How to Make Soap from Scratch
The earliest recorded proof of soap making, saponification, was found around 2800 BC in ancient Babylon. The recipe for this soap-like substance consisted of water, alkali, and cassia oil. Years later, in ancient Rome, soap was made using tallow, tree ash, and water. Fast forward to today, soap is made using vegetable or animal fats/oils, and an alkaline mixture of lye and water. One thing is for certain: soap cannot be made without lye. Even when soap was made with tree ash, water, and tallow, the tree ash contained lye. You see, fats and water do not mix together, therefore, lye works as an emulsifier that allows these polar opposite ingredients to combine to make soap.
Before you make soap, make sure that you become familiar with the safety precautions to follow when handling lye. Natures Garden provides a Soap Making Safety Class that will explain the hazards of soap making, and the necessary safety gear that you should wear when making soap.
Now that you understand how important safety is when making soap, you will need to buy the equipment and soap making supplies you need to make homemade soap.
Equipment you will need for soap making- By the way, once your equipment comes into contact with lye, you can NEVER use this equipment for food contact again! Ingestion of lye can kill you.
1. Heavy duty plastic bowls
2. Plastic spoons or Silicone spatulas
3. Whisk or Stick Blender
5. Soap Safe Molds- such as plastic or silicone (never allow lye to come into contact with aluminum)
6. Scales to weigh out your ingredients
7. Plastic wrap to insulate your soap while it cures
8. Safety goggles, safety gloves, safety mask, and wear long sleeve clothing to protect skin from being burned.
9. Spray bottle containing vinegar. Keep a bottle of vinegar with you when mixing your lye just in case; it will neutralize the lye and stop the burning process immediately.
Soap Making Recipe and Exact Amounts that you will need to make soap:
The recipe we use at Natures Garden to test our fragrance oils is listed below. We use this recipe because it allows you to make colorful swirled soap once you have more experience. We also love this recipe because it is very moisturizing to the skin, yet still provides a creamy lather. This recipe makes 3 pounds of soap.
12.16 oz Water (345 grams)
4.4 oz Lye (125 grams)
9.6 oz Olive Oil (272 grams)
9.6oz Shea Butter (272 grams)
6.4 oz Coconut Oil 76 (181.5 grams)
6.4 oz Palm Oil (181.5 grams)
2 oz. Copperhue Suntan Lotion Fragrance Oil
FUN Soap Colorant (optional- but if you use color, we suggest using orange color)
Instructions for making soap:
- It’s important to prep your area with the equipment and items you will need before you start. You don`t want to have to stop half way through and run to go get something!
- You should be mixing your lye solution in a well-ventilated area. No kids or pets anywhere nearby! Lye is very caustic and will create fumes that should not be inhaled as they can burn the tissue of your lungs. Also if it gets splashed on you, it can cause a nasty burn on the skin.
- Make sure that you have your bottle of vinegar handy if you get lye solution on your skin.
- Weigh out your lye
- Weigh out your distilled water
- Slowly add lye to your distilled water and stir until lye is dissolved. NEVER EVER add your water to the lye! It will produce a hazardous volcano scenario.
- Set you water/lye solution somewhere safe where kids and pets cannot get to it or knock it over. Allow this solution to cool to around 90-100F.
- Weigh out your oils and butters.
- Melt your oils and butters until they are completely melted, but be careful not to get them too hot or they may burn.
- Allow your oils/butters to cool to around 100F.
- Add your lye/water solution to your oil/butter solution and mix with a whisk or a hand blender until the batter is emulsified.
- Add color to your soap mixture
- Add fragrance oil to your soap mixture and bring to trace. (Trace is a pudding like soap consistency).
- Pour soap mixture into soap molds (my favorite molds are silicone loaf molds).
- Cover molds with plastic wrap, and place molds somewhere that they will not be disturbed.
- Allow soap to remain in covered molds for 24-48 hours.
- Remove soap from the molds. Slice.
- Allow soap to cure in a cool, ventilated area for 2-6 weeks.
- After soap has fully cured, you can use it.
For awesome ideas in soap making please check out Natures Garden’s Free Recipes and Classes.