Making Natural Soap isn’t hard…
In this modern age more and more of us are affected by the abundance of chemicals and preservatives that go into most of our household products.
One way to avoid a lot of these toxins is to make your own soap.
After all the skin is the largest organ of the body so what you cover it with counts, doesn’t it?
Making natural soap isn’t as hard as you think and if you can follow a cake recipe, then you can save heaps by making your own and avoid the many harmful additives that are in commercially produced brands.
Understanding the chemical process
Soap making is a chemical process that combines an alkali and an acid into a useable product (salt)
The acid part of the process can be just about any oil or fat.
In the last century, animal slaughterers used to render down animal by-products into tallow and lard.
These days there are more oils and fats available and being able to use those rich in antioxidants and natural moisturizers is a huge bonus
Sodium Hydroxide Flakes
The alkali part of the soap making process is Lye (Sodium Hydroxide) AKA Caustic Soda.
Its pretty nasty stuff if messed about with but is essential for making soap.
It’s the reaction between lye and oils that causes saponification – the chemical conversion of the two ingredients to one.
A word about Lye – I used to use lye to dip and strip paint from furniture – it does it pretty well.
It’s also pretty good at burning skin, so please make sure you cover up appropriately.
Rubber gloves, safety glasses, and a distraction-free, well-ventilated area are a must when mixing lye.
Always add the lye crystals to water – never add water to dry lye powder/crystals as a violent chemical reaction will occur at risk of injury.
It’s best to get equipment that you’ll use exclusively for making soap.
While soap smelling of garlic or bacon from the kitchen may appeal to some weirdos; not many will put up with smelling like it all day.
Also, you don’t want the risk of lye mix, accidentally coming into contact with anything but your soap ingredients.
- You’ll need a couple of plastic buckets; these will get plenty of abuses, so get good quality ones as they’ll last longer.
- A Stick Blender; – you’ll be mixing for a very long time by hand if you don’t use an electric blender!
- Stainless steel or robust plastic spoons for stirring. Wooden ones will soon splinter and shed bits of broken wood fibers into your mixes.
- Avoid aluminum as this will react with the lye and taint your soap
- A set of scales will be needed as most soap recipes call for pretty exact weight measurements for all the ingredients.
- Molds to pour your soap mix into
- Gloves, safety goggles, spatulas.
Oils and Fats
There are many oils available to use in making soap.
Olive oils are a favorite and you don’t have to use the most expensive extra virgin varieties.
There are many other oils and fats available, coconut oil, cocoa butter and palm oil to name a few.
Keep faithfully to the recipes with the amount of water and sodium hydroxide mix.
Don’t be tempted to use “Lye containing” products like drain cleaner, as these often contain additives and abrasives.
Essential oils like lavender and lemon oils (and many others) can be added to the mix to give some luxury and perfume to your soap.
Distilled or Springwater
Unfortunately, much of our town waters contain impurities so always use spring or distilled water.
Oatmeal and pumice can be added to make scrubs, as well as herbs, flower petals, and colorings to make your own unique soap.
- Weigh all the fats and oils needed according to the recipe used and place in a plastic bucket
- Safety gear on – Gloves and goggles – and mix up the lye solution. Remember to add the sodium hydroxide (Caustic) to the water carefully and stir.
- Pour the lye solution over the oils and stir together until they have dissolved together, then blend vigorously with your stick blender and bring to the consistency of whipped cream (trace).
- At this stage, you can add essential oils and other additives.
- Mix them together with the blender then pour the mix into your prepared molds.
Leave to set for 48 hours or so, by when it should reach enough of a firm consistency to be safely removed from the mold.
Put away in a cool place to cure for 4 – 6 weeks before use.