Just like I promised, I am going to show you how I made my soap! Keep in mind, this was the first time I've ever made soap - so it was a bit crazy, but so much fun and FULLY worth it.
I realized as I was gathering my pictures that I didn't have as many as I wanted, but that's ok. You'll just have to imaginify.
So first off, you need your supplies. You need 100% Lye, oils, (I have used mainly coconut, olive and canola but a few other popular ones are palm and soy) a digital thermometer and scale, (the scale needs to be able to measure ounces or grams) a stick blender or hand mixer (the stick blender goes WAY faster but you can use a hand mixer as well) and some glass or stainless steel mixing bowls.
|Make sure you are buying 100% lye because something less than that won't work.|
I have everything labeled as "SOAP" and have it stored in a big scrapbooking bag under our kitchen table, just because lye is so caustic and dangerous. I think once you wash it off real well, you could use the equipment for other things, but I just don't want to risk it.
As far as safety, ABSOLUTE necessities are long armed gloves and eye protection glasses. The reason for this is that the lye can blind you if it gets into your eyes, and since you are holding the lye with your hands, you are much more likely to get lye splashed on your hands so you want to protect them! If lye gets on your skin and you don't take care of it, it will burn right into your flesh. You also should wear socks or some type of shoes that cover your feet (in case something drips), jeans and long sleeve shirt. Now, to be honest, I don't always wear a long sleeve shirt or socks/shoes or long pants, BUT I'm careful. But I ALWAYS wear the glasses and gloves and am super careful.
Ok, so the first thing you do is find a recipe. Its super important to follow a recipe or at least use a lye calculator so that the chemical reaction that happens between the lye and oil works correctly and the lye ends up dissolving or going away or something. I'm not sure what it does to the lye except that it makes it so that I can rub soap that once WAS dangerous to touch, all over my body and its fine.
So, find your recipe (I always make up my own recipe based on a lye calculator like this one.) Then measure out EXACTLY the amount of lye it calls for. Usually its something like 7.4 oz or 12.53 grams and so that's what you measure out. I measure my lye into a mason jar I have labeled "LYE," but you can use anything that the lye won't ruin (meaning use stainless steel or glass). Then you measure out the water according to the recipe - again EXACT measurements! Except, to be completely honest, I totally measured wrong and didn't throw my whole solution away and the soap has turned out just fine.. BUT, don't do that!!!!
I measure my water into a larger stainless steel mixing bowl. Then, pour your LYE INTO YOUR WATER. If you don't, the lye will EXPLODE and you'll probably have holes all over your face and be blind - not a pretty picture. The lye reacts with the water and it gets SUPER hot and really dangerous to breath, so do this outside or if you're inside, make sure you're in a well ventilated area and hold your breath. The mixture will be super cloudy at first, but when you mix it (with a heat resistant spatula or wooden spoon) it will turn to clear. Then, you can put it in your freezer or fridge if you want, or just let it sit and cool off, but you want to get it to somewhere in the range of 110 to 125 degrees F.
While that's cooling off, measure out your oils - EXACTLY. I do this in a big stainless steel pot. Once your oils are measured out, if there are any hard oils (like coconut oil) you need to melt them down to liquid state.
I usually measure out whatever hard oils I have, melt those and then pour them into the liquid oils so the temperature can cool off faster. Because - you need to wait for the oils to get to somewhere between 110 to 125 degrees to. So to be honest, I didn't follow this either, I just dumped the hot lye/water solution in with the hot oil solution....but i WOULDN'T recommend doing that on your own. Sometimes I just do things stupidly and think about how stupid it was afterwards....
So, ONCE YOUR LYE/WATER SOLUTION AND OIL SOLUTION ARE THE SAME TEMPERATURE, dump the lye solution into the oil solution and take out your mixer or hand blender. If using a hand blender, it will probably take anywhere from 5 minutes to 15 minutes to reach trace. With a hand mixer, it could take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. You choose what you want. Basically, you will start mixing the mixture until it reaches trace.
So, whats trace? Well - that's basically when the soap gets creamy to the point where if you dribble it on itself, the bit you dribbled will stay on top for a few seconds before disappearing - it leaves a trace.
When I did my soap, I kept beating it even after it reached trace. I just wanted to see what happened. So the picture to the right is actually a bit farther than trace, but I don't think its that big of a deal - but then again who knows?
What you're SUPPOSED to do when your soap reaches trace is pour it into your molds and let them harden for a couple days, then cut them into the right shapes you want and the sit and cure (or let the lye completely disappear so you don't burn your little body).
BUT.. what I did was kept blending, and then I turned the stove back on and started cooking it some more.I turned the stove back on because the coconut oil was getting super hard and there was no way I could pour it into molds, so I melted it back down again and kept stirring. The only problem was that the soap started overflowing and pouring all over my stove.
That was quite the mess to clean up - but because it was soap, everything was SUPER clean afterwards! Anyways, once I got my soap to a good liquid state again and stirred it up some more, I added in my color and scent. I poured half the soap into a heat resistant bowl and used a "Super Greens" mix (it has ground spinach, spirulina, kale, and a bunch of other herbs in it) for color and used tea tree essential oil as a scent. I literally just dumped both in until I felt like it was enough. For the second batch, I didn't use any color, and just used rose essential oil.
Once the color and scents were to my liking, I was ready to pour it into my molds. I just used cheap Dollar Tree Tupperware lined with tin foil and wax paper. I don't think I needed the tin foil, but I used it anyways. By this time, the coconut oil was hardening again, so I didnt' get a real smooth top like you see in homemade soaps. But - I didn't care because I wasn't selling it or trying to make it look super pretty - I was just trying to successfully make a bar of soap!
So, once I poured my soap into its mold, I just let it sit for about 3 hours. Sometimes you need to let it sit longer because the oils take longer to harden, but because I was using coconut oil, they hardened super fast. I just kept poking the top of the soap until it felt hard and cool. Then, I dumped out the soap, peeled off the wax paper, and cut each hunk of soap into squarish sections.
Then, I let it sit and "cure" for a good couple weeks. Although - my husband was so excited to try the soap that he grabbed some a couple nights later. I never heard any screams of pain as the lye ate into his skin, so I think the process worked and the lye was gone even by then! Which is great. We've now used about four of the soap bars I cut and I've given about four away, and we still have a TON left. I love that I know EXACTLY what's in my soap and that its super natural and it was really cheap. Eventually, I'd love to get to a point where I can make pretty soaps and gift them or even sell them for some extra income, but who knows. I'm still learning, and since I don't follow tutorials exactly like I should.. they may never turn out perfectly.
|The soap sitting on some bread racks, curing (in case anyone missed this picture from my last entry)|
My second soap project that I haven't followed the tutorial correctly is liquid soap. I think MAYBE I need to follow it exactly.. but not sure. Every recipe I've found says to use a crock pot and I just dont' want to give up a crockpot just for soap because one batch of liquid soap makes a TON of soap and I wouldn't be using the crockpot very often to make new batches. But - maybe I just need to give in.
|This was when the soap was still creamy and liquidy. After a few days, the soap lost its brownish color and became a opaque white, and then it hardened a bit.|
Basically, I just followed the exact same process but once the soap reached trace, I started mixing in water with my hand blender. It got to a super creamy state and so I dumped it into bottles because I thought it was done. About a week later, it was solid again. Not HARD solid, but solid enough it wasn't a liquid, it was kind of a mush. So, I've added more water and shake it up every day hoping the water will dissolve, but I might need to chuck this batch as well, sacrifice a crock pot and follow the REAL tutorial for liquid soap making.
Just so you know, coconut oil soap is SUPER sudsy, which I LOOOOOVE! Here is the bowl that I was mixing the soap in. I was just running water over it and TONS of suds popped up.
I let the bowl sit for about three hours before I came back to wash it and there were still a LOT of suds in it.
So.. anyways, that's my soap adventures. I have a TON more ideas of what I want to put into my soap next time.
Just a quick note... lyeless soap is a lie. (Hahaha! I just love saying that over and over and over!!) If you find a recipe that says you don't need lie to make the soap, its because you are melting down a bar of soap and adding things to it to make a new bar of soap. That original bar of soap had lye in it - but once the process is done and if done right, then the lye disappears or does whatever magic it does. But - if you follow a "lyeless" soap recipe, you need to buy the glycerine (usually) soap bars which will end up being more expensive than just making your own from scratch - but maybe not dealing with the lye is worth it to you to "make" your own soap bars. I just love the idea of literally making my own soap from scratch ingredients that would never be soap on their own.