Photos and recipes of my handmade, natural soap
I have been making my own soap for a couple of decades now. I have allergies and very sensitive skin and needed to create a soap that would be gentle and moisturizing with light natural scents. I am always creating new recipes and experimenting with new ingredients but there are a few classics that I will always go back to. I'd like to share some favorites with you.
This is what I made today.
Lightning Water Soap using the "Hot Process" soap-making method in a crock pot.
I make both hot and cold process soaps but find myself really gravitating more towards the hot process because the soap cures faster and is ready for use almost immediately.
Hot Process Soap Recipe
Turn slow-cooker on low approx. min before adding any ingredients
All measurements are by weight not volume. Keep a spray bottle of diluted vinegar to neutralize any sodium hydroxide that escapes your jar.
8 oz. hemp seed oil
2 oz. castor oil
12 oz. coconut oil
24 oz. sweet almond oil
8 oz. palm oil
4 oz. shea butter
2 t stearic acid
20-22 oz. distilled or rain water-I used lightning water from the last Spring storms
8.2 oz sodium hydroxide
1/8 t rosemary oil extract, grapefruit seed extract, or
vitamin E oil (preservative)
½ C oats, flour etc. (optional) I used ground lavender buds, lemon verbena leaves, and oatmeal
approx. 1-1/2 to 2 oz. Essential oil
- Measure out 22 oz. of water into a heat proof glass container. Glass juice jars or Pyrex measuring cups work well because you can pour from them with minimal splashing. Do not use tap or well water because they contain a high mineral content that will react with the sodium hydroxide.
- Measure 8.2 oz. of sodium hydroxide by weight.
- In a well ventilated area add the sodium hydroxide to water. Stir slowly until the sodium hydroxide has dissolved.
- Measure coconut oil, palm oil, shea butter, and stearic acid heat them together in slow-cooker.
- Once solid oils are melted, measure and add liquid oils to slow-cooker.
- Stir gently to combine.
- Allow oil and lye mixture to reach approx. 130-150 degrees. They should be about 5 degrees of each other.
- Add water mixture to oils in a slow steady stream. Avoid splashing and splattering.
- Hand stir with stainless steal spoon until trace* (5-10 min) or use a stick blender to quickly bring to trace*. I do an initial stir with a spoon and then get the stick blender out.
- Add preservative oil at trace* (Optional)
- Cover and cook for about 45-60 minutes. Time varies depending on cooker. Do not remove lid for more that a brief moment to check progress or you will lose too much heat.
Your soap will go through many changes as it cooks. First it will thicken more in the center and smooth out. The edges will rise and curl up towards the center. Glycerine will begin to form in center on top of mixture. The sides will eventually curl into the center and sink. This is called saponification. It is the chemical reaction that turns your ingredients into soap.
- Stir glycerin back into soap mixture.
- Turn slow-cooker off, remove bowl from heating element, place bowl on a heat proof work surface.
- Stir to cool soap mixture.
- Add any botanical additives such as herbs, grains, or spices.
- Add essential oils to scent
- Pour/scoop into molds- I line a plastic or cardboard box with freezer paper
- Allow soap to set for at least a week before attempting to un-mold and cut.
- Full cure will take 3 weeks to 3 months. A hot dry area is best for hardening up the soap. Wrapping in towels can also help to absorb moisture.
*Trace- This is the point where your mixture has turned into soap. It will look like a thick pudding and when you lift the spoon out of the mixture it will leave a trail in the soap that will not sink back in right away.
Each batch of soap will produce about 5 pounds of soap. I pour all of mine into one big plastic mold (lined with freezer paper). I cut it into usable bars and let it dry out on the work bench. I have found that placing the bars on top of cotton towels helps the evaporation process along. In a humid climate I would probably also cover the bars in cotton towels to help absorb more moisture.
Each 5 pound block is about 8 inches long, 6 inches wide, and 3 inches deep.