How to make Soap
The idea of making soap from home can be initally daunting. In truth, it is a mixture of venturing into the unknown and making a cake. Soap making is a great combination of science and art - but also rather addictive once you have a base recipe to play around with.
Once you create your base, you will find it is a texture like custard and that is where the fun starts!
What are the basics?
To make pure and simple soap consider using the cold process method. This combines oils and butter (pre-melted to 40'C) with the lye solution at around 35'C. Once combined together, the resulting mixture will resemble a slightly runny custard which you can add botanicals, fragrance or essential oils to. Your final result is poured into a mould and after 1-7 days can be released from the mould to be cut. You will leave the bars to 'cure' until 4-5 weeks of age before they can be used.
How to get started?
There are some brilliant resources to introduce you into the basics of soap making - books and youtube accounts run by The Soap Queen are good starting points. As you become more experienced you can venture down aromatherapy routes or learn soaping techniques or simply explore Melt and Pour. Firstly, just start with a simple recipe and give it a try. You don't need to hold a chemisty degree or start buying expensive essential oils. As with anything, there are lots of options to test out and see what suits you best.
Some recipe ideas:
No Palm-Oil Cold Process Recipe: https://lovelygreens.com/eco-friendly-cold-process-soap-recipe-instructions/
Some useful books:
Where to buy supplies?
You can buy a pre-prepared box:
The Soap Kitchen - https://www.thesoapkitchen.co.uk/soap-making-kits
The Dartmoor Soap Company - https://thedartmoorsoapco.co.uk/shop/diy-soap-making-kit/
Or once you have a base recipe you can buy specific ingredients from companies such as
The Soap Kitchen - https://www.thesoapkitchen.co.uk/
The Soapery - https://www.thesoapery.co.uk
Soaposh - https://soaposh.com/
Mystic Moments (good for lye purchases) - https://www.mysticmomentsuk.com/products/lye-caustic-soda-sodium-hydroxide
You may find some of the oils, butters and natural colourants are already in your kitchen cupboard! Most recipes will rely on Olive Oil, Coconut Oil and Palm or Shea butter. Other oils and butters can include Castor Oil, Avocado Oil, Mango Butter to Rapeseed Oil. It purely depends on the recipe and what your ratio of soft to hard butters/oils are. The higher percentage of oil, the longer it will take to harden and cure - which is why Olive oil soap (Castile Soap) can take 6 months to cure!
What do I need to know?
You need to have PPE (safety glasses and gloves).
You also need to prep everything in advance - including your design.
You can't use your domestic kitchen supplies after soap making due to the lye. So either use equipment you won't use again or buy specific equipment - but mark it with a permanent pen to prevent misuse!
Always add your lye to water NOT the other way around. Also, only use a Type 5 plastic container - not glass (as it can shatter over time)