Thursday, August 23, 2012

How to Line a Wooden Soap Mold

Wooden molds are great. They're sturdy, they insulate the soap so it goes through gel phase, and they allow you to make uniform, perfectly shaped bars in volume.

What's not to like?

Lining them, that's what.

See, if you pour soap into a wooden mold without lining it, the soap can leak everywhere. And what doesn't leak out will be stuck like cement in the mold. And the lye will eat away at the wood, destroying the mold. And then you will go insane.

And so, to avoid going insane, it is necessary to line your mold with something. Most soapmakers go with freezer paper.

Freezer paper has a lot going for it: It is also sturdy, it's cheap, and it makes unmolding a breeze. Soap doesn't stick to freezer paper because the paper is coated on one side with plastic. (So make sure the freezer paper is shiny-side-up in your mold.) When it comes time to unmold the soap, just lift or slide it out of the mold, peel the paper away, and start cutting. (If you use a slab mold with dividers, you won't even need to cut the soap!)

What's not to like?

Making the liner, that's what.

The good news is that once you get the hang of making liners, it doesn't take that much extra time. And you can even make a bunch of liners ahead of time, like when you're sitting on the couch watching "Hell's Kitchen."

Here's even better news: It is possible to make a liner with one sheet of freezer paper. And the liner is totally leak-proof.

Sound good?

Here's how I do it. I found this technique in the book Basic Soapmaking: All the Skills and Tools You Need to Get Started by Elizabeth Letcavage and Patsy Buck. As I've mentioned, this is one of my favorite soapmaking books. It is full of color photos guiding the reader step-by-step through the soapmaking process and I highly recommend it, especially for folks who are just starting out with cold process soapmaking.

Basically, you need to find out both the length and the width of the bottom of your mold, and the height of the sides.Then you can measure out a sheet of freezer paper based on those dimensions. After that, you can figure out where you need to make your folds on your liner so that it fits perfectly inside the mold. It's not as difficult as it sounds. Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it, too.

It is far easier to show how to make a liner than it is to tell, so I made a video of the process. And you will finally get to hear me speak, if you've been waiting for that sort of thing. I normally don't talk in my videos because video editing is easier if I don't have to worry about maintaining a narrative. I can just chop up the video and add captions. Also, I don't really like the sound of my voice. Plus, I tend to babble like a psycho. Anyway, here's the video:


Here's a tip: Once you make a liner that fits, save it as a template. That way, when it comes time to make another liner, all you have to do is tear off a piece of freezer paper, lay it on top of your template, and trace the lines without having to figure everything out again. Big time saver.

Of course, there are ways around the freezer paper liner. I have heard of soapmakers making their own silicone liners for their molds so that they never have to make a liner again, but I am just not that handy. And I suppose you can buy silicone liners for specific molds or have one custom-made.

And if you don't want to mess around with liners at all, you can try an acrylic mold. I have an acrylic slab mold from Soap Making Resource that I love. And you don't have to line it, for reals. (Soap Making Resource also has acrylic log molds.)

Silicone molds are also great for soapmaking and they don't need liners either.

What do you all use? Have you made a silicone liner, or had one made for you? Or do you just use freezer paper? Do you line your mold with something else? Or have you made the switch to acrylic or silicone molds?

22 comments:

  1. Great method and video, Jenny ! I broke down and bought silicone liners for my molds because I was terrible at lining with freezer paper. Measuring wasn't a strength of mine. :-D
    xx Suzy

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    1. Thanks, Suzy! I'll bet the silicone liners are nice. Silicone does make things easier, doesn't it? I'm not so great at measuring and drawing straight lines, either. It took me a couple of tries to get my liner template just right, but now I can just trace it onto my freezer paper as needed.

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  2. Thanks, Jenny! I'll have to try this method next time I line my wood mold. I usually just lay the paper on top of the mold and use my finger to make a crease along each side as a guide for the fold.

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    1. Hi, Linda! Thanks for your comments. It seems like there are so many ways to line a mold, and I like hearing how everybody does it. If you try this method, I hope you like it!

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  3. Thanks Jenny! This is a very good tip! Your voice is nice, is funny that nobody likes its own voice. I use a little acrylic mold that my husband made me, but watching and reading this, I think I will ask him to make a wood one :) thanks again!

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    1. Thanks for your comments, Carla! You're right, it seems like nobody ever likes the sound of their own voice. :) How nice that your husband builds molds for you! I wish I were handy enough to make my own molds - lining them is about all I can manage. If you try this out, I hope you like it!

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  4. Oh Jenny, that's so awesome! This method of lining is by far the best! Just used it today! So glad somebody is is benefiting from this idea!

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    1. Hi, Katie! I'm so happy to hear that you tried this method and that it worked so well for you! Thanks for your comments, and happy soaping!

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  5. Very nice method, Jer! Also, you looked great and your voice is lovely. Thanks for the info!

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    1. Thanks, Mom, I'm glad you liked the video! And thank you for the compliments. I tried really hard not to babble like a psycho. You know how I am prone to rambling! :D

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  6. Thank you, dear Jenny, for this lovely video. You look great and your voice is lovely :).
    I use the same method, but I don't have enough patiance to measure my molds :).

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    1. Hi, Natalia! I'm glad that this method works well for you, too. Thank you for your comments and compliments!

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  7. Great tutorial Jenny! I actually use a plastic mold that sits perfectly inside a wooden mold that I previously used. I find tucking the plastic mold into the wooden mold really helps the gelling process, as you mentioned :)

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    1. Hi, Cee Gee! Thanks for your comments. What a great idea to use a plastic mold that fits inside of your wooden mold! I have some of BB's plastic loaf molds - I just checked and they fit perfectly in my 3-lb. wooden loaf mold, too. I never would have thought to put the plastic mold inside the wooden one. Thanks for sharing your tip about that!

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  8. What a great post! I actually just got my Crafter's Choice Regular Loaf silicone mold. I just made my first soap batch with it, and now I'm waiting for it to set up. I can't wait to unmold it! There's something about pouring soap into an unlined mold- I kept having that "I know I've forgotten to do something" feeling. It just feels wrong... But I hate lining, so I'll roll with it! Great tutorial!

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    1. Thank you, Nikki! I have heard people say good things about the Crafter's Choice silicone loaf molds - I may have to check them out someday. It must feel strange at first to disrupt the routine of having to make a liner, but it is nice to not have to worry about it. I hope you enjoy your new mold! Thanks again for the compliments!

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  9. Hi Jenny!
    Thanks for posting this. I have been struggling with how I line my molds and I am going to try your method the next time I use my wooden slab mold :).

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    1. Hi, PinkSudz, and thanks for your comments! I'm glad the post was helpful. I hope this method works out well for you!

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  10. Thank you for this! I have used Freezer paper to line my molds. I had some thick plastic, (can't remember what it is called for the life of me) that worked great! I have also used a 4-inch pipe for a mold. One thing I did learn about that is to use vaseline or something like that to make it easier to get the soap out. I didn't and we had to use something to push it out of the tube. And one other thing, let it cool some before pouring it, otherwise, it will volcano out. LOL Yep, that happened to me!

    I would love to get some silicone molds, or liners! Hubby has made all of my wooden ones.

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    1. Hi, Deborah, and thanks for your comments! I'm glad that you enjoyed the post. How nice that your husband builds soap molds for you! Silicone is great for ease of use. I recently got a PVC-type mold. I haven't used it yet, and I had shied away from PVC pipes because I had heard that removing the soap can be a problem. The PVC mold I just bought has a liner, so hopefully that will help. Thanks for the Vaseline tip, I will keep that in mind. I've also heard that coating PVC with a thin layer of mineral oil or cyclomethicone can help. I will try out my mold soon!

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  11. This is a great post! I just spent a ton of time on the internet searching for which direction to use my freezer paper (shiny side up or not). I intuitively knew it was probably that way and everyone refers to using freezer paper, but I just wanted someone who actually knew to say it!!! Thank you. Using my new PVC round mold today!

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    1. Thank you, Friedles! I'm so glad that the post was helpful. Have fun with your new mold, and happy soaping to you!

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