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Basic steps for making your own soap

Click here for a printable doc. form of this page

  1. Gather supplies and equipment
    • Eye & hand protection - Lye is very caustic. It will burn skin and eyes.
    • Fat or oil
    • Water
    • Thermometer
    • Glass measuring pitcher
    • Glass mixing bowl - do NOT use aluminum. Lye will react with it.
    • Scale with 1/10th oz accuracy
    • Soap molds
  2. Weigh the amount of fat you plan on using.
    • I use 1 or 2 pound increments to keep it simple and manageable.
  3. Heat the fat.
    • Opinion for temperature varies from 95 to 120 degrees F. Some recipes will give you a temp. I have used 120 for venison.
    • The key is to make sure the fat and the lye/water are the same temp when you mix them.
    • I heat the fat in a microwave or on the stove.
    • If you use a glass mixing bowl in the microwave to heat the fat, you can keep the fat in the bowl, add the lye/water to it and have one less thing to clean!
  4. Make lye/water.
    • Wear eye and hand protection.
    • Mix outside.
    • Do not breath fumes. Stand upwind.
    • Add ¾ cup of cold water for one pound of fat or 1 ½ cup for two in glass measuring pitcher. Some folks say 3 oz. of water for every oz. of lye. If you have extra water, the soap will just take a little longer to dry.
    • Slowly sprinkle the correct amount of lye onto the water.
    • Do not add water to the lye. It may create a volcano!
    • How much lye?
      • sop# x ounces of fat = ounces of lye
      • sop# is the soponification # of the fat and it varies with each particular fat. Common ones are found below.
      beeswax .136 canola .124 corn oil .136
      chicken fat .138 coconut .190 corn oil .136
      fish oil .136 goose fat .136 grape seed oil .123 to .135
      lard .138 olive oil .134 palm oil .141
      sunflower seed oil .134 venison fat .138  

    eg. For 1 pound of venison the formula would be 16 oz. X .138 = 2.208 oz of lye. Round off to nearest tenth = 2.2 ounces of lye

  5. Cool lye/water to the temperature of the fat or oil. (Between 95 & 120F)
  6. Mix water/lye with fat when their temps are the same. Stir constantly until mix begins to trace.
  7. As the mix reacts to create soap, it will thick and turn opaque. (Like whip cream forming.)
    • Tracing is the term used when soap is ready to pour into the molds.
    • When the soap “traces” add your extras. Stir just enough to slightly mix:
      essential oil 1 to 1½ tsp cinnamon lime peel
      lemon grass paprika clementine peel
      1/4 cup oatmeal 1/2 tsp ground ginger lemon peel
      orange peel 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon green tea
      rose hip tea
      chamomile tea
  8. Pour into soap molds
  9. After 24-36 hours, remove from molds and place on wax paper to dry. (venison harden very quickly, vegitable oils very slowly.
  10. Begin using soap in one month. Soap may be caustic (burn your skin) before then.

Click here for a printable doc. form of this page

Fun Sites with lots of soap info.

Here is a great site if you want to make your own lye before you make your soap : Traditional Soap Making Thanks to Emily for providing the link :)




More Saponification Numbers

Properties of various oils are found here.