Our Blog is for anyone who is interested in soap making. Whether you are a new soapmaker looking for tips or a customer wanting to find out about us we hope that you will find our blog informative and interesting. We’ll hopefully add more posts in the future..
How we make our soap, our suppliers, tips and tricks and just about anything soapy…
How we make our soap ~ the basic idea
The answer you’ll get from every soap maker will be the same but we all have our own way of doing things. Hot process, Cold process or Melt and Pour?
If you’re just looking for a bit of crafty fun with your kids the melt and pour method is the way to go. You buy a pre made base so the soap has already undergone saponification so there’s no need to handle the lye. Just bear in mind that there is heating involved so the kids need to be supervised! The downside is that you won’t be able to customize the base recipe and you may have trouble doing some of those nice swirly patterns you see in CP Soap.
The method we use is Cold Process Soap Making which is the preferred method used by most Artisan Soap makers as it allows for greater control of the raw ingredients.
Cold process soap making was the original method traditionally used to make soap. The soap is made by combining fat or oil (ours are all vegetable based) with sodium hydroxide lye.
The first thing we do is experiment with which oils and butters we’re going to use. Since we’re controlling the ingredients in the base recipe the choice of which fats and oils based on their wonderful unique properties is both exciting and frustrating as not all test batches work out as you’d hoped. It’s this time and experimentation that ultimately leads to a far superior quality product ~ and thats why we do CP Soap.
Once we’ve decided on the basic recipe we can add Fragrance or Essential Oils to the soap. We use Fragrance Oils (FO or EO ~ that’s for another blog!). When the addition of botanicals and the design of a pattern is decided upon we’re ready to make our soap.
First we melt our oils and butters together and mix up our lye solution.
Then we borrow the kitchen stick blender to mix the lye and oils together!! (just kidding ~ we have a dedicated soap making one. I don’t fancy “soapy” soup). This is done to emulsify the lye and oils and to take it to “trace”. Simply put this is the thickening of the soap batter (I’ll talk more about trace in another post. The control of the degree of trace is very important in soap making but for the beginner.. Just mix till you see the batter run of the stick blender and it leaves patterns on the surface of the liquid in your mixing bowl)
Once we’ve poured our soap into the mold and created beautiful swirls or layers for a pattern and done a bit of sculpting on top we either gel the soap (the soap goes through a heat phase as it saponifies) or we prevent gelling if the desired outcome requires it.
Our soap is usually hand cut within the next couple of days. By this time the saponification process is pretty much finished. (Saponification is the chemical reaction that happens when the oils react with the lye to make soap ~ we regularly test the pH to check what’s going on)
The soap is pretty much safe to use at this point as most of the chemical reaction has happened but your soap will not be very long lasting as it will still be soft.
We “cure” our soaps for about 6-8 weeks to allow the water to evaporate off in order to provide a harder bar of soap. This creates a far better bar of soap that will lather more, last longer and become milder.
If you’re going to have a go at making CP soap please remember the following:
- The Sodium Hydroxide (lye) is a strong alkali and should be treated with care. Always wear full eye protection and cover bear skin. Wear gloves! Keep children and pets out of the area. Work in a well ventilated area.
- This extra effort and care are definitely worth it. CP Soap has a quality like no other
- Remember to HAVE FUN
- Disclaimer: Soap making is addictive and we’re not responsible for how much money you spend on it!!
The Soapery was a great find for me when I started my soap making journey. I use several of their butters, micas and oils in our soaps with great results. There’s an impressive range of oils all certified Organic by the soil association and their micas are great in CP Soap all remaining true to colour.
I was especially attracted to their Sustainability Ethos which was so important to us and the way we wanted Bramble & Boo to work. I’ve always been very happy with my purchases from these guys and delivery is nice and quick.
The products are a very good quality and the prices are some of the best you’ll find.
Delivery is free in the UK regardless of weight and there is no minimum quantity on orders.
When you need to get in touch with them they typically reply to emails the same day, usually within a couple of hours.
MSDS Sheets are available for all their products.
They also do a really nice blog page with great info. Check it out
Here’s the link to their page for new soap makers – You can thank me later…
SOHO IT are the guys who host our website for us.
With over ten years’ experience in supporting small businesses in Edinburgh, The Lothians and Scottish Borders, they did a fantastic job of getting our domain registered, which they manage, and setting us up with WordPress in order that we could build our own website.
They provided a very personal approach which was so important as its easy to feel a bit overwhelmed by the whole “IT” thing when its new to you. They were just at the end of the phone whenever I had a problem (broke my website!) and were always happy to help me get up and running again.
If you’re looking for a bit of Web Hosting I can’t rate these guys high enough.
Here’s the link to their website…
What is Shea Butter and why do we use it as one of our ingredients.
Shea butter fat comes from the nuts of the shea tree which are native to West Africa. Shea butter is an off white fat that is solid at room temperature. It’s a rapidly absorbing oil making it great for the skin.
Used as a cosmetic ingredient for centuries, Shea butter is packed full of natural fats making it a favourite ingredient in our Temptress, Blue Clay and Eye Candy Soaps. With a high percentage of vitamins and fatty acids makes it a great ingredient for soothing and moisturising the skin.
Shea butter is packed with antioxidant vitamins which can help protect your skin from ageing and it has anti-inflammatory properties, derived from the plant esters, making it beneficial for skin complaints such as eczema.
It has been linked to the reduction of scarring and stretch marks as well as balancing the skins natural oils which can help with acne.
We love Shea Butter here at Bramble & Boo because it is noncomedogenic* and suitable for all skin types lacking those nasty chemicals that dry out skin.
(*noncomedogenic: not tending to clog pores ~ as by the formation of blackheads)
I just cant big up this ingredient enough so here’s a link if you want to read more