I am having difficulties making a good Cold Process soap bar. Do you have any advice to help?
The Challenge: Colors That Morph
CP Soap has a very high pH while it undergoes saponification, which can cause many colors to “morph” and change color. Colors such as ultramarines and oxides are typically used in CP soap because they are stable, meaning the color does not change during the saponification process, the color you begin with is the same as your final product. Natural botanicals (such as alkanet root, beet juice, etc.) produce unpredictable shades which can even vary from batch to batch of the same soap making recipe. Synthetic colorants (like FD&C colorants) are not used because the colorant contains ingredients such as Ferric Ferrocyanide which, in high pH levels will turn the colors brown. Blues, greens and purple tends to be by far the most pH sensitive of the colorants.
The Challenge: Fragrance Interference
Vanilla based fragrances will almost always change color after the saponification process. The change in color is an inherent property of the vanilla. The more vanilla, the more likely the soap will eventually turn to a very dark brown color. The color can progressively change days, weeks or months after curing. It is most often associated with the vanilla level in the fragrance oil.
The Challenge: Fading Fragrance Oils
There are many options to help prevent against a fading fragrance ruining your cold process soaps. Before you begin the CP creation process be sure to choose a non-diluted and full bodied fragrance with a strong base note that is stored/packaged in glass containers not plastic. The fragrance should be added just before you pour it in your mold right after trace occurs. When adding the fragrance make sure that enough has been used. We typically say to use 3-6% but make sure to check the IFRA maximum usage rates before adding any fragrance to your product. If you’ve done all of the above and still believe the fragrance has faded, you may have just gone nose blind. Try smelling coffee grounds before you smell your bar of soap or have a friend take a whiff and see if they smell your fragrance!
The Challenge: Difficulty Unmolding
When unmolding your soap there is the potential of pieces of your soap sticking to your mold. This can be due to a recipe miscalculation or possibly the environment in which your soap has cured. Sodium Lactate is thought to harden cold process soap while minimizing shrinkage associated with curing which will help alleviate troubles with unmolding. Another quick and easy way to unmold your loaf is to pop it in the freezer for 15 minute spurts to allow for easier removal from the mold.
Tips From The Experts
Crafter’s Choice™ Brands developed a product called Vanilla Color Stabilizer – CP Soap that, when added to CP Soap, will stop a vanilla fragrance from turning brown.
While some soap makers enjoy the unpredictable nature of CP soap coloring, you may prefer to accurately predict the final color of your soap. Before creating an entire batch there are ways to mimic high pH levels to help predict how your colors will react during the saponification process. By mixing your color with household ammonia you will be able to reveal the color of your final product. You can also test potential fragrance oil discoloration the same way!
Other natural colorants you might want to experiment with are annatto seed, turmeric and calendula petals to produce shades of yellow and orange, liquid chlorophyll to produce shades of green, unsweetened cocoa for brown, madder root for pink/red, paprika for peach, and saffron for a beautiful bright yellow.
When storing your final product you should place it in an airtight container with a cotton ball containing a small amount of your fragrance oil on it. This allows the soap bar to absorb additional fragrance while it is in storage.