With the pandemic going on and sanitation supplies short many people have taken up making their own soap! In this article I will go over the basics of soap making with a recipe I created to make a whole body beauty bar. This recipe makes 16-18 bars of soap.
What you will need:
A large glass or steel bowl or pot
A large bowl of any material
Container to weigh oil and water with
A large metal spoon
A hand blender
A kitchen or postal scale to measure ingredients
2 oz. by weight Argon oil
19.5 oz. by weight coconut oil
19 oz. by weight olive oil
12 oz. by weight room temperature water
6.5 oz by weight sodium hydroxide (Lye)
Essential oils of your choice for scent (Optional)
5000mg powdered vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)
2 oz. hot water
Proper ventilation or respirator mask to protect from lye fumes
Gloves to protect hands from lye
Goggles to protect eyes from any splashed lye
CAUTION!!! Lye is a very caustic substance that can damage skin and cause blindness if it gets in eyes. Always use caution and wear protective equipment when working with chemicals such as lye. If it gets on skin wash off immediately. If it gets in eyes rinse with warm water and contact a medical professional right away.
Some terms to know:
Saponification: is the process of adding lye to fats in order to transform them into soap.
Trace: is the state of saponification when making soap. Light trace has the consistency of milk and it just barely coats a blender or spoon when dipped in. Medium Trace has the consistency of a milkshake and heavy trace has the consistency of pudding. Different recipes can call for different levels of trace before adding certain ingredients. Usually light trace is the time when you add exfoliants like coffee or add water soluble ingredients like the vitamin C in water in this recipe.
Curing: When soap is freshly made there is residual lye still in the soap. You need to let the soap sit or "cure" for a period of 3-4 weeks for it to become inactive to avoid the risk of any skin irritation. Wrapping the soap in wax paper prevents bars sticking and most moisture from getting in.
Okay! Now to the fun stuff! First weigh out all your ingredients. Make sure to use the tare function on your scale with the measuring container placed on it to zero it out. Pour measured oils together in the bowl you are not using to make the soap in. This bowl can be made of plastic while the bowl you are actually making the soap in should be glass or steel. If adding essential oils do so now and mix into the measured oil.
Now mix the 2 oz. hot water with the powdered vitamin C until dissolved. DO NOT ADD YET!
Pour the 12oz. of room temperature water into metal/glass bowl and SLOWLY add the lye. Stir lye with metal spoon until dissolved. CAUTION! Lye will rapidly heat up the water. This is why we use room temperature. If the water is too cold you risk it splashing up and if water is too hot it could cause it to boil. Make sure you have your goggles and gloves on while working with the lye.
Once all the lye is added to the water let sit until it cools to less than 120F or 48C. Some prefer to let it cool to room temp but it is not necessary.
Slowly begin to add the measured oil into the lye water. Use the hand blender to mix until it is in light trace. You will know you have achieved light trace when the liquid coats the blender with the consistency of milk.
Add vitamin C water now and blend until medium trace. Medium trace should be the consistency of a milkshake.
You may now put your soap into the mold/s you have chosen. Make sure you have enough molds for the amount of soap. You can use individual molds or a large rectangular soap mold. Use your metal spoon to scoop out soap that is getting too thick to pour and to smooth the top of you soap in the mold. If using individual molds I find the back side of a butter knife to work well to scrape the surface for a smooth finish.
Allow soap to sit overnight to harden. If using a large rectangle mold cut soap into bars the next morning. Do not let it sit much longer than that so that it is still softer and easier to cut.
Wear gloves when removing soap from molds as it will still be somewhat caustic. You should allow soap to cure wrapped in wax paper for 3-4 weeks before using as it takes that long for all the lye to neutralize. Using it before then can result in skin irritation.
To make your own soap recipes you will need a lye calculator. Each oil is different and requires a different amount of lye and water to saponify. THIS calculator is what I use and it helps you create a custom recipe all your own.
To learn more about soap making and recipes for other soaps visit The Nerdy Farm Wife: Soap making 101! She is my favorite source for information and recipes for making soap.