Making soap at home is a satisfying, inexpensive way to provide for your family’s needs or create wonderful gifts for your friends. You can make soap using a kit, but making it from scratch enables you to choose your own ingredients and customize the soap to fit your needs. This article provides information on making soap from scratch using the cold process method.
Part One: Preparing to Make Cold Process Soap
Gather the ingredients. Cold process soap is made from oils, lye and water. When these ingredients are combined at the right temperature, they harden into soap in a process called saponification. Go to your local craft store and grocery store to purchase the following ingredients:
- 24 ounces of coconut oil.
- 38 ounces of vegetable shortening.
- 24 ounces of olive oil.
- 12 ounces sodium hydroxide, or lye.
- 32 ounces spring or distilled water.
- 4 ounces of your favorite essential oil, such as peppermint, lemon, rose or lavender.
Set up your soap-making workspace. It’s easiest to clear a space in the kitchen, since you’ll need to heat the ingredients over the stove. You’ll be working with lye, a dangerous chemical, so make sure children and pets are not underfoot while you work. Spread newspaper over a table and assemble the following equipment, which can be sourced online or from your local craft store:
- Safety goggles and rubber gloves, to protect you from the lye.
- A scale to weigh the ingredients.
- A large stainless steel or enamel kettle. Do not use aluminum, and do not use a pot lined with non-stick surface.
- A glass or plastic wide-mouth pitcher, to hold the water and lye.
- A two-cup plastic or glass measuring cup.
- Plastic or wooden spoons.
- A stick blender, also called an immersion blender. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but it reduces stirring time by about an hour.
- Two glass thermometers that register between 80-100 degrees F. Candy thermometers work well for this purpose.
- Plastic molds that are suitable for cold process soapmaking, or shoe box, or a wooden mold. If you use a shoebox or wooden mold, line it with parchment paper.
- Multiple towels for cleanup.