I have been wanting to make my own soapbars for a while, but found it quite daunting to start with. The recipes I found online used loads of different, expensive oils. And the fact that you use lye scared me too. But I decided to just give it a try. If you don't try, you will never know...
I wanted to make a soap that is not expensive to make. So I didn't want to go to the grocery store and buy five different expensive oils. I wanted to make a soap with inexpensive oils, or oils I had already lying around. So here you have it: how to make natural cold pressed soapbars without breaking the bank.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
To make the soapbars you will need to following:
- Three glass or stainless steel bowls
- Silicone loaf pan
- Mixing spoon (stainless steel)
- Hand blender
- Kitchen scale
- Plastic foil
- Tea towel
- Cutting board
- Body covering clothes (I wore an overall that used to be my grandpa's)
- Safety glasses
- Lye calculator
- Olive oil (150 grams / 5,25 oz)
- Sunflower oil (150 grams / 5,25 oz)
- Coconut oil (150 grams/ 5,25 oz)
- Hazelnut oil (50 grams / 1,75 oz)
- Lavender essential oil (about 5-10 drops)
- Demineralized water (165 grams / 5.78 oz)
- Lye (Sodium Hydroxid) (70,75 grams / 2,48 oz)
- It's important to not use aluminium tools like bowls or mixing spoons. Aluminium will react to the lye, which you definitely don't want to happen.
- I started by using a paint mixer on a drill (see step 10) but definitely use a hand blender! It works waaaay better! (Trust me, I was mixing for a loooong time)
- Make the soap in a well ventilated area. The lye-water mixture will produce some gasses you don't want staying in your house.
Step 2: Decide on Your Recipe
The first thing you should do is decide on your recipe. What oils do you want to use? As I wanted to make an inexpensive oil, I started by looking in my cupboard what oils I still had. I had olive oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, rapeseed oil and hazelnut oil. Plenty to choose from. Now which ones would I use? The rapeseed oils smelled a bit funny and was 3 years past the expire date, so that one drops out. I didn't find sesame oil in soap sound attractive, which let me to four oils left. Olive oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil and hazelnut oil. The first three you can find inexpensively in any grocery store. The last one might be a bit more expensive, but I encourage you to do the same as I did. Check what oils you still have in your cupboards and adjust the recipe to this.
Now, in what quantities should you use the oils? I found this great website called SoapCalc. By picking your oils in the table the website tells you how hard your soap will be, how creamy, how many bubbles and more. You can change the amount you want to use, which then also changes the qualities of the soap. I was happy with the following:
- 30% coconut oil
- 30% olive oil
- 30% sunflower oil
- 10% hazelnut oil
As you can see in the picture, these quantities would give me a soap that is very cleansing but also very conditioning. Exactly what I like.
If you use different oils, it will produce a different kind of soap. As long as you do not differ too much from the recommended range you will be fine.
Step 3: Measure Your Oils
Now it's time to measure out your oils in one of the glass bowls. I wanted to have a total of 500 grams of oils. So according to SoapCalc you will need:
- 150 grams (5,25 oz) of sunflower oil
- 150 grams (5,25 oz) of olive oil
- 50 grams (1,75 oz) of hazelnut oil
- 150 grams (5,25 oz) of coconut oil
Step 4: Heat the Oils Up
Heat up all your oils in the microwave for about two minutes. The coconut oil will melt and the oils will all be heated up. You will see in step 9 why this is necessary.
Step 5: Mix Your Oils
Now the oils are heated up it's time to mix them together. I used a big stainless steel spoon.
Step 6: Safety First!
Safety first! Put on your body covering clothes. Your gloves and soapmaking safety glasses. Do not skip this step! Lye is a very harsh, poisonous substance when it is not yet formed into a soap. You don't want any of this to get on your skin or in your eyes. If this accidentally does happen, rinse it thoroughly with water for about fifteen minutes.
Step 7: Measure Out Lye and Water
Now you're all geared up measure out your lye and demineralized water in two separate bowls. It's very important that you use the right amounts, otherwise the saponification will not work. Don't worry, you don't need to do a lot of math, the brambleberry lye calculator will do it all for you. According to the calculator you need 70,75 grams (2,48 oz) of lye and 165 grams (5,78 oz) of demineralized water.
Step 8: Make Your Lye - Water Mixture
Add your lye into the water. Important: do NOT add the water to the lye, this will give you a dangerous volcano...
Slowly pour the lye into the water and mix it together. I used the paintmixer on the drill, but next time I would use a stainless steel spoon. You will notice that the mixture will heat up and make some gasses. Try to not breathe them in and make sure you ventilate the room well. You can also make the soap outside like I did.
Step 9: Temperature Measurements
Grab your thermometer and measure both mixtures. I poured mine together when they where 51 and 62 degrees celsius.
Before you mix the two mixtures together you need to make sure the temperatures of the two are not more then 10 degrees celsius (about 15 degrees Fahrenheit) different from each other. The lye-water mixture is quite hot because of the reaction that happend when you poured the two together. That's why you heated up all the oils in step 4. So you don't have to wait so long before the lye-water mixture has cool down.
Step 10: Mixing
Now the temperature of both mixtures is right, it's finally time to mix the two together. Slowly pour the oils in the lye-water mixture and grab your hand blender. Put the blender in the mixture with a slight angle so you don't catch air underneath. You don't want to add air pockets in your soap. Once the blender is in you can put it up straight.
As you can see in the pictures I thought it would be a great idea to use a paint mixer on a drill to mix the mixtures together. My blender was a bit broken and sometimes smells a bit like fire, so I thought to spare it a bit. Well... it definitely wasn't a great idea.... Don't use a paint mixer! I was blending for 20 minutes and still not much had happend. It was not as clear as in the beginning, but it didn't stiffen up. So after 20 minutes I decided to leave the paint mixer for what it was, and use a hand blender. And within minutes the mixture stiffened up and I was done.
Step 11: Add Essential Oil
When the mixture stiffened up nicely add your preferred essential oil. I love the smell of lavender, which is a very calming smell, so I added about 8 drops. Now mix this in well and your mixture is done!
I would add at least 10 drops essential oil so the smell also gets on your hands when you use the soap. My soap smells lovely, but I would like to have a little bit more smell giving of on my hands when I use it.
Step 12: Pour Mixture in Mold
You're almost there! That wasn't so hard after all. Yay!
Pour your mixture in your mold. I used a silicone loaf pan. But there are plenty of other options out there. If you don't use a silicone mold, make sure to cover it with parchment paper so the soap won't stick to the mold.
Use your stainless steel spoon to spread the mixture out. I also added some nice swirls on top for a cool finish, but this is totally up to you.
Tap the mold a few times on your surface so you minimize the amount of bubbles there might be in there. I didn't do this and I definitely had some small airpockets in my soap bars. So next time, I will be sure to do some tapping.
Step 13: Cover Mold
Now cover your mold with some plastic wrap and a tea towel. Unfortunately I didn't yet make a big enough bees wrap (see this Instructable I made) to cover the pan when I made the soap but if you do have one, please use it instead of the plastic wrap! (less plastic, yay!)
Step 14: Wait 24 - 48 Hours
Now place your soap in a cool place like the basement and wait for at least 24 hours. In this minimum of 24 hours the lye, water and oils will form a soap, in a so called saponification process.
Step 15: Remove Soap From Mold
Waited 24 - 48 hours? Than you're good to go. Remove the plastic foil and tea towel from your baking pan. Now gently pull the silicone baking pan of the soap, take the soap out and place it on a cutting board. Because of the silicone the soap shouldn't stick to the pan, so this all should go very easily.
Step 16: Cut Into Soap Bars
Now grab your knife and start cutting! You decide how big or how small you want your bars of soap to be. I eyeballed mine to be about 2 cm wide.
Yes you did it! You have made your own soap bars. How amazing is that? I am so happy with the result I got. I tried the soap, and honestly, my hands are suuuper soft and clean after using it. I don't think I have ever had a soap that made my hands so soft. They feel super nourished every time I use it. The best thing to do now is to leave the soaps on a shelve in a good ventilated room for about three to six weeks so it can harden some more. But of course you can try your first soap bar already ;) (I definitely did).
I hope you enjoyed reading my Instructable and hope you give it a try too. It really isn't hard at all!
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