Saturday, October 30, 2010

Making soap!

On Thursday my BFF, my mom and my kids met at my grandmother's house to make soap! My grandmother has made homemade soap for the family for years and it's starting to get a little tired of doing it so it's time for someone else i.e. me to take over the reins. We all met to make a bunch of batches and go over how to make it. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera. :( But, when I went back over the next day I brought it and got a few pics. First off, the recipe for everyone:

Grandma's Basic Lye Soap

1 Cup Lye Flakes (Sodium Hydroxide)

3 Cups COLD water
8 Cups Fats (lard, vegetable shortening, etc)

Mix Lye Flakes with cold water outdoors (due to fumes). Melt fats. Let both cool. (Lye to 90-95 and lard to close to the same, can be slightly more). Mix in large bowl (not metal. Glass is best, the lye can ruin a plastic bowl) and stir with a wooden or plastic spoon until thick
enough that it "traces", the soap should lay on the top for a moment before sinking back in. When soap is consistency of pudding you can add any essential oils, colors, etc. Line soap molds with plastic wrap and pour into molds. Leave soap in molds 24 hours. Turn out onto towels and cut into blocks. Leave in an out of the way place for 2 weeks, turning occasionally. Then ready to use!

Some quick tips:
#1 Wear Gloves!!! Lye burns if it touches your skin, keep vinegar on hand if it does.

#2 Instead of using a spoon to mix it (which feels like forever) pick up a cheap hand held blender. Makes it MUCH quicker!

#3 You can get the lye at Lowe's or any hardware store but make sure it's Sodium Hydroxide. If you get Potassium Hydroxide the soap ends up too soft. My grandmother says she usually orders it online from a chemical company.

#4 Drawer organizers make great soap molds.
We had a lot of fun! Pictures of ingredients:

The Hand Blender we used. It really helped!

Ready to take out and cut.

Doesn't that look pretty?

Nice even pieces ...

The fruits of our labor! We made a lot!

The Girl and Little Man were so good playing at Grandma's house and not being in the middle of everything. And it was fun to have bonding time with my Mom and Grandma! It was so great that Anna (my BFF) was able to make it. We plan on trying to make a batch or two at her house together so we're both more comfortable at it. I really am turning into a hippie! ;)

38 comments:

  1. I love this! Thanks for posting. I've always been afraid of using lye. When I see demos on the internet they warn so much about burning. Is the soap drying to skin or pretty moisturizing? Could I add lavender? Does your grandma think I could use coconut oil in addition to the fat?

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  2. Homemade lye soap, after it has cured the 2 weeks, is GREAT on your skin! I always credit it for the clear skin I had as a teenager. My little sister had very severe eczema as a child and the homemade soap cleared it up! It doesn't have any added chemicals or perfumes unless you add them so it's very good for sensitive skin. Lavender is a great scent to add, we've also just added flowers and pine and that worked great. My grandmother likes essential oils, but my mom prefers the more natural scents. My grandmother does make more involved soaps with different oils and they are wonderful as well. A quick google search found me this site that has a good coconut oil recipe that doesn't look too hard: http://www.make-stuff.com/formulas/soap.html Have fun!

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  3. I wanted to add - lye isn't bad as long as you are careful. Mix the lye and cold water outside to avoid fumes and use gloves. A quick splash on your skin hurts, but vinegar will sooth it and it's not worse then a burn you may get while cooking dinner!

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    Replies
    1. iv heard that vinegar is not a good idea have you used vinegar on a burn?

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    2. The reason you use vinegar for this is because it neutralizes the lye.

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    3. Vinegar will neutralize the lye, so you will need to keep it close by for this.

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  4. Hm...so I could use this recipe with coconut or olive oil and essential oils and make my own castile. I wonder, if I use more water, if it will be a liquid soap.

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    Replies
    1. Making soap is as precise as baking. Adding more water won't make it a liquid soap. Go on Pinterest and find a liquid soap recipe.

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  5. Why do I need to use lye? A harsh chemical?

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    Replies
    1. There's not really another way to make soap. You can buy a soap base - glycerin or a melt and pour - but that negates the point of making your own soap in my opinion. That just puts the lye a step away from you. All soap is a fat and a alkali, you can't really get away from that.

      http://voices.yahoo.com/why-soapmakers-lye-soap-safe-7373576.html

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  6. How is the lye dangerous when mixing but, not when washing?

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    1. That is why you "cure" the soap for two weeks. The chemicals of the lye leach out and you are left with soap! All soap is made with lye.

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    2. Lye is a strong base. Fats are weak acid. When u combined them they react neutralizing the pH and making it safe for use on your skin.

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  7. this is awesome! at what point with you add the scented oil?

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    1. You add the scents when the soap "traces". It will be about the consistency of pudding.

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  8. how much oil or scent do you add to this recipe? Can you add 'dried' ingredients like flowers or herbs? thanks, Connie

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    Replies
    1. At much as you like! I usually add probably a tablespoon? But I prefer it only lightly scented. And yes, flower petals and herbs make a wonderful addition to soap! We have even added pine needles before!

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    2. Pine needles? im using that one if you don't mind :)

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  9. for Small Time Hoe-
    If you want liquid soap, find a recipe that uses Potassium Chloride instead of Sodium Chloride.

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  10. Question, I just made a batch yesterday, I followed the instructions to the T and when I added the lye to the fats/oils it floated to the top okay and not even 2 minutes into mixing it. It went from pudding mixture to very clumpy and hard within seconds. I quickly put into the mold, but it was so clumpy and hard that I had to pack and push and mold the mixture in to the mold.

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    Replies
    1. I had to hit up my grandmother for this one! I haven't had that happen to me before!

      This was her reply: " I had this happen with cheap store brand shortening that had other additives in it. All that "stuff " messes up the formula. Also if the fat (shortening) is very old and starting to get a little "smelly", this will
      also affect the balance.
      HTH.
      Love ya bunches, Your Grandma."

      Like my grandma said - Hope that helps!

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  11. Do you use a scale or just measuring cups?

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    Replies
    1. It worked great thanks! I used lard and was wondering if the lard smell will go away?

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  12. Can i use olive oil or does the oils have to be solid?

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  13. Very simple recipe....however, Make sure you use distilled water so there are no trace chemicals in it...and....make sure your lye is 100% pure with no additives or metals. I get mine from EssentialDepot.com or any of the other soapers supply places on the web. You CAN get Lye from a big box store or local hardware store....but read the label for purity....

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  14. Thank you for sharing.

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  15. Thank you for sharing im getting ready to start and your post has inspired me to jump in! I do have a question tho could I use goat milk in place of water? I have lots of goat milk and need to do something with it!

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    1. Great! You can just sub goat milk for the water. Just make sure the goat milk never boils. I do that by freezing the goat milk first and if it's a little icy when you add the lye that's great. I also set the bowl of milk in a larger bowl of ice to keep it colder.

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  16. Is the amount of fat in solid form or liquid form when measuring the amount needed. I have pig lard to use. This will be my 1st attempt of making soap.

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    Replies
    1. I use solid form in dry measuring cups. But this recipe is very forgiving so you should be fine either way. If you are using pig lard I would be careful that it is clean so your soap doesn't go rancid. Good luck!

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  17. I'm new to the soap making game and I came across this page. I ran to Sam's to get some Crisco. This soap is amazing. The lather? Ooooooooh yeah!!!

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  18. I could only find lye crystals not lye flakes..would the measurement be the same?

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  19. I have been making soap for some time and love it. I have noticed a few discrepancies though.

    1) using vinegar on a lye burn is a myth like putting butter on a heat burn. WATER! Wash it off with water.

    2) lye has been known to crack glass if it's too thin. Plastic only should be used. I have specific soap making measuring cups.

    3) when making soap it should be used in weights to ensure 100% accuracy. Everyone's "cup" will be different. Always use a lye calculator which are all over the net.

    4) soap is generally ready to use after 24 hours. The "aging" process is so water can evaporate so the soap will become harder and last longer in the shower. The longer it ages the harder it becomes.

    5) I only use the lard I render myself. Store bought lard has preservatives which may not react appropriately with the lye.

    6) using only lard makes a hard soap but it won't have bubbles. The addition of coconut oil is how you get bubbles, but you MUST use a lye calculator to figure out how many oz you can use to the lard and lye weights.

    6) essential oils are expensive and I suggest doing a few batches of soap before experimenting with oils. Lye eats oils. :( citrus especially. Join a fb soap group for more info.

    7) colouring soap is also an art. Anything you add that is red will turn brown. Use a little cocoa powder for brown, tumeric for yellow. Some spices are hard on the skin so Google before adding.

    8) moulds - use anything not metal. Silicon molds are cheap on Amazon and easy to unmold.

    Try one batch!!! It's not as scary as many would have you believe. Just read up on how to use lye first and use common sense. Then be prepared to have 100 bars in the house and 15 bars in the shower! :)

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  20. Great blog and recipe. I live in the UK and soap making is not done very much so I have problems with ingredients. This is so simple. I have only made 3 batches and have had problems with all of them due to colours and fragrances not behaving. Costs a small fortune for the recipes I have followed. This is just great. I too was a single parent of 4 and still have my grown men/boys at home. This will cut down on their toiletries bill! Thank you. Wendy in Plymouth UK.

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  21. Great blog thanks. I am new to soap making and have spent lots of money on ingredients as it is not so popular here and sourcing ingredients, butters and oils, fragrance and colouring, is really hard. I have only made 3 batches and have had trouble with them all! I will stick to EOs and natural plants colourings from now on! I still have 2 grown up boys at home and Grandchildren on the way from my 2 girls. This will save on money and nasty chemicals for all. Thank you.

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