Making handmade soap is one big step towards your health, towards the health of our planet; it’s an eco-friendly solution, and a fun one at that!
Like many of you, I have spent most of my life buying soap in those neat little packages with a fun design, and the scent, oh the scent was to die for!
But what I’ve discovered was when I used soap my skin got dry. Sometimes it even got patchy and began to peel off.
So, I read the ingredients on the back of one of those neat little packets, and what did I find? A bunch of chemicals whose names I couldn’t even pronounce!
No wonder my skin got so bad, I’ve been bathing it in chemicals! So, now what?
I’ve got two words for you - HOMEMADE SOAP.
I realized it is not time consuming, it doesn’t cost a lot (and it even saves you money which you would have spent on drugstore soap), it’s healthy – you get to choose what to put into the soap, it’s easy to make, and it’s just so damn fun!
Do you know what you need and what the ingredients do?
First, let me answer your million dollar question - Can I Make Soap Without Lye?
I’m not going to lie to you, the answer is NO. Lye is something most beginners fear and it was one of my biggest concerns too, but you just need to educate yourself on the topic, and it will cease to be scary.
Lye is a caustic alkali. When handling, handle with care, and of course use gloves (eye protection and a mask is also recommended).
For making handmade soap only use the crystal form of pure Sodium Hydroxide. Also, you must add lye to water, not the other way around. Both of these things are extremely important!
Now, I know you might be a bit scared by lye, but I promise the end result, a bar of natural soap, is completely harmless.
The only reason lye is used is because soap making is basically the chemical reaction between oils, which are acids, and lye, which is a base. Mixed together they form a completely new, safe and harmless material which are nearly neutral in PH.
Through a process called saponification lye reacts with the oils in your soap, and when the process is finished – NO LYE will remain.
If you still don’t trust lye, I suggest you do what I did for most of my beginner’s days – use ‘Melt-and-Pour’ (it still consists of lye, but you don’t have to handle it by yourself).
This is already premade - a base & oils mixed together. It usually comes in small cubes which you melt in a pot or in a microwave.
Water is the second most important ingredient in making handmade soap, and as mentioned before, it is extremely important to add lye to water and not the other way around!
Water helps the chemical reaction with lye. When you first remove your finished product - the soap - out of your molds – they will feel a bit soft, creamy almost.
But don’t worry, the water evaporates from the bar in a few days, and it becomes harder.
Oils, which are acids, are needed to complete the reaction with lye, which is a base. Luckily, oils and fats are easy and safe to handle, and one of the best things about making handmade soap is you definitely have at least one of them in your kitchen cabinet!
The fun thing about oils is that you can use several of them in one recipe. Sometimes that is even a better idea, because handling only one oil in a recipe can be quite difficult.
Each oil has its own characteristics, so choose wisely. The most common oils uses in making handmade soap are:
Add-ins are such a fun way to create art out of your bar!
These are all great for exfoliating your skin, or to give you that extra scrub!
The first part of design is color, which we talked about above. Be creative - mix colors together, and create something new! Make red and green soaps for Christmas, orange and gold for Halloween, little pink ones if your friend is expecting a baby girl - it can be an awesome gift!
The second part of design is the molds. Now, this can get a bit tricky if you don’t have any molds in the kitchen.
Here’s a little tip from me: just (re)use something you can find at home, an empty butter container, or an empty milk carton.
Sliced into two pieces, use whatever you can find that is a square shape, is empty, and you were just going to throw it away, and clean it well before use!
Of course, it doesn’t need to be square shaped!
You can just use your muffin tray, make cute little cylinder shaped soaps! Sometimes round soaps without corners are even better.
Now this next piece of advice is my little secret, I use it for gift soaps. My friends are crazy about them!
I use the tray for ice cubes or just some leftover mold from a box of chocolates (the heart shaped ones are smash hit!), and make little tiny soaps, take three of them, put them in a shiny colorful bag, wrap them with a bow, and voila - a perfect gift for any occasion.
Another one of my tricks is using a ‘cookie stamp’. It doesn’t work on all soaps, especially the hard ones after they’ve set, but sometimes it works on the softer, creamy soaps.
If you stamp them at the right time, with cookie stamps you can create so many different designs on your natural soaps!
Happy Soapy to You.....
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