I’m a firm believer that creative pursuits make for happier, healthier people. However, not everyone is suited for or inclined to try the traditional artistic mediums, e.g., writing, singing, dancing, drawing, painting. Even if you already actively pursue one art form, sometimes you need to experience something new to shake up the monotony of a routine.
If you’re looking to express your creativity in a new or unconventional way, try making homemade soap! It’s relatively simple, and the creative possibilities are endless. Handmade soap makes for a unique, personal gift for friends and family, or you can keep it for your own little daily indulgence. Plus, all the ingredients can be found at your local grocery or craft store.
The two most popular methods of making soap at home are “Melt and Pour” and “Cold Process.” The Melt and Pour method can be likened to using store-bought cookie dough; you’ll end up with perfectly fine cookies, but you don’t get to control exactly what goes into them. The Cold Process method, then, can be likened to making cookies from scratch; it’s more labor intensive, but the result is completely your own creation. And let’s face it: Making something from scratch is always more impressive than taking shortcuts.
Before you begin, however, be aware that the Cold Process involves handling lye, a corrosive agent that can cause serious chemical burns when handled improperly. Use gloves and goggles to protect your hands and eyes. Making soap using the Cold Process only takes an hour of active work, but curing, which allows saponification (the chemical reaction between lye and fat that creates soap) to occur and the soap to fully dry, takes about four weeks.
While the type of fat and essential oils used can be altered to fit your own needs, here’s a basic recipe for making homemade soap:
Safety goggles $3
Reusable rubber gloves $6
Digital kitchen scale $12
Glass pitcher $15
Silicone or wooden spoons $5
Stainless steel pot $20
2 candy thermometers $10
Immersion blender $12
Silicone soap molds $4 – $20
Total*: $87 – $103
*Keep in mind that you probably already have many of these materials at home, so the initial investment will likely be much smaller. The total quoted here is for someone completely starting from scratch. Also, you will get many repeated uses out of these materials.
500 grams extra virgin olive oil
100 grams coconut oil
80 grams lye
195 grams distilled water
10 grams lavender essential oil
- Put on safety goggles and reusable rubber gloves.
- Measure out all ingredients exactly on digital kitchen scale.
- Pour distilled water into glass pitcher.
- In a well-ventilated area, slowly add lye to water, stirring with a silicone or wooden spoon until the lye completely dissolves. (Do NOT add water to lye, as this causes the chemical reaction to occur too quickly and can lead to serious injury.) The mixture will heat and release fumes as the chemical reaction takes place. Avoid inhaling fumes. Set aside and allow to cool.
- Heat stainless steel pot on stove over low-medium heat. Add extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil to pot, stirring until melted and well combined.
- Remove from heat.
- Using separate candy thermometers, monitor temperatures of lye-water mixture and oil mixture. Allow lye-water mixture to reach 95-98 degrees F and oil mixture to reach the same temperature or lower.
- Add lye-water mixture to oil mixture in a slow, steady stream, using an immersion blender to mix the two together.
- Using immersion blender, mix for about 5 minutes or until “tracing” occurs. Mixture should thicken to the texture of pudding.
- Stir in essential oil.
- Pour mixture into soap molds. Cover and allow to cool for at least 24 hours. Allow soap to harden enough to remove from molds. If using loaf mold, cut soap into bars.
- Allow soap to cure. Put soap on flat surface and leave for two weeks to allow saponification process to complete and soap to completely dry. Flip over and leave for another two weeks to allow other side to dry.
(Recipe adapted from thethingswellmake.com.)
To get the balance of cleansing, lathering, and moisturizing properties that’s right for you, try using a mixture of these oils, fats, and butters to make your soap:
Olive oil 25-80%
Palm oil 25-50%
Coconut oil 15-50%
Shea butter 5-20%
Cocoa butter 5-15%
Grapeseed oil 5-12%
Energizing: Grapefruit, Lemon, Peppermint, Rosemary
Romantic: Cinnamon, Rose, Sandalwood, Jasmine
Soothing: Chamomile, Lavender, Juniper Berry
When adding the essential oil during the soap-making process, try adding in any of these special ingredients to give your soap texture and decoration.
Dried rose petals
Health Life – May-June 2017
DIY Homemade Soap
Written by: Anna Limoges