Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My Basic Soap Recipe

I make my own bath soap.  Charlotte Hayer from Laughing Rabbit Soap Company did a workshop over 10 years ago and I haven't purchased bar soap since then. 

The soap I make is lye soap.  It's NOT harsh on your skin at all because the lye undergoes a chemical change when combined with the water and fat.  You must use lye, not Drano or any other kind of drain cleaning product.  You can purchase lye online from soap making sites.  is the link for Charlotte's business.  She sells quality home made soaps of many different types.

96 ounces of fats and oils--this can be a combination of oils, shortening, etc  (I use Crisco and olive oil)
32 ounces of water--room temperature
12 ounces of lye

NOTICE:  all measurements are by WEIGHT not volume so you need an accurate scale

This will make about 6 pounds of high quality soap.

In a heatproof glass container, add lye to the water.  This will immediately generate a lot of heat.  You need to do this outdoors because it does give off fumes.  Let the water cool down until it reaches 85°.

In an enamel or stainless steel stockpot, combine your 96 ounces of fats and over a low heat, bring it up to a temperature so that the solid fat will melt---this also needs to be 85°.

Once you have both the water and the fats at the right temperature, SLOWLY pour the lye water mixture into your melted fat and stir, stir, stir.  I usually start out with a wooden spoon and then switch over to an electric mixer.  Continue stirring until the soap "traces"  which means it will resemble vanilla pudding.

This is the point where you add your herbs and essential oils.  Mix them in well, pour your soap into your molds and wrap the mold with an old blanket or towel.  After several hours, check the soap and see if any liquid has come to the surface.  If it has, just stir it back into the mixture.  Re-cover the soap and let it set overnight.

The next day, uncover your mold and allow the soap to stay in the mold for at least a full day before you attempt to unmold it.  I store my bars of soap in a basket, uncovered and it keeps just fine.


1/2 cup cold water
2 heaping tablespoons of lye
1 cup melted fat
color, scent, herbs if desired

Just follow the same procedure as above for making a large batch.

If you've never made soap before, I highly recommend looking online at some of the soap making websites and reading about various methods.  You should also have a bottle of vinegar close by when working with the lye just in case you should splash any of the mixture onto your skin.  The vinegar will neutralize the acid and stop the burning if it gets onto your skin.  I've made soap all these years and used common sense while handling the lye water solution and never needed it but it's within reach, just in case!

It's a very simple process to make soap, but it does take some time.  I generally mix my lye and water the night before to give it plenty of time to cool down.  The next morning, you can bring it back up to the proper temperature really quickly by sitting the jar in a sink full of warm tap water.  If you get your fat mixture too warm it can be cooled down the same way.  Start to finish, once your water and fats are the right temperature, I'd estimate it takes 1 to 1 1/2 hours to make the soap and have it in the molds.


Melissa said...

Hey Linda, my oldest son has eczema and it gets especially bad during the cold and dry winter months. We have to be extremely careful about the type of soaps we use. Do you think this would be mild enough for him?

char52 said...

I am impressed!

Robin's Crafting Creations said...

Wow Linda, I have made the other kind that you buy the base and then just melt it & add your stuff to it, it smells wonderful and makes your skin so soft, i have always wanted to try the lye method now i think i will. Thank you so much for enabling me !

KAT said...

i still have all my old pots that i used just for this. i may even have some leftover lye. i think i may get back into this...i stored mine covered with wax paper then used kraft paper to wrap and tied up with rafia. but i gave them as gifts too. thank you for the recipe.