I started making cold process soap about two years ago, when my mother in law sent me birthday money and I decided to spend it on the supplies I would need. She thought it was about the strangest thing she had ever heard. It is one crafty-type hobby that I love the most and have stuck with the best. It feels truly useful, and I love the product I create.
It took me about six months to create my favorite recipe, but I have a very nice one that is good for hand, face, and body that I will share some time soon. It uses a lot of different oils and I like to do combine fragrances and colors so it is not a great one if you are just starting out.
All soap is a combination of oils, lye, and water. Basically a chemical reaction occurs between the lye and oil (the water is really just a delivery method for the lye), and the end result is soap. The different oils you choose and the amount of lye affects your soap in different ways. Some oils are good at creating a lot of lather, some are moisturizing, some clean well, some make your bar last longer. I would say that the oils you choose are the single greatest difference between different kinds of soap. I like my soap moisturizing and with a lot of lather, so I worked on my proportions of oil until that is what I got.
If you are going to start soap making, you will need some new things. I order all my supplies for Brambleberry because I love their fragrances and customer service. If you do not have a stick blender or a kitchen scale that measures in ounces, you MUST have one for this project. I ordered both of these specifically for soap making but now I use them all the time for cooking. I measure my bread ingredients by volume now, and use the stick blender for soups, beans, and probably other things I can’t think of now.
You will also need to order oils and lye. The most commonly used soap making oils are olive, coconut, and palm oil. Coconut is very cleansing and lathering and creates a hard bar. It can also be very drying, which is why it is balanced out with olive and palm which are more moisturizing. My first soap recipe I made was 30% olive, 30% coconut, 30% palm, and 10% avocado. It was nice, but I have added quite a few oils since. This would be a good starting point if you don’t want to order and measure a million oils.
You will want some bowls and cups that you don’t mind setting aside just for soaping. I find that if you are using a strong fragrance oil the scent can linger in plastics so it is best to have some just for soap.
Today I wanted to share a recipe that is a little different, and super easy for a beginner. It is a 100% coconut oil soap that is made specifically for cleaning. Since there is only ONE oil, it is nice and simple. I grate it for homemade laundry detergent, rub in on stains with a little water to spot treat clothes, and even clean my showers and toilets with it.
Coconut Oil Soap for Cleaning
You will need:
30 ounces of coconut oil
10-12 ounces of water
5.52 ounces of lye
(OPTIONAL: color and fragrance)
First you measure all your ingredients using your digital scale.
I forgot to take a picture of the lye. If you order from Brambleberry, it comes in white flakes in a jar with skulls on it. Do not be alarmed. If you can handle bleach in a safe manner, you will be okay.
Next you mix your lye and water. Always add the lye to the water. This means put your measured water in a old cup and then add your measured lye flakes, stir until dissolved and set aside. Mark the glass so someone doesn’t accidentally drink it and die. It can give off fumes and some people like to put it by an open window or outside. I don’t want my outdoor cat drinking it, so I just put it up on the windowsill.
It will be cloudy, but will clear up as it cools.
Next you melt your oils and bring them up to about 130 degrees.
Your coconut oil will start out white and solid, but will melt to look like any other cooking oil in a pan. Like Crisco!.
Now everything needs to set aside and cool. The lye water will have shot up in temperature once it mixed with the water, and your oils have been heated in a pan. They need to cool to about 110 to 120 degrees. These will take a few hours. You want them about the same temperature before they are blended, at least no more than 20 degrees difference.
Once the temperatures are right, it is time to combine them using your stick blender. Before you start this, have any fragrance and color you want to add ready to go. Also have the mold you are pouring to ready to go. Things will move quickly and start turning into soap right away, so you want to be ready.
Dump you lye water into your pot of oil, and blend using the lowest setting on your stick blender. You are looking for something called “trace” which is when your soap has the consistency of a very thin pudding. I like a very thin trace, so I stop as soon as it looks thicker than water and dragging my blender leaves any type of mark.
Once you are there, add any fragrance and color you like. I wanted my bars to be pale pink just because I think it looks pretty grated. I had a bottle of lavender fragrance that was almost empty, so I added two tablespoons of that as well to finish it off. To be honest, if you are trying to have scented clothes, homemade laundry soap is not going to cut it, so don’t go crazy here.
Pour into your molds. Remember, this is for cleaning. Who cares if they are perfect? Another reason this is a great starter soap.
They will be ready to pop out in 24 hours. I put mine in the freezer while they were setting so I could keep the color nice and light (heat as the soap is hardening intensifies the color).
Then they need to cure. You are not using this on your skin, and the bar is already very hard, so two weeks is plenty. It just needs to dry out a bit and finish the chemical reaction so there is not any “raw” lye that will make it too harsh.
To turn into laundry detergent:
Just grate two bars in your food processor, and add a box of borax and a box of washing soda. Mix it up and keep it somewhere air tight. Not complicated.
As laundry detergent goes, it is fine, but I still soak towels and kids clothes in oxi-clean before washing to remove any tough stains. (I did this when I was using ultra expensive Tide, too.) I also add Downy Unstoppables to our sheets and towels since my husband likes them scented.
To use in cleaning:
I keep a container of soap flakes in my bathrooms, and clean the shower using a wet rag and soap, then rinse off. It leaves a really nice shine, no residue, and cleans very very well. I also sprinkle them in the toilet bowl and scrub. I really feel if you are willing to clean before things get bad there is no need to use such harsh cleaners. (Part of the benefit of a cleaning schedule.)
You may want to label these bars so no one accidentally bathes with them.
Give it a try! I will post the shower soap recipe next time I make it. It is the only kind of soap my family uses, and it makes a great gift, whereas soap to use for laundry would be a pretty terrible one.