Let’s look at one of those smaller items – soap – and a way to save a few dollars on it over time by making it yourself. Also, by making the soap yourself, you can obviously know the ingredients, so you can feel a little better about what you are putting on your body.
Before you begin, please note that two of the ingredients in soap, lye and oil, do not mix easily. This leads to some chemical reactions in the process that can be dangerous. This is probably not a process you want to do with your children, until you are very comfortable with it. Also, any safety precautions you can take (goggles, gloves, mask, etc.) would be wise.
What You Need
At its essence, soap only has only three ingredients: water, lye, and oils (that you mix and match for different fragrances and textures).
In addition, you will need a Pyrex measuring cup, a stick blender, a thermometer, a cake pan (that I recommend only be used for this process and not for cooking, too), wax paper, gloves, and something to stir with (chopsticks work well).
Mix 9 1/2 ounces of lye according to package instructions in a Pyrex glass container. Be sure to wear goggles and a mask as you stir. After mixing, let cool to 110 degrees.
Mix 4 1/2 cups of olive oil (not virgin; use the cheap stuff), 2 cups of coconut oil, and 2 cups of grapeseed oil in another pot. (As you keep making soap, you can choose other mixtures and oils, but this makes a fairly basic soap). Heat this mixture to 110 degrees.
When the lye and the oils are both at 110 degrees, slowly pour the lye into the oils, using a stick blender to mix.
When the mixture reaches the consistency of honey, you want to stop mixing. Soap-makers call this mixture “trace.” At this point, you can add other fragrant spices or oils as you like, but that is not necessary. If you choose to do so, however, work quickly, as the soap can harden rapidly depending on room conditions.
When the mixture is “trace,” pour it into a pan that has been lined with wax paper. For this amount of soap, a 9×13 pan will work well. After pouring the mixture into the pan, wrap the entire pan in towels or blankets. This helps keep the heat in, which continues to help with the further chemical reactions that need to occur.
After 24 hours, the mixture should be fairly hard. Take a good knife and cut the soap into whatever size you desire and place each bar onto brown paper in an out-of-the-way place.
At this point, your hard work is done, but the soap cannot yet be used. Keep track of the date on which you made your soap, because after two weeks, you will need to turn it over on the brown paper, and after two more weeks you get to use it.
This is a difficult and long process, but many people find it to be very fun. Others start their own small business by making special “recipes” of soap. And, if you learn the process, anyone can save a few dollars by making their own soap. It may be tedious, but you may just find that you enjoy it and it helps your budget over time.
To help with this article, I utilized the soap recipe found here and looked at some of the process for making soap here. There are nearly countless websites with different processes and recipes, but most will tell you to find one that works for you and stick with it, so I chose these as the basis for this post.
Have you made soap at home? What tips do you have for readers? Leave a comment!