Here is a simple way to make your own soap at home…
First of all, what kit do you need?
Large pan for melting solid oils over a heat source
Your ingredients (an example soap is listed below)
A probe thermometer (if you can get two it can make things easier)
Scales for weighing your ingredients
Large mixing bowl
Large spoon to mix
Whisk or stick blender
Tray or soap mold and greaseproof paper
Get all your kit together and protect any surfaces you are working on as you are liable to spill oils and other ingredients that might stain or damage surfaces. Make sure you give yourself about 2 hours for your first batch.
You can do this later in the process if you like, and maybe for your first shot at soap making you may want to get all your kit together and weigh your ingredients… But if you are confident you can start by slowly pouring your sodium hydroxide in to your water, stir well until it is evenly mixed. Make sure to use a heat proof container, wear goggle and gloves, and work in a well ventilated area as sodium hydroxide is dangerous. The mix can get up to 80 degrees C so it will take a while to cool down. You want it to be 40 C or less before you mix it later on so it is good to mix this now and leave it in a safe place for it to cool. If you have two probe thermometers then leave one in the sodium hydroxide water and monitor the temperature occasionally.
Weigh out all your ingredients. This will take a lot of the pressure off whilst you are working. If you are at a pivotal moment in the soap making, such as the ‘trace’ stage, and you are trying to measure your essential oils, you may make a mistake under the pressure.
Get your mould tray and line it with grease-proof paper.
Put all your solid oils in to the pan and heat very slowly. Try to keep the temperature between 35 and 37 degrees, making sure not to go above 40 degrees or the oils could be damaged.
Keep heating the solid oils till they are completely liquid and let them sit. They should hold their temperature if you do not stir them after they have melted. Use your probe to monitor the temperature. If the temperature goes above 40 degrees, just put the pan in a sink of cold water and keep stirring
All your liquid oils can be combined in a large mixing bowl and put to the side.
If you like you can pour your melted solid oils in to the mixing bowl with the liquid oils. Be careful as this can rapidly decrease the temperature, so you may need to apply a bit more heat to keep them above 35 C. If it drops too much, heat some water and place in a container under the mixing bowl. Allow the residual heat to keep the mix warm.
When the lye mix has dropped to 40 C or less you can slowly add it to your oil, mixing thoroughly. The mix will go a cloudy colour and should thicken a bit right away.
Mix really well. In the past people mixing by hand may have been there for hours trying to get their soap to thicken to reach the ‘trace’ stage.
You can use an electric whisk on a slow setting, making sure not to create bubbles. Even with this you may find it takes over an hour to reach trace stage. So you can use a stick blender and give the mix pulses. Then you may rech trace in 20 minutes.
Trace stage is reached when you can drip a bit of the mix in to th bowl from your spoon and before sinking in it will breifly stay on the surface. The more you continue after now, the thicker your mix will get. You will start at light trace when the mix is like thick cream, then medium trace, and then heavy trace when the mix is more like butter.
The trace stage is integral and you must now quickly add your oils so they are mixed well throughout and hold their scent. Also add your preservative agent (usually citric acid) and any soild ingredients you may like such as coffee granules or tea leaves.
Pour the mixture into your molds making sure it is level.
Cover the molds with some cardboard to insulate them, you do not want them getting too cold.
Leave your soap a day or two to harden.
Once the soap is hard enough you can cut it to the sizes you want, unless you have used individual molds already.
Leave the soap somewhere warm and with good air circulation (not in a cupboard for example) and let it cure for a month. Before this time the soap could still be slightly caustic.
Brush off any white residue that may have built up and enjoy your soap
Ingredients for this soap
100g sodium hydroxide
200g coconut oil
230g palm oil
200g olive oil
50g hemp seed oil
10 drops grapefruit extract (preservative)
25 drops tea tree essential oil
75 drops mint,citronella, tea tree mixed essential oil
1 tea bag of black tea (for speckled effect)