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Why do I want to make soap today? Artistic Coloring!

I love making soap for too many reasons.  So in this series, I’m having fun picking one reason each time I want to make soap.  Today, I want to make soap because it’s so much fun to play with artistic colors.

Colors in Cold Process Soap can be achieved in many ways.  I have had the best luck with skin-safe micas. Many of the soap coloring options are not stable through the saponification process.  But most of the micas I have tried work well.  I have had a couple of the green micas change to a yellowish, drab green while the soap was in the saponification stage, but then they changed back to the advertised shade of green by the time the soap was ready to take out of the mold.

I took an acrylic painting class a few years ago, and my favorite part was mixing the colors, both on the palette before painting with them, and on the canvas, after painting with them.  I find the same joy in mixing colors in the soaping process.  It’s great fun to mix the mica powders in a little oil, because they have a wonderful shimmer.  Adding the soap batter always dilutes the color, so I end up guessing how much mica powder to use for a particular shade.  Some brands are more intensely pigmented than others so you don’t have to use as much.  Again, I had to learn this through trial and error.

It’s also fun to mix the colors in the batter itself.  Depending on which oils you use, the colors can have unexpected results.  The surprise factor adds to the fun.  Will the colors look the same after cutting the soap as they do when the soap is first poured?  Will the soap match the picture in my head for what I was aiming for?  No.  I have never had one turn out the way I planned it, but I have been happy with the surprise results.  What unexpected results have you had in soapmaking?

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Why do I want to make soap today? Chemistry Fun!

There are so many reasons for wanting to make handmade soap.  So each time I start to make soap, it is fun to pick a reason why I want to make soap today.  Today, I am choosing the Chemistry Fun aspect.

Chemistry?  Ewwwww….. I hated Chemistry in school.  It was soooooo hard!

Ok, whining over with.  This is fun!  We are taking two unrelated substances, and combining them to make a third unrelated substance.  How cool is that?!  Almost like magic.

Of course, I am talking about adding Sodium Hydroxide, commonly known as Lye, to any fats.  The act of combining Sodium Hydroxide molecules with fat molecules starts a chemical reaction called Saponification.  The end result of this magical chemical reaction is a soap molecule!

Now there is some research involved in this process.   We have to choose which fats to use.  And there are many fats to choose from.  And they all have different properties they bring to the finished soap product.  I don’t know about you, but I have always loved the research process involved in learning new things.  Hobbies especially, because I can decide what to research.  When making handmade soap, there are many fats to choose from, typically broken into two categories:  Hard fats, known as butters, and soft oils that stay liquid.  The general rule of thumb is to have a relatively balanced mix of hard fats and soft oils to make a good bar of soap.   So how do you choose?  Come with me on this journey and we will explore these questions, and many more about making handmade soap.