When you first learned to make soap, you did not worry about taking shortcuts or speeding up the process. In fact, you probably proceeded at a slow pace to ensure you did things correctly. After time however, the thought of soapmaking shortcuts likely crossed your mind.
If you sell, saving time is imperative; but even if you do not, taking less time means you can make more batches or devote more time to other pursuits. Taking a few shortcuts is a good thing!
If the idea of increasing efficiency appeals to you, here are some ideas to get started. Please note that increasing speed or becoming more efficient does not mean it is acceptable to forego safety precautions. Taking time for safety is always top priority.
Organize – Organize your work area, ingredients and equipment. Keep what you use most close and easy to access. Keep lye in a sensible place to avoid accidental spills, yet out of reach of those who should not have access. Mark containers clearly and keep like ingredients together.
Masterbatch – Make large amounts of the basic oil mix and/or masterbatch lye. Another technique is to measure oils for many batches at once to use as desired. Read the article on masterbatching in the March/April 2019 issue of Making Soap, Cosmetics & Candles for more information.
Molds – Use molds that do not need liners or choose reusable liners. Silicone and many plastic molds do not require a liner. Mylar cut to fit the mold can be reused time and time again.
Premix – Mix additives for each formula. If you regularly make certain batches with specific additives, mix them ahead of time to save time measuring each ingredient each batch.
Make bigger batches. If you find you must make the same soap batches too often, it is time to upgrade to larger molds and batches. It does not take much more time to make a bigger batch than a smaller one, so save on labor by moving up.
Keep good inventory. This may not seem like a time-saving move, but it is. Keep track of supplies and ingredients and order in a timely manner to prevent those frustrating times when you need to make soap, but do not have the ingredients on hand to do so.
Ordering – Related to inventory, order or purchase ingredients shortly before you need them. Don’t order more than you plan to use in a reasonable period, but order early enough to allow for vendor shortages and so on. Those anxious moments and wasted time involved in not having what you need for that batch should be few and far between.
Try new techniques – CPOP (cold process, oven process) and Heat Transfer methods help speed soapmaking. The oven method speeds the process because the heat causes soap to speed through the saponification process. After about eight hours, the soap is ready to cut and cure instead of the conventional twenty-four hours. To make soap with the Heat Transfer method, use hot lye water to melt solid oils. It eliminates the need to pre-melt oils, cool them and wait for the lye water to cool.
Try some of these ideas to see if they help make your soapmaking experience faster and efficient. Try some or try them all!
Help me with more ideas. What do you do to make soapmaking faster?
May your days be filled with bubbles and wax.
Beth Byrne, for Making Soap, Cosmetics & Candles Magazine.