The hard soap bars that you buy in shops are tough, lifeless and unappealing.
However, like homemade bread, homemade soap has life and character and showcases what you the soap-maker puts into it. Homemade soap feels good in the hand, it smells good, it feels alive and inviting. Again just like homemade bread - ignorance is bliss - you don't know what you are missing until you have tried real natural hand made soap.
You will be surprised that there are many ways of making your own soap, which are much easier than you think.
Soap is make using a simple chemical reaction between oils and/or fats and lye, which are strong alkaline substances, ether sodium hydroxide (NaOH, known as 'caustic soda') or potassium hydroxide (KOH) - used for making liquid soaps.
While that is the chemistry the 'devil is in the details'. Just as you can make a rock hard primitive loaf of bread with the basic ingredients of flour and water - you can make lifeless rock hard soap. Or if you go to some trouble and get a good recipe you can include lots of other ingredients including your favorite whole-grain flour, a mixture of other flours, honey, herbs, eggs, sea salt, yeast that transform a simple bread into a remarkable home made delight.
Four Ways of Making Soap
There are four fundamental methods for making homemade soap each of which has its own pros, and cons:
This is a great way to start as no chemicals are involved.
To make soap this way, you add the oils you want in your soap to a heavy pot and heat oils to a temperature of about 150 degrees F or 60 degrees Centigrade. Then you very carefully add the lye-water mixture to the oil (never the other way around) and stir the soap until it thickens to form a 'trace' - (thickens, so that a trace is left when you drag something across the surface). You then add your fragrance, scent, additives and colors and pour the hot liquid soap into molds (greased with vegetable oil). The raw soap in the molds will require about 24 hours to harden fully and an additional four weeks or so cure fully before it’ is ready to be used.
The basic ingredients and equipment required are:
Pros of Cold Process Soap Making
Cons of Cold Process Soap Making
* Apricot kernel oil
* Castor oil
* Macadamia oil
* Olive oil
* Rice bran oil
* Sweet almond oil
* Virgin coconut oil
and many others
* Golden Jojoba
* Mango butter
* Shea nut butter
* Cocoa butter
Gently heat oils in a stainless steel pot on the stove. Be careful not to burn oils.
Or use microwave-safe container for your oils. Heat for 1 minute on high, then use 20 second intervals thereafter, until the required temperature is reached. (100°F, 50°C check your recipe). Heat oil to 10°C past the required temperature per formula. This will allow time for the lye to cool to its correct temperature. Always heat oils before mixing lye and water.
Pour room temperature distilled water (amount specified by formula) into a clean glass 2 cup size measuring cup. While stirring, slowly and carefully add the lye. This mixture will quickly become very hot. NEVER ADD WATER TO THE LYE as it may Spit or explode. Continue stirring until the water turns clear. Wear Gloves and do not inhale the fumes. Let this mixture cool to the required temperature (100°F, 50°C check your recipe).
Pour the hot oil into a large mixing bowl and slowly pour the lye/water mixture (at the same temperature) into the oil mixture while stirring in rapid, small circles. [Note: Always add lye/water to oil, not the other way around]. Continue to stir this mixture using a rapid, figure 8 pattern until it "traces". Tracing is easily recognized. Using a plastic spatula, drizzle a small amount across the top of the soap mixture. If a mark or trail remains for a few seconds before disappearing again, your soap has traced. The mixture should be the consistency of liquid honey or pudding before it is poured.
After the soap traces, you can add your own fragrances and colors. Note: Do not use perfume, synthetic fragrances, or extracts of any kind as the alcohol content may interfere with the soap making process.
After adding any additional ingredients, pour your soap mixture into the mould. Place a piece of clear plastic wrap on top to create an air barrier. Cover your mould with a blanket or towel and place in a warm location away from drafts and childreni.a reach. Let set undisturbed for the specified moulding time as stated in the formula for your oil blend.
Grease your mould with vegetable shortening for ease of release later. Wear gloves during clean up and use hot water and dish soap to remove all residue from equipment.