. Mix and put the lid back on and let it do its' thing. The color will darken some as it goes through, you won't see dramatic changes, it kind of softly goes through the changes. You will not get volcanoing, at least I haven't yet.
SIDEBAR: The only volcanic action I have ever had happen was when I added lye to some strong coffee that I was going to use for my liquid. I made a little mistake, the coffee was still a little to warm. It started grumbling and rumbling and made like Mt. St. Helens. Luckily I was doing it in the sink, as usual, and as the rumbling began, I moved back. All I can say is it was an experience. From then on I make sure my liquid are pretty cool before mixing in my lye. It was kind of neat though. ;o) So reader be warned.
It will be anywhere from 2 to 4 hours before it is done doing its thing. This is only approximate, after about 3 hrs take a look at it, stir it a bit, test it, I tongue test it, you can use whatever testing procedure you are familiar with. Once there is no tingle, then we proceed on to the next step.
Now if it still tingles, put the cover back on and let it continue on for a half hour, then retest. Now, I must tell you that I have fallen asleep waiting for it to finish cooking, or it was finished cooking and I was not able to finish and pour, so I just let it sit, on the warm setting, and there was no ill effect, whatsoever, no volcanoing, no burnt soap, no ill effects at all.
Sometimes it never seems to finish, it almost acts as if it is lye heavy, but the other day I discovered a little trick. I added some honey to a batch after several hours of tingle, and within about 20 minutes it was ready to scent and pour. Maybe it was just timing, but it worked fine.
I have had a couple batches that seemed to come out lye heavy, just wouldn't finish saponify, no matter what, those I molded let set up chopped up added some milk and maybe some oil or water and rebatched it and it was fine, maybe not pretty, so just chop, grind and dry and use for laundry powder. Haven't purchased laundry detergent in over a year, nor softener-white vinegar is great. Anyway that is another story.
Step 7: Now that the batch has cooked, this one is a caramel color, there is no tingle, and you are ready to superfat, if you wish, color if you are going to, if you want to do a swirl, take out a portion and place in a small crock that has been warming.
Now being as I am adding 4 oz of honey, which will change the color to a dark chocolate color, if I do a swirl it would be an off white, or in this case, I might not add the honey to the small portion I have put in the small crock. Which would give the two tone effect.
SIDEBAR: If you want to swirl with crock pot soap, there are a couple ways to do it, but the way that I have found to work best for me, is: Put a portion of your soap mix, when done, into the small crock pot, color this portion to whatever you plan on doing. Once you have your color, then plop spoonfuls into the big pot give it a quick stir just to start the swirls. It will swirl as you pour. After you have poured you can swirl some more. I most cases, because you have not discounted the water/liquid and have not cooked it on a high heat but on an even warm heat, the soap will be nicely pourable.
Once you have gotten the color you want in the small pot, and in the large pot if you wish to do so, it is time to continue on. At this point I will be adding my 4 oz of honey. Once that is well mixed in, turn off the crocks and let it cool some before adding fragrance, if you are doing so. I will be adding a touch of honey FO, just to enhance the honey aroma that is already there. UMMMM smells so good, can almost hear the hive ahumming. If you are a thermometer user, I try to have it at about 150 degrees or lower. But as it is cooling, you can stir it to help it cool and if it seems to be getting thick fast, add your scent, mixing it in good, plop in your swirl colors, give it a swirly stir and pour into your mold, give it a swirl action and level it, and set it to cool and harden.
You don't need to add as much FO or EO as it isn't given time to cook out, you would add your scrubbies, botanicals at the point just before you pour into the mold.
Once poured into the mold your have chosen, you tap a few times to level, and set it on the side to cool and harden. As soon as it feels firm to the touch, there is very little give when you push down. You want to check in the middle, as it takes longer to settle and harden there. If you are using a log mold, it will take a little longer, if you are using a flat mold it sets up pretty quickly. You want to unmold as soon as it is set so that it finishes cooling all the way through. Once it is cool and firm, you can mark and cut your bars. Set them up to finish the cool and you are set.
I usually can't wait so I will take an end piece and wash my hands, what a joy it is. I have all ready tested my lather and feel of the soap when I put the crock in the sink and adding water, I just happen to leave a dab in the pot to try it, it is a must do.
Now that is what I am talking about. ;o)