Recently though, I’ve been learning how to make my own soap. My first attempts are currently curing (a process where the water evaporates and the soap hardens) and will be ready to use in a few weeks time.
Making your own soap requires mixing lye (sodium hydroxide and water) with oil/fats. This is known as the cold process method where these two ingredients chemically bond to create soap (saponification).
Handling lye is one of those things many of us shy away from as the process requires quite a lot of care.
For those not wanting to handle lye, you can simply reprocess soap (or buy “melt and pour” bases where the manufacturing and saponification of the soap is done for you) you then add fragrances, colours and personal touches before the soap sets.
This is a bit like making a cake, you can either make it from scratch (cold process method) or just decorate a pre -baked one (melt and pour method).
Making Honey Soap
350g Coconut oil
100g Cocoa Butter
275g Olive oil
200g Sunflower oil
60g Castor oil
142g Sodium Hydroxide
28g Essential Oil and/or Goat’s milk
Carefully mix sodium hydroxide with water wearing safety glasses/gloves.
Melt all hard butters/waxes.
Mix with liquid oils.
Mix with diluted sodium hydroxide/water solution.
Mix in honey, essential oils/milk until custard like consistency.
Pour the mixture into a mould and cover with cling film and towels overnight or 24 hours.
This recipe makes 1 kg bar and 6 small shaped soaps.
To reach “trace” or a custard like thickness I used a stick/hand blender.
You could also add the essential oils and honey (or any other fragile ingredients) at this point so their beneficial properties are not damaged.
There are, literally hundreds of recipes out there and, just like making a cake – you soon learn the importance of getting the consistency right. In the soap pictured above I have slightly adapted the recipe by replacing sunflower oil with olive oil (Napolina). I would also recommend you use the soap calculator before experimenting with your own recipes!
See here for my soap making demonstration …