How to Make Soap at
Home with Lye with Step-by-Step Instructions and Videos
Learn how to make soap at
on the homestead.
step-by-step instructions for making homemade soap with with lye with
videos. There are also soap
recipes for clear soap, hard soap, saddle soap and laundry soap, among
Making soap at home can be
and rewarding experience and seldom takes more than an hour and a half
out of your time. However, many of you may have been put off trying out
this hobby after reading about all the dangers and cautions that go
into soap making.
There are certain cautions
you do need to take, however, thousands of people around the world make
homemade soap every day of the year safely and without getting hurt in
any way. What it takes is a good dose of common sense are the
realization that you are working with chemicals, especially lye, that
is volatile if not handled correctly. However, once you have this
knowledge and know what to look out for making soap becomes an great
hobby and once bitten you will probably never buy another bar
Here you will find easy,
step-by-step instructions on how to make soap at home,
how to make lye out of wood ash, and some soap recipes that will help
the novice or beginner soap maker to the more adventurous and advanced.
For those of you who want to make your own recipes with different fats
and oils and need guidance on how much caustic soda to use, have a look
at our Saponification
Homemade soap makes for great
gifts and you can do this from the easy milled soap process where you
use plain white store bought soaps, or by using a cold process or a hot
process both of which will be discussed at length. Once you have read
our instructions, you may be further inspired by visiting our Country Corner Store for books on
soap making, and also some basic soap making kits to get you started on
how to make soap.
HOW TO MAKE SOAP AND
SAFETY WHEN SOAP MAKING
It is true when I said that you
can safely make soap at home. However, that safety relies on you making
sure that you handle your ingredients with care and follow some simple
HOW TO MAKE SOAP USING LYE
When it is all said and done, lye
is caustic, corrosive, volatile and if not handled correctly can be
very dangerous. However, if it is handled correctly it will be your
friend, because the basic products to making soap is lye and fat. Lye
can either be made from wood ash which is fun to do, because from start
to finish you have made soap from scratch, or you can buy it at the
store, usually found next to the drain cleaning products.
The downside of using homemade
lye is that it is not as consistent as the bought product, sometimes
coming out too strong, or too weak, and therefore not giving your the
desired results. However, when it does work, it is well worth the
effort for the extra satisfaction it gives you. When buying your lye at
the store, make sure that what you are buying is lye, which is 100%
sodium hydroxide, and should contain nothing else.
HOW TO MAKE SOAP AND
WEARING SAFETY GLOVES AND GLASSES
By wearing gloves and safety
glasses you can prevent the lye from getting into your eyes and onto
your skin. If it comes into contact with your skin it will burn
immediately, make no doubt about that. Therefore, protection is very
important. If you do get lye on your skin, wash with cold water and
neutralize the area with vinegar.
HOW TO MAKE SOAP - ADDING LYE TO WATER
water to lye. Always add lye to water. The reason being is that when
you add cold water to lye the liquid will heat up and could end up
erupting like a volcano which is not a situation you want to find
yourself in. Even when you add the lye to water correctly, you should
still do so with caution.
HOW TO MAKE SOAP -LYE AND FUMES
Make your soap in a
well-ventilated room. When you work with lye it will give off fumes
that are not very pleasant. When you have a well-ventilated room, this
HOW TO MAKE SOAP - LYE AND CHILDREN
Because lye is caustic it is very
harmful to children. Therefore if you have children in the home, make
sure that your lye is placed far away from little fingers, preferably
locked up in an area where children do not have access. And never make
soap when small children are about, or pets for that matter, as
accidents can happen very quickly.
HOW TO MAKE SOAP - LYE IN POTS
Lastly, do not use aluminum pots
as the lye will eat away at these. You should us a stainless steel pot
that is kept only for making soap along with a spoon that has been
reserved for this hobby. You can use wooden spoons but they will
splinter and disintegrate over time. Plastic spoons and spatulas are
good to use.
HOW TO MAKE SOAP -
EQUIPMENT FOR HOME SOAP MAKING
The best thing about homemade
soap is that you can
find all the soap making equipment you need at home and
you can also
improvise. You will need the following:
* Rubber gloves
* Safety glasses
* Large, stainless steel pot
* Kitchen Scale
* 2 x 4 cup Glass or heavy plastic measuring jugs
* 2 x Stainless steel, sweet thermometers
* Wooden or plastic spoon
* Sharp, non-serrated, stainless steel knife
* Kitchen grater for milled soap
* Electric hand mixer
* Mold - you can use simple objects like a shoebox
* Cover for mold - heavy cardboard or plywood
* Old blanket
HOW TO MAKE SOAP - BASIC
INGREDIENTS FOR MAKING SOAP
Soap was discovered way back in
the days of the cavemen when fat from the cooked meat fell into the
wood ash. From wood ash you get lye and lye and fats are your 2 basic
ingredients to make soap along with some liquid, which can be water,
goats' milk, cows' milk, herbal infusions etc.
However, the type of fats and
oils that you use will affect the final product.
If you use beef fat in
the form of beef suet, your soap will be brown.
If you use pig fat in
the form of lard, your soap will be white.
If you use vegetable oils,
you will end up with a creamy off white soap that will be softer than
soaps made with beef or pig fat.
Olive oil will give you a soap that
can either be light-yellow or green in colour.
Of course, once you get the hang
of it, you can be more adventurous and try other additives like
colourants, herbal infusions and the like. But for now we are going to
look at what process takes place when making soap and how one can make
soap simply and safely without handling lye from store bought bars of
white soap through a process called milling.
HOW TO MAKE SOAP - THE
PROCESS OF MAKING SOAP
Making soap occurs through a
process of using a strong alkali (lye) and mixing it with a fatty acid
(suet, lard, olive oil etc.) The chemical reaction is known as saponification.
The lye and oils react to form a soap and glycerin
product that starts as soon as these two ingredients are introduced to
one another. As the ingredients heat up the reaction continues and even
after you pour the mixture into your molds reactions are still taking
It is important that you add your lye and fat in the right
proportions for your soap to be good.
cup + 2 tablespoons
cup + 2 tablespoons
cup + 2 tablespoons
cup + 2 tablespoons
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons
Table courtesy of Carla
As you beat your soap mixture within 10 minutes to an hour, the
soap will begin to 'trace'.
That is, once a spoon is dragged through
the mixture an indentation remains behind for a few seconds. Now you
know that your soap has a good chance of being successful.
As your soap
is left to harden and it loses water content, the lye becomes less and
less active, and eventually, after 4 weeks your soap will be able to be
used safely with no lye evident.
For those of you who don't know
how to make soap the most difficult thing to get right is knowning when
trace actually occurs and knowing
when to stop stirring. We have an excellent video for you by David
Fisher on this subject.
HOW TO MAKE SOAP - MAKING
SOAP FROM RENDERED TALLOW
If you are going to make
soap you will
be interested in how to render fats to make tallow which is a common
ingredient in making soap. Tallow comes from the hard, white fat known
as suet that can be found around the kidneys of animals such as cows
and sheep and also in deer. The fat can normally be seen just on the
hips and around the upper shoulders. In fat-tailed sheep the fat from
this area is also very useful. Lard, on the other hand is the rendered
fat that comes from pigs.
Make friends with your
butcher, and see
if he will save you the fat that he has trimmed from his meat. More
than not, you will end up with a good lot of fat for nothing. Now, it
won't be clean, and will invariably still have some meat and gristle
attached. This is when one has to now boil the fat down with water in
order to get a cleaner end product.
Make sure that you have
fresh fat that
hasn't gone rancid. If you use rancid fat your soap will not set.
To do this, cut your fat
pieces discarding as much meat and gristle as you can. If you can get
your butcher to put it through a grinder for you, even better still.
Now, place in a pot with enough water to just cover the suet. Add 1
tablespoon of salt for every pound of suet.
Bring the water and fat
to the boil and
then reduce the heat to a simmer. The heat will start to melt the fat
and any meat will start to cook.
Watch your mixture and
stir often. If
you have put the suet through a grinder, then the fat should have
melted within half an hour. However, the larger your fat pieces to
start off with, the longer the melting process with take.
Once all the fat has
melted and you are
left with the cooked meat and gristle, it is time to strain the liquid
using a sieve. Carefully pour the hot liquid through a sieve into a
bowl that has been placed underneath to catch the strained liquid.
Almost at once you will notice that the oil is floating on the top, and
the water has separated and is now on the bottom of the bowl."
Place the mixture in a
undisturbed until the next day. What you are hoping for is a nice white
disc of tallow that you can now use for making soap.
Not all fats are the same
you will want to adjust the heat of the fat accordingly when you add it
to the lye water to get the best results.
Table courtesy of Carla
However, you will still
need to do a
couple of things to get it to a usable stage. Lift the disc of fat
carefully out of the bowl and wash it gently under a tap to get rid of
any jelly, debris and foreign matter that is still clinging to your
Once you are happy that your tallow is clean, break it up
into small pieces and use straight away. Or, if you are not ready to
use it, place in a freezer bag for later use.
Tallow can be kept in
your deep freeze for up to a year. If you feel that your tallow isn't
as clean as it could be, repeat the melting process again, until you
are satisfied with the result.
HOW TO MAKE SOAP - HOW TO PERFUME SOAP
When making soap, make
sure that you
add scented oils at the end of the soap making
process. You can also replace any water used in the recipe with strong
herbal teas such as lavender, lemon balm, rosemary, etc. Using
essential oils is gives a better result than using essence.
HOW TO MAKE SOAP - PROBLEMS IN MAKING SOAP
Problems do occur from time to time
unfortunately, and we have listed a couple of common soap problems and
how to fix some of them.
Grease on the top, liquid on the bottom
- your mixture was either too hot or too cold. To fix the problem, pour
the mixture into a dish and sit it in a pan of hot water. Stir this
over a low heat till it combines again.
The soap separates as it hardens
- Grate it up and add 400 ml water to each 500 g of soap. Stir and boil
till it changes consistency and 'sheets' as you scoop it up.
Streaky Soap - it hasn't
been mixed properly. Fix by the same process as for problem number 1.
Cracked Soap - it's been
stirred too much, has too much caustic soda or has dried to fast, or
got wet and then dried again.
Greasy Soap - You have
too much fat or oil in the mixture.
White deposits on the soap
- Too much caustic soda, too much borax or very hard water has been
HOW TO MAKE SOAP - HAND-MILLED SOAP
If you want to avoid
contact with lye you can do this by making soap using store bought
plain white bars and then using your own additives coming up with a
different end product. It is a good way of an introduction into making
soap at home and an easy way of getting to know how to make soap
without worrying about the properties of lye.
When choosing your plain
white soap bar
at the store make sure that you buy a bar that is white, unscented and
not a detergent. Do not buy soaps that are deodorant soaps as these
come with scents. Buy white bars that have been made for babies,
hypo-allergenic soaps or pure vegetable oil soaps all of which should
HOW TO MAKE SOAP IN A
BLENDER (Courtesy of Elaine C. White)
1) Use with one-pound batches only.
2) Use liquid fat at room temperature. Heat solid fats only until
3) Dissolve the lye in cold water and wait until the mixture turns
4) Put all ingredients into the blender (lye/water,
Lock the blender in position, *secure the cover* and process at the
6) Stop the blender and check the soap often to watch for
a thin-trace stage.
When you stop the blender, wait a few seconds
before removing the cover. Sometimes the soap "burps" when it stops (as
a large amount of trapped air comes to the top).
7) At the thin trace stage, stop the blender. Stir the soap to check
for tracing and to allow bubbles to escape.
Pour the soap into individual molds. Thats all there is to
HOW TO MAKE SOAP AND STARTING
YOUR OWN SOAP MAKING BUSINESS
Are you tired of working for someone
else? Or are you a stay-at-home mum looking to make extra income? There
are lots of people who have been very successful at making a profit
from their soap making cottage industry. Have a look at the books and
DVDs on starting your own soap making business.
However, some friendly advice. If you
live in America, your soap business ventures will not have the same
regulations that those living in Europe will have to wade through. In
America, soap is classified as a detergent, whereas in Europe it is
classified as a cosmetic. As a result, you may find that setting up
such an cottage industry in Europe is just not worth all the hassle.
However, there are ways around that, and one of them is to make soaps
from a glycerine base which will allow you to sell that soap, fully
compliant with the current European Union regulations regarding the
sale of toiletries.
As in all new business ventures, do
your homework first. Know what legalities exist and requirements needed
to be fulfilled before you buy any expensive equipment or sign any
long-leases for shops and stores.
Now that you know how to make soap how
about visiting our soap
recipes page forso that you can start making your
very own homemade soap. Or, if you are
looking for Soap Making Kits and books and
magazines to buy online, then visit ourCountry Corner Store for all your soap
Interested in Learning how to Make
Money by Making Soap?
Learn how to make soap like
and turn your passion into a profitable business.
* Avoid costly mistakes
* gain access to tried and tested soap
* create your own soap recipes
* Find out what supplies and
need to get started
* Get TIps and advice from veteran soap
* learn how you can start a profitable
selling soap! Click Here!
Online Soap Classes
those of you who would also like to take some online soap classes sign
up today. Classes are done at your own pace working through 65 videos
of step-by-step soapmaking as well as homemade cosmetics. Unique
recipes that cannot be found anywhere else and gathered over the last
14 years of being in the soap making business. Click Here!
The following free videos on how to
make soap seen below are a great start to show you the basic in making
soap. However, if you would like to know how to make high-end, super
smelling soaps that you could turn into a home industry, then you will
probably be interested in learning about the inner secrets to turning
out soaps of high quality ready for sale at your local farmer's
markets, community halls, or even from your own website. Soap Making Fun!
This is a video that will teach you all there is to know! Don't just
make soap, become a soap making master!
FREE VIDEOS ON HOW TO MAKE SOAP
HOW TO MAKE SOAP - INTRODUCTION
HOW TO MAKE SOAP - MIXING LYE & WATER
HOW TO MAKE SOAP - LINING THE MOULD
HOW TO MAKE SOAP - WARMING THE OILS
HOW TO MAKE SOAP - FINISHING THE SOAP
VIDEO ON HOW TO MAKE SOAP - CLEANING UP
BOOKS ON HOW TO MAKE SOAP
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Palm Free Soap I just wanted everyone to know that you can make a lovely hard soap without using any Palm Oil. Check out www.orangutan.org.au. to see why.
I have been …