Whether you want to start a business or just want to do it for fun, there are lots of creative ways that you can make your own soap. It can be a great alternative for your family especially if there are ingredients that you want to add and find it hard to find in the supermarket. You don’t need to enroll in a class to learn how to make your own soap. With the help of this guide and some easy to get ingredients, you can start right away.
The great thing about when you make your own soap is that you can choose exactly which ingredients you want and the fragrance that you like. But it does take some practice. If you want to understand what your current bath soap is made of, the one you already have in your bathroom, here is a brief explanation of what are the main ingredients of bath soap.
What is Lye?
One thing you cannot avoid using when you make your own soap at home is an ingredient called lye. There may be other ways to make soap without it but it will not be the same. Lye is sodium hydroxide. It is a chemical made from salt and the process of changing salt to lye is similar to electroplating. Lye is very safe but you need to take precautions when using it.
The way that lye is made is by dissolving the salt in cold water to the point before it starts to precipitate out. That means until the salt crystals start to fall to the bottom and not dissolve. They use cold water and pure salt with no additives like iodine. Then graphite rods are inserted into the salt solution and charged with electricity until crystals form on the rods. From here, they pour the lye into glass pans and allow the liquid to evaporate which leaves behind the crystals that you now can buy in cans.
Lye is very caustic so you should be very careful in handling it when you make your own soap with it. It can burn holes in clothes and burn marks on your skin. It will look like water when it is dissolved so make sure to keep it away from kids and pets. Do not stand directly over lye when you mix it with water because it releases fumes in the air for about 30 seconds. The fumes can cause a choking sensation in your throat so do not inhale it directly.
Precautions When Using Lye
- Here are some of the things you can do to ensure your safety when you use lye to make your own soap.
- Wear gloves and eye protection when mixing lye.
- Use newspaper to cover your working area. When you are done making soap, carefully fold up and seal the used newspapers in a trash bag.
- Prepare some vinegar and keep it within reach while working. You can use this in case you have an accident and get burned because vinegar is an acid and will counteract the lye.
- Choose a working area that is near a water source. This will ensure that you can wash and flush the affected area if needed.
- Do not lean over your mixture to avoid ingesting the lye and other harmful chemicals in the ingredients.
- Use heatproof containers that will not crack or melt so that the lye will not leak out.
- Do not use kitchen equipment when you make your own soap with lye that you will use again for eating.
- Wash your hands and arms after working. A small grain of lye can cause pain and itching.
- Do not leave lye unattended.
How to Make Your Own Soap
Now you know the most important ingredient to make your own soap. How do you actually make it?
For this basic example, you will only need a few ingredients. Feel free to modify this and add your own preferred ingredients once you’ve mastered the process.
2/3 cup coconut oil
2/3 cup olive oil
¼ cup lye
2/3 cup other liquid oil like almond oil or sunflower oil
¾ cup cool water, distilled or purified
Prepare Your Work Area
Cover your work area with newspaper and prepare the ingredients. Put your gloves on and other protective wear. Have a spoon ready. This is the beginning of how to make your own soap.
Pour the Lye into the Water
Measure an exactly ¼ cup of lye and pour it slowly into the water, stirring as you go. Stand back as you stir to not ingest the fumes. When the water starts to clear, you can let it sit and proceed to the next step. It is important to note that you should add the lye to the water and not the water to the lye.
Combine the Oils
Using a pint jar, combine your three oils together. Heat it in the microwave for about a minute. You can also heat it in a pan. The temperature of your oils should be 120 degrees or so. Wait for both your oils and your lye to cool between 95 and 105 degrees. Make sure that it doesn’t go down too low.
When both the oils and the lye are at the right temperature, pour the oils into a mixing bowl and slowly add the lye. Stir the mixture until they are all mixed. Stir for a full 5 minutes. Get the lye in contact with as much of the soap as possible. Keep stirring or use an immersion blender. The mixture will lighten in color and become thick. It should look like vanilla pudding. This is how it looks to make your own soap.
You can now add your preferred additives like herbs, essential oils, or other ingredients you like. Stir it thoroughly to combine. It’s the fun part when you make your own soap.
Cover and Wrap
Pour the mixture into molds and cover them with plastic wrap. Use an old towel to wrap them up. This will keep the residual heat in and start the saponification process where the base ingredients become soap.
Leave 24 Hours
You can check your soap after 24 hours. If it’s still soft, let it sit for another 12 to 24 hours. When it’s cold and firm, lay it on a piece of parchment paper or baking rack. You can also cut it into bars to fit smaller pans.
Allow the soap to cure for about 4 weeks. Turn it over once a week to expose all sides to the air. When it’s fully cured, wrap it in wax paper or place in an airtight container. This is important when you make your own soap to keep it from attracting dust and debris.
When you master how to make your own soap, maybe you can share it as gifts to friends or start your own business.