Monday, May 13, 2013

Making soaps

Tools I Recommend:

Crock Pot
Digital Scale
Immersion or Stick Blender
Candy Thermometer (preferably 2, 1 for the oils, 1 for the lye mix) 
Plastic Tools - large bowls, measuring cups, spoons
Protective Gear - gloves, glasses, apron, newspaper, vinegar & rag (in case of spills)
Mold - I use 3" pvc pipe (@14" long)

Items for wrapping soap:
coffee filters
tape or round labels

There are tons of directions on the internet on how to make soap. It's really easy and fun. Please spend some time reading many posts on how to make soaps, or watch some videos. My instructions are very basic. My first batch I experimented and wanted to try making soap in the simplest way - canola oil, lye, and water. It didn't make a nice soap for personal use. It's slimy - or rather the lather from it is slimy. I decided I'll just grate it and turn it into laundry soap. Oh and a word on my water - I have well water, it's strongly recommended not to use city water, as it bleach in it. It suggested to use bottled water, but good clean well water is fine. There are a couple tools that you'll need in the form of web sites too. One is a "oil chart", such as this: or this: The other important tool is "lye calculator", such as this one at Bramble Berry:

Basic Soap
32 oz. Canola Oil
4.25 oz. Lye
10.5 oz. Water

All soap ingredients are measured in weight, not volume. It's all best done outside, or in a well ventilated area. The lye, when mixed with the liquid, makes some really horrid fumes. Plus there are potential times you might spill something, and since lye is so caustic it would be better if the spill isn't all over your kitchen counter or on a carpet. Here are some starter instructions:

1. Prepare your space. Put on protective gear, lay out newspaper, place supplies in easy reach.
2. Weigh all ingredients.
3. Put your oils in a crock pot. Heat to around 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Slowly pour the lye into your liquids. NEVER pour liquid into lye, this can cause an explosion. If your liquid is a product that could burn (such as milks, or a yogurt) it works well to freeze them the day before. The lye will cause a chemical reaction that has a lot of heat. This can easily cause things like milk to burn and be spoiled. Let the lye mix cool to around 90 degrees.
5. Put your heated oils in a mixing bowl and start adding the lye mix. Use your immersion blender, pulsing it, to bring the oils and lye mix to a light trace - light trace looks a little like the thickness of pudding.
-- at this point you could add *extras*, ground oatmeal, essential oils, mica colorant --
6. Put the soap in your mold and place in a draft free, room temperature space.

You can check it 24-48 hours later to see if it's hard enough to take out of the mold. Once out of the mold allow the soap to cure for 4-6 weeks before using.


  1. I know you use a 3" pvc mold. How do you keep the soap from running out the bottom?

  2. I tape a plastic bag over the bottom. I've done it in such a way, with duct tape, that I can clean it off and reuse it each batch.