Soap Recipes - Step By Step Guide

Making homemade soap can be fun and it's really easy to do once you know how to use basic soap recipes. First of all, you'll need a few important pieces of soap making equipment; heat resistant glass or plastic mixing bowl, kitchen scales, large stainless steel pot, stick blender, food thermometer and soap mold. Rubber gloves and safety goggles are also required when mixing lye. Soap recipes come in a huge variety, but the essential ingredients are always very similar.

Soap recipes - ingredients:

Lye* - as you can't make soap without lye, all soap recipes will include this. Make sure the Lye is 100% sodium hydroxide, as any additives will affect your soap recipes.

Water - soap recipes will often just show cold water in the ingredients, but it is best to use distilled water or rain water.

Fat and oil - lard is the most common fat used in soap recipes, but you'll also see other animal fats as well as vegetable fat. Olive oil, or coconut oil also appear in soap recipes, as they give the soap its lather and moisturizing properties.

Fragrance and other additives - you'll see essential oils or fragrance oils in soap recipes, to give the soap a nice smell. Coloring can also be added, and some soap recipes also include abrasives such as seeds or oatmeal for exfoliating soaps.

Soap recipes - method:

The lye solution is made first by adding the lye to the water. Both are carefully weighed first according to the quantities given in your choice of soap recipes. Next the fat is melted and combined with the oils, and the mixture is cooled to the correct temperature shown in the soap recipe. Once the lye mixture and the oils are at the same temperature, they are combined in the soap pot and blended until thickened, known as "trace".

The soap recipe's ingredients may have listed fragrance oils or essential oils, such as sandalwood, lavender, or vanilla. The fragrance oils and any other additives are put into the soap pot now, and after blending everything together the soap mixture is poured into a mold. Soap recipes will usually tell you to line the molds, to make it easier to remove the soap after the "saponification" process.

Good soap recipes will instruct you to cover the mold with a lid and then wrap your soap mold in blankets to insulate it for around 18 hours. After leaving the mold open for another few hours, the soap is ready to cut and left to dry out for at least 2 weeks to cure.

Soap recipes - making your own:

Once you master the basics of soap making, creating your own soap recipes will be easy and fun to do. You can experiment with different colors and fragrances, and even use more attractive shaped molds to design your own soap products. Beginners should however make sure they follow the soap recipes' instructions to make sure that the quantities are correct.

*An important word about lye - lye is a highly caustic substance which will severely burn your skin and eyes if you come into direct contact with it, or if the lye solution splashes on you. You must use safety precautions and take extreme care when handling lye!

Marie Ackland - Soap making was originally a hobby of mine that gave me great pleasure, theres something quite satisfying about creating from scratch a beautifully scented bar of soap.

It then turned into a full time passion, creating wonderful soap for family and friends to enjoy. When a friend suggested I take some along to a local craft fair, which I did and from that day on I never looked back. I now have a great soap business which makes a healthy profit and gives me great satisfaction.

So now 20 years on from my first batch I love to teach the art of soap making. It can be frustrating at first but if you learn the fundamentals and put into practice my methods you WILL have great soap every time.

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