How to Make Soap
Soap can be made from a variety of ingredients – animal fat, palm oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, and much more. Soaps are saponified products that contain a mix of oils and fats that have been chemically reacted to form a chemical called “glycerol.” Glycerol is the ingredient in soap that makes it bubbles and creates that rejuvenating, refreshing feeling we get after a nice, hot bath.
The soap contains the chemical “sodium hydroxide,” or lye. This is what makes soap into that super-sudsy stuff we use to clean our dishes and bodies. The harder the bar of soap, the more of the solid, crystal-like sodium hydroxide it contains. Think of the most traditional form of soap – the 100 percent lye soap that grandma used to make in her kitchen.
Lye is composed of a single atom of sodium, one atom of oxygen, and three atoms of hydrogen. When made with pure sodium hydroxide, this “saponifying” reaction will form glycerol, soap, and water.
If you want to make more complicated soaps with dyes, fragrances, or other additives, you’ll need a different kind of lye – one that’s less concentrated and contains more sodium hydroxide.
Modern factory-made soap products also have a variety of different ingredients, such as fragrances and dyes – but they also have detergents, which are chemicals found in cleaning products like dish soap.
Now that we know a little bit about what soap is and how it’s made, let’s take a look at the most important chemical for making soap: sodium hydroxide. We’ll also look at some other types of lye, like potassium hydroxide.
Did you know that the oldest soap still in existence was found locked away inside an Egyptian pyramid? This incredibly well-preserved mummy soap has shown scientists exactly what soap looked like thousands of years ago (and it’s not much different than today). The Egyptians used their version of soap to treat animal hides, which they would then use to make papyrus scrolls!
How exactly do different lye ingredients contribute to making soap? For example, how does each type of oil affect the final product? And what are some additives that can be added to soap? To find out, check out our new article on soap chemistry.
How does the chemistry of soap affect the final product, and what ingredients can be added to soap? You’ll find all these answers and more in our new article!
Check out “Soap Chemistry:
The Liquid that Cleans” on WonderHowTo for a complete lesson on how to make soap from different oils and lye, as well as a look at what additives can be added to soap.
How to make homemade soap bars for beginners:
If you are looking for a way to save money, improve your health or do something good for the environment, then maybe you want to try making soap. The idea of soapmaking may sound intimidating because it involves chemicals and complicated steps. However, it does not have to be difficult or scary at all if you use homemade soap bars instead of commercially available soap.
Making homemade soap bars can be an enjoyable, relaxing experience that you can do with your whole family. If you are looking for a fun project to do with your kids, this might be it. But perhaps the best part of making homemade soaps is knowing exactly what is in them and being able to choose all-natural ingredients.
So, what do you need to get started? The first thing that you will need is a homemade soap recipe that you like and the ingredients to make it. If this is your first time making soap, we would suggest getting something simple such as an oatmeal bar or a hemp seed oil bar. These bars are easy enough for beginners to make and also have many health benefits.
If you are at all familiar with making soap, you can use your favorite homemade soap recipe or one of these recipes for cold process soaps. This is the most popular type of soapmaking today.
Once you have chosen a homemade soap recipe, you will need to obtain some equipment before beginning the soapmaking process. There are two basic types of soap-making equipment–kitchen tools and soap-making items.
Kitchen Tools for Making Soap:
You can make homemade soap using common kitchen utensils that you already have on hand or that you can easily get at the grocery store or hardware store. Here is a list of some of the basic kitchen tools you will need for your soapmaking experience:
Saucepan or pot that can handle high heat. Stainless steel and uncoated cast iron are preferable because they do not release metals into the soap as aluminum and other types of cookware might.
Spoons for stirring homemade soap and pouring it into molds once it is ready.
Knife (not for cooking, but to cut homemade soap into bars once it is ready).
Molds in which you can pour your homemade soap. You can recycle yogurt cups, paper milk cartons, or other household items that are about the same size as these molds to use as molds for your homemade soaps. However, molds specifically made for making soap can be found at craft and hobby stores.
Rubber gloves to protect your hands from lye while handling it.
Lye will burn if it touches your skin so you need to protect your eyes and face with splash goggles to ensure that nothing splashes in them while working with lye.
You can buy soap molds and other items for soapmaking at craft and hobby stores or online. Many of these items are inexpensive and you may already have some of them lying around the house:
The thermometer goes up to at least 200 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius). You do not have to use a thermometer specifically for soapmaking unless you are making cold process soap.
Cheese grater or kitchen shears for shredding your soap mixture once it is ready to be shredded. Shredding homemade soap gives it texture which makes it look more like commercial soap bars.
Bowls, cups, spoons made of any material that you can use for measuring and stirring your homemade soap mixture. Old pot, cooking spoon, or another utensil for melting solid ingredients such as beeswax.
Molds in which to pour your homemade soap. You can recycle yogurt cups, paper milk cartons, or other household items that are about the same size as these molds to use as molds for your homemade soaps. However, molds specifically made for making soap can be found at craft and hobby stores.
Rubber gloves to protect your hands from lye while handling it.
A kitchen scale is needed if you want to measure the exact ratio of ingredients as some homemade soap recipes require a precise amount of each ingredient.
An immersion blender, whisk, or other devices for whipping handmade soap mixture into peaks. The more you whip homemade soap, the lighter and fluffier it becomes. Citric acid or borax are both common additives in handmade soaps. Borax is often used to harden homemade soaps while citric acid is often used for making homemade soap softer.
Essential oils are natural additives used to scent homemade soap. They can also have therapeutic benefits when added to homemade soaps. Preservatives such as vitamin E or grapefruit seed extract or other additives to add to your soap or lengthen its shelf life.
Nuts for decoration in cold process soaps made from scratch. Homemade soaps made from a melt and pour base do not require nuts for decoration.
Handmade soap is a kind of art and you can add anything you want to it from fruits and vegetables to glitter or confetti. Be creative when creating your own recipes