How to make soap

By Nancy Livingstone
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Homemade soaps are fun to make
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Soap making is a fun and rewarding experience for all ages

Soap making is not hard to do if you are armed with just a little bit of information. Soap is the result of combining fats with some sort of caustic agent such as lye using water as a catalyst. The entire process of soap making, from start to finish - including mixing, cooling and molding - takes two days. Since this entails the handling of caustic products (lye), it should be done by adults or under adult supervision.

Items you need to make soap:

  • 32 oz. water
  • 11.2 oz. lye
  • 3 lbs. lard
  • 1 lb. coconut oil
  • 1 lb. olive oil
  • 1.5 oz. fragrance
  • 1 oz. coloring dye (optional)
  • Accurate weighing scale
  • A stainless steel or enameled pot
  • 1 plastic container (preferably with lid)
  • Stick blender
  • Thermometer
  • Plastic or stainless steel spoon
  • Plastic molds
  • Goggles
  • Rubber gloves
  • Thick apron
Before you start:
  1. Gather all the ingredients required for making soap.
  2. Collect all the necessary equipments that you need.
  3. Collect the safety gear.
  4. Put on the apron and rubber gloves and wear the goggles. Remember, lye is dangerous and can cause severe burns.

How to make soap:
  1. Place a plastic container on the scale.
  2. Make sure you're wearing your safety glasses and then add water in the container and carefully mix in lye in 1:3 ratios. For example, for 11 ounces of lye use nearly 33 ounces of water to mix it. Remember to add lye to water and not vice versa. Be very cautious as lye emits a lot of heat and fumes when mixed with water. Therefore, mix the lye and water in an open place as the fumes can be dangerous when inhaled.
  3. Let the lye cool down. This will take around two to three hours. Ideally, prepare the lye mixture one day in advance and leave it at room temperature. Put it in a safe place—away from children and pets.
  4. Measure the lard and oils and pour them in a stainless steel or enameled container.
  5. Put the container on the stove and heat it slowly till the fats melt and form a uniform mixture.
  6. Stir gently and use the thermometer to check whether the mixture has reached the ideal temperature, which will be between 120 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Add the lye mixture to the fats carefully and slowly. Use a spoon to mix the solution while you are pouring lye.
  8. Stir the mixture well using a stick blender and spoon alternately for short spans. For example, if you have used blender for 1 minute, follow it with mixing with spoon for nearly the same time. Do not use the blender continually for longer duration.

Note that the texture of this mixture will start changing in about 5 minutes. It will become thicker and more opaque. This is soap in liquid form.

Measure out the fragrance and add it to this mixture and stir again with a spoon. Add 1 oz. coloring dye if you want to add some color to the bland soap mixture. Use the blender to mix the color uniformly

How to mold soap:
  1. Pour the mixture into the plastic molds immediately and let it cool down.
  2. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 24 hours. You will know that the mixture has condensed if its temperature has dropped down to the room temperature. It may be still a little warm to touch, which is fine.
  3. Remove the soap bars from the molds. They should pop right off, but you may need to twist the tray a little so that they may come off.
  4. If you're having difficulty removing the soap from the molds, put the molds with the soap mixture in the freezer for 2 to three hours. Take it out and use a blow dryer on the back side of the mold for a few seconds to dislodge the soap. This will make the soap come off instantly.

Homemade soap makes a great gift. Now that you know how to make soap, you can create themed soap for holidays, birthdays, or to match your bathroom décor. You can even take your craft skills to the next level and learn to make candles which would be an excellent adition to your self-made craft collection.

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