How To Make Cold Process Soap
Want to gain confidence in your DIY beauty efforts? Come on... it's easy to make mascara and body scrubs. So if you really want to show your DIY prowess, learn how to make cold process soap! ;) As always, the draw of DIY beauty products two-fold:
- You control the ingredients so as to avoid chemicals and irritants.
- You save money.
Soap-Making TermsSoap-making has a vocabulary all on its own. Here are some helpful soap-making terms that are good to know: Fats are what you are turning into soap. This can take the form of butters (such as shea, cacao, or mango), liquid oils (such as olive, coconut, or sunflower), and hard oils (like tallow and lard). Many soaps are commonly made with a combination of fats, using different ones to achieve the type of soap desired. Lye or sodium hydroxide, is what makes fats become soap. Lye's purpose is to saponify the fats into a usable cleaning product. Lye a highly caustic material and needs to be handled with extreme care and proper safety equipment. White vinegar is necessary to have on hand when using lye to neutralize the caustic on equipment. Trace is the beginning of saponification. It happens when you blend the fats and lye together, getting a pudding-like texture to the soap. Cold process soaps require reaching trace after blending the fats and lye together. Saponification is achieved when all the lye is changed, and all the fat is now "soap". All the lye must be changed, or you risk chemical burns. Herbs may be infused into one or more of the fats before adding to soap to change the properties of the soap. For example, infusing chamomile or calendula into an oil, then straining and adding to your soap recipe is great for soothing itchy skin. Fragrances like essential oils can be added for smell. They are not a necessary addition, however. Unscented bars work just as well. Colorants, like foods and additives, are another fun way to personalize your soap. Beet root powder, carrots, spirulina, activated charcoal, or spinach can all make a pretty, naturally colored bar of soap. (You actually can create a seafoam green soap with the addition of spirulina.)
Soap-Making EquipmentSafety equipment is a must when making soap. Lye, when not handled correctly, can cause serious chemical burns on your skin. Safety first! Eye protection -- do NOT skip this. Safety goggles are found at your local hardware store. You must protect your eyes from lye! Gloves -- at a minimum, use common cleaning gloves. Gloves designed to protect you from chemical spills are the BEST choice, but they can be costly. Again, you must protect your skin from the lye. If despite all your best efforts, you lye splashes on you, do NOT use vinegar on your skin. This can cause a further chemical reaction. The best remedy is to rinse it off in plain, cool water for 10 minutes and then wash skin thoroughly to remove any residue. Molds are nice but not necessary. I simply use a 9" x 13" glass dish. Measuring cups and a scale are very important. Accuracy is key when measuring out fats, lye, and water. Too much lye and you risk crumbly soap that can burn your skin. Not enough lye and you risk very soft soap that won't last long, nor provide you with bubbles. A stick (immersion) blender is not a necessity, however, it makes getting the soap to trace so much faster. You can always use a wooden spoon to stir to trace. It'll just take a lot longer. A wooden spoon is used for mixing the lye water with the fats and can be used for bringing soap to trace. Wood is preferred over metal as the metal can have a reaction to the lye. White vinegar is necessary when working with lye to neutralize the caustic on bowls, spoons, and measuring cups.
Cold Process SoapTo make cold process soap, you mix the fats and lye, bring it to trace, and then pour into a mold without cooking. Saponification comes over time, as the soap cures and hardens. The soap cannot be used for 4 to 6 weeks while curing to allow all the lye to change. This process is great for making a shampoo bar, a beauty bar, or adding different colors, herbs, and fragrances to your soap. This recipe is great for beginners, as all the ingredients are easily found, and rather cheaply. First, gather all your supplies. Make sure you have all the supplies before you begin. This recipe makes 4 or 5 hard soap bars, depending on the size of the cut.
Supplies (all must be weighed)
- 8 ounces (by weight) WFN Craft Oil
- 4 ounces (by weight) WFN Olive Oil
- 4 ounces (by weight) rendered beef tallow or lard
- 6.08 ounces (by weight) water
- 2.45 ounces (by weight) lye