Handmade soap is the most gratifying product for cleaning your skin. For one thing, your cosmetics contain no toxic additives you do not like. Plus, you can turn this hobby into a profitable business for side money anytime.
Luckily, the production of handmade skincare products like soap does not require a degree in chemistry. In fact, soap making is a fun and easy activity. All you need are some raw ingredients, goggles, a mask, and heat-resistant gloves for protection.
The ABC’s of Soap Making
DIY soap recipes rely on two main components:
- a vegetable or animal fat or oil
- alkali base
All the other ingredients are extras that add to the overall look, feel, and smell.
A deep understanding of alkali is at the base of formulating good handmade soap recipes. But the basic concept is pretty simple to assimilate. That is, you need a specific amount of alkali or lye to make soap.
Lye is a somewhat dangerous substance. So, make sure to ventilate the room before, during, and after any step that includes the use of lye. In essence, lye is caustic. This means that it will harm:
- your skin if you touch it without gloves or it sits anywhere in contact with your bare skin
- mucous membranes if you inhale it
- the eyes (keeping safety goggles on at all times is highly recommendable)
The technical term for lye when it comes to bar soap making is Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH). Instead, you would use Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) for handmade liquid soap.
Whatever lye you use, you need a particular amount of it to turn fatty acids into soap. How much? Well, it depends on the oil or fat saponification value. But you can also use some online tools to calculate the approximate amount.
Oils & Fats
Oils and fats contain fatty acids like Lauric, Palmitic, Ricinoleic, Oleic, and Linoleic acid because of their bactericidal properties. As you might have guessed, oils and fats are not at all equal. For clarity, each ingredient comes with different qualities or properties. You can classify them according to the following categories:
- Cleansing properties
- Harness and longevity
- Lathering ability
- Saturated or unsaturated
- Speed of saponification
The most common oils and fats are coconut oil, palm kernel oil, babassu oil, laurel oil, and cow and goat milk fat. Of course, you can use avocado oil, lard, and many other alternatives.
Temperatures For Soap Making
Temperature is a critical factor that may prevent you from achieving the best handmade soap you can get out of your ingredients. But beginners should not worry too much as a warmish lye solution will do for most liquid oils.
For reference, the temperatures of your oils and lye solution matter only when you deal with a lot of additives or saturated fats. To clarify, if you use only an unsaturated oil like olive oil, you may hardly notice a difference.
On the other hand, ingredients like butters and waxes may solidify at room temperature if you add a coolish lye solution. Or they could thicken up earlier than you would expect. This is why you should warm the lye solution enough before adding it to the solid fat mixture. Otherwise, the mix will not be emulsified, which means that you will have no soap in the end.
Butter and wax are just additives that make your handmade soap even more gorgeous. With time, you will have plenty of occasions to experiment with additives. But it is not crucial that you know what those are at this moment.
4 Steps To Making Handmade Soap
1 – Choose A Recipe
The first step is to find a recipe. As an extra, you can choose aroma chemicals, essential oils, or fragrance oils to scent your handmade soap. Of course, you can make your own recipe by using the provided online tool or other sites.
2 Gather tools and ingredients
You will need heat-safe vessels like pots, bowls, or plastic buckets. Plus, distilled water, a silicone spatula, and protective gear. Usually, an immersion blender is the best option for emulsifying the product fast. Also, you will need silicone molds, a scale, and an instant-read thermometer.
3 – Melt And Mix The Oils
You can heat most oils in the microwave oven or over low heat, depending on the recipe. As soon as the fat and oil mix starts melting, remove it from the heat source. Then, gently add the lye solution to avoid splashes. Do not stir or blend the fat and oil mixture until after you add the lye solution. During this phase, you can add the preferred fragrance.
4 – Pour Your Soap And Let It Cool
Fill the silicone mold and let it harden over the next 24 hours. Soon, you will enjoy your handmade soap and be ready to make another batch!