Soap For Beginners
If you are looking for a simple beginners recipe, this article is for you. Soap can be made by using oils/butters combined with water + sodium hydroxide (often known as lye). Some soap will be made by using only one kind of oil, such as coconut or olive oil. But to give your soap a nice balance it’s recommended to combine more than one type of oil (or butter). My personal favorites are olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil and cocoa butter. Each oil/butter has different characteristics and will give you different results in the soap bar. This specific soap recipe is made with olive oil, coconut oil and cocoa butter, very simple and reachable ingredients.
It is important to educate yourself regarding safety while making soap, the basic guidelines are gloves and long sleeves plus eye protection, this way you are protected from burns during the making of the soap.
Sodium hydroxide (Lye) is caustic substance and while working with the lye solution you should be careful, the soap is caustic during the first 24 hours, after that there is no lye in its original state, therefore it is safe to use soap after those 24 hours.
The information here is not very profund, so if you want to learn more about the ingredients there is plenty of information online.
In this recipe I divided a 500 gr of batter into 3 containers in order to demonstrate how you can personalize and play with the additives, so you can have many kinds of soaps by using the same basic recipe.
Essential oils or fragrance oils are commonly used in soaps bars, you can make your own blend, but keep in mind 2 things: first, not all essential oils can be used in cosmetics (some of them can cause a harsh reaction) and second, some fragrance oils can speed up the trace of your soap.
Trace is when the lye solution and oils are forming a homogeneous mixture and this mixture is getting thick when you keep blending or adding ingredients to it.
I usually prefer to blend my batter just a little to have a light trace that is easy to pour. If you reach a high trace in your soap batter it will harden and thicken very quickly, making it hard to pour.
The first part of the mixture I only added vanilla essential oil.
To the second part I’ve added clay and salt, this is called a salt bar, you can substitute the cambrian clay with red clay, pink clay, green french clay,,,,or skip the clay if you don’t have it, just add the salt and you will have a soap salt bar.
To the third part I’ve added coconut milk powder and grounded coffee. This is an exfoliating soap bar, the coconut milk powder adds a silky feel to the soap and the coffee is a very good exfoliator. If you want to change these ingredients you can add grounded lavender buds instead of the coffee, or dried and grounded calendula flowers. You can use goat milk powder or colloidal oatmeal to add the silky feel to the finished soap bar.
For an exfoliator soap I often use sand, you can check what is your favorite ingredient and add it to the soap, there are so many ingredients you can add to your batter to make it to your liking.
- 150 gr distilled water or aloe vera juice or distilled water infused
- 68 gr Lye (sodium hydroxide)
- 275 gr olive oil
- 125 gr gr coconut oil
- 100 gr cocoa butter
- 6 gr essential oil vanilla
- 6 g essential oils blend (eucalyptus and pine scotch)
- 6 gr essential oils blend (patchouli and vanilla)
- 3 gr cambrian clay
- 30 gr sea salt
- ¼ tsp coconut milk powder
- ¼ tsp ground coffee
- In a heat resistant container add the water (don’t forget to protect your hands and eyes).
- Add the lye to the water, it will get hot very quickly, some soapers use ice cubes or very cold water to make the lye solution. Stir the lye to dissolve in the water until the water will be clear. It is recommended to add the lye to the water in a ventilated area (close to a window).
- In a pan place the hard oils (such as coconut oil) and butters (cocoa butter) and melt them on low-medium heat.
- In a different container add the liquid oils (olive oil). Take into consideration that coconut oil can be liquid in warm temperatures, so if it’s liquid you can add it here, if you live in a cold area your coconut oil is probably solid and you will need to melt it with the butters.
- Add the melted butters and oils to the liquid oils and check the temperature with a thermometer.
- Check the lye solution temperature. I recommend mixing the lye into the oils at a temperature of 35-45 degrees celsius (120 fahrenheit), the lye solution and the oils should be more or less at the same temperature.
- Now add the lye solution to the oils (never the other way).
- Stir the mixture to create an emulsion, in soap making it is recommended to use an immersion blender (one that is used only for soap making), you will see that the mixture becomes opaque/creamy. You will need to stir until no more oils are separated from the mixture.
- Once the mixture is homogeneous you can add essential oils or fragrance if you wish (mixing well to incorporate the essential oils), or just pour it into molds, the soap will be ready after 24-48 hours. In this recipe I wanted to show you that with this basic recipe you can make different kinds of soaps, so I divided the soap batter into 3 containers.
- To each part of the batter I’ve added different ingredients to have 3 kinds of soap bars. To the first part I only added 6 gr vanilla essential oil, mixed it well into the batter and poured into molds.
- To the second part, I’ve added 6 gr of essential oil blend (eucalyptus and pine scotch), 3 gr of cambrian blue clay and 30 gr of sea salt. These bars will be salt bars. Salt bars have many qualities (exfoliating, deep cleaning pores, they have a creamy lather…). So first I hydrated the clay with 1 tbsp of distilled water and added the clay to the mixture, using the blender to combine the clay (only few pulses are enough). Then I added salt and essential oils and mixed with a spatula and poured into the molds.
- For the third batter, I wanted to use ingredients that you can find easily, so grounded coffee was a good choice. I added ¼ tbs of coffee and ¼ tbs of coconut milk powder along with the essential oil blend (vanilla and patchouli) mixed with a spatula, and poured into the molds.
- Let the soaps harden for 24-48 hours and then unmold them.
- Once unmoled, the soaps will need time to cure (between 3 to 6 weeks) before you can use them.
- If you wish to soften the edges of the soap bar, the most easy way is to apply a damp towel on the edges and smooth them. Another easy way is to trim the edges with a vegetable peeler.
- After the soap is no longer caustic the PH level should be between 9 to 10, I’ve checked my soaps after 24 hours and the PH level was good (which means I can use the soaps, but by letting them cure for few more weeks, they will get harder and will last longer). To check the PH of the soaps (if you wish to, It’s not mandatory if it’s for self use) you’ll need to put a little bit of water on the back of the soap and rab a PH strip on the wet part of the soap, then compare your PH strip to the PH box.
- This soap is super creamy and moisturizing, I hope you’ll enjoy making it and using it. The shelf life of a soap is usually one to two years, taking into consideration that natural colors and fragrance will fade over time.
If you need a quick guide for the equipment used in soap making, you can read about it here: https://www.diycosmetica.com/basic-equipment-for-soap-making