If you’re looking for a creative hobby, which will give you a lot of fun but which also has a practical aspect, making your own soap is an ideal alternative for you. It’s simple, it’s fun, and you will get natural soap for you and your family or friends.
You may wonder why to bother with making soap at home if there is such a wide range of soap in the stores. However, people who took this activity up claim that it’s highly addictive and once you make your first own soap bar, you simply can’t stop.
The fans of homemade soap say it’s a crime to compare it to soap which you buy in the shop or pharmacy. The one you make at home has this unique character, wonderful smell and feel. It makes every bath or shower a pleasant experience for your senses. You will never achieve this with manufactured soap.
If you have never tried it, you probably think that it’s very difficult to make soap at home on your own. Actually, when you get to know some basic rules, it turns out to be a very easy, yet fulfilling activity.
The Basics of Making Soap at Home
Before you start making your own soap, you need to understand what soap really is. In most cases soap is just a chemical combination of lye and oils or fats. That’s the base of every soap.
You can compare it to bread making. You actually need flour and water to make the most primitive bread. What you add to it makes it unique and tasty. The same is with your homemade soap.
By mixing fat and lye you will get the most basic soap, but only when you add there some beautiful fragrance, some moisturizing essential oil, or a subtle color, it will start to have this unique character that manufactured soap will never get.
Before you make your first soap, find out what ingredients and equipment you need, learn what available methods are and try some of the proven recipes. Once you become skillful in making your own soap, you can create your own, exceptional recipes.
What Equipment Do You Need
In order to make your own soap you need a few mixing bowls. However, don’t choose the ones you use for cooking because you can’t be 100% sure that you will perfectly clean them.
The best option are containers made of enamel, tempered glass, and stainless steel. Copper and aluminum bowls can react with the lye so they are not a good idea. Don’t use plastic bowls either as they can melt.
Pay attention to spoons as well. It’s recommended to use the ones which are made from silicone or styrene plastic. You will also need molds for your soap. You can get special molds for soap online or in local craft stores. However, silicone baking pans will work really well too.
Other necessary things are stainless steel thermometer, but it has to read to 200 degrees, old newspaper, an old towel, a pint as well as a quart canning jar, and of course all the additions you would like to add to your soap.
What Is Lye
Lye is essential if you want to make your own soap. It’s a chemical substance known as Sodium Hydroxide. Lye is a strong, caustic alkali, which if used unwisely, can burn your skin or eat holes in fabric.
Therefore, it’s very important to be really careful when you use lye. You should wear gloves and protect your eyes with glasses and your mouth with a mask. The most important rule that you always need to remember about is to add lye to water and not the other way round. Once you add it to water, you need to start stirring the mixture right away.
Don’t let it clump on the bottom as it can heat up really quickly and explode. It all may sound a little bit scary, but you shouldn’t be afraid of lye. It is true that working with this substance might be dangerous and you need to be extra careful. However, once it comes into a reaction with some oils in the soap, which is known as a saponification process, there won’t be any lye in the finished soap.
There are many substances in our everyday life which when used separately are dangerous, but when combined they become safe. Table salt is a good example as it consists of sodium and chloride, which are dangerous on they own, but when you mix them, you eat it.
It’s also extremely important to use a crystal form of pure Sodium Hydroxide. Don’t use any substitutes such as drain cleaners as they may contain some bits of metal, which can be harmful for your skin. It’s also difficult to measure them accurately.
What Can You Add to Your Soap
There are countless options, which you can add to your soap. Probably the more skillful you become, the more creative additives you will choose. However, at the beginning you may start with the most basic alternative.
Herbs are commonly used in homemade soap as they not only add a beautiful fragrance, but they are also beneficial for our skin. You can use various herbs. Lavender, chamomile, lemongrass, or oakmoss are popular. They have a beautiful smell and they are rich in compounds which moisturize and make your skin soft and smooth.
It depends on the batch how much herbs you will need, but about ¼ glass of dried herbs is usually enough. Remember, though, that you should choose top quality herbs, it’s recommended to buy them in herbal or ecological stores.
Essential oils are also commonly added to homemade soap. Top quality essential oils are obtained from flowers, seeds, stems, or roots of the plants. Make sure what you use as on the market there are also oils which are artificially manufactured.
They may smell nice, but they don’t have all the wonderful qualities that natural oils possess. On average, you will need about a teaspoon or twenty drops of a chosen oil for a batch of soap. The most commonly used oils in home production of soap include coconut oil, olive oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, mango butter, avocado oil, and castor oil.
You may also wonder how to add a lovely color to your soap. Actually, it’s very easy as you will find various dyes in your kitchen. If you want to get brown soap, you can add to it some cocoa powder. Turmeric will turn your soap yellow, beet root will give it an orange hue, and powdered chlorophyll will make it green.
You can of course add there many other things. Your imagination is the only limit here. You may use aloe vera gel, ground coffee, cornmeal, clays, and many other products.
Methods of Making Soap at Home
We can enumerate four main methods of making soap at home. These are melt and pour method, cold process, hot process, and rebatching. All of them have their pluses and minuses, but if you’re a beginner, it will be enough for you to learn only two of them.
1. Melt and Pour Method
This is the best method for the beginners as it can be compared to making a cake from a cake mix. It means that you buy the base, which are pre-made blocks of soap without any scent or color. You can get it at a local craft store or a soap supplier.
All you need to do is melt the base in your microwave or in a double boiler. When it melts, you can add there your own additives, scent, and color. You pour it in a mold, wait until it hardens and your soap is ready to use.
The things you need to gather before you start making your first soap include only some clean workspace, for example a countertop, a microwave or a double boiler. If you use the former, you also need a bowl which is resistant to heat.
Don’t forget about some spoons or whisks, and some measuring spoons as well. You also need to buy a soap base which you can melt, and some additives of your choice. It can be some fragrance, color, or both of them. You need a mold for your soap too. As you can see, there is nothing complicated in this method and actually your first attempt can bring amazing results already.
The method of melt and pour has many advantages. It’s simple and cheap, which makes it a perfect choice for beginners. It doesn’t require dealing with dangerous lye. What’s more, you only need a few ingredients to start the process of making soap and only when it hardens, it’s ready to use.
The method, however, has also some disadvantages. As you make your soap at home, you would probably want to be sure that it’s 100% natural. Unfortunately, with a base bought in a shop you can’t fully control the ingredients in your soap.
Manufacturers often add some chemicals to a base, for example, to make it easy to melt. Thus, the quality of your soap actually depends on the quality of the base you bought. On the other hand, if you find a manufacturer who uses natural ingredients, this method is a great option worth trying.
2. Cold Process
Cold process is a more advanced technique as it’s the method in which you make your soap from scratch. You control the whole process and you can make it 100% natural. The method, however, is a little bit more complicated.
During the cold process you need to warm up the oils in a pot until they reach about 100 degrees. At this point you need to add the mixture made of lye and water. You mix it until the soap thickens a little bit.
Now, it’s time to add your additives, color, or scent. The last step is to pour your soap into the molds. Your raw soap will need about 24 hours to harden, but it’s ready to use after about four weeks.
Before you start making your own soap with the technique of cold process, you need to gather some equipment. For sure, you have to prepare a flat and clean workspace. It should be close to a heat source and with access to water. Prepare all the necessary pots and tools.
You also need some vegetable oils or animal fats, a mixture made of lye and water, and of course some additives of your choice such as herbs, essential oils, or scents. You may add there a natural or artificial colorant too. Don’t forget about a mold for your raw soap and think about some cool and dry place where your soap can cure.
The method of cold process has various pros and cons. Its greatest advantage is that you fully control every step of soap making. You may add there whatever ingredients come to your mind and you can create your own, countless recipes.
However, there are also some minuses. For sure, you need some more tools and ingredients and it requires some time to make it. You also have to learn how to deal with lye safely. Some patience is required too as your soap can be used after a few weeks.
Both methods are worth trying. Follow the instructions thoroughly, be careful and for sure you will create wonderful soap. On the Net you will find various videos which describe every step of the process.
The Best Recipes for Homemade Soap
You will find plenty of interesting recipes for your own soap on the Net. Once you will have some practice, you can create your own, unique recipes. Here are some proven ones, which are perfect for beginners.
1. Fresh Citrus Soap
A wonderful recipe which has a fresh and minty smell, which will make your bath or shower a pleasant experience. The mixture is rich in vitamin C, which has a wonderful effect on your skin.
To make fresh citrus soap you need to gather ten blocks of readymade glycerin soap, about three tablespoons of fresh mint, three tablespoons of rosemary leaves, one tablespoon of orange rind, and one tablespoon of lemon rind. The equipment you need includes a microwave, blender, glass bowl, and a soap mold.
The first thing you need to do is place the soap blocks into the bowl and put it to the microwave. Thirty seconds would be enough to melt the soap. Meanwhile, you should put the fresh mint and rosemary leaves into a blender. Mix them to puree texture. Put it on a paper towel to squeeze it from the excess water.
The next step is to add the mint and rosemary puree into the melted glycerin soap. Now it’s time to add the lemon and orange rind to the soap mixture. Stir it thoroughly. The final point is to pour your liquid soap into your molds. Cover the mold with some plastic wrap and put it into the freeze for about fifty minutes.
That’s probably one of the easiest recipes for homemade soap, ideal for beginners. You should use the soap within the period of four months.
2. Oatmeal and Honey Soap
A simple recipe which will let you create fancy soap. The presence of oatmeal and honey makes it a perfect exfoliant for your body, which will also wonderfully moisturize your skin. It will look young and have a soft and smooth feel. It’s an ideal recipe for winter months when our skin often gets dry.
If you’re planning to make this beneficial soap, you need to gather ¾ cup of grated unscented soap, one tablespoon of organic honey, ¼ cup of oatmeal, one teaspoon of almond oil, and ¼ cup of water. Don’t forget about a cooking pot, the one made of stainless steel will be the best and prepare molds for your soap.
Start with putting the grated soap into a cooking pot. Add there also some water and let the soap melt on a low heat. At this point don’t stir it as it can lead to bubbles, which may disturb the process of soap making.
Remove the soap from the heat once it melts. Now you can add the honey, almond oil, and the oatmeal to the soap. Just fold in the ingredients, but don’t stir the mixture. Pour it into the mold and cover it with a plastic wrap. Let the soap freeze in the freezer. Once the soap is frozen, you can remove it from the mold.
3. Coffee and Spice Soap
Another simple recipe which will let you make unusual soap with an amazing fragrance. A great advantage of this recipe is that most of the ingredients you will easily find in your kitchen. The soap will wonderfully nourish your skin, which won’t need any lotion.
First you need to gather all the ingredients. These are one tablespoon of cinnamon powder, one teaspoon of ground cloves, two ounces of essential lemongrass oil, twelve ounces of olive oil, six ounces of palm oil, two ounces of castor oil, ten ounces of coconut oil, four ounces of lye, and ten ounces of strong coffee.
Additionally, prepare a plastic container, some mixing bowls, and a stainless steel cooking pot. Protective gloves will be useful too.
The first thing you need to do is pour the coffee into a plastic container. Put on protective gloves and add the lye to coffee. Stir it thoroughly until the lye dissolves in the coffee. Now prepare a cooking pot and add there all the oils, except the lemongrass oil. Place it over a low heat and keep it there until the oils melt.
When they are melted, mix them well and add the lye and coffee solution to the mixture. Stir it for about two minutes and add cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and ground coffee. Stir it for about four minutes until it has a consistency of a thick pudding.
Cover the mixture with a lid and place it over a low heat for about forty minutes. When you take it off, add there the lemongrass and once again stir it thoroughly so that all the ingredients are well combined.
Use a spoon to transfer the mixture into the molds. Leave it in a dry and cool place for about 24 hours until it hardens. Remove the soap from the molds and enjoy your homemade soap that will change your bath in a truly sensual experience.
4. Almond Oil and Calendula Flowers Soap
You should try this recipe if your skin is damaged or really dry as calendula flowers will perfectly moisturize it. Almond oil, on the other hand, is packed with vitamin E, which is crucial if you want your skin to be soft and smooth.
To prepare this nourishing soap you need to collect two ounces of calendula flower petals, 32 ounces of rice bran oil, 16 ounces of sweet almond oil, 16 ounces of coconut oil, 13 ounces of castor oil, 13 ounces of palm oil, 7 ounces of lye, and 20 ounces of distilled water. You will also need a soap mold, a crock pot, a plastic container, and a stainless steel cooking pot.
Start with combining half of the prepared rice bran oil with ½ ounce of the calendula petals. Put both ingredients into a crock pot. Simmer the mixture for one or two hours. After that time leave it to cool down.
The next step is to pour the distilled water into a plastic container. Put on protective gloves and add lye to the water. Some fumes will be released, but it’s a normal reaction. Make sure to do it in a ventilated room, though.
When the mixture reaches the temperature of about 110 degrees Fahrenheit, mix it with the oils in a stainless steel pot. Keep it on a low heat until the oils melt and combine with one another. Add the rest of the ingredients. Pour it into the mold and cover it with a plastic wrap. After 24 hours it should be cold, hard, and ready to use.