People may want to make homemade soap from scratch to suit their personal preferences or so that they can give it away as a handcrafted gift.
This article looks at some different methods for making soap, the equipment and ingredients that people will need, and some sample recipes.
This can enable people to choose ingredients that suit their skin type or condition. People can also choose to add any colors or fragrances that suit their preferences.
There are several different methods for making soap. Some use a chemical called lye.
Lye, or sodium hydroxide, is a colorless or white substance with no odor that comes in the form of flakes, beads, or granules. Lye is a hazardous chemical, so people need to handle it with care.
Making soap from scratch can be dangerous if using lye, so people will need to take certain precautions. Beginners may want to try the melt-and-pour method, which uses an existing base.
Touching or inhaling lye
Saponification is the term for the reaction between lye and oil that turns the lye into soap. After saponification, there is no lye left in the soap, making it safe for use on the skin.
People can make lye soap using a cold or hot process.
According to the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild, the cold process relies on internal heat generated from combining lye and water. Lye, water, and oil come together over time to make soap.
The hot process uses an external heat source, such as a slow cooker, to combine the lye, water, and oils.
Making lye soap can be a good method for people wanting to make soap from scratch, as it allows people to choose their base oils. However, working with lye requires people to take extra safety precautions and carefully calculate their ingredients.
Another method is the melt-and-pour method. This may be more suitable for beginners or those wanting a simpler process.
The melt-and-pour method uses existing soap to make a new soap. People can use a saponified base, which means that the process of mixing water and oil to form soap has already taken place.
People can then melt down the existing soap and add any colors or fragrances they want. They can then pour the liquid into a mold of their choice, and it will harden into soap over time.
To make soap, people will need the following items. Some items will depend on which method the person will be using.
- safety goggles, to protect against lye and raw soap
- rubber gloves, to protect against lye and raw soap
- a paper mask, to prevent the inhalation of lye fumes
- kitchen or postage scales, to measure the ingredients in grams, ounces (oz), or pounds
- glass, plastic, or stainless steel containers for mixing, as lye reacts negatively with aluminum and tin
- rubber or wooden spatulas
- a mixing spoon
- a whisk
- a stainless steel pot, to melt the oil in
- a thermometer that is quick to read and accurate
- small measuring cups or spoons, for additives such as colors or fragrances
- paper towels or cloths, to clean up any spillages
- an apron, to protect clothing
- a stick blender, to help speed up the process
- a soap mold
- a slow cooker, for hot process lye soap
- a sharp kitchen knife or soap cutter
- pipettes, for adding colors or fragrances
- a well-ventilated space to work in
Ingredients for lye soap:
- an oil, such as coconut oil, palm kernel oil, castor oil, olive oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, or shea butter oil
- water, to mix with the lye to make a solution
- scents, such as essential oils or fragrance oils
- dyes, if a person wants to add color
Ingredients for melt-and-pour soap:
- base soap, to melt down and remold
- isopropyl alcohol in a spray bottle
- colors, fragrances, or any other additives of choice
The following recipe is from the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild.
- 10 oz of coconut oil
- 10 oz of palm oil
- 10 oz of apricot oil
- 3 oz of olive oil
- 5 oz of sodium hydroxide
- 11 oz of distilled water
- 2 oz of fragrance
- lye, using the lye calculator
- Put on the apron, safety goggles, gloves, and mask.
- Add the lye to the water and stir with a spatula. Never add water to lye.
- Set the lye and water mixture to the side to cool for a few hours.
- Heat any hard oils in a microwave in bursts of 30 seconds until melted.
- Combine the oils in a heat resistant bowl.
- Use a thermometer to check that the oil temperature is 176–203°F (80–95°C).
- Once the lye mixture cools to room temperature, gradually pour it into the oils, mixing with a stick blender.
- To check if the oils and lye are properly mixed, lift the stick blender up to drizzle the liquid on top of the mixture. This should leave a pattern.
- If a person wants to add any fragrances, they can do so at this point.
- Pour the soap mixture into the mold.
- Leave the mold in a dry place at room temperature, out of reach from children and pets.
- The soap will take about 24 hours to harden. Once the soap has set, remove it from the mold and slice it with a kitchen knife or soap cutter into bars of soap.
This is a starter recipe for a melt-and-pour soap. It comes from the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild.
- glycerin soap base
- 91% isopropyl alcohol in a spray bottle
- dyes for coloring
- Put on the apron, mask, safety goggles, and gloves.
- Cut the glycerin base into small squares.
- Place the squares into a microwave proof bowl and heat in 30-second bursts until melted.
- Spray the isopropyl alcohol on the mixture to remove any air bubbles.
- Add drops of dye to reach one’s desired intensity and mix well.
- Add one’s desired amount of fragrance and mix well.
- Spray the isopropyl alcohol on the mixture again to remove any air bubbles.
- Slowly pour the mixture into the soap mold to avoid creating air bubbles, and spray again with isopropyl alcohol to remove any air bubbles that do occur.
- If a person wants a two-tone soap, they can pour half of the mixture into the soap mold, wait until it sets, then pour half of another mixture on top.
- Once the soap has set, press in the center of the mold to release the soap.
People can make soap at home using either the lye or the melt-and-pour method.
Making one’s own soap at home can be beneficial for people with certain allergies, sensitivities, or other skin conditions. This is because they can choose exactly what goes into it.
If a person wants to use the lye method, they will need to take steps to ensure that they do not inhale it or allow it to come into contact with their skin. This can cause irritation or respiratory problems.