How to Make Soap Whipped (Room Temperature) Soap
If you've got the basics of cold process soap making down, here's a neat variation for you to try. The process is unique in a couple of ways. Instead of beating the melted oils and lye in a hot soap pot, you whip both the oils and soap in a bowl. And instead of working at about 100 degrees, you do everything at room temperature. The result is a very white, opaque, almost candy-like soap that gives lovely pastel colors--and yes, it floats.
For this project, you'll need a basic understanding of cold process soap making, and:
- A basic soap recipe adjusted as noted below
- A large mixing bowl
- A mixer with at least beater attachments--a whisk attachment is even better. (Best of all is a big KitchenAid mixer!)
- Some rubber spatulas
- Fragrance and color, as desired
- A mold for the soap
Once you've got all that together, the first thing to do is tweak your recipe.
Create Your Recipe
The first difference is that you have to choose your oils carefully. In normal cold process soap making, you can vary your oils, choosing a balance between soft and hard (at room temperature) oils at about a 60/40 ratio. This would be 60 percent "hard" oils like coconut, palm, lard, tallow, palm kernel, shea butter, cocoa butter, and shortening, and 40 percent "soft" oils like canola, olive, rice bran, and soybean.
But with the room temperature/whipped process, you want a very high percentage of hard oils. It's best to use about 80 percent. You need this percentage of hard oils to get the "whipped" effect.
For this batch, the recipe was:
- 25 percent lard
- 30 percent coconut
- 25 percent palm oil
- 15 percent olive oil
- 5 percent castor oil
Make sure to run your recipe through a lye calculator.
Whip/Cream the Solid Oils
The first step is to weigh out your hard oils and add them to your mixing bowl. Ultimately, you're going to want them all creamed and mixed, so depending on your choice of oils, and the room temperature, you may need to mash or cream them as you would hard butter. Or, if your room temperature is a bit warmer, they may just all mix together.
If you're using a really hard oil like palm kernel or cocoa butter, it's best to soften it a bit in the microwave first. It will harden back up once you've got it mixed in the pot.
Whip all of the oils together until completely mixed. Keep whipping until it starts to form peaks, like frosting or egg whites. The more you whip, the creamier and lighter it will be.
Add the Liquid Oils
Once you've got the hard oils all nice and whipped, slowly add in the liquid oils. Adding them will take away some of the peaks and "whip." This is one of the reasons to keep the ratio of hard to liquid oils low. Keep whipping until you've got some of the whipped-ness back. (A few minutes of whipping should do.)
Add the Lye-Water
It's time to add the lye-water solution to the oils. So, put on your gloves and goggles. It may look like frosting, but it's about to become caustic raw soap
Once all of the oils are delightfully whipped together, slowly add your lye-water, a few tablespoons at a time. Keep whipping gently, being careful not to splash any of the lye-water or soap out of the mixing bowl. Once all of the lye water is in the soap, keep whipping.
Keep whipping the soap.
Slowly add your fragrance oil to the mix. It will probably dampen your "whip" a bit as well. Just keep whipping.
It will be ready when it's about the consistency of:
- Thick yogurt
- Soft serve ice cream
- Whipped butter
- Soft cream cheese or
- Whipped egg whites
Color and Mold
Now normally when your soap was "ready," that is, reached trace, you had to work pretty quickly. Not so with the room temperature whipped soap. Because there's no heat involved, the chemical reaction is very slow to start. This means that the soap will take longer to set up in the molds and be ready to cut. But it also means that you've got plenty of time to color and work with the soap. We played with this batch for over 30 minutes and still could have done more with it.
For this batch, we separated the raw soap (you still have your gloves and goggles on, right?) into three bowls and colored each a different color. This results in four colors: the three colors plus the brilliant white of the base soap.
Note: Because the soap base is so white, you will only get light pastel colors out of it, so plan for this when you are dreaming up your soap and color combinations.
Layering the Soap in the Mold
Because this soap is so light and a little sticky, it seems to work best in either "log" type molds that can be sliced, or silicone molds that are easy to pop the soaps out of. We made a batch of this soap and molded it in a hard, plexiglass individual-soap-bar mold, and it was not only hard to get them out but also, because it tends to stick to the mold, the finish on the bars was not good.
For this batch, we took the rubber spatulas and layered the different colors (including the white) into the mold.
Variation: If you have cookie or cake-making equipment, you can mold or pipe this soap just like you would frosting or cookie dough. Glob some of the soap into a cookie press and make small soap "candies" that will be great for individual hand washings or decorative bathroom soap bowls. (Be sure you put them on wax paper or a stainless steel cookie sheet as the soap will corrode aluminum!) You could also decorate existing bars of soap like you would a cake or cookies with frosting.
Leave the Soap Mold to Set
Once filled, set the mold aside, covering it, if desired.
Now you'll need some patience. Because there's no heat involved, it takes a while for the saponification process to get going. It will indeed finally get going; it just takes a while. Usually, once you pour a normal batch of "on the stove" soap, it will be firm enough to unmold in about 18-24 hours. The whipped soap may take at least 24, and often as long as 36 hours to set up. This will depend on your combination of oils, the amount of water you use in the recipe, and the ambient room temperature.
So don't fret if it takes a lot longer than you're used to; that's just the way it works.
Unmold and Enjoy
Let the soap firm up, and then take it out of the mold. Note: since we've made everything at room temperature or chilled, and short-circuited any sort of a gel stage, the soap is going to be caustic for longer than a regular cold process soap. It will take two to three days for it to fully saponify. Be sure to let it cure for several weeks before you use it.