A June 8, 2016, email newspost from Kenna of modernsoapmaking.com just caught my eye. It featured a tutorial by Molly Ellmore of Ridgewaysoapworks.com titled "Ten Tips & Tricks for Swirling Hot Process Soap." modernsoapmaking.com/tips-for-swirling-hot-process-soap
Are you kidding me!? Swirling hot process? Our experience with hot process is we’re lucky to get it in the mold before it sets up. So you can see why Molly got my attention. I believed Molly, but I had to prove it to myself.
I read the tutorial over and over, trying to understand every nuance. I watched her excellent video over and over. Her theory is that adding yogurt to the soap increases fluidity. And keeping everything hot is important to keep the soap from cooling too quickly. So she keeps things warm in a low-temp (170F) oven.
But I made a serious mistake by putting the yogurt into the oils before I added lye water. It should have been added post cook. As Molly said in a kind email to me, “I suggest adding your yogurt after the cook after the soap has cooled to around 180. If you add it hotter than that, the sugars in the yogurt can caramelize and turn your soap a cream/tan color. Also – try putting your soap in the freezer after you put it in the mold. Leave it there for a few hours or overnight. It can really help the soap harden up, even after it has thawed. Be sure to let it thaw before cutting though!!”
Our hot-process soap usually finishes cooking in about 45 minutes. After 1 1/2 hours, the soap still hadn’t cooked. It was about 50 percent amber liquid (caramelized yogurt) and half floating pieces of soap.
We finally gave up, split it into three containers, added the scent/colors and poured it into the mold. I swirled it with the Brambleberry “hanger” wire and ran a chopstick through it like Molly did in the video. I used a new silicone mold we bought just the day before at Joy’s Handcrafters Supply in Milwaukie, OR. handcrafterssupply.com.
I cut the soap today and I think I should have waited a few days. Even though I used sodium lactate, it seems a bit soft in spots, due to the caramelizing, I think. But the swirling turned out beautiful! I’m impressed, and I’m a believer.
The recipe I used was new to me: Soap Queen’s Swirl Quick Mix, which is designed for cold process. I should have stuck with one of our tried-and-true recipes. Which is what I intend to do, only put the yogurt in right next time.
Such fun to try new things! And thanks to people like Kenna, Molly, Anne-Marie and others who share their talent and experience with us rookies!