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How To Make Soap At Home

Updated on October 11, 2011

Why You Should Learn How To Make Soap

Recent studies show that many chemicals used in commercial soaps can actually be harmful for your skin, causing allergies and all sorts of reactions. Because of that, a growing number of people are becoming interested in learning how to make soap at home.

When you make your own soap, you can choose to use only natural ingredients that are gentle to your skin and beneficial to your health. Soap making is not only a hobby, but a craft that can be perfected along the years.

If you have never made soap before, you feel intimidated by the terminology. But it really isn't that difficult once you get the hand of it. The secrets to successful soap making are three: good soap recipes, the right amount of ingredients and proper technique.

3 Methods On How To Make Soap At Home

There are about three different processes to soap making: melt and pour (M&P), cold process (CP) and hot process (HP). Each has its own pros and cons. The best thing to do is study, learn a lot and then decide which is best for you. There's no need to rush -- it is best if you slow down, spend some time researching and learning and then make the soap once you have a good understanding of the process and all that is going on. Rushing in with new instructions that you've barely learned is a recipe for disaster.

Melt & Pour

As the name implies, you basically melt the glycerin base, add colorants and fragrances and pour the mixture into molds. M&P is sort of its own world: scents will behave differently, colorants will behave differently. It's basically as simple as it gets. Just don't expect that doing this will teach you much about making lye soaps... If you want to make soap from scratch, refer to Cold Process or Hot Process below.

Cold Process

Cold Process (CP) has been regarded by many soap makers to be the easiest method to start with, for making soap from scratch. Of course, people have different opinions, but one could safely say that CP has fewer steps than HP, because the stage of neutralization occurs during moulding. CP process requires the use of lye and safety equipment and you need to wait several weeks before it's safe to use the soaps.

Hot Process

Hot Process is basically the Cold Process taken one step further. In a nutshell, it's CP soap made usable quicker by cooking the mixture on a stove. With HP, you don't need to wait the soaps to cure: in fact, you can use them as soon as they cool.

Soap Making Procedure Overview

The process of making soap at home through Cold Process is rather simple: you start by carefully adding lye to the water. The reaction will cause the mixture to heat. You than it aside and let it cool to approximately 110F.

While the mixture reach the right temperature, on a separate container you should add the oils together and melt. Allow them to cool to around 110F.

Than, carefully add the lye mixture to the melted oils and stir vigorously until it achieve the right consistency, called trace. The term trace is hard to describe, but once you see it you will know exactly what everyone is talking about. It is when the lye and fats have combined to make soap, but the soap is still very much a liquid -- think liquid dish washing soap consistency.

When trace occurs, it’s time to pour the mixture into a mould. Let the mixture set up for a couple of days, than remove them from the mold and let them cure for 4 to 6 weeks.

Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Make Soap at Home - Learn how to make soap the easy way

Photos by madaise (http://www.flickr.com/photos/madaise)
Photos by madaise (http://www.flickr.com/photos/madaise)

Here are some instructions on how to make soap at home using inexpensive ingredients, most of which are easily available in health food stores or the supermarket:

1.) Make the alkaline solution by adding 2 oz. of Red Devil lye slowly into 32 oz. of distilled cold water in a glass container, stirring slowly with a wooden spoon. The lye will react with the water, heating it and releasing fumes so be careful not inhale any. Set aside the solution to cool the lye.

2.) Prepare the oils by melting 24 oz. coconut oil and 38 oz. vegetable oil in a stainless steel kettle over low fire, stirring frequently. Once the oils have melted, add in 24 oz. of olive oil.

3.) Wait until the lye solution and the oils reach the same temperature range. Use a glass thermometer to check if both mixtures are about 95 to 98 degrees, and then pour the lye slowly and steadily to the oils.

4.) Using a stainless steel wire whisk, blend the mixture.

5.) Wait until saponification and tracing occurs, which is when the soap mixture appears like light cream and soap droplets are able to hold up on a surface. Than add 4 oz. of any essential oil and stir thoroughly.

6.) Spray vegetable oil inside the soap molds and then pour the soap into them. Cover the soap molds with towels and set them aside. Let the soap go through a gelling and heating process. Do not touch for about 18 hours.

7.) Take off the towel covers and allow the soaps to sit for 12 hours more. Than remove the soap from the molds and cut them into bars. Cure the soap for about 4-6 weeks before you use them.

Remember: safety first! Always wear goggles and rubber gloves. Keep some vinegar handy as first-aid remedy because lye can burn your skin.

The slightest variations in the measurement will cause your soap to have a deep layer of oil on top, in which case you will not be able to use the soap. So, make sure to follow the above measurements and directions on how to make natural soap to get perfect results.

Olive Oil Soap
Olive Oil Soap

Some Thoughts On How To Make Natural Soap

If your purpose in learning how to make soap is to avoid the synthetic chemicals in commercial soap bars, then by all means be careful in choosing only a natural base. Otherwise, you defeat your purpose.

Soaps with fragrance oils and colorants made precisely for soap-making are not all-natural soaps because the mentioned ingredients are produced artificially. Traditionally, animal fat is used in soap-making but while this is of course natural, the use of vegetable fat instead of something that came from an animal has become more popular these days.

Are You Ready To Make Soap? - What you need to get started with soap making

The internet is filled with soap recipes showing how to make natural soap using both vegetable oils and animal fat. Soap Recipes 101 offers not only an assorted selection of homemade soap recipes, but also safety equipment and in-depth information on how to make soap.

No matter how much research and studying you do in the beginning, your first soap batches, while hopefully successful, will not likely be your "best" soaps. Your best will come as you gain knowledge and understanding and experience over time as you actually make each batch and learn from those batches.

Like most things in life, practice makes perfect. If you are really interested in learning how to make soap, thorough research is a must to improve your chances of success.

While making soap is actually quite simple (water, lye, oils), the craft and art of making good soap takes lots of time and learning to fully understand and comprehend the complexity of variables that go into making a great soap.

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