Cold process soap vs. melt and pour: The difference


Cold Process and Melt and Pour are the two most common methods of making handmade soaps. But what’s the difference between them? And which one should you choose?

The differences between M&P and cold process soap are with M&P you use a premade soap base. While in CP, you start from scratch; Also the differences in price, process (CP soaps need more steps), curing time (CP needs three weeks whereas MP’s 6 hours) shelf life (M&P can last up to two years), And finally, M&P is thinner when melted.

It isn’t easy to decide which soap-making technique is better. Cold process and M&P both have their own sets of positives, negatives, strengths, weaknesses; it all really comes down to your personal preference for the type of soaps you want in your home or business.

Cold process soap vs. melt and pour soap their main differences

Aesthetic difference:

We’ll first start with the most obvious difference between the two soap-making techniques: their aesthetic difference. Melt and pour soap tend to be very thin when melted but also much more fluid in comparison to cold process soap.

Shelf-life:

Melt and pour soaps have a shorter shelf life than cold process soaps because they contain preservatives to keep them fresh longer

pH level difference:

Cold process soap has a lower pH level which makes it gentler on the skin

Less possibility for failed batch:

Melt and Pour soap does not require making soap from scratch. This method saves you from a lot of hassle that comes from handling the caustic soda. You do not need to worry about several issues that arise with traditional soap-making methods. On the other hand, Cold process soap requires you to do everything from scratch. This has the advantage, of course, of having control over what you use as ingredients, how natural you wish to go, etc., but at the same time, the chances are logically higher to encounter problems when going through the process.

Soap base:

In melt and pour soap making, you just need to melt your ready-made soap base and add your favorite fragrances and colors. After that, you can pour them into molds of your choice and design them. With the cold process method, you’d need to make that base first and continue as you would with melt and pour afterward with the cold process.

There is also a difference in the type of soap base from that of the cold process method. It’s formulated to be remelted to give it a customized finish.

When it comes to lye, both cold and a melt and pour soup are similar. Both are composed of lye (which is caustic soda or sodium hydroxide) as the base. 

Melt and pour vs cold process cost

Melt and pour soaps are typically cheaper than cold process soaps because the ingredients are already prepared for you. This, of course, is only true if you cannot make cold processes with less expensive ingredients. Having said that, one should also consider the time one puts in making the soap. If you count the hour (or hours), you need to make everything from scratch instead of buying the soap base. You’d clearly see a price difference. Of course, this is only applicable to those who wish to sell their soap.

Is melt and pour soap better than cold process soap?

Both the M&P and cold process are popular among handmade soap enthusiasts. Both of them have their benefits and downsides. 

We can say that it depends on your circumstances and personal preferences which process you use for soap making. Here is a comparative analysis of both of the soap-making methods.

Ingredients:

As previously briefly mentioned, the cold process gives more control over ingredients, and you can find limitless recipes worldwide. It gives more space for creativity, and you can choose the fats and oils which suit you and your customers the best. You can also add purees and milk to a cold process soap.

On the other hand, the melt and pour base is already premade with various ingredients you can’t change or alter. However, you’ve won a lot of time by skipping this part and would most likely always have one that is without failure. The biggest concern is, some of them may contain chemicals, so choose your melt and pour base wisely.

Process:

Cold process soap takes more time and effort. First of all, you have to choose and purchase the ingredients. Secondly, the process is critical, and you need to do it when you are free from other distractions such as kids or pets. Third, maybe not such a big issue for many, but it involves several utensils, which you have to clean afterward.

On the other hand, prepared melt and pour soaps are available, which do not involve handling lye and can be formed into soap relatively quickly.

Safety:

Cold process soap making involves handling sodium hydroxide lye, which may cause burns if it comes in contact with skin. Therefore you need to wear safety gear before making cold process soap.

On the other hand, Pour and Melt is relatively simple to handle, and even your kids can help (obviously under supervision). 

Curing:

Cold process soaps require a long cure time which may last up to 4 to 6 weeks. However, melt and pour soaps do not require curing.

Essential oils:

When it comes to essential oils, you can add them in both. However, when dealing with a cold process, you need to be cautious; some essential oils will accelerate and seize the process and make the batter sticky and thick. 

You have more freedom to experiment with essential oils when making a melt and pour soap, as they do not accelerate or seize a melt and pour. 

Which one lasts longer?

Given a good curing time, a cold process soap will probably last longer than the melt and pour.

Which one is good for the skin?

It depends on the skin type and ingredients used in the cold process base and melts and pour. In both cases, avoid fragrance oil as it may trigger allergies on sensitive skin. 

Which one is more aesthetically appealing?

Depends on you. You can create swirls in a cold process soap. However, the melt can be put into more advanced designs such as thematic mold shapes and multi-colored layers.

What are the pros and cons between M&P soap and cold process soap?

Both melt and pour and cold process soaps have their advantages and disadvantages;

Pros of Cold Process Soap:

  • You have total control over every ingredient you put in your soap.
  • The cold process allows you to add natural ingredients such as fruit, milk, and herbs to the formulation.
  • Cold process soap batter trace allows unique designing. Thin trace makes beautiful swirls, whereas thick trace soap swirls make the frosting.
  • There are unlimited options when it comes to making a customized soap.
  • Cold process soaps have a thick texture, and they do well with suspended heavier additives.
  • They are perceived as the most natural soap bar out there.

Cons of Cold Process Soap:

  • You can’t make a cold process soap without using lye. Handling sodium hydroxide lye carelessly is potentially dangerous. Therefore extreme caution is required at this step.
  • The curing time of a cold process soap is nearly 4 – 6 weeks. If not cured to the fullest, it won’t last longer as expected.
  • Some colorants lose their high pH properties; therefore, you need to do a little research before using them. These include mica and FD&C colorants.
  • Fragrance oils often cause acceleration and seizing, causing the mixture to turn into a thick clumpy texture. Here you need to remain conscious when adding essential oils.
  • Vanilla can turn the soap into brown color.
  • There is no need to add glitter or other decorative material as the soap is opaque. 
  • You have to clean all the containers and utensils used in the process afterward.

Pros of melt and pour soap:

  • The process is very simple and non-hazardous. People often involve their kids in the melt and pour soap making (under vigilant parental supervision)
  • You don’t need to handle lye as saponification is already done.
  • There is no need to wear safety gear because the process is safe.
  • You don’t have to wait for few weeks because melt and pour soap does not require curing.
  • Fragrance oils will not cause it to accelerate or seize. The process goes on smoothly. 
  • It does not undergo vanilla discoloration.
  • You can create extremely clean, beautiful layers, and it is ideal for people enthusiastic about producing great soaps.

Cons of Melt and Pour Soap:

  • The excess glycerin content causes the soap to catch moisture and appear sweaty.
  • You have no control over the base ingredients. 
  • You have to depend on the manufacturer’s description of the ingredients used in saponification.
  • Adding milk and purees is not a good option.
  • After melting, the soap consistency is thin and is not suitable for suspending ingredients.
  • You can’t make swirls as the melt and pour soaps hardens quickly once cooled.
  • You can burn a melt and pour soap base pretty easily, so you need to be extra vigilant when it’s on the flame.
  • It does not leave messy utensils for you, and cleaning is easy.

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