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Making Homemade Soap

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Making Homemade Soap, Bar of natural pine soap, with a pine branch, and a dish of green sea salt.

Soap making is a popular hobby that can easily be done in your own kitchen. There is a wealth of information available, whether you are interested in making bath, beauty, or liquid hand soap. This is a guide about making homemade soap.

Solutions: Making Homemade Soap

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Tip: Soap Making

I've found that all soap products have continued to rise in price for many years, so I started making my own. I was so afraid of using Red Devil Lye that it took me a long time to get enough courage to do my first batch of bath and beauty bars.

I was determined, and I began to read everything I could get my hands on regarding making soap from scratch; all the way from rendering out beef tallow (which makes a wonderful and gentle soap), to the melt and pour type (which allows you to avoid using the lye). It's just way more expensive, and I was looking for the least expensive and the best soap in the world.

On the day I made my first "batch" of soap, my husband helped me. First, we locked all the pets out of the way so that they could not possibly get in the way or splashed if (God forbid) there was an accident of any kind.

When we ended up pouring up that first batch of soap in the big Rubbermaid containers, it was one of the happiest days I've ever spent doing anything.

It was ready to cut into bars the following morning, and we stacked it allowing the air to circulate through it, then patiently waited the 4 weeks for it to "cure" before using it, but Oh My Goodness, what a treat it was using that first bar of our own soap.

From there, I made our own shampoo, dish-washing and laundry soap. I can't even tell you how much cheaper it is. Any soap product is expensive today, and if I can make our own, that's what I want to do.

We in America will most likely see the day when knowing how to be more independent in almost every aspect of our lives will prove to be beneficial. I consider cleanliness a necessity, and I'm so glad that I can take care of that necessity all my myself now.

Of course, I am still having to buy some oils, fragrances and a few other items in addition to my Red Devil Lye, but I'm staying way ahead of the game by saving money and making the best possible face and bath soaps, shampoo, and the other soap products we use every day. Soap, when made properly will probably last for many, many years, so I'm making and packing it away now while I still can.

It is a very satisfying and rewarding craft and I'm so glad I spent the time learning how to do it right. I'm also very thankful that I'm not having to leach wood ashes to make my own "lye" or butchering the beef to get the tallow. If I really had to, I guess I'd soon learn to do those things too.

By Julia (pookarina) from Boca Raton, FL

Tip: Homemade Gardener Soap

A bottle of Homemade Gardener Soap.Put 3/4 cups of white sugar into a glass jar and add some dish soap. Then stir, you don't want it too runny. If it is, just add more sugar until you get the right consistency. Put a lid on it.

You can use pink soap, it looks really nice. Great for gifts.

By coville123 from Brockville, Ontario

Tip: Add Plastic Toys to Homemade Soap

Here is a tip to help encourage children to love washing their hands and bathing with lots of soap without a huge hassle. When making your own soap, a very cheap thing to do is to buy a bag of small plastic toys from a dollar store; spiders, lizards, bugs, airplanes, baby dolls, etc.

When soap making, place a toy in the center of each bar of soap. Use light colored (see through) soap. These will cost about 5 cents each. The children wash and wash, trying to get to the toy. Works every time, LOL.

By Sharonross0624 from FL

Article: An Easy Way To Make Scented Herbal Soaps

Handmade Scented SoapFrom the culinary to the medicinal, there are hundreds (maybe thousands) of ways to use herbs - including making scented herbal soaps. From the simple to the complex, there are dozens of methods for making soap. Here's one that is both easy and economical because it uses only fresh herbs from your garden, and slivers of leftover soap - no lye required!

Using Leftover Soap

Ideally, the leftover pieces of soap you use should be unscented or, at least, only very lightly scented. Highly scented soaps will compete and overpower the aromas from your essential oils. The color of the soap doesn't matter, in fact, if you want to change the color, you can find soap coloring at craft stores that carry soap-making supplies.

Remnants from glycerin based soaps (soaps that you can see through) will melt fairly quickly and evenly. The opaque (solid colored) soaps like dial, ivory, etc., melt a lot more slowly. To speed up the process, grate your leftovers with a vegetable grater or chop them into tiny pieces. Melt your soap scraps on the stove top in a double boiler over simmering heat. Whatever you do, DO NOT melt opaque soaps in the microwave or you'll have a huge, foamy mess on your hands. Once you start experimenting with soap recipes, you may run across several calling for Castile soap. This pure, white, concentrated soap (with no scent) works very well for making soap. You can usually find it in health-food stores and some larger grocery store chains.

Making Essential Oils

Essential oils are what give herbal soaps their scent. The strongest and longest lasting aromas come from oils that contain herbs like rosemary, lavender, and thyme. Other herbs to experiment with include mints (spearmint or peppermint), lemon verbena, lemon balm, chamomile, comfrey, and roses. To make essential oils, place about 4 ounces (1 1/2 cups, tightly packed) of a single herb's leaves or petals in an airtight glass jar with 4 ounces of extra virgin olive oil. Keep the jar in a cool, dark place for about 3 weeks. After 3 weeks, strain the oil to remove the plant debris. You now have an aromatic essential oil. Use it to make your soaps, or add a few drops to your bath water for a refreshing and relaxing aroma.

Making Bar Soap:

Ingredients:

  • slivers of leftover soap
  • essential oil of your choice

Directions:

To make "new" soap, collect slivers of used soap, then grate them with a vegetable or cheese grater and melt them in a double boiler over simmering heat. Stir often! As the soap starts to soften, help it along by adding a few drops of water and mashing it with a potato masher. Add water as sparingly as possible. Too much will keep the soap soft and prevent it (or at least prolong it) from setting up. As it is, your finished soap will probably be softer than the soap you started with.

Once the old soap is melted, add about 1 tablespoon (more or less to your tastes) of the essential herbal or floral oil of your choice, and continue stirring for several minutes. Pour the mixture into plastic molds (available at craft stores), or into small containers that have been lightly greased with olive or vegetable oil. Leave soaps for at least two days before unmolding and/or cutting. After removing your soap from the molds, you may find that you still need to cure them (let them dry out and harden up) a bit longer. Depending on your preferences, this can take several days to a few weeks. Once they set up sufficiently, wrap them in plastic wrap or wax paper to store.

Honey Lavender Soap

Ingredients (makes 1 bar of soap):

  • 10 Tbsp. of grated leftover soap
  • 1/2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. of clear honey
  • 2-3 drops of essential oil (use more or less as desired), such as lavender or rosemary

Directions:

Put the grated soap in the top of a double boiler or into the microwave set on low power. Melt the soap. Stir in the olive oil, a drop or two at a time. Stir in the honey and essential oil, then remove from the heat. Continue to stir until the mixture is well blended. Pour into molds, cover and leave them to set up and harden - this may take up to two weeks. Unmold and wrap in wax paper to store.

Additional tips:

  • The addition of essential oils to soap "batter" can sometimes (not always) cause the soap to darken in color. Also, adding bits and pieces of dried herbs to your soap will give it an interesting look and texture, but don't be surprised if they turn brown. The exception seems to be calendula petals, which are generally good at retaining their color.
  • A lot of different variables (e.g. combination of herbs, amounts of water and oil, curing time) work together to affect your end product. Getting the exact results you're looking for may take experimentation and practice.

By Ellen Brown

Homemade Letter Soap

Homemade Letter SoapA very easy, cute gift that looks hard to make.

Approximate Time: 1/2 hour

Supplies:

  • block of clear unscented soap (for one soap, about 8 oz., depending on size)
  • dye (optional)
  • scent (optional)
  • small amount of white unscented soap
  • square/rectangular mold
  • letter molds
  • freezer
  • microwave
  • knife
  • alcohol in spray bottle
  • microwave safe container
  • Popsicle sticks

Instructions:

  1. Melt a small amount of white soap in the microwave, 25 seconds, mix (with Popsicle stick), repeat another 25 seconds and repeat until melted.
  2. Pour into letter mold of choice.
  3. Place mold in the freezer for about 15 minutes or until solid.
  4. Remove letter from mold.
  5. Melt about 8 oz. of clear soap (or as much needed for the square mold) in the microwave, 25 seconds, mix (with Popsicle stick), heat for 25 seconds, until fully melted.
  6. Add dye or leave as is.
  7. Add a drop of scent or leave as is.
  8. Pour into square mold.
  9. If bubbles form, spray with alcohol.
  10. Wait about 2 minutes so the soap cools a little and doesn't melt the letter, then place the letter in the center of the melted soap in the mold.
  11. Let harden for about a day.
  12. Remove from mold.

By Esther from Baltimore

Tip: Grate Soap to Form New Bars

Buy bar soap at rummage and garage sales-any kind including guest soaps. They can be beat-up, dried up, broken,etc. Grate them up with a coarse grater and add in any leftover soap slivers you may have on hand. Add enough liquid soap, dish detergent, or water to make it into a clay-like consistency. Form it into bars with your hands and let dry overnight.

It may be a little bumpy and colorful, but it works great and lasts a long time because the bars are bigger and not full of air.

By Sweet Pea from Butternuts, NY

Tip: Old Fashioned Granulated Soap

This is how my grandma used to make soap. A just for fun recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1 can lye
  • 3 qts. cold water
  • 3/4 cup Borax
  • 4 1/2 lb. melted fat

Directions:

Dissolve lye in cold water (use wooden spoon). Add borax, when dissolved slowly add melted fat. Stir slowly and constantly for 10-15 minutes. Then stir occasionally for the next 24 hours.

By Robin from Washington, IA

Recipe: Add Acid When Making Stock

When boiling meat bones for stock, add 2 tablespoons of either vinegar or lemon juice to the cooking water. The acidity helps dissolve the gristly tendons into collagen and gelatin, which makes the broth more nutritious. If it's too sour after cooking, add a pinch of baking soda to neutralize the acid.

Source: Adele Davis' book "Let's Cook it Right"

By Nance from Statesboro, GA

Scented Glycerine Soaps

Melt the following ingredients together in a saucepan over low heat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. liquid glycerine
  • 5 oz. unscented glycerine soap
  • 4 tsp. liquid soap

Directions:

Remove from heat. Add 1 tsp. your choice fragrant oil (i.e. hydrangea, rose, apple, pear, etc.). Pour into molds until set.

For a unique scent, mix and match the oils to create your own fragrance. Optional, 2-4 drops of food coloring.

By Patti McKenna

Tip: Soap Making, No Boil Method

When correctly made, homemade soap is of high quality, ranking with some of the better commercial brands of soap. It can well be referred to as "one of the few remaining bargains" for homemakers today. A thrifty housewife can save many dollars a year on her soap bill by making her own soap.

3 Page(s)

Contents:

  • Preparation for Soap Making
  • Toilet Soap
  • Reclaiming Soap
  • Soap Making Tips

This article is available in PDF format. Click here to download it.

Published by: Utah State University

Bee Soap

Bee Soap

Materials:

  • 4 oz. Opaque MP Soap Base
  • 1 T. beeswax pellets
  • 1 T. honey

Instructions:

Melt beeswax and keep warm/liquid. Melt soap base and then mix in beeswax. Add honey and keep stirring until melted. Pour into a soap mold.

By CraftBits

Tip: Homemade Soap

Ingredients:

  • 1 can lye
  • 6 lbs. fat
  • 2 1/2 pints cold water

Directions:

Slowly add lye to cold water, stir to dissolve. Melt fat and let it cool. Pour into lye and use a wooden spoon to stir until it gets too stiff to stir.

By Robin

Tip: Simple Soap Making Idea

To make wonderful smelling and silky liquid soap, grate a small bar of soap (or leftover slivers) into a medium saucepan. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and bring to boil, cooking 1 minute. Cool, add 1 vitamin E capsule liquid (squeeze it out), plus 1 teaspoon glycerin, and some "smelly" stuff. You can use essential oil, almond flavoring, etc. El-cheapo way to make great soap; just cool and pour into a mold!

By Eileen

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Questions

Here are questions related to Making Homemade Soap.

Question: Choosing and Testing Ingredients for Making Soap

How can I apply sugar, milk, beer, and honey to soap recipes? How can I test to know that finished home-made soap is good for the body?

Kachi


Most Recent Answer

By Marty Dick [140]09/27/2011

When making the lye soaps which need to be stirred and then poured into a mold, add your honey or lavender or even oatmeal right before pouring to mold.

Question: Making a Bar of Soap from Bits

What can I do with the end bit of a bar of soap? How can I put the bits together to make one bar, of any shape?

By Sandra


Most Recent Answer

By Georgetta Ruth [49]07/15/2014

I brought one of those loofah gloves. I store my leftover bits of soap in there. I will keep it in a dry place,until it gets full. I tie off the top and use the glove until it is empty. Rinse and wait for the next bits of soap.

Question: Tips For Making Soap

Are there any soap makers out there? Would you like to share some tips to those wanting to learn to make soap?


Most Recent Answer

By D07/23/2008

I have a lot of reciepies for soap/bath bombs/ bath products in general. Not sure how I would contact you through this site but you could leave a comment on my blog with your email, I won't publish the 'comment' but could forward you some recipies. Happy to help.

~PHH

Question: Raw Silk Soap Recipe

Does anyone have a basic soap making recipe, using raw silk?

Sabrina from Council, N.C.

Question: Homemade Natural Soaps

I am looking for homemade cleaning recipes and tips on making your own natural soaps.


Most Recent Answer

By Lewissan [30]10/22/2006

Here is a link to cleaning recipes that have been posted on ThriftyFun:

http://www.thriftyfun.com/Cleaning_Cleaning%20Recipes_296_305.html

Question: Homemade Soap with Pumice

Hi Folks. I need a little help here. I'm looking for a recipe to make homemade liquid soap with pumice. (Nothing real involved or spectacular). You know, the kind you can buy in the expensive stores in the mall that you would use to wash your hands after working with greasy food in the kitchen.

Our children gave me some for Christmas, but I use it a good bit and am in need of more. I think I read somewhere that it could be made with baking soda (?) but I'm not sure. Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


Most Recent Answer

By lenore (Guest Post)07/03/2005

I think a small amount of fine grained sand would work great in your liquid soap.""