How To Make Soap At Home

Easy recipes and instructions on how to make homemade soap yourself.

Making soap at home is easy and it is fun. No longer will you be at the whim of marketers and manufacturers, you can make the perfect soap for you. The process I will describe is known as cold process. Since you will be buying your lye from the store, there is no need to go into the hot process of soap making which refers to making your own lye.

Getting started is easy. The supplies you will need are few, but rather specific. Chances are you have most of them in your kitchen right now. Once you have used any of these items for soap making, do not ever use them for any other use. Lye is extremely poisonous to both humans and pets and the risks are too great.

A wooden stir spoon. This should have a long handle and can be found at any store that sells kitchen utensils. If you plan to make soap numerous times, be sure to purchase more than one. The lye will eat away at the wood over time and the spoon will need to be replaced.

A small bowl for lye solution. This should be glass, ceramic, enamel or heavy plastic. If you use enamel, make sure that it is not chipped.

A large bowl for the soap mixture. Like the lye bowl, this can be made of any of the above materials or heavy stainless steel. For the following recipes, a good size is three quart.

Measuring cups and spoons. Either heavy stainless or plastic will do.

Heavy duty rubber spatula. Like the wooden spoon, having more than one of these on hand is a good idea.

Rubber gloves are also a must. Lye can cause severe burning if splattered undiluted on the skin.

Soap moulds can be picked up at any hobby store or you can use shallow glass baking dishes. You can also use any shallow cardboard box, such as a beer flat, lined with waxed paper.

The materials you will need are:

Clean tallow. Tallow is generally beef fat. This can be purchased at the butcher shop or sometimes from the meat department of your grocery store. Pork fat can be used for a softer soap. Lard can be used but it produces a very soft soap.

Lye Flakes. Red Devil Lye is the best, and often the only, choice for lye.

Petroleum jelly. Any brand will do.

Cooking oils. While optional, cooking oil can enhance the quality of your soap. Regular vegetable oil works, as does olive, canola and peanut.

Now that you have all your equipment and materials, here are a few recipes you can try. Be sure to work in a well ventilated are.

Basic soap

In the smaller bowl, pour 1/2 cup cold soft water. Add 2 tablespoons lye, stirring constantly with the wooden spoon until dissolved.

In the larger bowl, measure 1 cup melted and strained beef fat.

Allow both to cool. While they are cooling, grease your moulds with petroleum jelly. Test by feeling the outside of the bowls. When both feel lukewarm to the skin, pour the lye slowly into the fat, stirring constantly.

Continue stirring until all of the lye is mixed with the tallow. At this point, the mix will begin to emulsify and will at first turn cloudy and then grainy. It will be ready to pour into your moulds when it reaches the consistency of honey. A good test of readiness is the ribbon method. Hold your spoon approximately two inches above the mix. If the mix drips off the spoon and doesn't immediately merge with the rest of the mix, it is ready to pour.

It is impossible to say how long you will have to stir. This depends on the temperature of the solution. It can be as short as 5 minutes and as long as an hour. If after 15 minutes the desired consistency has not been reached, you can cool the mixture by placing the bowl in a sink of shallow water. Be sure to watch the edges, as they cool faster, and can cause a crust to form.

When your mix is ready, slowly pour into your mould. Use the rubber spatula to scrape the bowl and smooth out the top of your soap.

Approximately two hours after being poured, your soap should have the consistency of butter. If you are using a shallow pan or cardboard box, take a sharp knife and slice the soap into comfortably sized bars.

Your soap can be removed from the pan after twenty-four hours. You should allow your soap to cure for at least three weeks. The easiest way to do this is to stack the bars, like bricks, in the open air. It can then be wrapped and stored like any store bought soap.

Chamomile Soap

1 cup tallow

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup olive oil

1 cup soft water

1/4 cup lye flakes

2 tbsp chamomile flowers

1/4 cup talc

Grind the flowers into a fine powder and mix with talc. Add the olive oil slowly; making sure the flower mix dissolves completely.

Prepare lye mix as above in the basic recipe. Melt tallow and coconut oil together. Allow both mixtures to cool.

Mix as above and when the soap reaches honey consistency, add the chamomile oil mix. Stir thoroughly. Pour into moulds. Follow the basic recipe for cutting, curing and storing.

Tallowless Soap

This soap is for those who cannot find tallow or prefer not to use animal fat in their soaps. Unfortunately, this soap does not have the shelf life of tallow soaps, yet it is a good alternative.

2 cups coconut oil

3/4 cup cold soft water

1/4 cup lye flakes

Add lye flakes to water and stir until dissolved. Heat coconut oil until liquid. Allow to cool to lukewarm and then mix together. This mixture takes quite a while to reach the pouring stage, so be prepared to stir up to an hour. Pour into moulds and allow to sit. It may take up to a day to reach the butter stage for cutting. Air dry for approximately six weeks before use.

Essential oils can be added to any of the above recipes at the honey stage. It only takes a few drops. Feel free to experiment with other herbs and flowers also.

Homemade soap makes a wonderful present for any occasion. To pamper a loved one, give them the gift of homemade soap and bath salts in their favorite scents.

© High Speed Ventures 2011