Friday, October 23, 2009

Soap Answers

I am certainly not an expert on soap making since I have only done it once! But, there were several questions that were too involved to answer in the comments:

Did you do the hot method or cold method? I know there are two ways, but don't know which one to choose yet. Any tips?
I am guessing the answer to your question is that we used the cold method. There was not anything cold about our soap, but we did not use any additional heat. The lye used created enough heat to melt all the remaining ingredients together. And, it did get very HOT! We made our soap on my friend's screened in porch - great ventilation. As far as tips, be prepared to do a lot of stirring - you just have to stir and stir and stir until it is ready to pour! We did not use a stick blender - but agreed that it may be worthwhile in the future if we keep doing this.

Do you have a recipe to share?
Here is the recipe I used which comes from Homestead Blessings:
For further instructions and tips, I will point you directly to their DVD as this was the only input I had in making my soap!

4 c. water
48 oz. vegetable shortening
32 oz. coconut oil
16 oz. olive oil
12 oz. lye

2-3 oz. essential oil added at the very last just before pouring into molds. Can add spices or oats at this point too.

Mix thoroughly in order until soap begins to "trace" ~ pour into greased molds. Let sit for 1 - 1 1/2 hours. Cut into bars. Let harden and remove from container. Let bars harden and dry by curing for two weeks. Made about 45 bars.

Had either one of you made your own soap before?
No, we had no experience and only one of us had seen the video and I confess that I watched it only once, wrote down the directions and sent the DVD back to Netflix. We made soap a few weeks later and just sort of felt our way through it. We did consult Google a time or two!

Is it something you would recommend trying to a newbie?
Yes, this was our only experience with anything like this and I've been washing my hands successfully with my homemade soap! Did we learn things to do differently? Absolutely, but that is part of the success in my view. I want to note that I had someone at home taking care of my children and would not suggest that you do this process with the lye and children around. Too much risk of things getting spilled or someone getting hurt.

How much was it to buy everything to get started..ball park?
I spent around $50 to make the two full batches of the above recipe. Since I was splitting this with a friend - my cost came to about $25. That was the only cost involved. And, it really would cost that much every time almost because the only thing I would not be buying again is the essential oil unless I wanted a different scent. Everything else is used up in the process of the making soap.

Hope that helps - also, check out the comments yesterday, there were a few good tips given there from those who have made soap before!


Sharon said...

Thank you Monica! This is a HUGE help. I will check the comments again for tips. Thanks so much for sharing, your soap looks lovely!

Have a blessed weekend!


Tami said...

I'm so glad that you tried making soap! It's very gratifing. I've been making soap for over 3 years and at one point went back to store bought but my husband protested. :-) You definitely made cold process. There are a variety of ways to make hot process but yes, they all involve heat. I could go on and on but I don't want to take up a ton of space on your comments. I did just want to add something if I could about the time it takes for most cold process soap. Many recipes will require soap to sit (go to bed) overnight and up to 24hrs before cutting. I've had several batches that take 12 hrs and many others on either end of the spectrum. Also, for cp it is generally agreed upon that the longer the soap cures after being cut the better so many people allow their soap to sit 4-6 weeks. It just allows more water to evaporate and creates a bar that lasts longer.

Congrats on success!

Julia Eby said...

so excited to find this...
didn't see veg. shortening where you got your ingredients is that the same thing used in baking you can just get at the grocery store?

and you simply just mix this together no heat and the lye made heat enough while mixing?

Which lye did you use I saw there were two kinds.
When you say add spices you just add whatever like cinn. plain?
plain oatmeal or powdered.
Thank you ever so much

A Dusty Frame said...

Is that lye amount correct?

Cold process is just when you mix the oils at room temp and stir together and yes a stick blender is very nice;)!

Sarah said...

sounds interesting... I'd def. like to try this soon. I've been toying with the idea for some time, but think I may take the plunge! what did you use for your soap molds?

Gae said...

I have desperately wanted to make soap for years.
Did you buy any equipment fo rthis as I have not wnated to outlay any money and this has held me back.
Perhaps now is the time to try it with my older girls too.
God Bless

Monica Wilkinson said...


Shortening - I got mine at Wal-Mart, yes it is just the regular kind you use for baking.

I also bought my olive oil at a grocery store when it was B1G1 free.

When you follow the directions mentioned in the DVD, the lye gets HOT! I was amazed how hot it got - and you don't need to add any further heat. You will want to have all your ingredients at room temp.

Plain oatmeal and plain cinnamon just as you would use in baking.

Which lye? I did not realize there was more than one kind. I am pretty sure I used Sodium Hydroxide.

Sarah: for molds, we just used Rubbermaid food containers and shallow Rubbermaid storage containers found at a thrift store or Wal-Mart.

Gae: The $50 we spent to make two full batches of this is all we spent for everything. My friend donated a pot and wooden spoon from her kitchen to become the soap utensils. I had a scale we used to weigh the ingredients and we used old Rubbermaid containers as well as two new shallow Rubbermaid containers which were all included in the price.

Sandra said...

I have a soap making tutorial on my blog if you want to pass it on.

Robin said...

Hi Monica,

We made soap after watching that video also. It made it look so fun and interesting. I am definitely hooked and yes, I bought most of my supplies at Walmart and our local hardware store (lye). I have made soap two times now...the first not so successful, but the second YES!!
The difference? I bought a hand mixer. It just happened to be on sale for around $25. It made the process a breeze and took just a couple of minutes compared to the long stirring process before.

I think our problem the first time was that we quit stirring before we really should have.

I also have a friend who has made soap for several years and she says she bought a cheaper hand mixer the first time and the motor burned out on her first batch, so she encouraged me to go ahead and get a better model.

Thank you also for hosting the Paper Doll giveaway. It was such a blessing to read all of the comments.


Karen said...

I have wanted to make soap for quite a while but have not been able to find the lye. I heard the FDA took it off the market. Is that true? Where did you find the Red Devil Lye? Thank you!