Today my daughter and my grandson came over to help me make soap. O.K. They came over to swim in the pool, but when they heard I was making soap they
reluctantly willingly were forced volunteered to help me.
If you’ve never made soap before let me tell you, it’s a very rewarding experience. It is a way to let those creative juices flow. You can make all kinds off different soap, different colors, different textures, different scents. Today we are making Rosemary-Lavender Soap. My herb garden is overflowing right now with both of those ingredients so I thought it would be the perfect way to use them. Just keep in mind that when you make soap you are working with Lye. Lye is a very dangerous substance so you need to take all the necessary precautions.
- Wear gloves
- Tie back long hair
- keep pets and small children out of your work area (my grandson was playing quietly in the next room)
- Make sure your area is well ventilated with a sink close by
- Give yourself plenty of time, at least 2 hours
Before you get started make sure to prepare your work area with everything you will need. You don’t want to stop when things start to heat up (literally).
Here is a list of soap making supplies that you will need:
- scale with a “tare” or “zero” button that measures to tenths of an ounce or grams
- large saucepan-do not use aluminum, it will cause a reaction with the lye
- digital instant read thermometer
- stick blender
- large glass pitcher
- glass or stainless steel bowls or measuring cups
- long handled spoons and rubber scrapers
- large bowl or dishpan filled with ice-water
- rubber gloves
- old heavy towel
- soap mold
- paper towels and vinegar for clean up
On to the fun part. Carefully measure out your oils and add them to your large saucepan.
Place over medium heat until melted. Remove from heat to cool. While your oils are cooling:
Measure out your Lye
Now carefully please, slowly add the Lye to the Water. Let me be perfectly clear here people….Never, Ever, Ever, I mean under any circumstances Ever add Water to Lye. Something really bad will happen. I’m not sure what. I’m thinking you might blow up your house. I haven’t tried it. I don’t want to know. Again, carefully stir the Water-Lye mixture. It’s going to get hot. Fast. Really hot. Stir until it is all dissolved.
Can you see the steam coming out of this pitcher? It. Is. HOT. Like I don’t know how many degrees hot. But HOT!
This next part is what takes the most time. Waiting. You wait until the oils and the water-lye solution are both at the 90-110 degree F range. To speed things up I place my lye solution into a large bowl filled with ice-water. You can stick the oils into the fridge but check them with the thermometer often.
Once both the lye solution and the oils are in the 90-110 range put them together in the sauce pan and stir with a long handled spoon until well combined. Blend with the stick blender, keeping it immersed at all times. The mixture will go from oily and transparent to creamy like pudding. That is exactly what you want. It’s called trace.
See how the mixture looks oily and kinda transparent. Keep mixing, It’s not quite there yet. You want that oily ring on top to disappear. It usually takes anywhere from 2-5 mins to reach trace.
Perfect nice and creamy like pudding. This is called trace.
If you are going to add anything to your soap now would be a good time. I used chopped rosemary and lavender essential oil. I mixed that all together with my stick blender but at this point I kept it shut off. You don’t want to over-mix and ruin all your hard work.
Almost looks good enough to eat!
Pour the mixture into your soap mold. I do not have a soap mold. I really, really want one bad. If my husband is reading this that’s a big hint right there. It would make me so happy!! Or you can use a cardboard box lined with plastic wrap like I have to. Sheesh. A small cardboard box, like a skinny shoebox would be great or you will end up with soap that is about 1/8″ thick. Travel size as I like to call them. Nobody told me the size of the box matters. I’m telling you. You can thank me later. Cover it with plastic wrap and then wrap it in an old towel to cure. Put it somewhere out of harms way. It will continue to get hot while it soapnifies (real word).
I sprinkled chopped Lavender on mine, just to make it extra pretty. Do you all see the cardboard box it’s in because I still don’t have a soap mold? Sad. Very sad indeed.
Now, the not so fun part is called the clean up. I fill my big saucepan that I used to melt the oils and mix everything in with really hot water and throw the rest of the stuff into it. I let it soak for awhile and then I give everything a good wash. You don’t need to use detergent because well, you just made soap. Here you can do one of two things… you can either put everything into your dishwasher for a good second washing, or you can do it by hand. If you wash it again by hand try adding a little vinegar to the water, it really helps. Then you want to wipe down your work area with a vinegar-dampened paper towel. Done.
In 24 hours you can unwrap the towel and take your soap out of the
stupid cardboard box mold and with any luck it will have hardened. Now you can just cut it into the size you want with a sharp knife. If you want to get all fancy you can bevel the edges with a vegetable peeler, or use a special wavy soap cutter, another necessary tool (that I don’t have)!!!! Argh!! But you still aren’t finished. You have to put them on a drying rack, or a cutting board, or whatever and let them cure for about 3-4 weeks. The soap gets harder the longer it ages (you don’t want gooey soap), so let it sit. Voila!! That’s it!! You just made your very own soap! Now that wasn’t so hard was it?
This is the recipe I use to make my soap. It is a cold process soap, although I’d say it gets pretty hot!!
- 9.4 ounces of Crisco
- 6 ounces of good quality olive oil
- 6 ounces of coconut oil (in the solid form)
- 8 ounces of Distilled Water – that’s important folks. It has to be distilled.
- 3 ounces of Lye
- .9 ounces of good essential or fragrance oil
Just a little note about Lye – The label should say “100% Lye” or “100% sodium hydroxide.” The brand I use is Rooto. It’s labeled “Crystals of Household 100% Lye Drain Opener” and I get it at a little True Value store in town. You may have a hard time finding it in your town. They don’t sell it everywhere because I guess you can use it to make drugs, or build bombs. If you can’t get it try a soapmaking website. This is serious stuff, you can tell by the skull and crossbones on the label!
Essential Oils and Fragrance Oils are two different things. Let me explain. Essential oils are natural and some people may be allergic to them or find them a bit too strong. Use them sparingly. I personally love them, have never had a problem with them, and use them for everything. They can be purchased through Young Living http://www.youngliving.com/en_US/. Just don’t be fooled by some of the oils you might find in a store because most of the time they aren’t natural. They may contain additives to make them smell nice. Fragrance oil is artificial and some people may still be allergic to them. If you are unsure your best bet would be to get your oils through a soapmaking website as well. Just make sure it’s used in cold- process soap.