How to Make Soap - DIY Cold Process Soap Making

How to Make Soap Skincare 411

So, you want to learn how to make soap! I have had this request for some time now, and, to be honest, I never felt quite comfortable sharing this DIY, until now. I figured, what is the harm in doing a tutorial? I'll add links to the safety information and it will up to you to do that research before you begin. Good? Good.

Let's talk about how to make the soap I make: cold process soap. 

First, what is cold process soap?

Cold process soap is a method of soap making that using both a lye water solution (water and lye) and an oil/butter solution (your melted oils and butters). I use a simple, but luxurious recipe for my soap, but no matter what recipe you use, you will still follow the same process. At the end of this quick tutorial, I'll share some examples of recipes you can use and online tools to help you create your own.

Steps to make soap:

1. Find or create a recipe (see resources below). You can use soapcalc.net to help you understand how the percentages work, but I'll also share a sample recipe below. 

2. Put on some good goggles, a face mask and gloves that go all the way up your arms and grab an apron.

3. Prep your tools: measuring devices, stainless steel pots (2) a kitchen scale , heat-safe silicone spatulas, spoons and a wand blender that is plastic or stainless steel. Don't use anything aluminum because it reacts with soap.  You also need a thermometer, and a soap mold. You can get a small one here. Pick any shape you like as long as you use a recipe that fits it!

4. Work in a well-ventilated area. My soap studio has a special fan for fumes, but an open window or door will do.

5. Measure out all of your oils and butters (if you are using butters) into a stock pot and then melt them. 

6. Measure your distilled water (you can also use milks, but that is more advanced) into a stainless steel or plastic container leaving plenty of room. 

7. Place that container on the scale and add your lye (sodium hydroxide) until you reach the appropriate measurement. Remember, it is crucial that you add the LYE TO THE WATER and not the other way around. Just trust me. 

8. Allow both the lye/water solution AND the oils to cool considerably -- around 90 degrees Fahrenheit is a good place to start. 

Before we get to the next step, I want to make sure you have your goggles, gloves, apron and mask on. Just checking.

9. Now it's time to create soap! Pour the lye/water solution into the melted oils/butters. 

10. Use your wand blender to mix until the soap reaches trace. It looks like this: 

 

11. Once you have trace, you are ready to things like color and fragrance. Your recipe will dictate how much of each to use. Add the fragrance and then add the color (mica or pigment or naturals colors). Mix in with spatula or the wand blender.

12. It's ready to pour into the mold! 

13. Cover the soap with cardboard or something else, like a lid.

14. Let it sit for 24 hours.

15. Remove the soap from the mold and slice it. You can find an individual soap slicer here. 

16. Allow the soap to cure (harden - water evaporates) for 4 weeks on a shelf in a cool room.

17. Package it or use it! 

 

Resources:

Soap/lye safety

Where to buy ingredients for beginners: here or here

Watch me make my soap here

 

Sample Soap Recipe  to get you started.

You want your oils to equal 100% 

This recipe gives you 1 pound of soap. So, a small rectangular mold or just fill some individual shapes. 

You can use the percentages and the TOTAL OIL in the calculator to create larger recipes. Just increase your oil weight, but starting small is a good thing.

Coconut 76 oil - 28 % or 4.48 ounces

Palm Oil - 28% or 4.48 ounces

Olive Oil Pomace - 29%  or 4.64 ounces

Rice Bran Oil - 10% or 1.6 ounces

Castor Oil - 5% or .8 ounces

Water - 6.08 ounces

Lye - 2.27 ounces

Fragrance - .5 ounces

Use the links in the resources I gave you to really study. Soap Queen is a wonderful place to start learning more about soap making. If you need to troubleshoot ideas or recipes, find me on Etsy and I will help! We can even do a video chat. Just click this link.

 


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