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
Some years back I worked for a woman who made soap for craft fairs. She used the cardboard box bottoms that 4-6-pks. of soda come in...you know, cardboard on the bottom, then shrink-wrapped, as molds. A 13 gallon trash bag lined the box, the mixed lye soap was poured in and cured for a day or so, then was upended and cut into 3 or 4 long soaps which could either be cut into bars and cured or cured and then cut at the craft fair. She got a two handed knife at a restaurant supply store. It saved a LOT of time compared to pouring into molds.
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.
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.
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 with 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.
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.
Since a few months ago, I've always wanted to make my own home-made soaps. I bought soaps at a temporary thrift store downtown and it had broken my skin out. So, just because something says hnd-made, don't be so ready to get it and use to. Think about it. Make your own, so you know what's in it.
Approximate Time: 1/2 hour
By Esther from Baltimore
The soap looks very yummy. I can't wait to wash with it. I love your idea.
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.
Melt the following ingredients together in a saucepan over low heat.
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.
ACTUALLY ALL YOU NEED IS THE GLYCERIN SOAP. MELT IT DOWN AND ADD A FEW DROPS OF FRAGRENCE AND A FEW DROPS OF COLORING MADE FOR SOAP MAKING.POUR INTO MOLD AND LET SIT AT LEAST 30 MINUTES TILL HARD. I HAVE BEEN MAKING THESE SOAPS FOR 5 YEARS NOW AND EVERYONE LOVES THEM. THEY ARE GREAT TO MAKE UP A LITTLE BASKET AS A GIFT. THERE IS A POST WITH MY DIRECTIONS ON THIS SITE FROM LAST YEAR
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.
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.
Is it possible to skip the grating of bar soap such as Ivory and just use the liquid version?
I bet not..I think they add something to the liquid soaps to prevent them from solidifying...
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
Wow! Great cooking tip. I will most definitely use it next time with my beef stew recipe. Thank you.
To make wonderful smelling and silky 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.
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?
This is the google site that gives you hundreds of recipes for the soap you want. I also found really great books at the library, so I hope these both help.