You should pay close attention to the quality of food you put into your body. Equally important are the types of products you use on your skin from day-to-day. Perhaps you haven’t really thought about the kind of soap you use to wipe away dirt and grime, but you should understand what ingredients are in your soap every time you purchase a bar.
What’s in Most Soaps?
You’ll most likely find that many kinds of harsh detergents and synthetic fragrances are ingredients you can easily find in many major brands. These chemicals can be linked to skin irritation, allergies and migraines.
Antibacterial soaps are as popular as ever as people want to keep their hands germ-free to prevent the spread of illness. It’s also common for product marketers to promote that their antibacterial face and body washes will prevent and treat acne breakouts. A lesser-known fact is that some antibacterial ingredients are considered possible carcinogens. Triclosan is one example provided by the Food and Drug Administration.
You can avoid these health hazards altogether by learning how to make your own soap. Making soap will not only be better for your body, but it is fun and it may save you money. It can even become a unique gift you share with your family and friends. Making soap may seem like a daunting task but it isn’t that difficult. You’ll need some basic ingredients and some molds to get started.
Tips Before You Begin Making Your Own Soap
Creating your own soap feels a bit like being a mad scientist — from exploring new fragrances from oils and herbs, to experimenting with design and shape, soap-making is a fun and entertaining way to take care your body. You won’t be an expert immediately, and it will take some time to perfect complicated recipes.
Still, if you’re willing to start out small, you’ll soon be on the road to amazing creations. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Make sure your measurements are accurate. Use a kitchen scale in grams or ounces for the best results.
- Use distilled water instead of tap water. You won’t have any unwanted minerals in your mixtures that could interfere with the process.
- Begin simple before trying more complicated recipes.
There are some ingredients that you’ll always need when making homemade soap. If you plan on making a lot of soap or making it regularly, it’s a good idea to purchase your key ingredients in bulk quantities.
One of those key ingredients is lye or sodium hydroxide. Some people are nervous about using lye because it can be hazardous, causing burn or even explosions. But lye can’t be substituted when making soap, so use caution. After the lye reacts with oils, it becomes harmless.
Almost every soap recipe will call for oils to use as your base. Common oils are olive, coconut and palm oil.
Find the Right Mold
Before setting up all your ingredients for your first homemade soap batch, you’ll need to look into purchasing soap molds to shape your crafty creations. Try using the sites Bramble Berry or Mold Market to find the silicone mold in the shape and style you want.
If you’d rather not spend the extra money, you can be inventive with what you have around your kitchen. Muffin tins are a great substitute for soap molds, or you could use a bread pan to create one large soap bar you cut afterwards. Be sure to spray your tins or pans down with oil before pouring your soap, or line them with muffin liners or parchment paper for easy removal.
A mild, pure soap, castile soap is a great way to begin your foray into the world of soap-making. The recipe below makes six large bars.
- 20 ounces olive oil
- 2 ½ ounces palm oil
- 2 ½ ounces coconut oil
- 3 1/3 ounces lye crystals (sodium hydroxide/caustic soda)
- 8 ounces cold water
- 1 ounce of fragrance or essential oil
This particular recipe uses the cold press method and is easy to follow. Feel free to add your own herbs or petals at the end while your soap is setting.
In addition to using oils, beef fat can be rendered into tallow and used to make a gentle, moisturizing soap.
This pure tallow soap recipe calls for a few simple ingredients.
- 30 oz tallow or lard
- 88 oz 100% pure lye
- 11 oz distilled water
Shea Butter Soap
Shea butter has many benefits to the skin. This complex natural fat that comes from the African shea tree is used to treat everything from stretch marks to sores. You’ve probably noticed it’s becoming a popular ingredient in many commercial health and beauty products.
Here are two shea butter recipes that are similar but use different amounts of shea. The amount of shea you should use depends on the oils you use in your recipe.
5 percent Shea Butter Soap
- 50 percent olive oil
- 20 percent coconut oil
- 25 percent palm oil
- 5 percent shea butter
20 percent Shea Butter Soap
- 5 castor oil
- 20 percent canola oil
- 25 coconut oil
- 30 percent lard
- 20 percent shea
Calendula, Oatmeal and Honey Soap
This soothing soap has oatmeal and honey to gently exfoliate and the calendula to act as an anti-inflammatory. It’s the perfect way to enjoy a long soak in the tub after a long day and makes about 10 bars.
- 18 ounces white melt-and-mold soap
- 5 tablespoons calendula petals, dried
- 4 tablespoons coarse oatmeal
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 10 drops bergamot, neroli or mandarin essential oil
You’ll be sure to fall in love with the beautiful citrus fragrances and the nourishing honey after making this soap from the full recipe and process.
If you would like to try your hand at growing your own calendula for soap or other skin-care products, be sure to choose the medicinal variety of the plant Calendula officinalis. You will want to harvest the petal once the flowers have fully opened up and you have morning sun to evaporate any dew.
Place them in a shady place on a drying screen, turning them once or twice a day until they’re as dry as paper. Finally, pull the petals off the flower buds and put them in a glass jar for storage.
Once you’ve created your first few bars of soap, you’ll never want to give the hobby up.
Simple Beeswax Soap
Beeswax will add a firmer consistency to your soap and a light honey scent. This recipe will yield about six bars of soap.
- 180 grams palm oil
- 180 grams shea butter
- 120 grams coconut oil
- 120 grams olive oil
- 12 grams of beeswax
- 82 grams lye (sodium hydroxide)
- 228 grams distilled water
- Optional: 20 to 36 grams of your favorite essential oils or fragrance oils
Shower Gel and Liquid Soap
Many people prefer to use shower gel or liquid hand soap instead of bar soap. Making natural, homemade liquid soap is also an option. The thickness can range to very thin to thick and gel-like. Experiment with the consistency until you find what matches your personal preference.
Before you start down the path of making a liquid soap, check out some tips for how to thicken a soap base.
Moisturizing Citrus Body Wash
The fresh citrus scent of this soap will be a nice addition to your morning shower routine.
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons castile soap
- 2 tablespoons fractionated coconut oil (almond, olive, or grape seed oil can be substituted)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable glycerine (optional)
- 1 tablespoon jojoba oil
- 1 tablespoon Vitamin E oil
- 20-40 drops citrus essential oils (orange, lemon, and/or grapefruit)
If you have a bar soap that you like and want to turn bar soap into liquid soap, that’s also a possibility.
- 2 tablespoons of liquid glycerin
- 8 ounce bar of soap
- 1 gallon of water
As you can see making your own soap has many benefits. Soap makers can express their creativity and have control over the ingredients that go into their soap. Different ingredients have different health befits, healing properties and fragrances that you can tailor to your personal needs and likes.
Basic ingredients are relatively inexpensive based on how much soap can be produced from a few key products. How elaborate or specialized the ingredients you use are is up to you and how much you want to control the cost. The truth is you don’t need lots of special equipment and exotic ingredients to make good soap.
Most of the ingredients used in homemade soap are gentle to sensitive skin. And soap makers can control the moisturizing ingredients, which are often stripped from commercial soaps. That’s great news for people who suffer from skin irritation and dryness.
When it’s time to give a gift, family, friends and coworkers will appreciate the time and thoughtfulness that went into making soap for them. Give soap making a try if you haven’t already or try out some new recipes.