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My first batch of soap, ever, was a total disaster. I didn't measure anything correctly, mixed it in a five gallon Home Depot bucket, and didn't put any fragrance in because I thought I was still going to be able to smell the cocoa butter after it cured. I poured the thick, over-traced mess into PVC pipe with aluminum foil rubber banded to the bottom (big no no!) and thought it would be fine. The end was a hard as rock swiss cheese looking puck! Now, three years later, I have honed the skill. The picture in this article is of bars I made earlier this year, having learned how to properly use fragrance oils, micas, and piping tools.
To the point of this article, though, because the example of my failure is just the beginning. The point of making your own bars of soap is to treat your skin without torturing your wallet. Those bars in the picture? Cost about $1.25 per bar to make. Another bar I made was a thieves essential oil blend, and it cost only $2.20 to make a big 6 oz. bar with a sunrise design in the bar. If you go to craft shows, or Etsy, bars like this would be sold for $7.00 or more! These bars are amazing on your skin as well! It will leave your skin soft and you feeling so good. But you don't need to buy these big fancy bars if you don't want to. It takes a little bit of money to get the startup supplies, but when you think about the quality of the bars and the money it saves you, along with how good it is for you, its totally worth it.
If you want to make a basic bar, with lavender essential oil, here is a list of your supplies and a SUPER simple recipe with links to get everything you need for a basic bar of soap they you will love:
-Loaf mold with a silicone liner, this link has a few options.
-2 quart (64 oz) glass measuring bowl (pour spout preferable).
-16 oz. measuring cup (pour spout preferable)
-Rubber spatula. You can get them at thee dollar store, but if you want to get them online.
A few tips: never use aluminum bowl, soap making involves a chemical reaction that can be ruined when exposed to aluminum (hence part of my failed endeavor earlier in this article). ALWAYS WEAR GLOVES! Sodium Hydroxide (Lye) is needed is the soap process, and it can BURN, trust me. The safety glasses are important too, in case of a chemical splash. Safety is the #1 priority when making soap, and if you stay safe, making soap is easy! Now, onto the fun part...
33 oz. Lots of Lather Quick Mix (they've done all the measuring for you, making your life easier, and you don't have to buy and only partially use 6 different oils)
4.7 oz. Sodium Hydroxide Lye (handle the bottle carefully! and measure by weight on the scale, not by volume)
11 oz. distilled water, and please buy distilled, it prevents microbes and bacteria from growing in your soap and making it go rancid.
2.4 oz. Lavender 40/42 Essential Oil (this type of Lavender really sticks in cold process soap).
We have everything together, now lets get soaping!
- Safety first! Put on your safety glasses\goggles, and gloves. Make sure the gloves don't have any tears in them. Make sure you don't have kids or pets around, and your workspace is clean.
- Find a ventilated area, or turn on the vent above you stove. This is where you are going to mix you water and lye together in the 16 oz. glass measuring cup. Always add the lye into the water, and never the other way around. If you ass water to the lye, it could cause a volcanic effect, and we do not want that! The fumes are very dangerous, so adequate ventilation is necessary. You can also use a face mask to add extra protection. Don't directly breath in the fumes. Again, stay safe. Add the lye to the water and mix until the lye is fully dissolved. Careful, as the lye/water mixture will be hot.
- Use your infrared thermometer as directed and measure the temperature of the lye/water mixture. Usually, it will be between 170 degrees and 185 degrees (give or take) depending on your climate. We want that mixture to be between 110 degrees and 120 degrees before we do anything with it.
- Pour the 33 oz. bag of quick mix into the two quart glass bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals until the oils are around 120 degrees. We want to make sure the oils, as well as the lye/water mixture are within 10 degrees of each other for the best results.
- When everything is to temperature, now is the time to combine everything! Prepare the immersion blender according to the manufacturers directions, using the blending attachment. Submerge into the bowl with the oil, and tap the blender on the bottom of the bowl to release any air bubbles caught (otherwise called "burping your blender").
- Now, carefully pour the lye/water mixture down the shaft of the immersion blender, avoiding making air bubbles. Once the oil, lye, and water are combined, its time to blend! se the immersion blender on the lowest setting, and pulse while mixing everything together. It should only be a minute or so before a "light trace" is achieved, and it the soap batter will coat the blender head when you bring it up from the bowl.
- At this time, add the Lavender, and mix it thoroughly.
- Once you have all the ingredients in the bowl, blended to perfection, add to the loaf mold. Tap it on the counter to release any air bubble in there and put it in a spot out of direct sunlight for about a week. it should be hard enough by then to take out of the mold and cut into slices. Once the soap is cut, let it cure for four-six weeks. The curing process brings the soap from a highly acidic pH, to a neutral pH. most of that reaction happens within the first few days, after that the water needs to evaporate and it will turn into a harder bar of soap. After four-six weeks, it is ready to use. Once you get the hang of it, you can experience with other fragrance oils, essential oils, colorants, additives, etc. Hopefully this will at least get you started.
Please remember, I am not liable for any accidents or injuries to you or others if you decide to make this soap recipe. You are free to do additional research and read the MSDS sheets for each of these chemicals and components to expand your knowledge on them. Remember, safety is the most important factor in this hobby. If you do not do this safely, you or someone else can be burned, injured, or have serious side effects when dealing with lye. Please store all of these ingredients out of direct sunlight and far away from where children, pets, and unknowing people can get to them. When you soap safe, it is a fun experience, and you will never go back to store bought soap ever again!