Soap is pretty cheap and easy to find in stores, which makes people wonder why they’d bother finding soap making recipes instead. Making your own soap helps you create soap in your favourite colours and scents, wouldn’t that be amazing? You’d also know exactly what ingredients were used, so you wouldn’t have to risk using store brought soaps that might be filled with chemicals and artificial scents. Here’s a quick rundown of how to make soap and some handmade soap recipes that you can make at home.
What is Soap Made of?
The process of making soap is called saponification, and it involves the triggering of specific chemical reactions. Soap is made when fats – whether animal or vegetable – react with a base of lye or potash (potassium hydroxide). Different soap making recipes use different ratios of base and fats, but they all result in a solid or liquid soap that can create suds when used.
Important Precautions for Handmade Soap Recipes
The traditional bases for soap – lye and potash – are extremely corrosive chemicals that must never come into contact with your skin, which is why you need to make sure you’re wearing good quality rubber gloves. Although vinegar helps to neutralize both, these chemicals should not be stored at home, and never within the reach of children. With traditional soap-making methods (cold-process soap making), it’s also important to maintain proper proportions of each component. Another good tip to keep in mind when making handmade soap recipes is to mix the ingredients in the right order, so that potentially dangerous reactions don’t occur.
There are safer alternative methods of making soap that involve melting pre-made soap bases and combining them with other ingredients. This method is commonly known as ‘melt and pour’ and is safe to try at home. Nevertheless, you should still wear protective clothing when using this method, as liquid soap is incredibly hot and can easily burn your skin.
How to Make Homemade Soap: The Melt and Pour Method
You will need:
- Soap moulds (alternatively, you could use smooth bottomed household items, like baking tins, cookie cutters lined with plastic wrap, or cups greased with petroleum jelly)
- Soap base, which is usually glycerin (you can find this in most pharmacies)
- Food colouring
- Essential oils (don’t use fragrances meant for oil burners or potpourri, as these are not always safe to be applied to your skin –instead, opt for essential oils meant for use on the skin, usually found at health stores)
- Break up the soap base and put small pieces in a microwavable bowl.
- Pop the soap base in the microwave for a few seconds, stopping and stirring until the soap is liquefied. This should not take more than a few seconds, so be careful not to over-heat it.
- Add your choice of food colouring and scent straight away, before a film appears on the surface. Using a few drops of essential oil for each bar of soap is a good guideline.
- Pour the liquid into the mould and wait until it has solidified. You can speed this process up by putting it in the fridge.
- Take the soap out of the mould carefully –and voila, you’ve got your very own homemade soap!
Tips for Making Homemade Soap
- If you’re planning on making a larger quantity of soap, heat the ingredients in a sauce pan rather than the microwave, and then follow the same instructions listed above.
- Think about adding any small items to clear soap for a fun and pretty visual effect.
- Soaps that are intensely coloured will make intensely coloured suds.
- You can have fun and make several layers of colours in one bar of soap by adding liquid soap over small soaps in larger moulds.
Now that you know how to make homemade soap you can change the colours and scents every time – the options are endless!