As anyone who is in the entire central part of the country, or indeed watches the news, knows, it’s hot. Wichita, KS had a high of 102 today, and that’s completely unremarkable in the latest stretch of heat. Remarkable or not, though, it’s still really quite unpleasant, and mostly leads to people just not going outside much.
Last summer was hot, too, and I got a bright idea one afternoon: I can use this heat to help me make soap! There is a technique called “cold process oven process”, wherein one makes and pours the soap as usual for cold process, but instead of swaddling the molds in blankets to “cook” in their self-generated heat, one places them into a warm (~180F) oven overnight. Advocates of this process say it gives you all the delicacy of swirl and other appearance characteristics that are the main benefit of cold process soaping, while cutting curing time by half or more and creating usable soap much, much sooner.
My molds won’t fit into my oven, so I never really gave this technique much thought except in the very abstract, until the day last summer, near the end of the heat wave, when I got the bright idea to put the soap into the car instead. It doesn’t reach 180F in the car, but 140F is not uncommon, and hey, it’s an experiment worth trying! It did actually work pretty well, as it happens, but for one reason and another I never have tried it again – until today.
Both times I’ve tried this, I’ve hedged my bets a bit and let the soap go overnight in its usual blanket-swaddling first – I’ve had “soap volcanoes” before when soap gets too hot in the mold while still early in the saponification process, and I don’t really want to clean one of those out of the car – so it’s not precisely the same way as oven-process users do it. But last time it did cut quite a bit off my curing time, and I hope it does the same this time, too! Maybe I’ll start putting soap in the car throughout the entirety of the warm months.