BASIC COOKIE CUTTER MAP BAR (Opaque Soap Base)
There are three basic approaches to making cookie cutter soaps, all of which have to do with where and/or how to pour the soap:
1 - Until now, the only published method, of which I am aware, is that of pouring a pan of soap, allowing it to set and then cutting out the needed soaps. This, of course, would be the simplest method. However, I am not inclined to pour an entire pan of soap that I may or may not end up liking. Further, even with careful planning of how and where the cuts will be made; even using the smallest available pan; you end up with way too much leftover soap. Despite the fact I love the many uses for leftovers (soap and otherwise), this seems to border on wasteful. This brings me to the remaining two methods of making cookie cutter soaps . . . both of which, I developed.
2 - "Contained" space: This method involved pouring the melted soap base directly into the cookie cutter, but containing the cookie cutter inside a small pan, such as the previously used 3-cup Pyrex pan.
3 - "Uncontained" space: This is essentially the same method only there is no additional "containing" pan.
Both #2 and #3 present some obvious obstacles: the cookie cutter is not, per se, a contained space. How do you measure a cookie cutter for volume? And, of course, as the cookie cutter has no bottom, how do you keep the melted soap from running out the base of the cookie cutter.
As I am not a fan of the first method (which is fairly self-explanatory), I'll walk you through the later two; both of which, again, entail pouring the melted soap directly into the cookie cutter.
Basic Cookie Cutter Method - Contained Space
For this method, you'll need that 3-cup, flat-bottomed Pyrex pan (or an equivalent), some parchment paper and (of course) a cookie cutter that fits inside your Pyrex pan.
Line the Pyrex pan with a piece of parchment paper. Make sure you cut or tear it to a size where it lies relatively flat in the bottom of the pan.
Place your cookie cutter beside of your soap block. Going with the probability that you are using a 2-pound block, the depth of the soap block should be relatively close to the depth of the cookie cutter.
WITHOUT PRESSING DOWN, sit your cookie cutter on top of the soap block to see approximately how many of the scored cubes are visually consumed by the cookie cutter. Though its only an estimate, that's how many cubes you'll be cutting from the block. Don't be afraid to halve the cubes or add a little to compensate for the estimation. You'll get better at estimating.
Now place the cookie cutter on the parchment paper in the Pyrex pan. Place all three items in the freezer. Don't worry about setting the timer, it won't be necessary.
Cut your estimated soap from your soap block and melt, color and add fragrance as you would with any basic melt-and-pour bar.
The main reason for these pictures is to give you an idea about the size of the Pyrex pan I'm using (length and width, not volume); and to better illustrate how I go about estimating how much soap to use with cookie cutters. The first observation is that the cookie is about 25% to 33% shorter than the 2-pound soap block. When I place the cookie cutter on top of the soap block, I see two cubes ALMOST fully covered. The cookie cutter only marginally strays into the other surrounding cubes. Given the variance in depth, I cut only 2-1/2 ounces of soap for this cookie cutter.
Stir to cool, as you normally would. Though this is not strictly necessary, since the cookie cutter is unlikely to warp, it will help with the pouring.
Once your soap is ready to pour, get the pan (with parchment paper and cookie cutter) out of the freezer.
With the pan on a level pouring surface, place a craft stick across the top of the cookie cutter and press down with one hand, while you pour the soap into the cookie cutter with the other hand.
Continue pressing on the craft stick for about 10 minutes while the soap "soft sets"; in other words, until it sets enough that any leakage has stopped. Do not hold the cookie cutter down with bare fingers. In addition to potentially sharp edges, the metal will be hot! Keep in mind that metal conducts heat and the cookie cutter can and will get pretty hot!
SAFETY TIP #5
Metal cookie cutters conduct both heat and cold. Though the time in the freezer has not, in my experience, been sufficient to create a problem with skin sticking to it; the heat conductivity IS an issue. Not being concerned with the mold warping is a big benefit, but even with the soap stir-cooled, the metal will heat sufficiently to burn. The craft stick is more than enough insulation to prevent injury.
Don't forget to spray the soap with alcohol to reduce air bubbles. You'll need to do a little hand "dancing" to work around both the craft stick and the hand holding it.
I know that seeing soap seeping out from under the cookie cutter is a bit unnerving, especially when you experience it for the first time. That's why the space is "contained"; everything inside the Pyrex dish. Once the soap has "soft set", put the pan back into the freezer for about 10 minutes.
As pictured above, once removed from the freezer (with no craft stick in the way), we can see that the seepage was occurring from only one side of the cookie cutter. By lifting the corner of the parchment paper, it's very easy to peel away the soap that escaped the cookie cutter. This can now be re-melted and, after spraying the soap in the cookie cutter with alcohol, you can continue filling the cookie cutter. As it is predominantly filled with set soap, there will be no additional problems with leakage. Also as the set soap and cookie cutter are both much cooler from the time in the freezer, any "topping off" of the cookie cutter will set much more quickly.
Though it won't happen every time, the formation of a lip on top of the soap is common with poured cookie cutter soaps. However, I find the unevenness of the bottom to be most annoying. This, of course, is where the parchment paper rippled slightly in the moisture of the poured soap. Though it's not a marked "defect", you should be aware of it before utilizing this pouring method.
Allow the soap to air dry, then wrap in clear, cling wrap or store in a zippered bag or use immediately. Don't forget to record your recipe and process.
An alternative method is to size the cookie cutter up against a standard mold. This one is ALMOST the same size as the round mold in #M154.
(Left) Prior to topping off the cookie cutter.
(Right) Following topping off the cookie cutter. All of the soap which seeped out was used.
Once you remove the pan from the freezer, you'll likely need to dry the condensation from the cookie cutter and the soap. Once removed from the Pyrex pan, the only remaining step is to remove the soap from the cookie cutter. The more angles and curves the cutter has, the more difficult it will be to remove the soap and the greater the likelihood there will be leakage when the soap is poured.
To unmold from a cookie cutter, begin by pressing down on the soap from the non-cutting edge TOWARD the cutting edge. If the soap doesn't budge, turn it upside down on your non-porous, cut-safe work surface with the cutting edge up. Press down on the soap, taking appropriate precautions regarding the metal edges. This should shift the soap, unless the cutter was filled to the rim. Once shifted, the soap should unmold easily by pressing, again, from the non-cutting edge to the cutting edge.
(Left) Top of the soap. Note the slight lip from where the soap settled after pouring.
(Right) Bottom of the soap. The texturing comes from the parchment paper.
It was my annoyance with the rippling that led to pouring the soap without the use of the parchment paper. This gave me the smooth surface I was looking for while still providing the "containment" of the Pyrex dish.
The difference in this method and the one on the following page is the use of the Pyrex pan, the "contained space". After seeing the seepage from beneath the cookie cutter, I can understand how you may feel wary of using the "uncontained space" method. Still, I hope you'll review the process, it has become my favorite method of soap making.
This basic cookie cutter bar is made of:
2-1/2 ounces white glycerin soap base
2 drops red liquid colorant
1 drop purple liquid colorant
Frangipani fragrance oil
© 2011 NORMA W. THOMAS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.