cream soap - 2

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for my initial batch of cream soap ("cream soap 1"), i followed c. failor's book to the letter. i had success the first time out, and so i simply repeated this process with subsequent batches. i liked the results but felt there was room for improvement. in fact, fairlor herself states that her data is only a starting point and recommends personal experimentation.
i was about to begin experimenting with different oil combinations and additives, when i became aware of the "cream soap group" (which also spawn the "cream soap forum"). there i met some folks who've already been experimenting, not only with the ingredients but, with the process itself.
with some insightful tips into the character of this kind of soapmaking, i've modified my initial procedure, (which is listed below), and altered the corresponding recipe.

a detailed outline of my procedure for making cream soap with the oven method, (supercreamed with stearic acid), is as follows: -- (see "soap recipes" for my cream soap recipes)
preheat your oven to 250°
place a cookie sheet under where the soap pot will rest in the unlikely event that the soap rises and spills over.
decide the batch size and determine what oils are being used. place oils/butters in soap pot and set aside.
again, i'm working with a 1-lb. batch size. this is the smallest quantity you can effective work with.
soft oils (10% - 15% of the total oils)
olive oil
shea butter
jojoba oil
castor oil -- to make a softer pliable soap
hard oils
coconut oil -- for lather (10% - 30% of total oils)
stearic acid -- necessary for this type of soap
palm oil -- to produce a denser soap
...all combined to make the 38% - 40% (of the total product weight) fatty acids. i'm aiming for a firm, but semi liquid result as opposed to a fluffy, stiff soap.
the high percentage of stearic acid and/or palm oil is necessary to make this kind of soap.
measure out all your other ingredients and set aside for ready availability.
measure the hydroxides. (use the "lye calculator" to get the sodium hydroxide amount with a 5% discount. now multiply that figure by .217; that is your sodium hydroxide amount. now multiply 5 times that figure times to get the amount of potasium hydroxide.) combine and set aside.
• measure the lye water. (this is 6 times the total amount of hydroxides. *now divided that by 2). set aside.
*the 50% discount is required for the fast cooking time (45 minutes - 1 hour.) the remaining water will be added in later.
measure the glycerin. (this is 55% of the total stearic acid. ideally, this is all the stearic acid from all the oils, but you could use just the stearic acid. to calculate all the stearic acid, use the "oil properties" table to determine the percentage of stearic acid in each oil. if the percentage is expressed as a range, use the midpoint. that percentage times the amount of that oil gives you the amount of stearic from that oil.)
measure your additives. (in this case i'm using 1% hydrolized silk and .5% kaolin clay. the 1% each of allantoin and goat's milk can be measured, but aren't need until much later. these percentages are based on the total weight, which can be estimated by simply adding all the ingredients. don't forget to include in this total the other 50% that was discounted from the lye water.)
lastly, measure out your supercream. with this method, i'm using [hot] stearic acid and glycerin. combine these two and set aside.
(c. failor suggests a supercream of 3%: - 5% of your total oils. i'm using only 1.5%. this reduced amount in conjunction with the 5% superfat was determined to be a better solution since the high level of free stearic acid resulting from the usual method can be irritating to the skin. 1.5 times this amount gives you the glycerin amount.)

add your glycerin to your oils and heat just until all solids are melted.
add hydroxides to the water.
stir until completely dissolved.
add the lye water to the melted oils and blend (with hand blender).
blend until the mixture is somewhat smooth and uniform. work quickly. once this starts to set up it goes very fast.
according to some, this is where you'd incorporate your additives -- i suspect this is a habit from cp soapmaking. since this type of soap is going to be thoroughly whipped later, i've opted to incorporate the additives at that point instead.
furthermore, if you are adding goat's milk it would be affected by the lye. allantoin and [heat-sensitive] silk could be compromised by the heat.

continue blending (alternating between stick blender and spoon) until soap has become smooth and thick. stop. let soap rest for 2 minutes.
cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
place the lid on the soap pot and put in oven. check every 15 minutes, give the soap a good stir -- (the heated soap will soften enough to stir), replace the lid and put it back in the oven.
after 45 minutes, take a small sample of soap from the pot, place it in a paper towel, put a drop of phenolphthalein on it. If it remains clear, you're done cooking. if it show any sign of "pink", there is still some un-neutralized hydroxides. continue cooking. after 15 minutes, test again. repeat until phenolphthalein tests clear.
this time may vary a bit, but if you haven't mis-measured your ingredients, [approx.] 1 hour should be all the cooking time needed.

heat the stearic acid / glycerin blend until melted. stir into the hot soap.
leave soap overnight.
turn off the oven and leave the covered pot in the oven overnight (24 hours) with the light on (for warmth)
10 whip it good.
the next day the soap will appear very thick. use a spoon (no added liquid) to massage the mass until it loosens up. this may require a considerable amount of "massaging". when it loosens enough, use the stick blender to whip it until it resembles frosting -- a (very) little of the liquid may be necessary to facilitate this. if you're making a larger quantity of soap, this step is best done in small batches.
this is where you would incorporate the extra water that you discounted earlier. however, instead of water, use aloe vera. it lowers the soap's ph and boosts the lather. this is also where you would incorporate your additives ...moistening the dry ingredients with just enough of the aloe to make a slurry.
keep tabs on the amount of liquid you add; you may not, probably won't, use the entire amount. blend until the soap reaches the consistency and texture you want.

this is a very arduous step takes a lot of effort to transform the soap from the almost solid state to the consistency of frosting. in your enthusiasm to quicken and/or facilitate this step, take care to add only a small amount of liquid at a time and blend thorough between addition, 'lest you end up with a mixture the consistency of cake batter.
if you find that all this effort is undesirable, you could always add more water at the start of the process, however, this would probably mean a longer cooking time, and not allow you to replace the water with aloe or whatever your favorite liquid humectant.

11 transfer soap to glass or ceramic bowl.
let soap sit uncovered for 2 days. during this time, the "chemical" smell will dissipate.
12 check the consistency
after 2 days, check to see if the soap needs more liquid ...blending thoroughly between additions if needed.
13 rot it.
cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the soap sit (rot) for 2 weeks during which time it will develop a sheen and mellow-- (the soap may be a bit drying at first, but it does mellow the longer it sits).
if you found that [in step 10] you added a wee bit too much water (aloe), you could leave the bowl uncovered to allow evaporation, whipping the soap periodically to check the texture, and then cover it when it reaches the texture you desire.

14 color, scent, package.
finally, whip the soap one last time, adding liquid to adjust consistency if necessary. color -- (a few drops of food coloring works great), scent (personal preference will dictate amount), and package -- (thicker soap works best in jars; thinner soap works well in tubes and dispensers).