Monday, September 9, 2013

Adventures in Soapmaking

Wife and I have been really wanting to make some soap the last little while. So we finally broke down and did it. A little trip up to IN to see first-hand how our friends make it sure helped.
Our experience was a little less breaking into dumpsters,
a little more blood remaining in our faces.
Here's a sneak peak of the beautiful end product:
Ooh la la!!
Step 1: Throw a bunch of ingredients in a pot and hope it works. Make a plan.

Wife found an awesome soap-making calculator online. We punched in a bunch of what we had (lye, coconut oil, cocoa butter, sunflower oil, beeswax, some other stuff, a little of that, etc.), and BOOM! it cranks out a recipe. And it give it to you weighed out by the gram. It was awesome.

Disclaimer: This is not a tutorial. We followed our own tutorial that we had found. Do not think these are instructions. Thank you. -Management.
With the recipe magnet-ed on the fridge, we was ready.
The trick to the soap calc is to play around with the ingredients until each of the "qualities" gets in between the recommended ranges. Ours was a bit on the soft side, but we ended up air drying it to harden it up a bit. More on that later.

Next, we gathered everything together, including rubber gloves and a digital scale. OH! And GLASS or METAL mixing stuff. It's important to use glass, because plastics can be damaged by the lye. And a crock pot on low.

And vinegar in case some lye gets on you and starts melting your skin. No joke.

Hard to believe that oils make soap. Crazytown.
Then, following the recipe, we chopped up the wax and butters, and slowly melted them in the crock pot.

MMMMM......butters and waxes......
Everything needs to be a liquid to get all mixed up together.

Beeswax is hard to chop and takes forever to melt. I'd recommend doing this first.

Follow the recipe! To the gram.

"Melting!! I'm melting! ......" The coca butter made the house smell like chocolate.
After the butters and beeswax were good and melted, and I got a serious hankering for a Hershey's bar, it was lye time.

LYE IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TO WORK WITH. There. That takes care of the legal stuff.

Wife wore rubber gloves whilst mixing. I got out of the way.

My wife the alchemist. What a lucky dude I am.

The lye made a horrid vapor that hurt to breathe. We had to crack a window and run the fans on full blast. It didn't smell like anything - it was just like taking a huge hit from an unfiltered cigarette.

The lye gets mixed with water and added to the butters and oils. I reiterate:

Wife used a hand blender to mix it all up.

Once it got hot, we had to keep an eye on it so it didnt boil over.

"Bubble, double, toil and trouble...."
It looked like a souffle.

For the last few minutes, we put in some citrus essential oils - lemon, orange, grapefruit, and tangerine. It smelled really, really good - strong but sweet. It was good combo.

When the recipe called for it (c'mon - you had to see that one coming), we dropped the heat and then set it in a container to harden overnight. Then we popped it out, cut it up, and got soap:

The soap was very soft, and smelled really citrus-y - sweet and crisp.
We let it sit out in the air for another few days, rotating it so all sides got airflow. This made the bars a bit more firm.

The lather is nice and creamy, and the citrus smell is really really nice.

Verdit? A+.


  1. yippee! Glad you joined the soap making crowd :) I guess I'll have to find something else I can trade to you for sewing now....


    1. LOL! It was fun. Thanks for demonstrating for us. We'll work out something new for bartering....