How to Make Homemade Soap

You don't have to be an arts and crafts master to learn how to make homemade soap. Depending on what kind of soap you want to make and how much effort you want to put forth, you can find a soap making technique that works for you.

The following are common handmade soap techniques:

Melt and Pour Process
In this process, you will purchase blocks of clear soap base, melt them, add coloring, fragrance, or essential oils, and then pour the melted soap into soap molds. This is also referred to as soap casting. This is the simplest soap making technique and can be done by anyone, including children.

Cold Process
Cold process soap making is more complex. It is the same process that was used before commercial soap was available. There are many variations to this process, but basically you will combine lye (sodium hydroxide), water and fatty acids (always in that order). You must mix the lye and water first, then add the oils, which should have been melted together before combining with the lye-water mixture. Since lye is a dangerous product, you will need to use safety gear such as goggles and gloves. The mixture has to be stirred (you can use a stick blender to speed the process) until the mixture begins to trace, which means it begins to thicken like pudding thickens after you mix it for a while.  The mixture is poured into molds after it begins to trace (this can take up to an hour), then left in the molds for a few days. The soap will need to cure for six weeks before the soap is ready for use. You can add different oils to the mixture for different effects.

Botanicals to Add

  • Aloe Vera extract- Healing properties
  • Calendula flower petals - Good for the skin
  • Chamomile flowers - Relaxing scent, pretty flowers
  • Eucalyptus leaves - Great for soaps used to clear sinus congestion
  • Lavender flowers - Produces a calming effect
  • Lemon peel powder - Natural yellow coloring, energizing scent
  • Peppermint leaves - For a refreshing scent

Oils to Add

  • Avocado oil - This oil is golden in color and has extra moisturizing effects
  • Apricot kernel - This is great for oily skin
  • Castor oil - This oil does not cloud clear soaps, and it is known to have anti-inflammatory properties
  • Coconut oil - Better lathering
  • Olive oil - Gentle, good for sensitive skin
  • Hemp oil, shea butter or cocoa butter - Extra moisturizing
  • Palm kernel oil - Boosts the lathering quality of your soap
  • Palm oil - Fluffy lathering effect
  • Soy oil - Known for anti-inflammatory effects
  • Vitamin E oil - This oil is known to heal wounds and improve suppleness of skin

    Colorants to add
    Choose from oil-based, water-based, natural and artificial colorants to make your soaps vibrantly or gently tinted, depending on the effect you desire.

    • Red sandalwood powder - Turns a lovely grape purple color when added to cold process soap, tints the soap reddish orange when added to melt and pour soap and has an earthy aroma
    • Rose powder - Tints soap pink
    • Yellow sandalwood powder - Yellow coloring, earthy scent, considered by Buddhists to bring you closer to the divine
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