How to Make Soap at Home

Soap

We all want to save money. Often, though, we look at big ticket items as ways to save lots of money, and we fail to see there are smaller things that can help us save money, too.

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.

Warning

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).

The Process

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.

Conclusion

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!

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6 Comments
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  1. Kathleen

    It has been at least 4 years since I made soap. It is definitely NOT a project for uncontrolled impetuous children. (Neither is it a project for well behaved calm children.) Put in an exciting movie before you begin or use a baby sitter.

    We didn’t find it to be a cost savings…buying the ingredients turned out to be expensive, even at the warehouse clubs. It was a fun thing to do however, and perhaps, someday, I’ll do it again.

  2. Do not use aluminum pans for making soap as the lye will react with it. Use plastic or silicone. You can even use clean milk containers (the 1/2 gallon size is perfect for this or use clean orange juice containers. just ladle the soap in and seal shut, unmold after 24 hours and cut. You can make a soap slicer with music wire, or use a sharp knife. let dry in a cool dry place for 4-6 weeks before using, turning the soaps over occasionally.
    .

  3. This is a great recipe for laundry detergent. Gets clothes very clean.
    1 bar Fels Naptha. Mocrowave in glass bowl until big and airy. Let cool, and grate. Will be dry and powdery. 1 cup Arm and Hammer washing soda, 1 cup Borateem. Mix all together well. 1 TBLS. for normal size load, and 2 TBLS. for large or heavly soiled clothes. Use white vinegar instead of fabric softener, use wool dryer balls,( buy on ETSY). great combination for clean, fresh, no odor clothing.

  4. You need to spend over 20.00 for the oil, and lye is about 5.00. The pan is finished unless you can make more. scented oil is expensive. It’s Not a frugal project. If you are stuck without a store like the pioneers. ash from a wood fire for lye, and rendered fat from the animals you eat. Bear grease, really stinks. Good luck!

  5. Yes, I’ve made soap at home and now use only hand made soap. Used to be, soap was, legally, only that which was fat, water and lye. That kind of soap is wonderful for your skin; leaves skin well nourished and feeling “creamy”. I farm and my hands are in water a few dozen times a day but using hand made soap keeps them from cracking and drying out. My husband suffered from chilblains but when he used hand made soap, his hands healed.
    When using soap, make sure not to leave it standing in water; that will speed up the melting process.

  6. I’m definitely going to try this tomorrow. Thanks!

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