Making your own soap is a commitment... it is not as easy as hand-made lip balm, or hand-made body butter. That being said once you have done it a few times you will be on your way to your homesteading lifestyle! Additionally, once you have hand-made soap in your arsenal of skills you can make additional products like an all-purpose cleaner, hand soap, laundry soap and more!
This recipe will not produce one of the elaborate artisan soaps you see at the markets. This soap bar is from Mommypotamus.com and is more of a starting point for you to get the feel for basic soap making. Once you make a simple soap bar you can start to look at fancier recipes like these from Nerdy Farm Wife!
A natural soap bar or liquid Castille soap is the kind of soap you want to purchase if you want to have a non-toxic soap. Castille soap is much like "tissue paper", there are many brands out there who sell Castille soap like Dr. Bronner's, and Mountain Sky Soap (just like Kleenex tissue). So just have a look when shopping around, or ask an expert!
Soap is made by taking a "fat" such as coconut oil, olive oil, or even lard and introducing an alkali like lye or potassium hydroxide, which creates a chemical reaction called saponification.
We make soap because it is an alkaline product and when used in cleaning it loosens the dirt at the surface of the material (like counters or clothing) and makes it easier for water to lift and wash away the dirt.
Do-it-Yourself Simple Soap Bar
Makes 44 oz
- Crock pot
- Kitchen scale
- Medium-sized glass or ceramic bowl
- Long-handled spoon
- Face mask
- Hand blender
- PH strips
- Silicone mould
- 33 oz coconut oil, 76 degree* (We purchase Ostoro Organics)
- 4.83 ounces lye (NaOH)** (usually available at farm stores)
- 12.54 oz water
- .5 – 1 ounce essential oils (optional)
- Weigh your ingredients and set your crockpot to low
- Add water to a medium-sized glass or ceramic bowl and take it outside along with the lye and long-handled spoon. While wearing your protective gear and taking care not to breathe the vapors, slowly add the lye to the water while mixing gently. Order is important here, so make sure it is the lye you’re pouring into the water.
- The mixture will get very hot so be careful! Let it transition from cloudy to clear, then bring it inside. Let cool for 5-10 minutes while you work on step 4.
- Place coconut oil in a saucepan and heat to 120-130F. Make sure that your thermometer is not touching the bottom of the pot when taking your reading. (You can skip this step if you want to add your oil directly to the crockpot and wait for it to melt, but I prefer not to wait.)
- Place coconut oil in your crockpot and set to low.
- Add lye to crockpot (being careful not to splash) and stir a few times.
- Using the stick blender begin mixing toward “trace.” You’ll know trace is achieved when the mixture has the texture and thickness of a light pudding.
- Cover and let cook on low. During this process the oils should rise up the sides like a wave and then fold back into the mixture. Mine usually takes 45 minutes – 1 hour but the cooking time will vary depending on how hot your crock pot is. Check on it often.
- When the soap is ready it should look a little like semi-translucent vaseline with no oil puddles in the middle. There are two ways to test and see if it’s done. First, dip a PH test strip and wait several minutes for it to fully change color. It should be between 7-10. If it is higher than 10 it’s not done. For a slightly less scientific approach, take a little of the soap and rub it between your fingers. It should feel a bit waxy. Now touch it to your tongue. If it ‘zaps’ you, it’s not done. Note: It is really important to make sure all the lye is converted – otherwise the finished soap can burn!
- If you’re adding essential oils, wait until the mixture cools a little and then add them, otherwise they will lose their fragrance. (I skipped this, so no photo!)
- Spoon mixture into your mold and let cool. If you want to speed up this process put it in the fridge
- Unlike other bars which need to harden for 24 hours before being cut, coconut oil makes a very hard bar that will be difficult to cut if you let it dry too long. Cut as soon as it’s cool and firm.
- In an area with good air flow, place bars on a rack/tray with about an inch of space between them. Allow them to dry out and harden for another few days. Though you can try your first bar right away, it’s best to let them sit for 2-3 weeks to let the conditioning properties fully develop.
Cut into 12 bars = $2.61/bar
By weight = $0.71/oz