Tips When Making Homemade Soap
I made this for a recent blog post and forgot to share it at the time, better late then never I guess :)
This isn't a walk through. This is just a compilation of some tips and information I have to help you along the way if you are new to making soap or thinking about it.
Todays tips are on making homemade soap.
(soap I made for my wedding favors, green was the wedding color but I didn't think about dying them until halfway through)
The first thing I want to address is a serious misconception I call the lye quandary. No Lye = No Soap. It is the chemical reaction between lye and oil/fat that creates soap, therefore No Lye = No Soap. Another serious misconception is that there's lye in lye made soap. THERE IS NOT LYE IN SOAP MADE WITH LYE (unless you messed up lol) The finished soap does not contain any lye. Lye is the ONLY way to make healthy, natural soap that's free of the yucky chemicals you'll find in soap like substances otherwise.
I also want to mention that you do not need a recipe to make soap. You need a formula. What's the difference? Freedom. Recipes require you to have exact ingredients to get the finished result. Formulas let you tell them what ingredients you have, and they tell you what amounts of those ingredients to use.
The first ingredient you need is lye. You may be able to find lye at a hardware store in the drain declogging section, you need to get the container that says 100% lye. Otherwise you may have to order it online. Another ingredient you need is some sort of liquid to mix the lye solution; this can be coconut milk, goat's milk, or water- when learning just use water. Fragrance is really not needed for learning, but will be nice to have later on. The last ingredient is oil, for your first time just buy the cheapest oil out of the cooking aisle, if you mess up you're gonna be ticked enough without dumping expensive ingredients too, soap from cheap oil is still good soap and works fine.
Use a lye calculator to figure out how much of each you need. I like this one- Bramble Berry Lye Calculator Soapmaking Lye Calculators the best since it is the simplest when starting out. You just tell it how much of what type of oil you want to change to soap and it tells you how much liquid and lye you need to do it, including superfatting. I suggest superfatting while you are starting out. This makes your soap more moisturizing and extra oil means there's less chance of any unused lye.
Besides ingredients there are several items you will need, like a scale (I just use a basic kitchen one). However, something you want to make sure you don't use is aluminum. If the soap starts turning a mint green and you can't figure out why, it's because your using aluminum, dump the batch and start over without the aluminum. Instead of aluminum use stainless steel. You can usually find the three pot sets of pretty big stainless steel pots for around $20-$30. Or check out thrift stores, although it's not always easy to tell what's stainless steel and what's aluminum (not for me anyways)
You will need a heat resistant spoon and something to make the lye solution in, I bought a $20 stainless steel percolator and just use the pot part of it for this (added bonus of being easy to poor later). Make certain you make the solution outside and poor the lye in painfully slow. You will need rubber gloves and protective eye wear for this.
You will need a mold, this can really be anything that can take the initial heat, I use mini-loaf silicon molds. If you are making cold process and you don't have a wooden soap mold with a lid then you will need a lot of towels or a blanket to wrap around the soap in the mold to keep it from cooling off before the process is done. If your soap does go cold in the first 24 hours anyways then something was off, if you want you can try dumping it back in a pot and heating it back up and remolding to jump start the process again, but that doesn't always work, but is worth a shot. Or if your soap is in oven safe containers then look up "oven hot process" soap and you might try that.
I just wanted to throw some tips out there. I get asked a lot about making soap so thought some of that might help. Most of it has been mentioned in greenhome.huddler or cafemom in various places also, so some of it might be familiar to some of you.
A wonderful site for help with making soap is http://www.millersoap.com/
I know I've said this already, but it's really important!!! Remember to ALWAYS mix lye and any water based liquid outside in a well ventilated area slowly, using rubber gloves and goggles and never pour the water/liquid into lye, always pour lye into the water/liquid.
(pic of some of my soap taken by a cafemomer I sent complimentary bars to)