Soap Making for the Beginner, Part II


| 3/2/2012 9:56:37 AM


Tags: soap, diy, Sarah Hart Boone, homestead crafts, herbs, Sarah Hart Boone,

Last week you gathered your materials and supplies. This week you can finally make your soap!

First, I’d like to remind you about safety. This is a project that uses a very dangerous material. Lye is sold in the drain cleaner department with lots of other nasty chemicals because it heats up to a very high temperature when it gets wet and literally burns through the stuff clogging your pipes.  You do not want to get it on your body or in your mouth or eyes.  You should plan on wearing gloves and eye protection when you are around the lye and make sure it is not anywhere where a child or pet can get near it.  Store the unused lye in a safe spot with other dangerous household chemicals.  You will only be using a few tablespoons of lye for this recipe. While caution needs to be exercised you will not have a giant cauldron of boiling lye to work with.  This is another reason why this is a good batch for the beginner. 

Step 1 

Measure the oils. Use a small lightweight bowl to measure each oil and add it to the cooking pot. (This should be a no-stick or stainless steel pot.) Measure and pour each oil separately.  If you are not sure how high your scale goes, divide the olive oil into two.  Each time you put the empty bowl on the scale make sure to clear the scale so that it starts at zero before you add anything. Wipe the bowl clean between oils. Measure 13 ounces of corn oil, 23 ounces of olive oil, and 2 sticks of cocoa butter (2 ounces total.) Slice up the cocoa butter first for quicker melting. Put the pan containing the oil on the stove to wait for the next step.

Step 2lye 

Following the safety guidelines, take one empty glass jar and put it on the scale and carefully weigh out 4.8 ounces of lye. You should have newspaper under the scale that you can gather up and throw away when you are done, in case any grains pop out of the jar. In another glass jar pour in 12 liquid ounces of water. Let the water sit until it is room temperature. When it is ready, pour the lye into the water and stir it in using a rubber spatula. Never pour the water into the lye. The lye goes into the water. Protect yourself from the fumes. This is the most dangerous part of the soap making process, when the lye water will quickly heat up to a very high temperature. Stir until the lye is dissolved and plan to revisit the lye water periodically to make sure everything is dissolved. Put it somewhere safe to cool down. If lye gets on you, quickly wash it off. It will sting slightly if it gets on your skin but can blind you if it gets in your eyes.


grant oakes
3/22/2012 3:03:28 PM

It was a commercial soap, Dove for sensitive skin. That is why I am trying to get away from it but any natural soap I have tried it so harsh on my skin. The last one I tested was about 8 to 8.5 PH. so that is why I would like to try and make something with a lower PH. I do a lot of traveling on a motorcycle so a bar soap that I could use for everything would be nice.


kathleen turpen
3/21/2012 4:57:05 PM

Grant, it is hard to control the PH in the end, but there is a term that is bandied about called Superfatting. I believe it wil help control the PH-- but what I wonder about is that ph7 you are asking about, is that from commercial soap? If so, then homemade will be better and not as harsh. If you want more control, then do a couple of these kind of recipes, and start looking into making liquid soaps.


grant oakes
3/21/2012 4:28:03 PM

How is the PH of the final product controlled? I seem to need a soap with a PH of 7 or it is irritating to my skin.


terri sue borden
3/21/2012 2:26:23 PM

i agree that soap making is quite satisfying and rewarding. being a vegetarian though i would never make this recipe since it uses lard. i tend toward making castile soaps which have the same qualities sarah expounded on at the end of the first article of this series. after finding out how much fun soap making was i went on to cheese making!




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