Hand Blender

The hand blender, or immersion blender, is a blessing to soapmakers who make soap with lye. The blender shortens the stirring time to minutes rather than hours. There are many varieties of hand blenders, ranging in price from less than $10 to more than $100. Look for an inexpensive blender that has an all-plastic housing, stainless steel blade, and two speeds.

If you find yourself making a great deal of soap, be sure to have an extra hand blender around. You will not be a happy soapmaker if in the middle of a batch your trusty blender gives up. You can find perfectly suitable blenders for around $10. The extra security will pay off.

The hand blender you choose for making soap needs to have a shaft long enough to reach to the bottom of your soap pan without being immersed above the immersion limit line. If you immerse your hand blender too deeply, you will ruin the motor. Keep this in mind when you're cleaning it, too.

Using a hand blender can speed up the soaping process, but you need to use it correctly. Hand-stir a number of batches before you use the hand blender so you have a slow, close-up look at the saponification process.

Hand-blending speeds up the process so much that you may find yourself with a heavily traced batch before you've made any additions. (Trace refers to the stages of thickening you will observe as you stir the soap batter. This will be explored in full in later chapters.)

Here are a few blending tips:

  • When you immerse the blender in the oils and lye mixture, tip it to the side to release the air bubble beneath it. You don't want to incorporate air into your soap.

  • Make sure the hand blender is near the bottom of the mixing pan before you turn it on.

  • Use the low speed in short bursts to get an idea of how fast the batch is going to trace.

  • If you are making a number of batches in a row, you don't need to completely clean the hand blender. Unplug it and wipe it well. The tiny amount of soap clinging to the hand blender will help start the saponification of the next batch.

  • Use your spatula to continually scrape the sides of the pan as you blend, keeping the entire mass in motion. You can use the stick of the blender to move the mass around in the pan when you've let up on the power button.

  • Be sure the blade has stopped moving before you take the blender out of the pan so that you don't splatter raw soap.

  • When you are done for the day, unplug the hand blender and clean it well. As with other electric appliances, don't immerse it in water. Wipe it down to remove most of the soap residue. Then use a soapy sponge to clean it without immersing it.

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