Monday, March 21, 2011


Handmade Lavender soap
 made with the oils of coconut, olive, and palm.

If you've been following along  here you know I've had my challenges with soap making over the last few weeks.  Now after studying the various ways of making soap, I have come to realize that there are a wide variety of soap recipes out there, and you can use many different types of fats and oils.  I would use what you have on hand or is near by.  You can render tallow, use olive oil, canola oil, castor oil, coconut oil and palm oil,  you can order oils and soap making supplies online for a reasonable price. 

I can see the value of soap making, and recognize the skill involved in hand crafting it, and I especially understand the importance of gathering the right tools and ingredients.  The recipe I used last Friday night when I made this soap is a recipe from the store I buy my soap making supplies from called Zenith.  I am looking forward to this soap curing and drying, and then being able to try some.  I'll put labels on to give to family and good friends, and also plan to keep enough from every batch I make, so we can always have a wide variety of soap for our own home use.  With time and experience I also hope to label and sell some of my handmade soap through etsy.   

The supplies I've gathered here are; a digital scale (very important), a hand held blender, oils (I have coconut, olive and palm oil), lye, and containers to mix the lye and water.  There are containers to weigh and melt the oils, wooden boxes and freezer paper for molds, essential oil to scent, you want to over scent as the soap will lose about half it's scent during curing and drying.  You will also need 2 thermometers (stainless steel, no aluminum), a pair of gloves, mask, and goggles for using while mixing the lye and water.  A place on the internet called Miller's Soap is where I've gone to learn about soap making lately, they have a wealth of information for the beginner, which is what I am.  If you'd like to see my learning posts about soap making you can find the chapters on the right side and click on soap making, it goes from me learning to render tallow, to basic soap, handmilling, and trials and errors along the way. 
I always gather all my supplies in one place, and reread instructions, and double check all amounts before I start.  Soap makers I think want to try lots of different smells, it's part of the fun.  I'm looking forward to trying different scents in my soaps, and plan to stay as natural as I can.  This week I'll be making lemon grass, oatmeal cinnamon, and I also have peppermint, these are all essential oils.

 Making the paper liners for the wooden box molds the first time is trickier than it looks. I have a book with
pictures and instructions, and I managed to follow along and get it right...eventually. It is really quite a simple matter of reading a measuring tape or ruler, as long as you can do that you're fine. 
 Freezer paper is shiny side out, towards the soap.
 Measuring out the oils.
 Taking the temperature of the lye/water solution, it needs to be around 100 degrees at the same time as the oils temperature.  Sometimes you have to place the container into a warm or cold water bath in the sink to equalize the temperatures.  When they are both at 100 it's time to act right away, and slowly pour the lye into the oils, mixing all the while.  When all the lye water is poured and stirred into the oils, this is when the hand held mixer comes in and blends them together quickly and thoroughly.  At the trace stage is when I add the essiential oil, and then stir in slowly, some essential oils will cause the soap to go to trace too fast.  So best to stir and not use the hand held mixer at this point. 

 Once mixed pour into molds lined with freezer paper shiny side out.
 This is the book I bought from Zenith about Basic Soap Making, it has lots of easy to follow pictures.
 22 bars of Lavender soap lined up drying, next time I will add more soap to the top of the wooden mold so the bars are taller, and I will cut them a little thicker next time.  I plan to build a soap cutter, made out of wood with a wire for exact cutting.  Another thing I learned this time around is that rather than using a peeler to bevel the edges, I am going to use a very small planer for straighter smoother lines.  While the soaps are drying over the next 4 weeks, I'll be planning my labels, and making some more.


Benita said...

I am so excited for you! This is something I've wanted to try. One day!

Do essential oils ever go bad?

Jewel said...

Hi Benita, thanks, I'm excited about the soap too. I had some older essential oils I used in my beginning soap batches. I asked at the store where I buy my supplies if they can go bad, they said they can lose their potency, but are still good for years, if they're kept in a cool dark spot.

Snohomish Shepherdess said...

What a great post you wrote here outlining the soap making process! I'm excited for you with your soap venture. I love the different essential oils that can be added to soaps, but I have allergies to (almost) everything under the sun (I kid you not, it's a bit depressing) so I simply make a plain goat milk soap. Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm for the craft!

Anonymous said...

Yay, happy to see the soap turned out for you. I would like to come make some with you. - Joy

Jennifer Samountry said...

Oh I have so wanted to do this. Thank you so much for sharing this. I really am motivated to try this now. My sister makes her own soap too but I have never attempted this. I just found your blog and really like it.

Jewel said...

Thanks Snohomish Shepherdess, I do plan to make some totally unscented soap too, sometimes it's nice to just have cleaning power and no scent.

Hi Joy, I'd love to make soap together, next time you're over here let's get together and I can show you how to make it. It's kind of addicting once you start, I've been making a batch a day all week. A batch has 22 bars of soap in it, so we're going to be set with soap for awhile, and I'll have some to give away and to sell at this rate.

Hi Jennifer glad to have you following along. I just learned to make soap, it fun and easy with the right tools and a good recipe. I'll post the recipe I'm currently using, and a few adjustments I'll be making.
Have a good day.

Kimberly said...

I would love to be able to make my own soap. Is it cost effective in comparison to buying soap? I think it would be nice to have different scented bars. :) Thanks for sharing this!

Glenda said...

How do you keep your liquid and bar soap for a year? Won't it go bad?

Jewel said...

Hi Glenda,
I'm not sure how long soap lasts. I don't plan on keeping mine for a year. I am planning to use it up and give some as gifts, barter with some of it, and hopefully sell some. My laundry and liquid soaps will all get used regularly. I like having the stuff I need to make soap in one organized place. And I like that I now know how to make all different kinds of soap for our family needs.
Thanks for reading and commenting.