Many people enjoy soap making as a hobby. However, commercial soap products contain synthetic chemicals, fragrances, and products that many people have allergic reactions to. Also, most commercially made soaps contain Tallow--an animal product. This makes purchasing soap very difficult for people who elect not to use animal products as well as people who have sensitive skin that is easily irritated. Making your own soap can be fun, while at the same time allowing you to have an organic vegan soap product that is free of chemicals, toxins, and animal products.
Things you'll need to get started:
1.) 1 pair of heavy duty elbow length rubber gloves
2.) 1 pair of safety goggles
3.) 2 1/2 gallon plastic pouring containers
4.) 2 large plastic spoons
5.) 1 candy thermometer
6.) 1 Food Scale
7.) Roll of plastic wrap
8.) 1 Stainless steel (at least 15 quarts) pot
9.) 2 Yards of acrylic (an old drapery will do just fine)
10.) 1 plastic shoebox lined with plastic wrap
11.) 2 tablespoons of dried herbs
12.) 12 oz. of distilled water
13.) 1 oz. of Pure Cocoa Butter
14.) 4 oz. of Sodium Hydroxide (LYE)
15.) 7 oz. bottle of Pure Olive Oil
16.) 7oz. Pure White Coconut Oil
17.) 16 oz. of Pure Vegetable Shortening
18.) Wire cooling rack
You can purchase the oils at a health foods store or an organic grocery store. It is important that all of the products be labeled as "organic." You must all check the labels closely, especially with the Shortening--to be sure that you purchase a brand that contains no animal products.
First, take the plastic shoebox and line the entire box with plastic wrap. You can set the box on the counter top, on top of the old drapery. The box will be your mold for the soap, which you will later cut into small bars. Second, place the oils in the stainless steel pot and turn the heat on low. Put the candy thermometer into the pot and watch to be sure that the temperature does not exceed 120F. Melt the oils to a thick liquid. Remove from the stove, set-aside (still in the pot) and let cool to 100f.
Next, measure the distilled water into one of the plastic pouring pitchers, and set aside. Put on your elbow length gloves and safety glasses. Weigh the remaining plastic pitcher, and then add the 4 oz. of Lye to the pitcher (weighing the pitcher first helps to ensure that you get the weight of the Lye correct). Be very careful when working with Lye. Lye is a naturally occurring substance, but it can cause burns if spilled onto the skin. If you do spill it on your skin, rinse with plenty of vinegar. Pour the lye into the plastic pitcher with the distilled water, and stir with one of the plastic spoons until the lye is dissolved. Stir no more than 10 minutes. You can then set the pitcher of Lye and water aside and put the candy thermometer inside. Let it cool to 100F. This should take about an hour.
Once the Lye mixture is cooled, mix it into the stainless steel pot of melted oils. Slowly stir with a plastic spoon. Pour the Lye mixture into the pot of oils. Pour slowly and stir. Stir for at least 15 minutes, and then set aside. Stir once every 5-10minutes for the next half-hour. You will notice the mixture begin to thicken. As the mixture increases in thickness, you may add your dried herbs. Any herb will do, and many people use Basil, Peppermint, or Lemon Grass for the aromatic scents.
As the mixture continues to thicken, you are ready to pour the mixture into the plastic shoebox. Pour the mixture slowly, and cover with plastic wrap. Next, wrap the old drapery around the entire shoebox, and set aside for 24 hours. It is best to put the shoebox in a well ventilated, safe area that is free from children and pets. Do not unwrap the shoebox, as you do not want the trapped heat to escape.
After 24 hours put on your rubber gloves and take the shoebox out of the drape. The shoebox may still be warm, so be careful. The soap should be solid; if it feels a bit soft, then it is not finished; re-wrap and set aside for another 8 hours. It the soap is solid, it is best to cut it right away. Remove the block of soap from shoebox. You will have a perfectly large square of soap. Simply cut into bars with a long, sharp kitchen knife. The bars will then need to be placed on a wire rack (a cake cooling rack is perfect) and set aside for 4 weeks. The soap needs this time to "cure"; the longer you wait the better the soap's texture and herbal aroma.
Once the soap has cured, store the store in paper bags rather than plastic. Plastic tends to make soaps sweat, whereas paper is porous and will protect the soap for a year or more. Try experimenting with a variety of different herbs for surprising scents. You can also experiment with the different textures, thickness, and shapes of soap. Homemade soap is also great for gift giving, as well as for personalized designs. At the very least you'll be able to bath with a product that is not made from pesticides and unnecessary chemicals, toxins or animal products.
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