How to Make Soap from Scratch with Possum Hollow Farm Soaps

Reader Contribution by Erica Binns

The directions and tips in this blog post come from Fair presenter Robin

During the presentation, Robin made a batch of soap in only 20 minutes!

Oil Selection

Any “fat” may be used, however we have a multitude of wonderful oils
available today for the home soap-maker!

  • Castor
    Oil – promotes a product with “glide”
  • Coconut
    Oil – produces lather
  • Grape
    Seed Oil – natural skin-penetrating moisture
  • Olive
    Oil – cell regeneration properties
  • Palm
    kernel – lather booster and hardener
  • Palm Oil
    – lather booster and natural source of tocotrienol (vitamin E family)
  • Safflower
    Oil – moisturizing properties
  • Soybean
    Oil – holds skin’s moisture


  • Shea
    Butter – high vitamin & mineral content
  • Almond – high
    in essential fatty acids (natural waxes) and skin protecting
  • Avocado-
    highly moisturizing


  • Protective
  • Protective
  • No
    children or pets in the area
  • Label
    all ingredients when storing
  • Print
    out MSDS for all Ingredients

The Process

1. Select your oils according to your own research and preferences.

2. Select your liquid to add the lye to: milk (any animal milk will work,
however handling and temperatures differ), water, tea, etc.

3. Use a reliable lye calculator (see references below) to determine amount
of lye to reach saponification

4. Weigh all oils

5. Weigh lye – keep in a closed container until used, as it is caustic

6. Weigh liquids (water, tea, milk,
etc. place liquids in enameled or stainless container

7. Weigh all essential oils,
fragrance oils, botanicals and additives

8. Prepare molds (Wood, PVC pipe, cardboard box lined with wax paper –
anything except aluminum, soap will eat through it and make a mess)

9. Combine and heat oils on lowest heat necessary to melt any solid fats.

10. Place liquids (not oils) in SEPARATE stainless steel or enamelware pot.

11. SLOWLY pour lye over liquids. NEVER pour liquids over lye!

12. Check temperature of oil and lye often. The mixture should be no less
than 90 degrees and no more than 110 degrees when mixing.

13. Slowly pour oils into lye and liquid mixture. Both the oil and the lye mixture
should be the same temperature when combined.

14. Place the mixing bowl in an ice bath and blend mixture with a stick
blender until combined. Don’t use a traditional blender or KitchenAid-style

15. Add essential oils, fragrance oils and botanicals – one or more ounces
per 50 ounces of combined liquids works well.

16. Blend with stick blenders until it reaches a stage known as “trace” –
which looks and feels like thin pudding.

17. Pour into prepared mold. There is no need to grease the mold.

18. Put up your feet and enjoy a cup of tea! Cover the mold (or not – it’s
up to you) and allow to sit for at least 24 hours undisturbed before demolding
and cutting. After 24 hours, the lye is no longer caustic. If you’re cutting
the soap, don’t wait more than 48 hours for easiest cutting.

Want to use your soap right away? As long as it has been 24 hours or more,
feel free to use it right away!

If you plan to wrap your soap, let it cure for two weeks to allow the soap
to shrink. Don’t use plastic – it isn’t pretty, and you can’t smell your soap
through it!

First Aid tips

DO NOT SWALLOW LYE. If you or someone else does, immediately call 911 and
Poison Control.

If your skin is exposed to lye, wipe off the excess with a dry cloth and rinse
with water for 10 minutes.


The Chemistry Store: – a good
source for lye. They will also answer any questions you have about chemicals.

Mountain Sage:
– they have a fantastic lye calculator (see step 3).

Sweet Cakes:

Do you have questions about
soapmaking? Robin Bedford would be happy to take your questions at To find out what
kind of beautiful soaps you can make in your own kitchen, visit!