How to make hand made soap

Soap is made by combining fats and oils with liquid and lye. When lye is dissolved in liquid a lot of heat is generated, and when you combine this solution with the oils, saponification occurs turning the mixture into raw soap batter and glycerin. After adding colour, botanicals, and scent, this batter is poured into molds and left to sit, under blankets for insulation, for 24 to 48 hours to allow the saponification process to complete. The soap is then taken out of the molds, cut into bars, and left to sit on drying racks for 4 to 6 weeks. The soap is then ready to use and the glycerin in it makes it gentle and moisturizing.

What is cold processed soap?

Cold processing is a method of producing soap that requires no extra heat to create the soap. Cold processed typically yields a long-lasting bar of soap. Cold processed soaps are better for the environment, healthier for your skin, moisturizing, and can be customized with limitless designs and recipes.

Interesting fact:

Lye used to be made using wood ash, and soap was made by adding water and wood ash to a singular fat. The results were a little harsh, so now we utilize scales to ensure we measure everything accurately, so we have the correct ratios. You can use many different fats and oils to make soap. We use coconut oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, and sustainable palm and palm kernel oils.

Why hand made soap?

Why handmade soap and why not just use soap from the store? Well, mass-produced soap is basically detergent and not soap at all. Crazy right? Soaps from the store typically have chemicals you can’t pronounce, synthetic fragrances, and the glycerin has been extracted to make other products. When you make your own soap, you can keep things natural. Saponification is a natural process. You can also completely customize it to your liking. Soap is incredibly customizable and can be coloured using natural ingredients and scented with essential oils. You don’t ever have to make the same recipe twice and you can add things like exotic butters, beeswax, salts, sugar, milk, dried flowers, and herbs. Many soap makers choose to work with natural ingredients and the cold processed method is ideal to preserve the benefits of plant-derived butters and oils.

Five benefits of cold processed soap

  1. Creamy feel – helps minimize dry, itchy skin.
  2. Nutrients – the nutrients in natural ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, olive oil can be lost through the heating process in hot processed soap techniques. The cold processed method ensures these natural ingredients are better preserved.
  3. Natural scent-  often scented with pure essential oils rather than a synthetic fragrance.
  4. Creatively colorful- use natural ingredients for texture and colour and can be decorated with swirls and other designs. This part is fun as you can get creative!
  5. Now that we have learned a little about the benefits of hand made soap, let me ask you this. Have you ever been interested in trying to make hand made soap? We want to share some hand made soap recipes with you, so let’s dive in!

how to make hand made soap

Girl Soap

Hand made soap recipes

Castille Soap

(5% superfat)*

266g water

90g lye (sodium hydroxide)

700g olive oil (lowest grade possible)

up to 1 tbsp essential oil (optional)

up to 15g botanicals (optional)

colour as desired (optional)

This recipe makes a soft, creamy bar of soap with no real lather in hard water.


Grocery Store Soap

(5% superfat)*

266g water

91g lye (sodium hydroxide)

490g Crisco

210g olive oil (lowest grade possible)

up to 1 tbsp essential oil (optional)

up to 15g botanicals (optional)

colour as desired (optional)

This recipe makes a slightly harder bar, creamy, a little lather in hard water.

The Better Bar

(5% superfat)*

266g water

98g lye (sodium hydroxide)

350g olive oil (lowest grade possible)

175g Crisco

175g coconut oil

up to 1 tbsp essential oil (optional)

up to 15g botanicals (optional)

colour as desired (optional)

This recipe makes a hard bar, creamy, moderate to good lather in hard water.

*Superfatting your soap means adding more oil than is required to take up the lye in your recipe, it’s usually 4% to 8%. This ensures no free lye remains in your soap and makes your soap more moisturizing.

What You Will Need

–  white vinegar

–  safety glasses

–  rubber gloves

–  smock or apron (or wear old clothing)

–  kitchen scale

–  glass container that holds at least 1 litre (a wide-mouth mason jar works well)

–  small bowl (stainless steel or glass is best)

–  large stainless-steel spoon

–  stainless steel pot that holds at least 2 litres

–  large knife

–  wooden spoon

–  spatula

–  thermometer

–  a mold (an empty, clean 1 litre milk carton works well)

–  1 tbsp measuring spoon

–  stainless steel or plastic whisk

–  a couple of old wool blankets and maybe some cardboard

Once used for making soap, these items should not be used for preparing food, so a good place to get them is at the thrift store.

How To Do It

First you will need to clear a place to work as well as a warm area for the soap to sit undisturbed for two days. Put your wool blankets in this warm area as you will have to wrap your hand made soap molds in them later.

Next make sure everyone else in the area knows that you will be working with time-sensitive, corrosive material for the next couple of hours, and should not be disturbed. It’s good to brief them on the safety precautions and first aid measures too, just in case.

Now get your white vinegar, take the lid off, and put it within easy reach – if you spill lye on yourself or on the counter, you will need to flush the area with the vinegar to neutralize the lye. If you get it in your eyes, flush with water for at least 15 minutes and seek medical attention. If someone eats or drinks the lye, call poison control immediately. Lye is a corrosive substance and will burn if it contacts your skin or eyes. Follow precautions on container. Next, put on your safety glasses, rubber gloves, and protective clothing. Put your glass container on the scale and tare (or zero) the scale so it reads 0 g with the container on it. Add cold water to the container until it reaches the desired weight. Put the container near the stove but out of the way. Put your small bowl on the scale and zero it. Use the stainless-steel spoon to add lye crystals to the bowl until the desired weight is reached. Slowly and carefully pour the lye crystals into the cold water, then stir the solution with the stainless-steel spoon for approx. 60 seconds. The lye solution will give off heat and fumes, so work in a ventilated area and do not inhale the fumes. Next, rinse the small bowl and stainless-steel spoon under cold water. Put the spoon near your lye solution – you will need to stir it later.

Now take the bowl, dry it out and put it on the scale. Zero the scale. Measure the oils into the bowl (one at a time, or all together – it doesn’t matter), then put them in your stainless-steel pot using the spatula to scrape the bowl out well. Heat over medium heat and stir with wooden spoon until no solids remain. Remove from heat. The oils now need to cool. The wooden spoon can stay in the pot – you will need to stir later. The lye solution and oils are now in their cooling phase. Both must arrive at 110 – 120 degrees F (45 – 50 degrees C) at the same time. The amount of time will vary depending on the temperature of the room you’re making the soap in, the melting points of the various oils you use, and how quickly you work. If your lye and oils are cooling at different rates, wait until one of them reaches 120 degrees, then put the other one in a cold-water bath to speed up the cooling process. While you wait for everything to cool, (it can take anywhere from ½ hour to 2 hours), prepare your molds and any essential oils and/or botanicals you want to add. Once it cools you will need to work fast, so having everything ready is necessary. While learning to make soap it is good to measure the temperature of your oils and lye often, just to get used to the cooling process. When everything is within the correct temperature range, give the lye a final stir with the stainless-steel spoon. Rinse the spoon off and leave it in the sink. Slowly pour the lye solution into the stainless-steel pot that is holding your oil. Be careful not to splash. Rinse the empty glass container out and leave it in the sink. Take your wooden spoon and stir your soap fairly quickly but be careful not to splash. Stir it well, making sure to combine the soap on the sides and bottom of the pot. Stir, stir, stir…….do some figure 8s. Don’t stop stirring until the soap starts to thicken and look a little grainy (this could take anywhere from 10 minutes to 4 hours depending on the oils you use). This is called bringing the soap to “trace.” Once you notice it thickening, take your spoon out and let some soap drizzle off of it into the pot. If you can see the drizzle sitting on top of the rest of the soap, you have achieved trace. If you are not adding anything else to your soap, keep stirring for awhile to bring it to a heavy trace, then pour it into your molds. If adding scents, colour, and/or botanicals to your soap, stop stirring and leave it at a light trace. Put your additives into the pot, then stir until everything is well combined. Pour into molds. Close the molds or cover them with saran wrap. Take them to your warm, undisturbed place and wrap them well with the blankets. They need to be well insulated in order for the chemical reaction to continue. Rinse your soap-making equipment with water to get all the soap and lye residue off, then you can take off your safety equipment and clean up. Or you could leave the dishes overnight so the soap residue can harden before you wash the dishes. That way you can scrape the hardened soap out into the garbage beforehand. It is probably easier on your drains that way. Over the next two days the soap will generate its own heat and go through a “gel phase” where it changes colour and looks almost transparent. It will need all the heat it generates to finish cooking itself. If it is too cold you will just end up with a soupy, gooey mess. It is hard not to peek at your soap over the next couple of days but try to resist the temptation! You can peek once or twice, but make sure it’s not for too long, and be sure to wrap them up well again afterward. The first 12 hours are probably the most visually interesting. After 2 days, you may still be able to feel a little bit of heat coming from your soap. When two days are up, your soap is ready to be cut! Unwrap your soap and take it out of the molds to a place where you can cut it. If using a cutting board, put some wax paper on it first to protect the board. Cut the soap with a large knife as you would like it. It will shrink slightly during the curing process. Now, take your bars and place them in a dark, warm, dry place where air can still circulate around them. A rarely used cupboard works really well. Wait at least 4 weeks. After curing for 4 weeks your soap will be safe to use; saponification will be complete, and the soap will not burn your skin. It’s even better if you can give it 6 weeks to cure. The longer your soap sits, the harder it gets too, so a 6-week bar will last longer than a 4-week bar. Congratulations, you’re done! Keep your new soap well drained so it will last longer and enjoy!

Be sure to copy down this recipe and let us know your hand made soap making experience!


Image: Google Free Photos













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