Soap making can be very simple or you can make it as complicated as you like. The beauty of making your own soap is that you can make it with the ingredients that you choose and the fragrances that you like. Adjustments aren’t hard, but take some practice. Most all soap recipes use ounces or grams and ingredients must be weighed to get good results. I’ve found a way to simplify the process by converting the ingredients to cups and portions of cups. It’s much easier and you get the same results time after time.
The one thing in homemade soap you can’t substitute is lye. You should always use 100% sodium hydroxide, or lye in crystal form. Don’t substitute liquid lye or drain cleaners such as Drano. These may cause inaccurate measurements or have bits of metal in them. You don’t want either.
Lye is caustic. It can eat holes in fabric and cause burns on your skin. Always be extra careful when using lye. Use gloves and eye protection and a mask if desired. When you mix the lye with water, it will heat up and fume for about 30 seconds to a minute. It may cause a choking sensation in your throat. Don’t worry, it’s not permanent and will go away after a few minutes. Always add lye to water (not water to lye), and start stirring right away. If allowed to clump on the bottom, it could heat up all at once and cause an explosion.
Even though lye is caustic and dangerous to work with, after it reacts with the oils in your soap (through a process called saponification), no lye will remain in your finished soap.
When making soap, use equipment that will not be used for cooking. While you could clean everything really well, it’s best not to take a chance. Stainless steel, tempered glass and enamel are all good choices for mixing bowls. Don’t use copper or aluminum, they will react with the lye. Some plastics may melt, so don’t use plastic bowls. For spoons, use styrene plastic or silicone. For molds, you can get soap molds at your local craft store or use silicone baking pans These are great because you can peel the mold right off. Other things you want to have are a pint and a quart canning jar, newspaper, a stainless steel thermometer that reads between 90° and 200° an old towel, and any additions you want to add to the soap.
When you’re done making soap, always clean your equipment that has been exposed to lye. You can neutralize the lye with white vinegar, then wash the equipment well as you normally would. For the rest of it, let it sit for several days. Why? Because when you first make soap, it’s all fat and lye. You’ll be washing forever and you could burn your hands on the residual lye. If you wait, it becomes soap and all it takes to clean it is a soak in hot water.
Until the early 1900’s, much of the soap used was made at home. Fats from cooking and butchering were saved until there was enough to make a batch of soap. This all changed in 1916 when a shortage of fats (a main ingredient in soap) occurred during World War I. As an alternative was needed, enterprising companies developed the first synthetic soaps called detergents.
With a wide variety of oils available today, making your own soap is once again very inexpensive, and a good choice for those concerned about quality, health related benefits, and the environment.
Successful soap making today is a result of a much better understanding of chemistry, experience, and a wider variety of ingredients to choose from. Today’s soaps are milder and better for skin thanks to the availability ofvegetable and plant based oils.
Chemically speaking, soap is a salt. An acid and a base react with one another and are neutralized to form a salt or soap. A more basic explanation is: oils or fats combine with Sodium Hydroxide or “Lye” in a process called saponification to produce soap.
Hand made soap retains extra glycerin, known to soften the skin naturally. Glycerin is one of the best known humecants (attracts moisture to the skin). It is often extracted during the process of manufacturing commercially made soap, then sold as a valuable by-product. Natural ingredients are rarely used in commercially manufactured soap. If used at all, it is sparingly. One of the best advantages of making your own soap is that you are in charge of quality control. You decide which ingredients to use and how much.
Animal versus Vegetable-based Soaps
Originally, all soap was made from animal fats — mainly lard from pigs and tallow from cattle. It was readily available and at the time no one questioned the use of animal by-products. Over time, new oils were extracted from vegetables, grains and nuts providing an alternative to animal oils.
Vegetable oil soaps are chemically superior and can be of higher quality than soaps made with animal fats. Vegetable oils are more readily absorbed by the skin while animal oils have been found to clog pores and aggravate certain skin conditions, such as eczema.
The Soap Process
Natural hand-made soap is not difficult to make, once you understand the basics. You can make a batch of soap in as little as one hour, depending on the formula.
The following is the basic formula for making all soap:
Fatty acid (oil) + Base (lye) = “A Salt” (soap)
The oil or fat is heated gently. Lye and water are combined separately. When both ingredients reach the required temperature, they are combined. When the mixture becomes the desired consistency, it is poured into a mould. The bars are then removed from the mould after setting up (approximately 24 to 48 hours). They are restacked and allowed to “cure” or dry until hard. This can take anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks depending on the formula.
There are 3 keys to successful soap making:
1. Accurately weighed ingredients.
2. A good formula.
3. Proper technique.
Cold Process Method: This process is widely used by home-based soap makers. The neutralization stage takes place during the moulding stage. Our kits follow this method.
Semi-boiled Method: After the soap mixture traces, heat is added using a double-boiler to cause the soap to neutralize before being moulded.
Full-boiled Method: This method is where all ingredients are prepared in one large container. Heat is added causing neutralization. Large commercial manufacturers use this method to achieve the by-product called glycerin.
Transparent Soap: This soap is made clear by adding solvents such as alcohol to prevent crystals from forming as the soap cools. Transparent soap is often referred to as Glycerin Soap. However, this is a fallacy as glycerin is not needed to produce a clear or transparent soap. This soap can be drying to the skin.
Melt and Pour Soap: Or also known a solid Glycerin blocks. Pure glycerin, animal or vegetable derived, is always liquid and can only be solidified by the addition of plastizer chemicals. To produce a foam, detergents are added. This method is simply making soap from soap and is more expensive than starting from scratch. Melt and pour soaps may have natural ingredients added to them but they are synthetically based.
A preservative is defined as something that protects against decomposition. However, nature has its own agenda and decay is inevitable. There are no preservatives, synthetic or natural, that can completely stop this process — they can only slow it down.
Oxidation occurs within fats/oils which causes rancidity and spoilage to occur. Carrot oil, Vitamin E oil, and Grapefruit Seed Extract are three natural preservatives that are recommended. They contain powerful anti-oxidants such as vitamin A, E and C, which can help prevent spoilage.
The formulas in this booklet do not require any additional preservatives, unless you choose to add an ingredient that is vulnerable to rancidity, i.e. fresh fruit or vegetable matter.Equipment Needed
- One large stainless steel mixing bowl (the larger the better). This greatly reduces the amount of splatter leaving the bowl during the mixing process
- One heat-resistant container that hold 2 cups (glass Pyrex works well) to mix Lye and water. Note: Using a large container may result in rapid heat loss and temperatures not reaching their goal
- A container to heat oils. If using the stove, a stainless steel pot will do. If using the microwave, use a microwave-safe container
- Candy or meat thermometer made of glass and stainless steel (having two works best — one for the lye and one for the oil)
- Protective wear: long sleeved shirt, pants, shoes (no bare feet), glasses and rubber gloves. Keep a bottle of vinegar nearby to neutralize lye spills
- Soap moulds; plastic, cardboard, or wood (use wax paper to line, see “Soap Moulds”)
- Measuring spoons, pot holders or oven mitts, and plastic spatulas
- Digital scale, accurate to at least two grams (if not using our kits)
Generally, you can use just about any type of plastic, wood, or cardboard as a soap mould. Do not use tin, aluminum, Teflon, or copper as they react with the lye. Candy and candle moulds may work well, too. If you want something simple, choose a square or rectangular container and cut the bars to size after your soap has set. Cardboard milk or juice containers work well as they are coated with wax.
To make round soaps try recycling a plastic bottle. Using an empty, clean, plastic pop or round shampoo bottle, carefully slice the sides of the bottle lengthwise. Tape sides using plastic packing tape to prevent leakage. Pour the soap mixture and let set for required amount of time. Peel tape back and release your soap, then cut the bars to a desired size. Set to cure as usual.
If you are having trouble getting your soap to release from the mould, try placing it in the freezer for two hours. This will cause the soap mixture to shrink from the sides and make removal easier.
To help with release, use vegetable shortening to grease your moulds. Cardboard or wooden moulds require a combination of waxed paper or freezer paper and vegetable shortening.
What is the easiest recipe to make lipstick at home? What recipe ingredients are best for making any color of lipstick? Why should I make lip cosmetics for myself? Well, in one way or another, you will learn the answers to these questions. Making your own lipstick has its own benefits. The most important one is that homemade natural lipstick is safe to use compared to commercial leaded lipsticks.
One of the best ways to get new lipstick is by recycling old crayons. While many name-brand lipsticks contain a wide array of chemicals, lipsticks made from crayons are non-toxic, include a single ingredient, and have been handled by you alone. Plus, producing customized shades can be lots of fun.
Kids’ crayons? Yes! Making your own lipstick takes only about 10 minutes, costs next to nothing and allows you to choose from a dizzying (and unconventional) array of colors.
Is it safe? Even though Crayola does not publish a detailed and specific ingredient list, they do formulate their crayons so that toddlers can eat a whole box of the stuff without suffering anything more serious than a stomach ache. Crayons consist mainly of paraffin wax and non-toxic pigments. Wax is a major component in any lipstick or chapstick, and crayons’ pre-mixed pigments will give you more choices, at less cost than either food coloring (I’ve tried that too) or the powders and gels cosmetic suppliers will sell you.
This recipe works surprisingly well. The colors last longer, and stick to your lips better than regular commercial lipstick.