Site written and maintained by Steven Cole – 30 years experience in soap making and developer of Soap Calc Software for Soap Formula Design.
Making quality soap at home does not need to be a difficult process. Natural hand made soap can be made quickly and cheaply in as little as one hour. All you need are the basic ingredients, instructions and the proper technique. The instructions and techniques are provided free on this site and ingredients are readily available locally or on the internet. For a video guide you can click here. Also, after you master soapmaking, you may also want to consider making your own spa products.
Soap is the product of a chemical interaction between lye (sodium hydroxide) and oil or fat. The result of this chemical process is what we know as soap. Since there are only three basic ingredients to soap the process of making it is very simple. The key is mixing together the right amounts of each ingredient in the correct sequence. There are three methods for making soap. Cold process, blender method and hot process. There are pros and cons to each and we will cover all three processes.
How Soap Cleans
Soap cleans by acting as an agent between water and dirt or grime. Soap allows water to do its job by getting it to the surface. Soapy water tends to soak into a surface therefore allowing the water to wash away dirt. In addition, soap grabs dirt and grime and attaches it to the water which then washes it away. This may be an over simplification of the process but it is accurate.
Unlike store soap, hand made lye soap does more than just clean. The soap you will make contains about 25% pure glycerin. Glycerin draws moisture to the skin, soothing and lubricating it. Most commercial soap manufacturers remove the glycerin and sell it back to the consumer in other skin care products. Also, most commercially produced soaps are actually petrochemical based detergents. These types of soaps are good cleansers but are harsh on the skin.
Lye based soap has been around for quite a while for two reasons; it is simple and it works. When properly made it has some wonderful characteristics. Here are some of those characteristics :
1. Lye soap is gentle on the skin and can be made to your specifications.
2. The quality of soap that is made at home can easily surpass commercially produced soap for much less money.
3. With hand made soap you get just what you want. You can add fragrance, color, extra moisturizers or make the bars all natural if that is your preference. You can also use any shape mold you want. Your imagination is your only limitation.
4. Depending on the ingredients used, home made soap bars can easily outlast commercial soap products.
5. Lye soaps have a ‘creaminess’ that cannot be duplicated by any of the soaps found in stores. Lye soap is gentle on your skin because the making of lye soap causes it to produce a large amount of natural glycerin as a by-product. In hand made soaps the glycerin is left in the soap for you to enjoy.
6. Lye soap can be used to clean just about everything. . It can be used on just about anything. Saddle soap is simply an olive oil based lye soap, so it’s good for leather too.
7. Soapmaking is fun and addictive. Bars of homemade soap make great gifts for friends and family.You can save hundreds of dollars just on Christmas gifts.
8. If you wish you can produce soap as a business for profit. People will pay more for a quality product. Especially if the product solves a skin problem. Soapmaking is a great skill which can easily be turned into a profitable business.