Soap, by definition, is an alkali mixed with fats, and when combined with lye, a process called saponification happens, creating soap. Saponification not only allows the liquid and oils to mix but also creates the chemical reaction that gives soap its cleansing properties. You can’t make soap without lye, but there are pre-made melt-and-pour soaps that you can personalize. Or, you can make it on your own, using a lye-water solution. It’s important to make sure that the correct amount of lye is used for the particular kind of soap you make, as different oils and fats require different ratios of lye.
DIY Soap At-Home
Below we provide a simplified explanation of ways to make soap at home.
Before You Begin
It is extremely important to have both a recipe and the necessary ingredients for your soap. You can customize soap with almost any kind of oil, and by using a good soap calculator (can be found online), you will know how much of each ingredient you’ll need. Examples of some bulk oils for soap making (and general cooking) are:
Once you have a recipe you want to use, then collect the necessary oils/fats you’ll need, and get some pure lye to use in the saponification process- unless you are using the pre-made melt-and-pour solution.
Customize Your Soap
Next, decide on any add-ins for your soap to customize the color, texture, and scent.
Dried herbs like lavender flowers, chamomile flowers or calendula (for texture or color)- are great additions. Natural color options can be created by using spices and plant materials like spirulina, turmeric, cocoa, ground coffee, hibiscus, or beetroot, and others. Texture add-ins include freshly ground coffee, clays, sea salt, oatmeal, or coarse sugar.
To Make Your Soap
Heat the fatty oils in your soap pot until it’s approximately 100 degrees, then slowly add the lye-water mixture. Blend the soap until it thickens to what is called ‘trace’. After the mixture reaches trace, add the essential oil fragrance, any color, and herbal additives. Pour it into your mold, let it set, completely cool, and it’s done!
Homemade soap is great for gift-giving or to keep around the house and office! And though there mainly just two ways to make soap at home- there are numerous recipes and varieties to create!