Note - Before you begin you will need to decide on a soap recipe.(Check our soapmaking link below for free recipes.) I would suggest using one that includes Palm or Coconut oil. These two oils make for a hard bar of soap and have a fairly quick trace time. Also, it is recommended that you run whatever recipe you choose through a lye calculator like Soap-Calc or one of the free online ones. This way you can adjust the lye content to leave the desired amount of excess fat in your soap. A bar with a lot of excess fat (over 5%) will moisturize your skin better than one with less than 5% however the one with less than 5% will leave you feeling cleaner. A lot of this depends on your skin type.

Making Soap from Scratch

Step One - Prepare your molds. Molds can be anything from a greased pan to capped pvc pipes or candy molds. Set up your molds on a flat and level surface. Grease them with PAM. Make sure you have enough molds ready to accommodate all of your soap mix.

MOLDS : For molds you can use a wooden or cardboard box lined with saran wrap, candy molds or even a pvc pipe capped on one end. If you use a pvc pipe all you do is spray the inside with PAM, pour the solution into the pipe,let it set, and then uncap and push out the soap. You then can cut it into round pieces.

Step Two - Measure out your water and lye. Dissolve the correct amount of lye in cold water (Do not use an aluminum container. Use stainless steel, enamel coated steel or a heat resistant glass container like Pyrex). Do not pour water into the lye. Pour the lye slowly into the water a little at a time. Stir until dissolved and let cool. Your previously cold water will become very HOT in a matter of seconds after stirring in the lye Allow the lye/water solution to cool to around 110 degrees. At this point it will be clear.

Step Three - Measure, Mix and Melt Oils and fat and let cool gradually to around 110 degrees. If your oils are already in liquid form such as canola oil or corn oil simply heat them up to around 110 degrees. Make sure the pot that the oil is in is large enough to hold the oil and lye solution with enough room left over for stirring without splattering. If you wish you can use a separate container for mixing the oil and lye. In this case you would pour the warmed oil into this container prior to step 4.

Step Four - Pour the lye solution into the oil/fat in a thin, steady, stream with slow, even stirring. Be careful not to splatter the solution onto yourself or others. Continue stirring. Depending upon the type of oil you are using the solution will begin to thicken or trace in between 15 minutes to 3 hours. If you are using a slow trace recipe you may want to stir for a few minutes and then let the solution sit for 10-15 minutes and then repeat this process until a trace appears. (a trace is when you can take a spoonful of the soap solution and pour a stream across the top of the solution and have it leave a trace)

Step Five - When the solution begins to thicken you can add any essential oils or fragrances as well as any other additives that your recipe calls for. (i.e. Oatmeal,herbs etc..) Stir these ingredients into the soap mix thoroughly.

Step Six - Pour this mixture into your mold or molds. After you pour the solution into your mold you should cover it with a towel to keep the soap from cooling to fast. This will assist the soap in curing.

Step Seven - Let the soap harden for a day or two and then pop it out of the mold, cut it and let it age for about 3 weeks before using it.

TIP - You can purchase soap colorants from a soap supply company or you can use crayons that are made with stearic acid (most are). To use crayons melt a small piece and add it at the trace stage.

Click here for information on safely working with lye.
Click here for information on ingredients and tools you will need.
Click here for information on how to make soap from scratch.
Click here for information on making soap in a blender.
Click here for information on making liquid hand soap in a blender.
Click here for information on rebatching soap.
Click here for information on soapmaking oils and their properties.
Click here to Troubleshoot your soap problems.
Click here for other great soapmaking links !
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