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Have you grown tired of using soaps laden with chemicals and fragrances that cause awful reactions to your skin? You can make your own soap at home with easily available ingredients. Homemade soap uses natural ingredients that are mild on your skin. Some of these ingredients like essential oils are beneficial to your skin and rarely cause allergic reactions.

The Soap Making Process

Before you begin, you need basic ingredients like oils, essential oils, lye and botanicals. Soap is formed through a process known as saponification, where lye and oils bond to form the solid bar soap.

As a beginner, you could use the premade soap base. Also known as ‘Melt-and-pour’ soap, it comes in blocks or cubes which you melt on your stove, add your preferred ingredients and then pour the mixture into molds to form soap. When this mixture cools down, it’s ready to be used.

The traditional approach to making natural soap at home is called ‘Cold process’ and requires mixing the raw ingredients with oil and lye. However, you should be aware that lye is caustic and will burn your skin on contact. Therefore, you need to take precaution when handling lye. The cold process has more upsides than the ‘melt-and-pour’ method since you have more control over the ingredients you want to use.

What You Need:

  • Mixing bowls – preferably stainless steel.
  • Stainless steel measuring spoons.
  • Kitchen scale.
  • Silicone molds.
  • Alkaline like lye or wood ash for the ‘cold process’.
  • Soap base such as shea butter, goat’s milk or glycerin for the ‘melt-and-pour’ method.
  • Thermometer.

How to Make Soap Using the ‘Cold Process’ Method

Here, you can choose the ingredients you prefer most, depending on the type of soap you want. For this particular example, these are the ingredients we’re going to use:

  1. 500 g extra virgin olive oil– it’s gentle and a great skin conditioner.
  2. 100 g coconut oil – for hardness.
  3. 10 g lavender essential oil for its sweet aroma.
  4. 80 g lye – this is basically sodium chloride, and should, therefore, be handled with protective gear.
  5. 195 g water.
    Remember to use the kitchen scale for accuracy.

Instructions

  1. Mix the lye with water. Always pour the lye into the water, not the other way round as it could cause an eruption. It’s advisable to use a piece of equipment that can handle heat like a glass bowl. And because of the dangerous fumes, it’s safer to do this step outside, and take care not to breathe in the fumes. Additionally, be sure no kids or pets come near the mixture.
  2. Allow this mixture to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, start mixing the olive oil and coconut oil together in a large bowl that has enough room for the other ingredients. You will need to melt any oils that are solid before mixing them.
  4. Let the oil mixture and lye cool at the same temperature.
  5. When the lye has cooled, bring it back inside and pour it into the oil mixture. Mix them gently until the two mixtures are fully incorporated.
  6. Now to get an even mixture, you can use a hand blender. But be careful not to spray the mixture all over your kitchen and on your clothes. Do this until you hit tracepoint. This is where the mixture has thickened sufficiently.
  7. You can now mix in your herbs, natural scent (lavender essential oil), or spices.
  8. Pour this thick paste into the molds and cover with a blanket or towel for at least 24 hours. Covering helps the liquid to cool of slowly, forming an even texture.
  9. After the 24 hours, try to unmold the soap. If it feels sticky, let it sit for another 24 hours.
  10. Remove the soap from the molds and cut into bars. Allow the bar soaps to cure for four to six weeks, flipping them every week so they can cure evenly.
  11. As the bars of soap cure, they are still undergoing saponification, and will eventually harden up. If the soap is too soft, it won’t last when it comes into contact with water.

These soap making basics are simple to follow and even if you’re a beginner, you can create your homemade soap with ease. You can play around with the ingredients and interchange them depending on your preferences and needs. One thing that you need to watch out for is the way you handle lye.

When you add lye to water, it immediately becomes as hot as boiling water and if you’re not careful, it can cause a dangerous eruption. That’s why you should perform this step outside the house and away from kids.

On top of that, you need to have safety gloves, goggles, and keep your distance when pouring the lye into the water. Other top oils that you can use to make natural soap include sweet almond oil, castor oil, palm oil, citrus essential oils, and avocado oil. Making natural soap at home gives you space to be creative and incorporate interesting ingredients together.

All images by Pixabay

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