Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cream Soaps

I've been interested in making cream soaps for a while now, after all, I AM a soaper. Most people know that in order to make soap, oils and lye need to saponify together. To make a hard, solid bar of soap, sodium hydroxide is used. To make a liquid soap, potassium hydroxide is used. Cream soap is a sort of hybrid of the two, quite literally. In order to make a creamy, whipped concoction of soap, both potassium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide is used.

The lye, water, and oils are cooked with applied heat to speed up the saponification process. Once this process is complete (this takes a few hours), supercreaming can begin. Supercreaming is another word for superfatting, so there is extra stearic acid to give the soap its whipped cream texture. At this point, the soap does not look like cream, or a fluffy whip, or anything dreamy. It's a big, sticky glob that you can't even mix. Now here's the hard part, the soapmaker and the soap must relax for 24 hours. Once everyone has cooled off, small amounts of water can be whipped in until a creamy texture is formed. And here's the REALLY hard part, seal the soap in a bucket with a tight lid and let it "rot". I know it sounds gross, but something special happens when you leave it alone for a few months: a sheen appears, and the soap is even creamier.

Now the fun part is adding fragrance and color, and of course, bathing! I have to admit, I've been taking 2 showers a day just so I could "experiment". At least that's what I've been telling my husband, but I don't think he believes me.

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