soapmaking notes & tips
Plastic food containers are ideal to use as moulds because they are flexible, and it's easier to remove the soap from them.
Metal containers are rigid and removing the soap from them will be difficult.
Never use aluminium moulds, because the lye will react with the aluminium.
Wax coated paper milk cartons, cutlery trays, plastic takeaway food containers all make good soap moulds for a beginner soapmaker. You can also use large plastic food containers for the entire soap mixture, then cut the soap into blocks later.
Your soap mixture will take longer to trace if you are making soap entirely from olive oil (pure Castile soap); it can take many hours if you are stirring by hand. Stir constantly for about an hour, then place your soap mixture into the polystyrene box to insulate.
About every six to eight hours open the box and stir gently.
Repeat this process until the oil no longer rises to the surface and the mixture is the consistency of thick custard. This could take up to two days.
hand held blenders
A hand held blender can significantly speed up the mixing time especially when using olive oil which is slow to trace.
Don't use any other type of bench top blender or food processor as these tend to aerate the mix.
Use the slow speed if the blender has one.
Using a tall, narrow soapmaking pot, blend the mixture in short bursts to prevent burning out the motor.
Between blending, stir the mixture manually, resting the blender for a couple of minutes at a time.
The time to trace will vary depending on the proportion and variety of soapmaking oils, and other factors such temperature.
Most soap mixes take up to fifteen minutes to trace, using this method.