How to Make Homemade Soap From Scratch

home made soapUsing soap on your face and body can leave your skin feeling bright, clean and also result in less blackheads and acne breakouts but most commercial soap is full of preservatives which will dry the skin possibly leaving scaly patches and irritation. However you can easily make your own soap from scratch using natural ingredients.

Extra virgin olive oil is rich in anti oxidants and skin nutrients. Coconut oil adds a bubbly lather and castor oil gives the soap its creaminess.

Making soap from scratch can be more than just a money saving hobby, it can be a profitable home industry by selling your handiwork to craft and other ethical retail outlets and, of course, on line. Before going commercial it makes good sense to start small, get the techniques right, sort out the equipment you are going to need and experiment with the perfumes, colors, shapes, lathering qualities and more that suits your personal tastes and other family members living under your roof.

There are four basic methods of soap making

The cold process


Using the cold process is the most popular and established method and allows for a large variety of solid and liquid soaps dependent on the recipe you use.

It is most important that you follow some basic rules of health and safety as you will be using ‘lye’ aka Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) that must be handled with care.

Lye can be purchased from specialist outlets or can be made at home relatively easily but it is a hazardous product.

Make sure that you carry out your soap making in a well ventilated area, wear protective clothing, facemask, safety goggles and chemically resistant gloves. Keep children away from the area and particularly the lye.

You will need a few inexpensive items of basic equipment. Two plastic jugs or pitchers, for measuring and weighing the ingredients, a weighing machine or scales, a thermometer, and a good kitchen whisk. Or alternatively you can buy a simple Soap Making Kit

Do not be tempted to use glass containers as the lye can corrode them and be sure to use a good sized jug for the water to cut the risk of splashing.

The first step is to weigh the quantities of lye and water your chosen recipe will need using a separate jug for each. Slowly add the lye to the water and stir.
Danger – never add water to the lye as it can suddenly boil up and over, throwing scalding steam into your face.
Using the whisk thoroughly mix the lye and water until all lumps and small particles are dissolved. You will notice that the mixture has become hot and must be left to cool, 40 -50 degrees centigrade (100-120 degrees F.) before adding oils or fats heated to about the same temperature.

Stir or whisk briskly for upwards of 15 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken, this is known as reaching trace.
This is the stage to add your fragrances, colorants etc. that gives your soap that personal hand made touch.

Pour into lined molds and cover. Leave for a day or two to set before removing and allow to cure for around 7-14 days.

The Cold Process

There are a multitude of recipes but try this simple one to get you started:

  • Lye               122.5 gms (4.3 oz.)
  • Water            280 gms   (10 oz.)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil       680 gms  (24 oz.)
  • Coconut Oil  185gms (6.5oz.)
  • Castor Oil        30 gms (1 oz.)

This will make around 1 kilo or 2 lbs of mild olive oil soft soap. This will give you a good base to start experimenting with other oils, perfumes, colors shapes, etc. to personalize your own soap products.

Hot Process Soap Making

Follow the procedure for the cold process but preheat your oven to 80 – 90 degrees C (180-190 degrees F.) when you begin.

When your mixture begins to trace pour into an ovenproof container and leave in the oven for approximately one hour, stirring every quarter of an hour. The aim is for the soap mixture to have a soft gel like consistency and be a little translucent. If this is not achieved continue in the oven for another 30-45 minutes.

Allow to cool down to around 70 degrees centigrade (160 degrees F.) before quickly but thoroughly blending in oils, colorings and fragrances.Pour into molds and allow to cool.

This process ‘cooks out’ the lye leaving a more fragrant soap as lye can negate certain fragrances.

Soap Rebatching

The purpose of rebatching is to add fragrances, oils etc. to ready made soap. You can use any soap, including your own cold process efforts to modify or enhance your product.

All you will need is a grater, a bowl, boiler bags, gloves and a pair of scissors.

First grate your soap into small shreds, place in a boil proof bag in the bowl and pour on boiling water, cover and wait 25 -30 minutes. The finer the soap shreds the quicker and easier it will be to melt.

Add your fragrances colorants and oils to the bag, shake well, replace in the bowl and pour on more boiling water.

Remove after about fifteen minutes or when the grated soap has fully melted, snip a corner of the bag with the scissors while holding with the gloves on, and squeeze out the molten soap into your lined molds.

Melt and Pour Process

This is basically the same as the soap rebatching process although soap making purists may argue the point. Scraps of soap can be saved and recycled and when melted can have more oils or perfumes added to suit your taste.

The point about soap making is that the processes are easy, you can give full rein to your creative talents, it is money saving and you get a better product for your money.

If you have some entrepreneurial flair you may also make a good selling product. Most people like the idea of ‘hand made’ products, and with nicely presented soaps on show in a house a little something special is added to its ambiance.

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Category: Facial Skin

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