How to Make your own Soap
For thousands of years, we have been making soap and still today there are many methods for making soap with unique scented ingredients.
I love to read - a lot - and while I enjoy a good mystery or thriller, I do love a good Regency Romance now and again. While reading these stories, I often come across references to handmade soap, particularly ones with herbs, spices and oils used to add scent to soap. It made me think that we don't come across these often anymore. I know that lavender is still often used for soaps, but it is more a chemical ingredient rather than a natural essence. It brought my attention to the idea of making soap as a hobby or as a way to bring in a bit of extra income and I dug a little deeper to find out all that I could about the process of making soap.
Lye, sodium hydroxide or caustic soda is one of the main ingredients to make soap. This component reacts with fats in animal or vegetable oils to produce soap.
Washing your hands regularly with soap and water is still one of the best ways to protect your family from germs. Find more information here from the CDC on the best handwashing practices.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO MAKE SOAP?
Believe it or not, you only need two main ingredients to make soap: lye (caustic soda) and fat. When these two ingredients are combined the process of saponification begins. This is surprising because lye or caustic soda is the main component of drain cleaner. How on earth can drain cleaner be used for making soap? Through saponification, the chemicals in lye are transformed into soap either with animal or vegetable fat. After saponification, all the harmful chemicals in lye or caustic soda are removed
Now that you know the two ingredients required to make soap, you will also need a few accessories:
• Measuring jug (plastic, glass or stainless steel)
• Handheld blender
• Kitchen scale, preferably digital
• Thermometer, for high temperature or candy making
• Silicone moulds
• Slow cooker
• Safety glasses and rubber gloves
GOOD TO KNOW: Avoid any supplies or accessories of aluminium, as these are not safe to use with lye.
After making a few basic soaps for the home, try your hand at adding colour, scent and texture to make unique soap for you and your family or as gifts.
HERE'S HOW TO MAKE SOAP:
Before saponification occurs, you need to treat lye or caustic soda with care. Wear safety glasses and gloves and also cover your arms with long sleeves. An apron can be worn to protect your clothes. Also, be sure to open windows and doors for a well-ventilated working space.
Measure out the following ingredients for making the soap:
Coconut Oil: 350ml / 12 ounces - not food
Palm Oil: 350ml / 12 ounces - not food grade
Olive Oil: 350ml / 12 ounces
Almond Oil: 118ml / 4 ounces
Water: 325 to 440ml / 11-15 ounces
Lye: 170ml / 5.72 ounces
The three oils listed above (coconut, palm and olive) are considered the best oil options for making soap, but you can substitute any of these with your own choice of oil, especially if you find it difficult to source any of these oils.
GOOD TO KNOW: If you need to adjust the ratio of ingredients to make larger or smaller batches of soap, make sure to calculate the safe amount of lye using this calculator.
Watch the video below for basic instructions on making a soap that you can use in the home, and this will introduce you to the basics of soap making. Once you have made a few bars of soap, you can start to experiment with different ingredients to add scent, texture and embellishments if you plan on giving these as gifts or selling your soaps online.
Being able to make soap lets you incorporate unique scents or your favourite herbal aromas, as well as make coloured soaps in all shapes and sizes.