Sunday, 1 November 2015

Making Soap

 Soap for me was not as hard as I first thought.....But then I hadn't really thought about making my own soap until I read about in Down to Earth by Rhonda Hetzel and now I have made it twice. It takes me longer than usual because I mix it by hand with a whisk as I don't have a stick blender (yet), nevertheless making soap feels so right to make and then eventually use. A word of caution first when making soap - if it is your first time (or anytime after if you prefer) use protective equipment as you are working with caustic soda and it will burn your skin if it comes into contact with it. I am lead to believe soap cannot be made without it, though I haven't looked into in too much yet as I am quite happy with my first results.

Soap essentials.

Items you will need:

Safety equipment:
  • latex gloves
  • goggles/eye protection
  • mask
Soap ingredients:
  • 460g olive oil
  • 600g rice bran oil
  • 440g coconut oil
  • 570ml rainwater/filtered water
  • 230g caustic soda
  • essential oil for fragrance (optional)
Soap making equipment:
  • lined baking trays, soap moulds or any other non-aluminium container that will allow you to set and shape the soap
  • glass measuring jug
  • pot
  • mixing bowl (non aluminium)
  • whisk or stick blender (don't use electric beaters as it splashes)
  • scales
  • sharp knife
  • drying rack

Measure ingredients accurately.

Making soap:

  • Ensure the room you are working in has good ventilation. Put on your safety equipment and cover your work space with newspaper for protection.
  • Grease your moulds - spray oils works great, or use ordinary oil and paper towel and wipe over.
  • Weigh your oils and warm in a pot until temp reaches around 50 degrees Celsius.
  • Measure caustic soda and water, carefully adding caustic soda to water and not the other way around. This will heat up very quickly and fumes are created. Mix until dissolved.

Caustic soda when combined with water gets very hot.
Cooling the oils and caustic soda on a window sill.

  • Once oils and caustic soda mixture are between 45 -50 degrees Celsius carefully add caustic soda into the oils and start to whisk/blend. If you are using a stick blender it should only take about 10-15 minutes, however I used a whisk and spent at least 30 minutes whisking. A great workout for the forearms I can tell you that!

Oils combined to caustic soda looks smooth and creamy.
    Mixture at 'trace'.

  • When ripples begin to form on the surface and stay there you have reached a point called 'trace' and this means the soap has become stable and ready to pour into moulds. Caustics soda is mostly gone by this point too.

Coconut shreds from Hubby's coconut cream making added in an attempt create an exfoliating soap bar.

  • If you wish to add fragrance or anything else like flower petals or coconut granules (like I did in this attempt) do so now.
  • Pour into tray or moulds and allow to cool. Leave somewhere to set slightly for about 12-24 hours.

Soap poured into trays to set.

  • Take soap from moulds and cut up into desired shape with a sharp knife and place on a drying rack.
  • Leave to cure and harden for 4-6 weeks depending on size. Turn the soap every other day so they dry out evenly. The drier they are when you use them, the longer they will last.
Soap cut up ready to dry out.

And that's basically all there is to it. There are plenty of other recipes out there and I think every time I make soap I will try something a little different. Make sure if you are creating your own recipe you have the right oil to caustic soda ratio right otherwise it wont work. There are lots of soap calculators out there, but I haven't used any yet so feel free to let me know which ones are the best to use. I will also share when I find great recipes and the sorts with you too! Have fun and let me know how it goes when you try it.

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