Soap Making 101

Presented by The Utah County Beekeepers Assn.

 

1)     Prepare your work area.  It should be clutter free, with a chemical/oil resistant covering.

2)     Use your recipe to ensure that you have all the items you need.  There are several lye calculators you can use

a.      http://www.thesage.com/calcs/lyecalc2.php

b.     http://www.pinemeadows.net/lyecalc.php

c.      http://www.benjaminfarms.com/html/soap.html

d.     Most soap sites have a calculator

e.      Additional equipment (NOT aluminum or cast iron as the lye will react with these.  These should be used for food preparation again) needed is:

f.       An accurate  scale – All measurements in the recipe are all weight based, you must use a scale that is capable of measuring to 0.1oz, and up to the highest fat weight that you are going

g.      Pot or pan to heat and melt the fats,

h.      Container to measure your fats into.

i.       Container in which to mix the water/milk and lye, this can be glass or plastic.

j.       Soap mold

k.      Stick blender to aid in mixing the oil and water into an emulsion. 

l.       Insulating towels, I use layered dish towels.

m.    Plastic wrap the cover the soap when in the mold

n.      Vinegar for emergency

3)     When dealing with lye, use extreme caution, have vinegar on hand to neutralize the caustic lye.  It is advisable to wear eye protection, and rubber gloves.  DO NOT inhale the fumes coming from the lye/water mixture

4)     Start with the lye mixture.  Measure the lye very accurately, too little and the soap could go rancid, too much and the soap will take your skin off.  ALWAYS add lye to your water, NEVER the other way as putting water into lye will create steam and spread the lye all over.  Even when adding lye to water there is a great deal of heat generated, so I always use at least ¾ of the weight of water as ice.  Doing so shortens the cooling time necessary.  We want everything to be about 100°F.  Set this aside and begin melting the fats.

5)     Start with the highest melting fat first, in this case, the beeswax.  Be careful not to burn it.  Then add the coconut oil, followed by the palm oil, and finally the olive oil.  Try to do this at as low a temperature as possible, we want the fats and lye solution to be about 100°F before we mix.

6)     While things are cooling off, prepare your mold, and measure out your fragrance.

7)     Pour the lye solution into the melted fats, then stir until the mixture starts to thicken, to about the consistence of honey, (this is referred to as light trace, when you leave trails from the spoon/blender on the top of the liquid soap.  At this point add your fragrance and coloring if required.  Mix the fragrance and color into the soap.

8)     Pour the soap into your mold, tap it to dislodge any bubbles. 

9)     Cover the soap with plastic wrap, pushing out as many air bubbles as possible.

10) Cover the mold with layers a something to hold in the heat.

11) Now clean up the mess that you made,  wash everything throughly, and remember that until the soap finishes its chemical reaction there is lye present and it will hurt you if you give it the opportunity.

12) And now the hard part, wait until morning to unwrap your new handmade/homemade soap.

13) Once it has hardened feel free to remove it from the mold.  If you properly followed the instructions and recipe it is now 100% soap, there is no lye left.  The lye has combined with the fats and converted into soap.

14) While it is still rather soft, it is a good time to cut in into whatever size bars you so desire.

15) Oh, the other hard part is letting the soap cure before using it.  All that water you used to make the soap is still there, letting it cure (dry out) will make the soap last longer once you start using it.

16) Where to cure your soap, put it in closets and enjoy your fragrance every time you open the door.

17) Where to get soap supplies:

a.      http://www.pinemeadows.net

b.     http://www.thesage.com

c.      http://www.sweetcakes.com/

d.     http://www.wellingtonfragrance.com/

e.      http://www.brambleberry.com/

f.       http://www.soapcrafters.com/

g.      Just do a web search for “soap making supplies”

18) Enjoy your soap, friends and neighbors would absolutely love a sample of your handmade soap.