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What is the Difference Between "Cold Process" & "Cold Press"? Let's Find Out!

What is the difference between "cold process" and "cold press" and how does this apply to soap making? Let's find out!

There is often some confusion for beginner soap makers between the terms “cold process” and “cold press." The difference between these two terms is actually very significant, but it often results in a topic of contention between beginners and more advanced soap makers, so let’s take a closer look at the two. Cold process soap making, often called cold process for short or simply “CP," is a method of soap making that uses the combination of oils and lye, without any added or external heat source, to create soap. Unlike other soap making processes, such as those performed by soap manufacturers and traditional hot process soap making methods that use external heat sources like crockpots, kettles, and heat chambers, cold process soap making intentionally reduces the oil and lye solution temperatures to slow the chemical reaction. Because heat energy increases reaction rate, by not applying heat, using lower temperatures, and only mixing to a stable emulsion (trace), cold process soap makers are able to create a recipe consistency that allows for intricate soap designs such as swirls and other patterns, without the fear of rapid saponification or solidification due to temperature cooling. Cold process soap making is the most popular method of artisan soap making because of this and is the preferred method of handcrafted soapmaking because of the vast and limitless design possibilities. Cold pressed oils or “cold pressing” is a method of oil extraction from plant seeds that uses a mechanical press and no added heat or chemicals. To create the oil, plant seeds or nuts are ground into a paste and then further mixed to better coagulate the oils. Pressure is then applied from a mechanical press that commonly consists of a screw device that is firmly tightened against the paste. By applying pressure to the paste, it forces the oil removal (extraction) and creates a higher-quality oil than other methods of extraction, which include the use heat and solvents. Cold pressing is often the preferred method of oil extraction because it is a more responsible and environmentally friendly method of extraction that obtains oils without the use of chemical solvents, in addition to the fact that it results in oils with higher nutritive properties than refined oils and include more flavonoids and higher level of lipophilic phytochemicals such as antioxidants. The problem with cold press extraction is that it creates a much lower yield than other methods and is therefore not as economical. Although both processes are performed without heat, it is very clear that one is in reference to a process of soap making (cold process), and one is in reference to a process of mechanical oil extraction (cold press). It should be noted that this confusion can be intensified in some situations due to cultural and language differences. In some countries, cold process soap making is referred to as cold pressed soap making because soap makers only use cold pressed oils in their cold process soap, thus they refer to their soap as “cold pressed soap”. Many other soap makers also simply call their soap by the incorrect name because they may not know the difference or are trying to translate into English. Another common problem is the correction that is often made by cell phone auto-correct programs and word processing programs, which automatically changes "process" into "press" and vice versa. To prevent any further confusion in for soap makers, especially those in our Facebook groups and classes, we will maintain the two distinctions and ask that members refer to "cold process" as the method of making soap and "cold press" as the method of extracting oils. Are you interested in learning how to successfully formulate and create beautiful, fluid hot process soap in just a few short minutes? The Ultimate Guide to Hot Process Soap: Soap Science, Recipe Formulating, Low Temperature & Fluid Hot Process Soap will teach you how! Our coursebooks are PACKED with information! Get your copy today by visiting our bookstore!


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