You can’t truly call yourself a “homecrafter” until you make your own soap….at least one batch. Why would you want to call yourself a homecrafter? Good question. I don’t know – bcuz we’re bringing back the wonderful, independent, romantic art of home-steading…and you can’t stead properly (enjoy it) without getting into some crafts – and at the top of the useful crafts list – soap!!
Once upon a time, soap-making was a regular household ritual involving a few simple ingredients – mainly, rendered fat (tallow), lye (ashes from the fireplace), and water. It’s not what most people make nowadays, but – that’s how simple and basic it can be. No one had 50 cleaning products for the kitchen and bathroom, and another dozen to wash their body with. It was a simpler time with no such thing as a hot towel warmer or scent fresheners for homes. They had one – “soap”…and it was used for everything from washing babies, to washing clothes, to scrubbing pots, pans, and floors. And – it didn’t smell like Ocean Breeze, Apple Pie a la Mode, or Mango Blast!! It smelled like – soap!
Here are the basic recipes to get you started. This should cover all your cleaning needs. Once you’ve completed all these recipes, you can replace all the toxic junk in your home, with nice, energy-raising, home-crafted versions….and you don’t need to spend a lot to get started. Even with the more expensive ingredients you may get into later – it might cost you a chunk up front, but when you break down the cost (per bar, per bottle, per load) you’re for sure saving money.
Note on video: Until I get my own videos done, I searched around Youtube for suitable instruction videos on crockpot soap, and liked Kim’s the best. I like that she’s down-to -earth, plain & simple, and not all fussy. Her videos are LONG, but I think that’s probably best, bcuz she goes through just about every detail….and then some! I love that she’s following her passion, and diving in – starting her first brick ‘n’ mortar shop! I just think she’s fun and inspirational. So, visit her website if you get a chance, and let her know she’s doing a great job!! I think she’d love that!
Courtesy of Kim at EssentialSoap)
You may have your heart set on something you’d buy from Lush. Don’t get your expectations too high…and I believe you’ll be pleasantly pleased! This is your first experiment with hot-process soap – I’ve picked a low-budget recipe, bcuz it’s not smart to spend a bunch on ingredients for your first attempt….and honestly, when it comes down to it (for soap anyway) – fat is fat! No matter what the end result creates – it’ll still be soap. It’ll be great for washing the pets, for cleaning up hands after gardening, or grated into the laundry recipe. After you’ve made the recipe once – to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs- you can upgrade your ingredients if you want, and play around more.
– Plain Ol’ Crockpot (3 settings low-high-warm) 6 quart. (Try Goodwill!!!)
– Kitchen Scale (digital is nice, but manual is better)
– various containers for measuring, mixing (glass, heavy plastic, or stainless) NO ALUMINIUM!
– candy thermometer (optional)
– wooden spoon or silicone spatula
– mold(s) of some sort (see below)
– 12 oz coconut oil (LouAna is fine)
– 12 oz lard (Armour Green/White Bucket)
– 7.5 oz soybean (Labeled Vegetable Oil – Only Soybean nothing else)
– 11.9 oz water
To superfat your fat (optional): 1 oz Olive Oil, 2 oz Coconut Oil, 1 tsp. Vit.E Oil, 1 Tbs vegetable glycerine. This is added towards the end of the cooking process. It’s not part of the “soap base”, it’s an “extra” boost to soften and enhance your soap, like the essential oils.
– Essential Oil(s) optional – your choice (BrambleBerry E/O Calculator)
** Note on Lye:
You use to be able to buy Red Devil Lye in the grocery store, but…thanks to all those folks that are busy at home making Meth, instead of something useful like soap – it’s been taken off the shelves. You’ll have to buy it online. Use the link below (non-affiliate) only bcuz you can purchase other ingredients at the same time (sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide (for liquid soap), glycerin, essential oils, etc). You can try Home Depot or Lowes, you’re looking in the drain cleaner/plumbing area, but you need 100% PURE LYE, no other ingredients!!!!! Depending on the State you live in – they might have it. The rest of the ingredients (I hate to say) can be found at your local Walmart Supercenter (hate promoting that).
Add lard, soybean , olive, and coconut oil to your crockpot, set on low, and allow everything to melt completely.
In a pitcher or separate bowl – mix your lye with water. Be extremely careful! ALWAYS add lye to water – not water to lye. Avoid splashing. If you get any lye on your skin – flush with vinegar to neutralize. Stir gently till lye has dissolved. Use either a large glass container, or heavy plastic (like a pitcher) – do not use a flimsy plastic container, bcuz the chemical reaction of the lye will melt it! Have good ventilation!!
Making sure all your oils are completely melted – SLOWLY and steadily – in a stream – pour your lye mixture into your crockpot oils, while blending. The soap will go through several stages as it cooks. Keep a close eye on it for the first hour. Check every 20 to 30 minutes, and blend well with your stick blender. Return cover and continue to cook for 2 hours.
ADDITIVE STAGE – Turn off your crockpot, and start the cooling process. You can SUPERFAT your soap at this stage. Wait about 5 minutes after turning it off. Superfatting, is adding extra oils to your soap, that remain oils…and aren’t turned into soap. Make sense? These are skin care conditioners. You can omit this if you’re making the batch of soap for laundry use. You can use any fat for this step. For this recipe: use 1 tablespoon each of coconut oil, olive oil, vitamin E oil (or about 6+ capsules opened), and glycerine.
Once your soap reaches 150 degrees F. You can add your essential oils, if you want. Don’t add E/O’s when soap is still hot, or it will burn off (waste your money) and won’t add any scent or medicinal value. You don’t need a themometer necessarily….it should be bearable to touch.
Be creative at this point – just don’t over do it, and don’t add anything that has water! Oils are okay, but anything watery/liquid – will cause your soap to “seize” (harden up) immediately. You can oatmeal (whole or ground), turmeric, cinnamon, clay (powder), ground herbs, ground coffee, pumice, egg shells are great for exfoliation (ground). You can also add these as a layer to the bottom of your mold before pouring in soap.
POUR & MOLD – The final stage is pouring….or more glopping. At this stage, your soap should be moist, but not wet. All the water should be cooked off, and your soap will have the consistency of silky, mashed potatoes. It’s ready to add to the molds! MOVE QUICKLY!
Scoop your soap into PREPARED MOLDS – smooth out the top, and drop your mold a few times on the counter (a few inches) to get out any air bubbles, and tighten the soap.
A great thing to use for molding soap are empty milk containers, or anything similar that you can tear off the paper when cooled. Be creative though – muffin tins, empty juice boxes, bread loaf pans. Just use common sense – if the plastic is too flimsy….it may melt. If the mold is too rigid, it can be hard to get your soap out (add a lining of parchment, plastic wrap, or waxed paper).
If you move too slow, or your soap starts to dry out – it may not want to form well and start crumbling. If this happens – return it to the crockpot on low heat with a TBSP or so of oil, melt and mix thoroughly, and try again.
Your soap should stay in the mold until it is hardened throughout. Overnight is good, but several hours if you’re impatient. Remove from mold and cut into bars. The bars will need to “cure” at least a few days for best results. To test your soap, have one sample bar – cut off a thin slice, and touch to your tongue. If there’s a bite/tingle it’s not ready. You can also use this slice to wash your hands with – to get an idea of how your soap is maturing through the process. The best way to become a soap-master, is get familiar and comfortable with the entire process, and figure out what works and what doesn’t…to push, pull, pry and twist soapmaking to its limits, and really get the FEEL of the craft. You can’t do that without experimenting, failing, and trying again.
If you decide to pursue soap making, you’ll slowly start to amass nicer ingredients. Please don’t order a $100 worth of soap making supplies and ingredients before starting out. Find a website that carries a large variety of soap supplies, and order a few thing…some shea butter, or avocado butter, some essential oils (the cheaper ones). As you become more proficient – you can get into colors, and more additives, and start layering and embedding, and playing with more recipes. All in good time. You can make some amazing soap with a few ingredients from the grocery store, and some creativity.
SOAPCALC.NET – GREAT tool for when you get way into soapcrafting!!! It makes a recipe for you, based on your ingredients, will convert in pounds, ounces, or grams…and will tell you how hard/soft, bubbly/not, and all the rest of the results!! Check it out.
ESSENTIALS DEPOT is a great site for soap making supplies, kits, molds, colors, essential oils and more. Check out their Facebook page for promo code discounts! Etsy is another great place to get soap making supplies & of course eBay and Amazon.
SOME VISUAL INSPIRATION
LIQUID DISH SOAP
Courtesy of Soaping101
13 oz. Olive Oil by weight
1.5 oz. Coconut Oil by weight
1.5 oz. Castor Oil by weight
Heat glycerine over medium heat to 200 degrees F. Add KOH flakes, and continue stirring completely, till dissolved. Remove from heat, and pour into oil mixture in crockpot. Blend while pouring (hand blender/electric beater/mixer/or by hand). Cook for 1.5 hrs on low. Check for clarity*. Dilute with 3 parts water to 1 part soap. Turn crockpot to low and leave overnight. Bottle and enjoy.
The longer you leave your soap to sit/cure – the better the results.
* For clarity test – mix a tsp of soap with a tiny amount of water (1 Tbs). Stir till completely dissolved. You should be able to read fine print through the soap. Of course – you’re using a clear container for this test. If the soap is cloudy, or there’s any oil – it needs to cook longer.
THESE ARE RECIPES YOU CAN MAKE WITH YOUR LIQUID CASTILLE SOAP
SOFT SCRUB CLEANER is made by adding 2 parts liquid soap to 1 part baking soda. You can increase the soap to get the consistency you like. This soap can also be used in the shower – as an exfoliator, and works great on hair, and pets too.
FOAMING BODY POLISH (video) is easy to make. You can adjust the recipe to make as much as you want. Basically (not going by the video recipe/small batch) 5 parts sea salt to 1 part liquid soap (is the base) – then you can add a few Tbs of melted coconut oil, some vitamin E capsules, and essential oils to achieve the right scent level. Store in an air-tight container.
COCONUT MILK SHAMPOO – 4 oz. coconut milk (canned), , 8 oz. liquid soap, 1 oz. olive oil…mix together, and add 1 oz. honey, and essential oil(s) of choice.
Powdered Laundry Soap Recipe
Adjust the recipe as you want. Can easily double, triple, etc.
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
2 cups Fels Naptha Bar Soap, Zote, or your wonderful Crockpot Soap
1/2 cup OxyClean (optional)
Grating Soap Bars: Depending on the moisture level of your soap – it will either grate out like soft cheese (long strands), or hard cheese (powdery). Adjust the measure depending on the consistency…2 loosely packed cups of strands or 1 cup dry powdery soap. There’s no exact science for this…so you can go with whatever amount feels best.
I buy about 8 bars of Fels Naptha at a time. When I get half way through my store of bars, they’re really dry, and grate out like powder. I hope to phase out the Fels soon, and just start making enough bar soap to cover laundry detergent. Soon. Fels doesn’t have anything too terribly bad in it, and it’s a hell of a lot better than any store brand “detergent”! You can might also try ZOTE brand soap, that comes in big pink bars. It smells nice, is gentle, and never gets hard.
This might sound complicated, BUT – if your soap grates out powdery, you can just mix all the ingredients together, and pour into a container. If your soap is soft, and you’ve got grated strands – you’ll need a food processor to blend all ingredients together, into a nice fine powder. Pour everything in processor, and blend till it looks like regular powder, laundry soap. Pour into an air-tight container.
Use 2 TBS of laundry soap per load. Works great in cold water. Keep one of your homemade bars, or Fels bars to pre-treat stains. This should last somewhere in about 60+ loads
That’s all there is to it! You can add any essential oils you want – as much as you want. PLEASE DO NOT USE FRAGRANCE OILS! They’re toxic garbage, and that’s what we’re working to get away from!! They really are terrible for you health!!!!
The total cost for this project should run in somewhere around $2. . Promoting Walmart again 😕 , but they are one of the only grocery stores that have all these ingredients (and on the same shelf). Fels is less than $1/bar. Borax and Washing powder run about $3/box. You can buy about 10 bars, to last through the borax & soda.
HOMEMADE FABRIC SOFTENER
This isn’t even a recipe – it’s so simple. I use one of those Downey softener balls – You just add about a half cup of white distilled vinegar to your rinse cycle. If you want to have scent – add an ounce or so of essential oils to the bottle (gallon) of vinegar. To fluff up your laundry, get 2 tennis balls, and toss them in every dryer load.
HOMEMADE DISHWASHER DETERGENT
1 cup – Borax
1 cup – Washing Soda
1/2 cup – Salt
1/4 cup – Citric Acid (check pickling area of grocery)
Mix all ingredients together, and store in an air-tight container. Add 2 TBS in a load of dishes. Simple.
So there you have it – If you complete all the recipes above you’ll have bar soap that can be used for body and hair washing, and grated for your liquid soap recipe. You’ll have liquid soap that perfect for hand washing dishes, and delicates, and pets…and use it to make your own pump hand soap, shampoo, and liquid body wash – also to make cleaner scrub, and all-purpose spray cleaner, and floor cleaner, and whatever other cleaner you need. You’ve got great laundry soap, and fabric softener! What else do you need? Let me know! Best of all – it’s all frugal, natural, toxin-free, and safe!!! AND – YOU MADE IT ALL YOURSELF!!! DON’T YOU FEEL PROUD?!!!?!!
Of course you do! Pack some up and give to friends, along with recipe cards to make their own….and spread the soapcrafter bug! Also makes great gifts for friends and family. And – if you really LOVE it – who knows – it could lead you to start a soapmaking business!! You could even teach classes from home. Think about it.
Add your submission below to get your SoapCrafter Badge. Discuss your experiences in the HomeCrafter Group, or post a comment below.