Making your own soap at home is easy, frugal, creative, and fulfilling. The process can be as easy or as complicated as you’d like, and is the only guaranteed way you can control what ingredients go into your soap, onto your skin, and into your body. Whether you’re looking for a more natural alternative to chemical-heavy commercial soap or are just a crafty person interested in a new creative adventure, making soap is a fun alternative to bar soap or liquid body wash.
The best thing about making your own soap is that you can not only control the scent, but the severity of scent as well. Whether you prefer a slight hint of rose or a strong serving of lavender in your soap, you can easily create it in your homemade soap with a bit of trial-and-error experimentation. As far as ingredients go, most can be found in your kitchen pantry:
- 24 ounces of coconut oil
- 38 ounces of vegetable shortening
- 24 ounces of olive oil
- 12 ounce sodium hydroxide, or lye
- 32 ounces spring or distilled water
- 4 ounces of your favorite essential oil, such as peppermint, lemon, rose, or lavender
- Wooden or heat-resistant spoon
- Two-cup measuring cup
- Stainless steel pot or glass bowl
- Kitchen scale
- Soap mold, shoebox, or wooden box
Although the recipe calls for 4 ounces of essential oil, you can increase or decrease the amount depending on your preferences. It’s recommended that first-time soap makers follow the above recipe one time before experimenting with the severity of scents.
Note: if you’ve never used lye before, read the safety warnings that are on the back of the box. Remember to wear safety goggles at all time when handling lye and raw soap, and never let lye touch your bare skin.
Mix the Ingredients
Measure 12 ounces of lye, and pour the lye into a two-cup measuring cup. Measure 32 ounces of cold water, and pour the water into a large, non-aluminum container, such as a stainless steel pot or glass bowl. Add the lye to the water, stirring gently with a spoon until the lye is completely dissolved. Be sure to open the windows or turn on your stove’s exhaust fan, as the fumes can be overwhelming. Set the mixture aside, allowing it to cool.
While the lye and water mixture is cooling off, measure the oils: use a scale to weigh out 24 ounces of coconut oil, 38 ounces of vegetable shortening, and 24 ounces of olive oil. Combine the oils into a large stainless steel pot on the stove on low-medium heat. Once the oils are combined and dissolved, remove the pot from the heat.
Once the lye reaches 95-98 degrees Fahrenheit and the oils are the same or a lower temperature, add the lye in a slow, steady stream into the oils. Mix for about 15 minutes, or until your spoon leaves a visible trace behind it. Add 4 ounces of essential oil, mix, and pour the soap into your mold.
Pour & Cure the Soap
If you don’t own a soap mold, you can use a soapbox – just make sure it’s lined with parchment paper. Leave the soap covered, undisturbed, and out of air drafts for 24 hours. After 24 hours, uncover the soap and let it sit for another 12 hours. If you measured and mixed accurately, the soap may have a light layer of white ash-like substance on top. This is harmless and can be scraped away. If the soap has a deep oily film on top or has white or clear pockets in it, it cannot be used and should be discarded.
Once the soap-making process is complete, remove the soap from its casing and cut the soap into bars. Set the soap on top of parchment paper on a flat surface for two weeks to allow the soap to fully dry. Turn the soap over after two weeks to let it dry on the other side. Once the soap has been ‘cured’ for one month, use it in your home the way you would any store-bought soap or wrap it as a homemade present for your friends.