January 2017 Blog
I really enjoy the process of making my own soap and having it always available for gifts and trades. Homemade soap has more glycerin than store bought soap, plus you have the peace of mind of knowing exactly what ingredients were used. Here is the first recipe that I ever tried:
Avocado oil 9.00 oz.
Castor oil 4.00 oz.
Coconut oil 10.00 oz.
Lye (Sodium Hydroxide) 4.54 oz.
Distilled Water 10.56 oz.
Lavender oil 12-15 drops
I use the cold process method and learned my technique from the Soap Queen at www.soapqueen.com, and the Bramble Berry website at www.brambleberry.com. I also took advantage of numerous soap making tutorials on www.youtube.com. It is critical that you do your research before attempting to make soap due to the safety precautions that are necessary since you will be dealing with lye, a very caustic material. There are several technical websites that describe the scientific reasons for the chemical reaction that creates a bar of soap. I found them extremely interesting although I am not qualified to explain them here. You will also have to use one of the easy to use online soap calculators to determine the proportion of ingredients to use. Exact measuring is critical to success.
I had incredible results with this recipe and stuck with it for some time before branching out with different scents and colors. The equipment needed is not extensive. Basically things that are normally found in the kitchen, plus I purchased a stick blender, a soap mold, and an inexpensive scale from www.amazon.com.
Once you use kitchen utensils for soap making, it is a good idea to store these items together and dedicate them to soap making exclusively. Anything exposed to lye should not be used for other purposes.
Not being afraid to do “Research and Development” on relatives and friends, I gave bars of my soap to everyone and asked for feedback. The biggest complaint about this particular recipe was that the soap was soft and after being used tended to stick to the soap dish. Not a big deal to me, and I continue to use this recipe, however, it got me thinking about modifying the recipe to create a harder soap. Turns out there are two popular options; add palm oil or animal tallow. Sounds simple, but we live in a complex biosphere which requires conscientious thought for most decisions. Upon further research, palm oil is not an ingredient to be taken lightly. Take a moment and google palm oil. Here is one site (World Wildlife Organization) that will give you some background: World Wildlife Association. They convinced me, be sure your palm oil is “sustainable” palm oil. There is also the option of using animal tallow. This has turned out to be my preference, since it insures that no part of the animal is wasted. Remember, though, that many people do not want soap that incorporates animal products.
Hope this blog gets you interested in the soap making process. It’s fun and easy to make yet the process called saponification creates a topic that can be explored for years. There are so many combinations of oils and scents and outcomes that it will keep your imagination engaged. My bars are available on www.etsy.com . I am currently donating half of the proceeds to Mission Valley Animal Shelter in Polson, MT.