When it comes to making homemade soap, waiting to cut your soap is probably the most anxious part. Unfortunately, many novice soap makers make the mistake of cutting their soap too early (or too late). So, knowing exactly when to cut homemade soap is arguably one of the most commonly asked questions out there today.
Technically you cut your soap within 24 hours for cold and hot process soap. However, the curing time for the cold process soap is 4-6 weeks, while the hot process soap is 24-48 hours. Similar to cold process soap, hot process soap would benefit from a longer curing time.
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It’s actually not that difficult, and once you know the basics, you probably will be the person who will help a fellow soap maker next time. But before we continue, I think it is crucial to know what curing means.
Many people who just started making soap often misunderstand the waiting time between taking out your soap from the mold and cutting it and curing your soap afterward.
Most of the time, they would believe that curing to be the time it takes for you to take your soap out of the mold while it’s actually the process after you cut your soap.
So this means you do not cure soap to cut it. You cut your soap before you cure it.
Now that we have a better understanding of the difference, we can focus on when we need to cut and why.
If you go online on forums, you probably will notice that at least 1 out of 10 questions will be about when should one cut soap?
Or “should I let my soap cure before cutting”?
Often this happens because these people don’t know that soap should not be cured to be cut but the other way around.
How Long Do You Cure Before Cutting Cold Process Soap?
Well, we won’t be talking about curing time but rather about cutting time. The average waiting time for cold process soap to be cut is around 24 hours. However, I often see that it takes about 2-3 days for many other soap makers. Clearly, this is highly dependent on the recipe.
Once the cutting is done, you then let your soap cure, and that’s it.
There is nothing else to add. You cut, and you let it cure.
Cold process soap needs up to 4 to 6 weeks to cure completely with some soap even longer, depending on the type of oil/fat you’ve used in your recipe.
If you, by any chance, do not cut your soap and let it cure, there is a big chance that you will end up with crumbles.
So cutting at the right time is very important. Cut too soon, it’s too soft, cut too late, and you’ll have a very hard time cutting it.
How Long Do You Cure Before Cutting Hot Processed Soap?
Similar to cold process soap, the hot process should also be cut after 24 hours more or less. Of course, this is always depending on the recipe.
Since both methods are fairly similar, the cutting time is equally the same.
Compared to other soap-making methods, hot process soap does not require a very long curing time. Most of them can be cut even after 24 hours. But, in many other cases, 7 to 10 days is enough to cut your soap.
So this means that the chances for you to mess up the cutting time for hot process soap are a little higher. If the curing time is shorter, this also means the cutting time should also be short. So do not make a mistake and cut your hot process soap too late.
How Do You Know If Your Soap Is Ready To Be Cut?
If your recipe is new, you won’t have the exact time to cut your soap. And if you follow the general guidelines using the recipe that others have tested, you should just follow them.
In case you do not have an idea when you can try these tests to know if your soap is ready or not.
One of the most common ways to know if your soap is ready to be cut is by using your hands. To be precise, use a glove to check if the soap is too soft. Push very gently with your finger, and if it feels very soft, and you can clearly see that you will squash your soap if you cut it, this means that it’s not ready.
Even though most of the time, you can cut your soap within 24 hours, this is not the case with all recipes. It may be possible to cut your soap after even one hour, and it’s also possible that you might need to wait a few days. This is why testing is needed. Do not take the risk and just cut your soap after 24 hours if you’re not using a tested recipe.
If you don’t feel comfortable pushing with your finger each time because you may put a dent in the soap, you can also cut a tiny piece at the edge of the soap. With this method, the only drawback is that you might end up cutting too much if you test a lot, and if your soap needs more time to harden.
What Happens If You Cut Your Soap Too Soon?
Well, you probably have not been paying attention, and you’ve cut into your soap way too soon. Now, the question is, what will happen?
If it’s really early, you probably will end up with squashed pieces of soap.
A little later, you might end up with ripples. Even though ripples are mesmerizing on water, you should avoid at all costs having them when cutting soap. They also might occur when the knife with which you cut your soap is not cleaned properly, even though you’ve waited long enough.
Is There A Way To Cure Faster Your Soap?
Being a soap maker, you skipped it right to the bottom to learn how to hasten the soap curing process. Well, I totally can understand why.
There is a method that might help to get your cold process soap hard a bit faster, but this method does not help with shorter curing times.
This method is called the “cold oven process soap method”. This means that you basically put your cold process soap in the oven at around 155 to 165 degrees and wait for it to gel entirely.
This way, the gelling process goes faster, and thus your soap becomes faster hard. However, I think it’s crucial also to mention that it does not really mean that your soap is ready to be used.
Curing your soap and cutting your soap are two separate processes.
You should not cure before cutting, but cut before curing.
If you don’t know when to cut, you can still do some tests, and this way, avoid wasting your batch of soap.
In case you cut too soon, you’ll most likely need to throw away your soap. If you cut too late, you will most likely will not be able to sell that same batch.
I recommend using a recipe that has been tested and, therefore, also has the cutting time set. This way, you’ll learn from the recipe and do the same with your own.