What is Soap?• Well, the Definition is:– a: a cleansing and emulsifying agent made usually by actionof alkali on fat or fatty acids and consisting essentially ofsodium or potassium salts of such acids– b: a salt of a fatty acid and a metalWhat this really means is: a cleansing agent that you create with achemical reaction between Fatty Acids (Oils) and Salts (Lye). Thisreaction creates beautiful gentle and all around fabulous soap!
Why make or use handmade soap?I am so glad that you asked!Making soap is practical, as it is somethingyou can use, give to family and friends or youcould choose to sell it.• Soapmaking also allows you to use yourcreative side. Your creative choices areendless. Colors, fragrances, essential oils,dried herbs, herbal oils, clays and muchmore.
Benefits of using handmade soap?• You are using soap that was made I your localarea.• It is gentle and moisturizing on your skin.• Contains No chemicals or preservatives.• Made with natural oils.• Cleanses your skin without stripping awayyour skin’s natural oils.• Fun to use!
Safety• When making soap you always want to take extraprecautions to be safe.• You will be using LYE (Sodium Hydroxide) so youneed to make sure there are no children or pets inyour working area.• You should work in a clean area free of filth anddebris.• The utensils you use should be also be cleanedwith soap and water.
Lye Safety.• Always work in a well ventilated area as not to inhale theLye fumes.• Wear close toed shoes and clothes that cover your legs.When measuring, pouring and stirring your lye, long sleeveshirts are preferable.• Treat Lye with Respect. Always handle it carefully and withpurpose.• Always wear your protective gear when using Lye.• Keep extra water on hand in the event of a spill.• Always slowly pour lye into cold water. NEVER pour waterinto lye, it may cause an explosion.• Always keep your dry lye in a tightly sealed containerlabeled Danger Lye.
Soap Making Terms.Saponification: Saponification is the term used to describe the chemicalreaction that occurs when lye is mixed with oils. It is the actual creating of soap.Alkali: Is a caustic salt that is used to create a chemical reaction. In ouruse it is our lye.Trace: Trace occurs when the oils you are mixing together with your lyewater start to thicken up and become creamy and harder to stir.Gel: This occurs after the raw soap is poured into the mold. After pouringthe soap the chemical reaction continues for about 18 hours. During thistime the soap becomes very hot and the soap will look translucent, this isgel!Cure: Curing is the time period that we leave our soap out to “dry” andbecome mild. This will be approximately 4 weeks.Superfat: Is a standard soap making technique. It is the introduction ofadditional oils in to your recipe. The benefit of this is that you will have oilthat has not been saponified. This extra oil helps keep your skin moisturizedand your bar of soap gentle.
Choosing your ingredients.You will want to choose ingredients that:• Are easily accessible to you.• Locally grown oils and herbs• Affordable• Offer something to your recipe• Lather, Moisture, Conditioning etc.• You should choose fragrances that appeal to you.• If you are adding dried herbs or clay’s, theyshould be interesting to you.• Color, smell, texture, etc.
Common Soap Making Oils• Castor Oil – Used in small amounts Castor Oil provides lotsof big fluffy bubbles with stable lather and a bit ofmoisturizing properties as well. I always use it at 3% of my oilbase. If you use too much you may find there are not as manybubbles and it will make your soap a bit softer and sometimessticky to touch.• Cocoa Butter – Adds conditioning properties with acreamy stable lather while making a hard bar of soap. It isalso used to help keep your skin supple and moisturized.• Coconut Oil – Offers superb cleansing properties, lots of bigfluffy bubbles and makes a harder bar of soap.• Olive Oil – Is a very mild and gentle and provides extramoisturizing in soap. It’s a great addition to baby soaps orsoaps for people that have sensitive skin and allergies.
Common Soap Making Oils Continued.• Palm Oil – Contributes to a longer lasting hard bar of soap whileproviding a creamy lather.• Shea Butter – I love Shea Butter in soap. It makes your soapmoisturizing and conditioning to your skin while providing a hard bar ofsoap with a nice creamy lather.• Soybean Oil – Provides a creamy stable lather while conditioningyour skin.• Sunflower Oil – It is rich in vitamin e, conditioning on your skin,mild and has a nice creamy lather. It is a very light oil and will makeyour bar of soap soft if you use too much of it.
When making a recipe you should create a balanceof hard oils/ butters and soft oils. As an example:Coconut Oil (Hard) 30% - Cleansing & fluffy bubblesCocoa Butter (Hard)10% - Hard bar & conditioningSoybean Oil (Soft) 15% - Conditioning withstable latherShea Butter (Hard) 30% - Moisturizing,conditioning, creamy lather & hard bar.Sunflower Oil (Soft) 15% - High in Vitamin e, creamylather and conditioning.This recipe will give you a pretty hard bar of soapthat is cleansing and has really nice creamy latherwhile being moisturizing to your skin.
I recommend always trying to create a balancebetween each oil or butter and what it will bring toyour bar of soap.If the oil really does not add any benefits to therecipe, you should not use it.If you want to make a gentle bar of soap you wouldpick mild moisturizing ingredients.The perfect bar of soap will be a balance of scienceand careful planning of your oils and butters.
While creating your recipe you should take intoconsideration the shelf life of your ingredients. If an oiltends to go rancid quickly you should avoid that oil oruse it in small amounts up to 5%. I recommend using.25% - .50% of vitamin e oil to help keep the free oils inyour soap from going rancid. If you do not have accessto vitamin e I would recommend adding oils that arehigh in vitamin e naturally. Approximately 5-10%Almond OilAvocado OilNeem OilSunflower OilShea Butter
Making Recipes• Choose your ingredients.• Decide how much of each oil/ butter you will use based onwhat you would like the properties of your soap to be. Yourtotal oil percentages should add up to 100%.• Calculate how the volume of soap you need to fit in yourselected mold. You will multiply the length by the height bythe width of the mold and take that number (maximumvolume) and multiply it by 40% to calculate the oil amountyou need to fit the mold. Our example will be a soap moldthat is 12 in Long X 2.5 in High X 3 in wide.We multiply the dimensions 12 X 2.5 X 3 = 90Then we multiply 90 X .40 = 36 oz36 oz is the amount of oil you will need tomake your soap.
Our Soap Recipe:Cocoa Butter 10% * Coconut Oil 30% * Shea Butter 30% *Soybean Oil 15% * Sunflower Oil 15%• We need 36 ounces of oil (1020 grams) to fillour mold.We are now going to figure out the wateramount that we need. A safe and easy way tofigure out your water is to use 38% of your oils.36 oz, 1020gr X .38 (38%) = 13.7 oz (387.60)ounces of Water.Lets break down our oils amounts and figure outhow much Lye we need. Let’s calculate that……..
36 ounces = 1020gr total oils.To figure out how much we need of each oil weshould take the total amount of oils, 36 ounces,and multiply by the percentage of eachindividual oil in the recipe. See below.Cocoa Butter 10% ~ 1020 gr x .10 = 102.grCoconut Oil 30% ~ 1020 gr x .30 = 306grShea Butter 30% ~ 1020 gr x .30 = 306grSoybean Oil 15% ~ 1020 gr x .15 = 153 grSunflower Oil 15% ~ 1020 gr x .15 = 153 grTotal Oils 1020 gr
Cocoa Butter 102 grCoconut Oil 306 grShea Butter 306 grSoybean Oil 153 grSunflower Oil 153 grTotal Oils 1020 gramsNow that we know our oil amounts we cancalculate our lye needed to saponify the oils.Oils in the amounts needed forour soap recipe as we previously calculated.
Lye CalculationsLyeIngredient Weight X SAP NeededCocoa Butter 102 gr 0.138 14.10grCoconut Oil 306 gr 0.183 56 grShea Butter 306 gr 0.128 39.2 grSoybean Oil 153 gr 0.136 20.8 grSunflower Oil 153 gr 0.135 20.6 grTotal Oils 1020 gr 150.7 grTo calculate the lye needed we will take the amount of oil in therecipe and multiply it by the SAP (Saponification Value) to determinethe amount of lye we need. See below.
Total Recipe, Congratulations! You havemade it this far!Ingredient WeightCocoa Butter 102 grCoconut Oil 306 grShea Butter 306 grSoybean Oil 153 grSunflower Oil 153 grTotal Oils 1020Water Needed 388. grLye Needed 150.7 gr
Superfatting. To superfat or not?Superfatting your soap is a very personal choice. Tosuperfat you would incorporate additional oil to yoursoap recipe. This additional oil will not actually getsaponified it will stay free floating within the soap.This gives your soap a more moisturizing and gentlebar. It also will give you a buffer in the event that youmeasured your lye incorrectly. The suggested rate ofsuperfatying would be 2.5-5%. You must keep in mindthe climate you live in. If you live in a hot humidclimate, I would suggest 2.5 – 3%. This will give yousome extra moisturizing properties but won’t makeyou soap sticky in the hot humid air.
Final Soap Recipe Including Superfatting.If we choose to superfat 3% we will take the amount ofoils 1020 gr and multiply it by 3%. That would give is30.6 gr of extra oil. I would choose the extra oil to besunflower oil as it is high in vitamin e.Water Needed 388 grLye Needed 5.29 ozExtra Oil-Sunflower 10.20grIngredient WeightCocoa Butter 102 grCoconut Oil 306 grShea Butter 306 grSoybean Oil 153 grSunflower Oil 153 grTotal Oils 1020
Make sure that your utensils andmolds are clean and free of debris.Make sure your work space is alsoclean.
Gather your supplies.Make sure you have everything you will need beforeyou get started. It makes soaping easier, I promise!– Recipe– Ingredients– Apron– Gloves– Eye Protection– Face Mask/ Respirator– Scale– Molds– Wax paper or other mold liner– Spatula– Stainless steel pots– Wire Wisk– Spoons for scooping– Bowls Stainless or Glass for measuring
Mold choicesThere are many different options that you couldchoose.– Wooden Mold, pre-made or you can make yourown.– Heavy Duty Plastic ex. HDPE– Silicone loaf pans, square pans or assorted sizes.– Individual plastic molds similar to candy molds.– Cardboard boxes, which I have used many times.– PVC pipes
Get your safety gear on! Face Mask.
Face MaskApronGlovesWe areready toSoap.
Next you should measure out your water & Lye separately.Use caution when weighing your lye. The little beads/ flakestend to move around when your pouring.
Measuring my cold water.
Slowly and carefully pour yourmeasured lye into your measuredwater. NEVER pour your water intothe lye it will cause an explosion.While slowly pouring your lye intothe water whisk the lye water sothat the lye dissolves. Be careful asthe lye water becomes very hot,very fast and produces toxic fumesfor a few moments. If you areasthmatic please use extra cautionas it can exacerbate asthma.You should never handle Lye without being properly covered!
I personally take my lye and wateroutside to mix them together. Itkeeps the fumes out of my house.Each person does somethingdifferent and you will do what workscomfortably for you. Please makesure where ever you choose it iswell ventilated and safe. Meaningthere are no pets, children orunsuspecting people that may comealong and get hurt with your lyewater.
Prepare your mold. This mold is a High Density Plastic that Iuse for trial batches. I line it with freezer paper or wax paperso that the fresh soap does not leak out the sides. You couldalso use Mylar sheets cut to fit the mold.
Next we will begin weighing our ingredients. Notice I have now removed myface mask and have chosen different gloves. Being that I am not using the lyewater I can safely remove my face mask. You should continue to wear glovesto keep your ingredients free of germs and other contaminants that you maybe carrying on your hands. I would also suggest pulling back your hair.
Weigh each ingredient separately and then add to your stainless steel pot. Use caution whenweighing as not to cross contaminate any of your ingredients. Always use clean utensils for eachindividual ingredient. Ex. Do not use the spoon that you scooped out the shea butter with tothen scoop out your coconut oil. That is cross contamination!!!
Weighingaccurately is veryimportant for theintegrity of thesoap. You shouldalways be as exactas possible.
Humor is, well……… fun. You have tolove what you do.
Start melting all of your hard oils. Isuggest using a low heat.Shea ButterCocoa ButterCoconut Oil
Then measure out your liquid oils.
Add your liquid oils to your melting solid oils.
All the oils in the pot, melting.
Melted oils. After they are melted remove them from the heat.Put the pot somewhere safe so that you can mix in the lye water. Isuggest a sink so that if you need water immediately you havequick access to it. I typically use a stick blender to mix my soaptogether but a wire wisk works really well also.
Slowly and carefully pour your lye water into your melted oils. I typically pour the lyewater away from me in the event of an accidental spill or splash. You should always bevery careful and cautious when working with lye.I am not doing that here because I needed a picture.
You can see as you pour the lye water into the oils itstarts to coagulate. Once the lye water hits the oil itimmediately starts the chemical reaction of turning oilto soap. Saponification is starting.
I am gently pulsing the stick blender tothoroughly mix the lye water and oils together.
It is getting thicker.
Soap has come to a medium trace. If you were going toadd fragrances, herbs or coloring you would add themat a light to medium trace which is right here.
Medium trace looks thick. Which youcan see on the end of my stick blender.
You can tell that you have reached trace several different ways but in this picture youcan see that when I picked up my spatula the raw soap that fell into the pot left a trailin the soap. This is a classic trace sign. The soap is also clinging to the sides of thesoap pot almost like a pudding.Trace
Once you have added any additional items such asfragrance, essential oils, clays, herbs, therapeutic oils orcolors you should promptly pour your soap into yourprepared mold. If you wait too long to pour the soapcan it can set up (get thick and become hard) right inyour pot and then it is difficult to transfer to your mold.Your mold should be lined and close by so that you canwork quickly with your raw soap. You should absolutelybe wearing your cloves and eye protection while mixingthe lye water to the oils, stirring and pouring the soapinto the mold.
Gloves & Apron
Beautiful, don’t you think? I always use a clean spatulato scrape down the sides of my pot to get every lastpiece of soapy goodness
Now that you have your soap poured into yourmold you need to put it in a safe place where itwill be untouched and not knocked over for 24hours. In the next 24 hours your soap will gothrough several stages and they have differentnames for these stages. Essentially the lyereacts with the oils and converts the oils intosoap.
During this process of transformation the soapwill get really hot (the gel phase) so please donot touch it. Then it will start to cool down andset up (get hard). Some people choose to covertheir soap (in the mold) with an old blanket ortowel to keep the heat in the mold and help thesaponification move along quicker. There hasbeen no real evidence that covering your soapmakes it saponify quicker or better.I personally do not cover my soap. I have madesoap both ways and have found no benefit tocovering it. I also like things to be simple!
After 24 Hours.Now that your soap has rested/set for 24 hours youshould look at it. Put on a pair of gloves and gentlytouch the top to see if it is hard. If it is you can takeit out of the mold. If it is not you should let it sitanother 8-12 hours and then recheck it andproceed. After you have unmolded your soap youshould look at it and make sure it looks good. Itshould have a relatively uniform look with nothingoozing out if it. If it looks good then you should cutit into bars.
Here is the loaf of soap. How does it look?It looks uniform in color, consistency, thereare not weird spots or anything leakingout. Should we cut it? Yes we should.
I make soap in 30 lb batches (88 - 4.5 oz bars) in a largeblock mold. This is what they look like out side of themold. The next few slide is me cutting it up.
Getting my gridcutter into place.
The block isall cut, now Imust cut theminto bars.
Cocoa Butter Soap with swirlsof cocoa powder.
The soap is sobeautiful!
Curing PeriodAfter you have cut the loaves into bars you shouldplace them on a shelf or rack to cure for 3 to 4 weeks.The bars should be separated and have space betweenthem. They need air to cure and dry out. In this 3 to 4week cure period your soap will completely finish thesaponification process, any unused water that is left inthe soap will start to evaporate and the bar willbecome hard. This 3 -4 week time of curing is veryimportant and should not be skipped.
Notice the bars are not touching andare on a wire shelving unit.
This is a simple“cigar band” label. Goats milksoapwrappedin cheesecloth.Glasslinebag with aprintedribbon.Inside thesoap iswrapped ina papercigar band.
Problem Soaps. The followingexamples of soaps are real soapbatches & errors that I have made.Soaps that look suspicious shouldnever be used.
Here is an example of soap thatshould not be used. There arelye spots here. Lye spots canhappen for lots of reasons.Most likely reasons: Notstirring the lye into the waterwell, lye that has been exposedto moisture in the air so it isnot as active as it should be,not stirring well enough whenadding lye water to the oils.Lye Spots.
This soap is made with raw milk, maple syrup and oatmeal. Thissoap looks mottled and uneven in color and texture. It shouldnot be used. What happened here is the raw milk that I usedsaponified at a different rate than the oils. These are things tolook for in your soap when determining if it is safe to use.
Here is a picture of the samemilk soap but a differentbatch. This batch had toomuch sugar (maple syrup) itin and as you can see it allsettled to the bottom of thesoap. The Lye was not able tosaponify the soap correctly sowhen I opened it up, liquidgushed out and I saw holes inthe block. This soap wassafely discarded! It is veryunfortunate when you haveto discard soap.
Soap Making BooksEssential Soap Makingby Alyssa Middleton & Mary HumphreyThe Everything Soap Making Bookby Alicia GrossoSoap Naturallyby Patrizia Garzena & Marina TadielloThe Soap Makers Companionby Susan Miller Cavitch
Trade OrganizationsThese are 2 Organizations that are based in the United Stateshowever their reach is worldwide and I would highly recommendthat you spend some time on their websites.Indie Beauty Network www.indiebusinessnetwork.netHandcrafted Soapmakers Guild www.soapguild.org