Soap making at home is great fun and can save you money. As with many things in life, there is more than one way to make soap for the home enthusiast.
Here at Little Green Workshops, we teach two of the three methods of soap making at home; Cold Process and Melt and Pour. There is a third soap making process that we won’t cover during this post, which is Hot Process.
So let’s compare the two processes!
Cold Process Soap Making
Cold Process (CP) soap making is made by mixing oils or fats with lye and water (aka Caustic Soda) to begin saponification; a chemical reaction which turns the liquids into solids and leaves us with soap. You then wait for 4 to 6 weeks for the bars to cure, for saponification to complete, and excess water to evaporate before you can use them.
CP Soap allows you to customise every single ingredient to suit your personal preferences. The soap batter is usually poured into loaf moulds for easier handling when the soap log hardens.
This type of soap can be made at a very low cost depending on the oils and fat used. Purchasing your base oils in bulk can add to the savings.
This is a true soap and considered a more “natural” bar of soap. You can decorate these soaps with colours, clays, mica, and oxides. The designs you can create are endless!
Melt and Pour Soap Making
Melt & Pour (M&P) is a pre-made base that is ready to use. Melt and pour soap is quick to make; it hardens in several hours and does not need to cure. This makes it suitable for beginners and can be made by children with adult supervision.
M&P in its original state is clear. Manufacturers also offer many opaque (not transparent) or white base which has titanium dioxide added. There are many other popular bases out there including Goats Milk, Palm Free, Organic, SLES & SLS free, Ultra Clear and much more.
The soap base has already gone through saponification, so working with lye is not an issue. Therefore, you are not required to wear safety gear because you’re not working with a caustic substance.
If you want to add your own personal touch to it then there are no limits to the creations that you can make with Melt and Pour Soap. Because soap base hardens quickly, you can perform colour layering simply and easily and put your favourite botanicals onto the soaps without fear of discolouration.
The great thing about M&P is that you can make as many or as few soap bars as you would like. Storage is as easy as leaving the unused base in the container that it came in and store it in a cool, dry place for later use.
The Main Difference?
So what’s the main difference between Cold Process Soap vs Melt and Pour Soap? Well, a simple cake baking analogy will help me demonstrate the difference between the two.
You can liken Melt and Pour soap making to making a cake using a pre-made packet mix. All you need to add is an egg and milk to get a consistent result.
Cold Process soap making can be likened to making a cake from scratch. You can follow any recipe, use any ingredients within reason, and mix it all together and bake it!
Simple vs Intermediate. Quick vs Slow, but equally rewarding.
Personally, Kim and I enjoy making and teaching both CP and MP soap making. It just gives you a choice of methods. We’ve even been known to add shaved Cold Process soap to Melt and Pour bars to give them a very interesting look.
You are only limited by your imagination!