Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cold Pressed Homemade Bar Soap

I just started using a bar from my first batch of cold pressed homemade bar soap. It's been quite awhile since I've used "regular" store-bought soap to compare it to, but it lathers as well as my liquid castile soap. The scent is pretty boring - next time I will add some essential oils. Here is the recipe that I used if anyone is interested in giving it a try. Before batching, please refer to the safety tips at the bottom of this post.

The supplies you will need for making bar soap include:
  • Food or postal scale
  • Candy thermometer
  • Pot (for oil/soap mixture)
  • Heat resistant glass jar or pot (for lye/water solution)
  • Soap mold (storebought or ANY kind of non-metalic container)
  • Rubber scraper or wooden spoons (I used a wooden paint stirrer that I got for free at the hardware store)
  • Safety goggles, gloves, and other desired (apron, surgical mask, etc.)

Homemade Cold Press Bar Soap
Lye solution:
  • 6 ounces sodium hydroxide lye crystals
  • 12.5 ounces cold water

*Slowly add the lye crystals to the cold water (NEVER the other way around). Set it aside in a safe place away from kids and animals and allow it to cool to a temperature of 100-120 degree's F.

Oil mixture:

  • 12 ounces Coconut Oil
  • 12 ounces Olive Oil
  • 9 ounces Canola or Soybean Oil
  • 8 ounces Palm Oil

*Carefully weigh solid oils in a pot and stir/heat over stove just until melted. Add the carefully weighed liquid oils. Allow the oils to cool to 100 degree's F before adding lye solution.

Carefully add the lye solution to the oil mixture. The oils will turn cloudy right away. Stir until lye solution and oils are blended. Using short bursts (less than 1 minute at a time), use the stick blender to mix the soap until it reaches trace.

To see if the soap has reached trace, pull the stick blender straight out and watch for beads of the solution to drip back into the pot. If the beads are very slow to drip (or they don't drip at all), you've reached trace (I know it doesn't sound helpful now, but you will know it when you see it!). If you continue mixing beyond this point, the oils will start to separate from the soap mixture.

Pour the soap into a mold (anything but metal or aluminum). For my soap, I pulled a greeting card box out of my recyling. Put the soap in a safe place away from children and animals and allow it to set. After 24 hours, pull the soap out and cut it (it is still very soft at this stage and it's easier to cut and there is less waste than if you wait the 3-4 weeks for the soap to finish curing). Put the soap back in a safe place and let it continue to cure for 3-4 weeks (I lined a non-aluminum baking sheet with waxed paper to finish curing my soap on).

What a great process, right?! After 3-4 weeks your soap is ready for use and you are slightly cooler than you were before you started this process ;)

*By the way, my soap has "character" because I had to rebatch it. Normally, you would get a creamy uniform color soap with this recipe.

SAFETY: While making soap and cleaning up your work area/supplies afterwards, you should ALWAYS wear gloves and goggles (I also wore a heavy apron and a surgical mask). Keep white vinegar handy - if your skin comes in contact with the lye or the soap solution, the vinegar will neutralize the reaction and prevent it from burning your skin. Do NOT reuse utensils and containers for food. Do not allow children or animals access to any of your soap making supplies or, when you are batching, your work area. Thoroughly clean your work area with white vinegar when you are done making soap. Always add the lye crystals to cold water - do NOT add the water to the lye crystals. It's not as horrible as it sounds - the lye just demands a little respect.


Anonymous said...

Whoa, that's involved. I would love to do it some day, but for some reason the fact that I don't have a candy thermometer is dibilitating to me. One of those brain hicups, I suppose.

Tara said...

Lol - me, too! Isn't that funny? For some reason I just couldn't justify spending the <$5 to buy it (even though I was fully planning on spending the money for more expensive items like the stick blender and pots)

Anne said...

You should just make it and then sell it to us so we don't have to do all that :) I am sure we could rationalize that purchase, lol!

Tara said...

I'd never really thought of that, but I would be more than happy to make and sell this to anyone who is interested!

Rae said...

I was wondering what type of pot you used to add the solution to the oils in and if use it only for making soap or were able to clean it to be able to use it for food again? Thanks.

Tara said...

Hi, Rae -

I'm so glad you stopped by my blog :) I have read that you aren't supposed to reuse soap batching tools for food, so I went to and bought a small enamel covered stock-pot for $12 or so - I use it for adding the lye solution to the oil mixture and blending the soap to trace. I use a glass cookie-jar type container for combining my water and lye. I use wooden paint stirring sticks that I got for free from the hardware store to stir the solution and a dollar-store spatula to transfer the finished mixture to the molds. I bought an inexpensive handblender and I only use the blender attachment for soapmaking (it came with separate wisk and mixer attachments that I use for food) .

Good luck batching! I was so intimidated by the process when I started, but I've decided that out of everything on my blog, it's my favorite thing to make :D