Learn To Make Bar Soap From Scratch
Learn to make bar soap from scratch – A Tutorial. Making soap at home from ingredients that you can buy at the supermarket or hardware store is one of most satisfying and enjoyable ways to provide a product that can benefit yourself and your family…
Bar Soap Making
But making anything that utilizes caustic chemicals merit the time and patience to do so safely…
Bar Soap Making or soap making, in general, is one of those things… So please take your time and learn what it takes to make soap in safety for both yourself and your housemates…
Cold Process Bar Soap Making
There are several ways to make bar soap from scratch. The first method that most new soap makers learn is called the Cold Process. It is not a cold process because no heat is use, we do use heat to melt fats, but because there is no heat added during the actual soap making process. In This Tutorial we will be teaching the Cold Process Bar Soap Method.
Hot Process Soap Making
Hot Process is an advanced method of making soap, and involves heating the soap slurry as it is processing. The hot process can be accomplished in several ways; one is the Crock Pot Method, where you cook the soap slurry in a crock pot. The hot process method that I like the best is the Oven Method, but some soap makers also just cook the soap slurry on the stove top. Because this tutorial is for beginning soap makers, we will not be going into those advanced methods here.
Please do not copy or print our Tutorial, if you would like to have a copy please purchase our Cold Process Tutorial Here.
If you are an experienced soap maker and would like to progress to the advanced hot process soap making technique for making Liquid Soap you can click here for our Liquid Soap Making Tutorial.
Soap or Saponification
Making soap is the process of mixing a fatty acid in the form of an oil or fat with an alkali base; sodium hydroxide; lye. The process is called saponification.
Saponification Value – SAP
The Saponification Value (saponification number or SAP) represents the number of milligrams of sodium hydroxide required to saponify 1g of fat. Each oil and fat has its own sap value. In order for our oils and fats to saponify with lye, we need to know the sap value of all fats, and oils we plan to use.
Once we know the sap values, we can use them to calculate the amount of lye we need to fully saponify our oils and fats into SOAP.
Oils and fats vary in their sap values from year to year and crop to crop, the exact values are not achievable by the home crafter, so we use the generally accepted values set by the soap industry.
To make the process easier someone designed a calculator to do the math for us. The Lye Calculator, also known as a sap calculator, or a soap calculator.
Before using any recipe always run the figures through a trusted lye calculator, there is nothing worse than using a recipe that was not calculated correctly only to have your valuable ingredients be wasted on a mix that does not saponify, or become soap.
Sodium hydroxide, Potassium hydroxide are both forms of lye. Sodium hydroxide is used for bar soap. Potassium hydroxide is used for liquid soap. A combination of both sodium and potassium will make cream soap.
Sodium hydroxide is very hygroscopic, which means it attracts moisture from its surroundings, it is very important to keep your container of lye tightly closed. When measuring lye do it as quickly as possible, close up the container of remaining lye asap, the longer the lye is exposed to the air, the more moisture it will attract, the more moisture it attracts the less strength, your lye will have.
When making soap, have your water or other liquid ready so that you can put the measured lye in the liquid as soon as it is measured. Lye comes in different grades, or purity, technical and FCC or food grade. Technical grade is the most common grade soap maker’s use. Lye can vary slightly in strength, from manufacturer to manufacturer, and batch to batch.
Super Fat is where soap has oils left over after the saponification process is complete. There are three reasons to super fat a soap recipe.
1. The first is because we do not have the exact sap values of the oils and fats we use.
2. The second is that we do not know the exact strength of our lye. Because we do not know these exact values, we could be off enough for our soap to become lye heavy. Lye heavy soap is harsh, drying and could possibly burn the skin. The standard is to super fat at least 5% to cover the discrepancies in sap values, and lye strength.
3. To make a mild soap. I regularly super fat above 15%. The trick is to balance your fats and oils, so that you get a hard bar, some oils make a very soft soap at this level of super fat.
Oils and fats are made up of several different fatty acids. The differences in fatty acids determine the qualities your finished soap will have. Coconut lathers well, but is drying. Olive is very moisturizing but lathers little. Palm makes a hard bar but doesn’t lather well. Shea butter, is moisturizing, and makes a hard bar, but doesn’t lather well. Learning to combine the different fats and oils with their various fatty acids, is the key to making a great bar of soap, and don’t be fooled, climate does play a factor in how a fatty acid functions in a soap.
For example, glycerin is considered moisturizing, but like sodium hydroxide, glycerin is hygroscopic, it extracts moisture from its surroundings, usually from the air, but if you live in a dry climate, the glycerin doesn’t have any moisture to draw on; it will draw its moisture from you, your skin, making glycerin drying.
Distilled water is recommended for making soap and mixing lye in. I have regularly used filtered tap water, but currently have been using distilled water, I have yet, to have seen a big difference in the quality of my soap.
It has become a common practice to reduce water some to speed up the soap making and curing process, the more water used, the longer it takes to bring the soap to trace, the more water there will be to evaporate, the more the soap will shrink. If given a choice, I would recommend reducing water 25-30% (you will see this option with some lye calculators).
You must ALWAYS exercise caution when using lye. When reducing the amount of water you use to mix your lye, your lye water will be much stronger, making a splash or drip more dangerous, and more likely to cause harm, to lungs from breathing, skin from spills, or eyes if you were to get in one or both of them. Have water, vinegar and milk handy in case of spills. Water is your first defense, then vinegar on the skin, and milk for the eyes.
Always wear your breathing mask, goggles, gloves, long clothes (pants, shirts), socks & shoes, these will give you a measure of protection.
NEVER MIX water or other LIQUIDS INTO DRY LYE, ALWAYS MIX your DRY LYE INTO your LIQUIDS. If you were to forget and pour your liquid into dry lye, you could have your self a volcanic eruption, spewing and spraying liquid lye out of your pot, causing serious injury.
When mixing your dry lye INTO YOUR LIQUIDS, mix slowly, and cautiously especially if the dry lye is in a lump or pile in the bottom of your pot, it is best to sprinkle dry lye slowly into your liquid, mixing as you go, rather than dump it in all at once, this may help to prevent an eruption from trying to mix a resistant mound of wet lye in the bottom of your pot.
To help you remember to mix dry lye into your liquid instead of the other way around, remember this saying “Snow Falls on The Lake“, the dry lye being the snow, falling on your liquid lake.
When making soap we weigh not measure lye, oils, and fats. Weighing water for lye is optional, just to keep it simple I weigh my water too. Unless stated all soap recipes call for weighing ingredients.
The Stick Blender
I have only made one batch of soap without a stick blender, the soap took 2 hours to trace; To mix that batch of soap, I used the drink attachment with my kitchen aid hand mixer, and then switched to the double beaters. Because it took so long to trace, I didn’t expect it to be a hard batch of soap; but to the contrary, it was extremely hard within 10 hours of molding.
I would recommend every new soap maker buy a cheap stick blender, it will prove to be a time and back/arm saver when it comes to making soap.
Take Safety Seriously
1. Don’t Mix lye or make soap when someone or something (children, a spouse, or a pet) can get under foot. Children and pets have a way of getting under your feet very unexpectedly; often time’s it may even be one’s spouse.
2. Wear eye protection when handling lye, and raw soap. You only have one pair of eyes.
3. Don’t breath fumes; use your Vapor face mask, when mixing lye, and raw soap. Lye fumes can burn you, if you breathe them.
4. Use your kitchen gloves when you mix lye, or handle essential oils, fragrance oils, and raw soap.
5. Protect your arms by wearing a long sleeve shirt when making soap.
6. Protect your legs by wearing long pants.
7. Keep your feet safe by covering them with shoes and socks.
8. Have a container of vinegar ready in case of spills. Lye water and raw soap can burn. Vinegar can stop the burn.
These recipes are just suggestions, you may use any recipe you choose, just be sure to run any recipe you choose through a lye calculator.
All of these recipes have their lye discounted to make them a 10% super fat, and the water has been has been reduced 25%.
Palm Oil and Palm Kernel Oil are two different parts of the same tree, each with its own unique qualities, and can not be used interchangeably. Palm Oil can usually be found in grocery stores but Palm Kernel Oil will be harder to find locally.
Olive, Palm & Coconut
8oz Distilled Water
4.2oz Lye (NaOH)
20oz Olive Oil
5oz Coconut Oil
Olive, Coconut, Palm & Shea Butter
Olive, Palm Kernel, Macadamia & Castor
For 5 Additional Recipes Click Here Then Scroll
Double Check Your Recipe With a Lye Calculator.
I used this calculator when I first started making soap.
Now I use this one, it is a program that I purchased. I think it is easier to use, and makes a milder bar of soap.
Gather Your Equipment
Gal Plastic Bucket/lid
SS Sauce Pan
Gather Your Supplies
Oils & Butters
Additives; herbs, flowers, exfoliants.
Gather your mold, plastic wrap & Vaseline. Butter the inside of your mold with the Vaseline then tear off a piece of plastic wrap, and line your mold.
Now that our mold is lined. We can begin making our soap, lets begin by gathering our scale, 1-gallon bucket/or other gallon plastic container.
Weigh Distilled Water
Let’s start by placing our plastic container on the scale, zero out the scale. Then pour our distilled water into the container till we reach the needed amount.
Once the water is weighed, place bucket of water in the sink or if it’s safe outside. We are going to use this bucket to mix our lye in, and it needs to be in a safe place. Turn on exhaust fan over your stove, if you have one.
With safety gear on, place small dish on scale, zero it out. Open your lye, quickly & safely measure out what you need. Carefully without breathing fumes, pour measured lye in bucket of water, mix well & cover with lid/plate. Let Cool
Weigh Solid Fats
Gather your hard fats, shea, coconut, palm ect. With your small pan on the scale, zero out scale, one by one measure all your fats, being sure to zero out the scale after each fat.
Once your fats are measured, Turn your stove on low, place pan on burner & allow to melt slowly.
While your fats are melting, weigh your oils, zero out scale after each different oil. Once your fats are melted pour them into lye bucket, then add your oils, and mix carefully with a spoon or spatula.
Fats, Oils & Lye
Now we want to begin mixing our slurry with the stick or immersion blender. Start on low, mix for 5 minutes on, and 5 off.
Mixed Soap Slurry
This is how your soap will look after mixing it a little. Continue mixing on and off till your get the the pudding stage, or trace. This could take 5-60 minutes depending on the recipe you used. My recipes usually trace in a short time.
Once your soap has come to trace, it is time to mix in your essential oils and any other additives you like. Using your stick blender, mix well to fully incorporate your additives.
Soap in Mold
Once your additives are mixed, pour soap into your mold, smooth surface. Tap mold lightly on a hard surface to help even out & bring bubbles to the surface. Now put your soap in a safe place for 24 hours.
Your soap making equipment.
Warning: Never pour raw soap down your drain. Raw soap can harden in your drain.
1. Using paper towels wipe raw soap from all your equipment, throw in trash.
2. Wash your equipment with dish soap and water.
3. Wipe down your work areas with paper towel wet with vinegar.
4. Then wash your work ares with soapy dish cloth.
5. Dry & put away your soaping equipment.
6. Clean up your work gloves.
7. Be sure to check around the floor for any raw soap drips.
After 24 hours check on your molded soap. Is it hard? If soap is hard, it is time to remove from the mold. Have a tray or something ready to put your soap on. Then turn the mold over and press on the bottom, soap should just slide out. Remove plastic wrap from soap. If soap is soft or mushy, wait another day or two before you cut it. Soap should be firm not to sticky.
When soap is firm you can use a ruler to determine where you want to cut your soap. I cut mine in half. Then sliced each half into bars. Then place them on a paper/plastic lined try.
Depending on your recipe, your soap will need to cure 4-8 weeks. To cure soaps let them set in a cool dry place for the required time. After your soaps have cured, you can wrap & Package them Any way you like.
Finished Cold Process Bar Soap
Using lye to make soap can be hazardous, before making soap for the first time, be sure you are aware of the safety precautions necessary to protect yourself and your Housemates, be especially mindful of Children and Pets.
Let Me Know What You Think
I would love to hear what you think about Learn To Make Bar Soap From Scratch, please leave me a comment or question below… Thank you for visiting. 🙂
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