So, You want to make soap? This may seem a bit complicated but trust me, once you've done it a few times, it's very quick and simple. You just have to follow the rules. Let me explain one thing real quick. There is lye in soap, Period, End of discussion. All soap has a lye process. Bar soap and powdered soaps use sodium hydroxide and liquid soaps use potassium hydroxide. Liquid soap that people think is so much easier on the skin is made up of an even more volatile form of lye. Yes. I've heard people say that they only use “natural vegetable glycerin soap", guess what? It started out as lye soap but was shredded, had more glycerin added and was cooked down with alcohol to make that clear soap. Bottom line is, soap is not considered a cosmetic so the makers do not have to list the ingredients as lye. Instead, they make up names. Like look at a bar of Ivory soap. The first ingredient is "sodium tallowate". Which means, lye and beef fat. Sodium lardate? You guessed it, lard and lye. Sodium cocoate. You get the picture. So. No lye, no soap. End of story.
There are so many different fats and oils out there and all of them can become soap. There are only three that promote "suds"; coconut, palm kernel and castor. Castor can only be added an oz or two to a whole recipe or your soap will turn out sticky. For all purposes for a batch that will make from between 12-15 bars, depending on how you cut them you need some hard oil and some liquid oil. I'm going to recommend a pound (16ozs) each of coconut and olive. Then the additional pound of fat or oil can be any combination you like. Like Shea butter or just anything. You can make soap out of butter or bacon grease!!!
Do a Google search for "Lye Calculator" to find lots of them. I recommend MMS lye calculator. You will find a list of fats and oils you can use and just plug in your amounts and in the end it will tell you how much lye to use and how much liquid. Do not ever make soap without eye protection, gloves or proper ventilation. Lye burns the skin, can blind you and breathing the fumes is very dangerous. Be very aware of children and pets when you have a pot of lye and liquid cooling!! Use Non-reactive pans only such as glass or stainless steel. Do not use aluminum, iron, or steel. You will need a scale that will weigh ozs up to several pounds. So, with that said. I will start with Picture #1
This is the mold I use. It's a four pound mold( water weight included) whatever you use be it a shoe box or a Rubbermaid container, you must line it with plastic wrap or sheet plastic or you will never get your soap out of the mold!! I always use glass-measuring cups to mix my lye and liquid in this I am using filtered water see Picture #2.
Weigh out your lye being sure to cancel out the weight of the cup. Picture #3
Add the lye to the water (NEVER WATER TO LYE!) and stir with a whisk to dissolve. It is during these first minutes that there will be fumes do be sure to have an open window exhaust fan something. However, don't stand over that pot a huff the stuff! Lol! Some people even do this outside. I leave mine in the sink. This mixture gets very hot. It will take some time to cool down since it's a chemical reaction. So do this first. I always give a yell to anyone in the house “lye pot in the sink!" My family knows what that means. Like I said, be ever aware of other entities. Meanwhile start to weigh out your oils and fats. Picture #4
Next, start putting your hard oils in a pot and warm to melt. Picture #5
When all oils are melted and just warm but not hot and the lye solution had cooled. Slowly add it to the fats and oils. Picture #6
Then you’re going to relax a little and just stir. Think back and forth not round and round. You are going to stir this for quite awhile. Until it comes to a trace, that is you will notice it getting thicker. At a full trace it is like pudding. When you see it starting to thicken is when you want to slowly add your essential oils as soon as this is incorporated pour into the mold (7) then cover with more plastic and insulate with a towel. This is when the magic happens! The strong base. (Lye) reacts with the fatty acids in the old and saponification takes place.
It bonds to become soap !! Take a peek at it. Notice how warm it is. It will go through a gel stage to where it looks almost transparent in the middle. This is good.
Let sit 24 hrs more or less.
Soap must be cold to cut. Lift out of mold with the plastic and remove and slice. Use a sharp knife and steady pressure. Sometimes it can be hard to cut. Let set out in the air for a couple of weeks to one month.
This is "curing" and really has nothing to do with making soap milder. Only makes it last longer. Do not leave handmade soap in a puddle of water in a soap dish. It will go away quickly. It doesn't have all the hardening agents in it that store bought soap has. You can wrap in paper. Or stuff it in your linen closet with your towels and sheets! But do not wrap in plastic. The wrapping paper needs to breath.
Use and enjoy the best soap you've ever had! Let the questions begin! This was a crash course!!