Soap Making 101

Rosemary Peppermint Soap Recipe

What does a creative person do when they start feeling guilty about all of the money they spend on art supplies?

They make USEABLE ART!  At least, that’s what I did.  I was an art major and now I am a stay at home mom and I find that my artistic side has been coming out in so many more ways than I’d thought around our house.  One of those ways is in soap making.

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I just don’t feel bad spending money buying ingredients to make soap.  Homemade soap is so good for you and if you grind up your disasters/ugly batches for laundry detergent – then you’re saving a LOT of money too.

Handcrafted soap doesn’t have all the awful chemicals and detergents that you find in most commercial soap.  In fact, store-bought soap usually has the natural glycerin removed to put in more expensive products like lotions.  Homemade soap keeps all of the natural glycerin that is so moisturizing and protective.

It’s a way for me to do something good for our family and get my creative “itch” out of the way.

Warning:  This is a very addictive hobby!  (Just ask my husband.  He thinks I’ve gone a little crazy.)

So let’s get started:

Supplies

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Large pot (I use my 8 qt stock pot)

A few bowls/buckets  (I have found that I use a bowl to mix my lye and water and then a 5lb bucket to mix my oils.  To each their own.)

Food scale that can read to the tenth of an ounce (I can’t stress the importance of this one enough!!!  You measure out ALL your ingredients by WEIGHT!!!)

Stick Blender (This is also practically a must unless you’d like to hand stir your soap for 50 minutes instead of about 3.)

A Soap Mold (You can buy many different types online or make one like I did – You need one that can hold around 3 lbs of oils)

Freezer Paper (To line your mold, if needed)

Two thermometers (One for oils and one for lye)

Spoons and Scrapers (I have a small assortment and always end up using the same two.)

Measuring cups (I was amazed at how much of the kitchenware I could find at the dollar store for cheap.)

Nitrile Gloves (Another must-have!!  Lye is very corrosive and can be very dangerous.  I found my gloves at Home Depot)

Protective Eyewear (Also Important!!!  Always, always, always cover your eyes when working with lye.)

Protective Surface Covering (I found a pretty vinyl at Wal-Mart that was fairly inexpensive)

Paper Towels (Even though we are switching to fabric for napkins and rags, I recommend paper towels for soap cleanup.  Lye and raw soap are just a little too corrosive on anything you want to keep around.)

A couple of old Towels that you wouldn’t mind ruining.

A piece of Cardboard large enough to cover the top of your soap mold.

Basic 3 Oil Soap

Ingredients

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24 oz Olive Oil

14 oz Coconut Oil

6 oz Castor Oil

16 oz Distilled Water

6.2 oz Lye

**Optional** I couldn’t stand the plain old boring soap recipes when I first started.  I wanted something fun and great smelling!  That’s the whole point, right?  So here’s the ingredients you need to add scent and color to your soap if you’d like.

0.8 oz Peppermint Essential Oil

0.8 oz Rosemary Essential Oil

0.4 oz Sage Essential Oil

1-1/2 tsp Spirulina (to help keep the green from fading over time, you can also add in 1/8 tsp moss green oxide mineral colorant)

2 large pinches dried parsley, chopped finely (parsley doesn’t turn black from lye like peppermint does so I’ve switched to adding parsley in for my herbs)

Here’s What You Do:

First thing’s first – Line your mold.  You can look up lots of directions online or if you want to wait just a day or so, I will be adding a post about lining a soap mold.  Yes, it needs it’s own post.

Lay out your protective covering on your counter and get out all the ingredients you’ll need.

Fill your large pot (stockpot) about 1/2 to 2/3 the way full of water.  Heat on high to get water boiling while you do the next step.

PUT ON YOUR GLOVES AND PROTECTIVE GLASSES – Measure out the lye into a measuring cup on the food scale.  Make sure and use the “tare” button.  (That’s where you put the empty cup on the scale and it will register it’s weight.  You don’t want the weight of the cup included so you push “Tare” and it will zero out the scale.  You can then measure out the weight of the lye into the cup.)Image

Measure out your distilled water into a bowl.

***VERY IMPORTANT***  ALWAYS add lye to water.  NEVER add water to lye – it can erupt and cause terrible things to happen.

Slowly add the lye to the water while stirring.  This creates some harsh fumes so I always do this in my sink with the window open.  Don’t breathe in the fumes.  Some people prefer to do this step outside.  I find that the fumes dissipate fairly quickly and it’s fine if the window is open.

You’ll notice that the lye/water mixture heats up quite a bit.  It usually seems to hit up around 180˚-200˚.  You want the lye solution to cool to around 90˚-100˚.  I usually sit mine in a shallow ice water bath in the sink to cool quickly.Image

Measure out the oils into a bowl (or bucket).  The easiest way to measure them out is to set the bucket on the scale and then zero it out.  Add your first oil and then push “Tare” to zero it out again.  Repeat with the other three oils.  Set your bucket into the stockpot of heated water to create your own double boiler.  This will gently heat the oils.  You want to get them to 90˚-100˚.  That’s right, you want the oils and the lye to be close to the same temperature.  It doesn’t have to be exact but you want to strive for within 10˚ of each other.Image

While you’re waiting for the oils to warm up and the lye to cool down, go ahead and measure out the essential oils into a small bowl.  Remember, you measure by weight and not volume!

When you get the oils and the lye to the desired temperature, it’s time for the fun part.  Slowly add the lye to the oils while hand-stirring with your stick blender.  You don’t want to turn it on right away, just stir it around to get the lye and oils initially combined.  Image

With short bursts of the stick blender, stir for several minutes.  You will notice the soap thickening and you will reach what is called “trace”.  Trace is what you get when you lift your blender or spoon out of the soap and the drizzle that comes off of it leaves a trace on the surface of the soap.  This can be very light and hardly noticeable or if you keep going, it will get very thick and pudding-like.  Here is an example of soap at trace:  

At first you’re just aiming for a light trace.  Once you get there, add in your essential oils for scent.  Again, stir them in by hand and then blend lightly.  You can end with this if you’d like and pour everything into your mold and skip the next 2 steps.

If you’re more adventurous and feeling frisky, follow along for some fun!

At this point, separate your soap into 2 batches.  (This is where having several bowls/buckets on hand is key).  Add your spirulina to one of the batches and combine well.  Besides being a superfood, I’ve found that spirulina is a great way to naturally color soap a nice green.  Evenly pour your green batch into the mold.Image

Next, add the dried peppermint leaves to the remaining half of your un-colored soap and mix well.  Gently pour the speckled half onto the green half in the soap mold.  I have found that if you want a better 1/2 and 1/2 bar, you can halve the recipe and make one batch first and it will set up while you make the 2nd batch.  If you want to marble your bars a little more than I did, just pour from higher up and run a skewer through the soap in a swirling pattern.  Don’t swirl too much though or it will mix together without the neat marbled effect.Image

Now set your mold onto one of your towels.  Cover your mold with the cardboard and then lay another towel over the top and tuck in around the sides.  You want your soap to be nice and cozy.Image

 I started this soap-making journey with my dear friend, Yvonne.  I definitely recommend soaping with friends – it’s so fun!  Sadly, Yvonne recently moved away to greener pastures and we’re going solo with our soap.  Such are the lives of military wives – we become really good at keeping in touch over long distances!

When Yvonne and I did our first batch, we were very excited about our soap as we got it all “put to bed” and began clean up.  As you’ll notice if you try soap-making, you check on your soap.  A lot.  About 30 minutes and almost as many peeks later, we were horrified to find that our soap looked like it was melting from the inside out!!!  It had gotten very dark and went from opaque to translucent.  We just knew we had screwed everything up.  Well, I guess our research wasn’t as thorough as we thought.  Soap goes through a GEL PHASE.  And it’s a very apt name because it looks just like gel.  Don’t worry, it’s all part of the saponification process and by the next day, it will look completely opaque and normal again!

At this point, you’re pretty much done (yay!) and it’s time to clean up.  This is my least favorite part of the whole process.  Make sure to keep wearing your gloves and protective eyewear.  New soap is still going through saponification and is still corrosive.  You also don’t want to pour large amounts of leftover soap down your drain.  Wipe your bowls or buckets out with paper towels into the trash and then wash everything up well with dish soap.

Now comes the hardest part . . . wait for 12 – 24 hours.

I usually un-mold my soap the next morning.  I’m impatient and can’t wait the full 24 hours.

Here’s what a soap log looks like: Image

You’re all set to start cutting!  I have found that the miter box that we keep around the house for woodworking works really well for making straight cuts.  I have a straight bladed pastry scraper/chopper that fits right in the miter box.  Just lay your soap in and push it past the cutting line as much as you’d like it to go and slide in your cutter!  Or, you can always eyeball it with a big knife.  (That’s how I started but I can’t cut straight worth a darn!)Image

 Once your soap is all nicely cut, it needs to cure.  For 3-4 weeks.  I know, I know – that’s no fun!  But it’s important to cure your soap so it is completely saponified and to shed the excess water.  The more water that leaves the soap, the harder the bar and the longer it will last.

Lay your soap bars on cheesecloth covered cooling racks (again, great dollar store buy) with space between each.  It is important to flip them over at least once a week so that all the sides dry equally.  Your house will smell amazing and you will find yourself constantly checking on, picking up, and sniffing your handcrafted soap! 

If you find that you’re just too busy at the moment to try your hand at making soap but still love the idea of handmade natural soap, check more out at the Emily’s Homestead store!
**Updated November 24, 2016** It was brought to my attention that my recipe still showed palm oil as one of the ingredients.  I don’t use palm oil anymore and have changed the recipe to reflect the oils I use.

81 Comments

  1. I agree, clean-up is no fun and is hard on the plumbing too. So I just put all my bowls and utensils in a trash bag, tie it up and put it in a high, out of the way place for 24 hours or more. After that, it’s turned into soap and is safe to clean up without gloves and without harm to your plumbing. NOTE: I don’t have children at home, so this is safe at my house. Please keep raw soap out of reach of children and pets.

    1. Hello Bernice!
      I’m so glad you commented about this as I hadn’t realized that I never changed this recipe when I switched off of palm oil myself. I haven’t been using palm oil in any of my products for the last 2 years! I’ve ‘fixed the glitch’ and have updated my recipe to the correct ingredients. Thank you for sharing Bernice.

  2. I made this soap for my neice. I just love it. I added a bit more mint. And added buckwheat for an exfoliation. The soap is wonderful

  3. Hi Emily! Thanks your beautiful recipe! This is awesome for my first try to making soap yesterday, so much fun and my husband said can’t wait to use it =D
    As I don’t have sage EO at the moment, I used cypress EO instead. I check the soap today, I see the spirulina part color become milky green and the texture is still soft, is that all right? And another question, may I know how you calculate the EO amount into the soap? Because I want to design one of my special flavour.
    Have a lovely day! Thank you!

    1. Hi Yuri, I’m so glad you enjoyed making your first batch. There will be many more to come, I’m sure! I usually use 3-4oz of essential oil per 100 oz fixed oils (3%-4%). I usually use 2%-3% of fragrance oils since they’re a bit stronger. I usually just play with the amounts when creating a new scent and if it’s not as strong a scent as I’d like, I bump it up a little bit the next batch. The spirulina does become a lighter green and your soap will slowly get harder as it cures. It’s ok if it’s soft for a little bit. It should harden up within a couple of weeks but let it cure 4 weeks total to get out all excess water. Good luck and thank you for letting me know how it went!

  4. Hi, I made this soap today with the amounts exactly as stated in the recipe. when I added the peppermint leaves it turned quite yellow and seemed like a lot at the time did you really use 1 oz? yours’ does not look nearly as speckled. By the way though it smells great! Thank you for the tutorial

  5. Happy New Year Emily !
    I ordered Sage EO today to make your beautiful Rosemary Peppermint CP Soap. It is absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I have a question please. When I put your recipe through the lye calculator the water amount shows as 14.39 oz, your recipe calls for 16. oz. can you tell me why? I am still learning about soap making with every batch Emily. Does it have something to do with heat from the Eos? I look forward to hearing from you.
    Darlene in Nova Scotia

    1. Hello Darlene,
      Happy New Year to you too! I’m so glad you’re giving this Rosemary Peppermint soap a try. It’s definitely one of my best sellers. I ran the recipe through my lye calculator and it still showed that you should use 16oz of water. I’m using the calculator at SoapCalc – maybe different calculators equate a little differently?? With the water percentage, it’s not a huge deal. Many people discount their water to a lesser percentage but I only recommend this if you’re pretty experienced and have made a particular recipe several times. If you use 14.5oz of water instead of 16oz, your soap will trace faster so you’ll have to move a little quicker when adding eo’s and colors/herbs. It will harden a little quicker though because there’s less total water for the bars to shed during cure time. I hope that helps – please let me know if you’ve got any more questions! Good luck – let me know how your batch turns out!
      Emily

    2. Hi Emily,
      I suspected it is just a different calculator. Your recipe is exactly what I will do.
      Yes your gelledt? It is so pretty. I love the opaque look. My gelled soap are harder and last longer. (Maybe that is my imagination LOL). To date I’ve have made around 25 batches of different soaps and the gelled ones are always my favourite. Hoping to make your recipe on the weekend. Happy to let you know the results.

      Have a fun week Emily.
      Thanks again,
      Darlene

  6. Hi,
    So i am new to soap making. I made this soap and followed your basic soap ingredients but changed up the oil and added oatmeal and lavender buds to it. It smell funny like lye and I was just wondering if that smell eventually faded. I hope I didn’t ruin it.
    Thanks,
    Yesenia

    1. Fresh soap definitely has its own odor. That fades as it cures and the essential oils will smell stronger. When you say that you changed up the oil, was that the essential oils or did you change some of the main fixed oils? If you change base oils (like olive, coconut, castor, etc) then the lye amount that is needed changes and you have to run the amounts through a lye calculator.

    1. Hello Meagan,
      I’m sorry I didn’t see your comment for so long! This recipe makes between 8-10 bars of soap, depending on your mold and the thickness you slice them.

  7. Hi! I’m new to soap making and would like to try it. I’m concerned about the lye. Isn’t that bad for skin and body? I would like to make an all natural sensitive skin soap. Any suggestions? Thanks so much for all this info!

    1. Hi Joan! Actually, there is no lye left in the soap once the oils and lye saponify together. As long as you make sure that your recipe is accurate by checking your amounts in a lye calculator, you won’t have any lye left in your finished soap. Make sure you measure by weight and not volume too – I made that mistake when I started and I DID end up with some caustic soap!

    2. To answer your question. Lye is lye oil is oil and when you put them together and they saponify. You know have a new substance,soap! It is no longer lye and it is no longer oils. I hope that answered your question. Just be safe with the lye and you will do fine.

  8. I made it last night, your step by step made things super easy. I did freak out when it changed color and I re-read everything and I was happy to know that the gel phase was ok. 🙂 I couldn’t wait the 24 hours so I cut it this morning. I will wait the 3 weeks and I cant wait to use it. Smells so good in the house. Will you share more of your recipes?

  9. Your soap scents sound wonderful! Soaping is one thing I haven’t gotten into… yet. 🙂 Except for making homemade laundry soap and sometimes hand soap, but I would enjoy experimenting with bars also. Thank you.

    1. You should never use glass for lye, because it can heat up to extreme temps, it can crack or shatter. You should always use plastic….you may want to add that as a disclaimer in the article. If it shatters while on the counter it’ll ruin floors, counters or potential burns to skin.

  10. Hi Emily am from aus and am first hand at soap making and loving every bit of it had a go at making yr soap receipe and its gorgeous am so thrilled smells awesome thank u. But tried something different I made peppermint tea with the water and then added my lye and still has come out wicked. Thank u.

  11. Hi Emily I just made your recipe and I love it! This is my firs soap making ever, but thanks to you look and smell fantastic. Thank you!

  12. Hi! this soap looks great! I was wondering since people are having a problem with the spirulina I was wondering if I added a different type of coloring such as chromium oxide green pigment powder instead whether you think that would be okay?

  13. Made your recIpe Sunday and am sooo pleased with it! And yes, it makes my house smell wonderful! Thank you for taking the time to create such a beautiful and detailed tutorial. I really appreciate you! After making my first batch of soap, I am addicted to the process!

  14. I am newer to cold process soap making, I have found it combines my science brain and my crafty brain nicely. I found a coconut milk recipe that I have been using successfully but wanted to try a different one, so I tried your recipe 2 days ago and just unmolded my soap tonight. I actually did two batches with different scent. Both batches seem very soft. The middle of each loaf appears to be “wet” when I sliced the bars tonight. Will my bars dry out and harden up while they cure? I am almost certain I measured correctly. When I mixed my oils with my lye solution the soap seemed to harden much faster while mixing than my other recipe. Just trying to figure out if I did something wrong or it is just the difference in the recipes. Thanks.

    1. Hi Leigh!
      I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying this little hobby so much too. I’m not sure how wet your bars turned out but that’s not usually a word that I apply to fresh soap bars. The inside can be softer when you cut them but they shouldn’t be wet, slimy or mushy. Yes, they will harden over the cure time. You want to make sure and give them 3-4 weeks to cure and you’ll notice that they’ve hardened nicely. I’m guessing it might just be a difference in oil ratios in the recipes. Same with the faster trace while stirring the soap. Different oils trace faster/slower than others. Let me know if you have any other questions!

    2. Thanks for the reply. “Wet” may be a bit strong of a term… let’s go for tacky/mildly mushy. The outside of the soap log was the same consistency – it really stuck to my mold – and the inside was a deeper color. I’ll see how it is after it cures. Maybe I will just have a batch of softer soap. I used left over coffee (double brewed to be extra strong) for my lye solution on the second batch…. added some vanilla oil. It smells yummy, like a vanilla latte. My coloring got way off on the peppermint one. I wasn’t really paying attention when I bought my palm oil (my 2 boys – 4yo and 18mo – were shopping with me) and picked up red palm oil. It started out a strange orange shade, so I added the spirulina to the entire batch, it turned into some green-brown shade I would find in the 18mo diaper!! But, it does smell awesome – oh, well. Lesson learned – don’t take the boys with my for big soap shopping expeditions. Cure times… is about 4 weeks the “norm” for most CP soap? I have been using 4 weeks mainly because that is what my original recipe said to do. Do some recipes need longer? Sometimes they don’t say. Thanks for all your help. My husband also thinks I have gone off the deep end making soap, but I find it relaxing. I think we have enough soap in our spare fridge for the next year or so and I still have about 5-6 other recipes to try. My co-workers are my guinea pigs to try them out. Do you have a good scent combo for a “manly” smell? I mixed bergamot, cedarwood and something I can’t think of right now. It turned out decent. Definitely more manly than anything else I have tried. But it was still too “herb-y” for my husband. Thanks again.

  15. Hi Emily,
    Great soap recipe! I made it last week. 24 hours after I removed it from the mold. Within three days of the green part turned brown! Too bad. When I removed it from the mold it looked beautiful with the dark green. Any idea why the green section turned brown? 😦

    Thanks,
    Helga

    1. Usually heat or light tends to turn spirulina brown sooner than usual. It does eventually fade to brown but mine stays green at least 6 months or so. I’m not really sure why yours would change so fast! I’m sorry to hear that but I’m glad you enjoyed the overall recipe.

  16. Hi Emily! I read on a soapmaking forum that spirulina turns CP soap brown after a few months. Has this soap cured and is still looking green? I’m hoping so because it is so beautiful! I bought all the stuff to make this but wanted to check before I do put the spirulina in there. Thanks again!

    1. Hi Gina! Thank you for all of your kind comments on my posts! Yes, the spirulina can really fade from the soap but I didn’t ever notice it becoming brown – just faded. I think there are a lot of factors to discoloring based on light exposure and heat. We moved cross country this summer and my soaps were stored in the back of my husband’s truck (with a camper shell) in desert heat for about 2 weeks. The green from the spirulina faded horribly. With my normal soap storage with average temperatures, it seems to take at least 6 months before the green begins fading. If you wanted to, you can mix in a tiny amount of moss green (chromium oxide pigment) to help color ‘stay’.

  17. Hello Emily! I am new to soap making (I made the Brambleberry Pumpkin Puree Soap a few weeks ago and it was so much fun!). I am curious of where your favorite place to buy your oils is? I ordered everything online to make the pumpkin soap except for olive and coconut oil which I can get at the grocery store. Getting everyone online can be so expensive due to shipping costs. Have you found a local seller of the palm oil? I have found 100% cocoa butter at Dollar General in my area.

    I can’t wait to try your recipe. Looks amazing! I was curious after I made the pumpkin soap (and because I haven’t tried it as it’s still curing) if I need to make recipes that use a bigger variety of oils to get a good moisturizing bar or if the recipes that use basic olive, coconut & palm oil will be noticeably different than store bought soap – as far as moisturizing goes.

    Thank you for the great tutorial and post! Looks awesome and I think this will make a delightful holiday gift soap for my family.

    1. Hi Gina – I have a few different sites that I order from. I love the selection and customer service at http://www.thesage.com (Majestic Mountain Sage). The best prices on oils can be found at http://www.soaperschoice.com (Soaper’s Choice) but it’s bulk oils so if you’re looking for small amounts – this site might not be for you. 🙂 I think http://www.essentialdepot.com (Essential Depot) has the best pricing on lye that I’ve seen. I try to buy in bulk when they’ve got a good sale going on but they also sell small amounts too. Brambleberry (www.brambleberry.com) is also good too and has a great selection of fragrance oils.

      Shipping costs really do stink and so I try to save up what I need for 1 or 2 big orders to help cut costs. I wish there was a better shipping price out there but with the oils weighing so much – the shipping costs are high.

      I think the basic soap recipes make a great bar of soap. Anything handmade with the natural glycerin left in it is going to be vastly better than commercial soap. I love learning about oil properties though and what benefits each one brings to soap and like to play around with that. If you do want to create your own recipe or add oils to an existing recipe, make sure you run the recipe through a lye calculator so that your lye is measured correctly for the blend of oils.

      I’m so glad you’re having such fun with soap-making – please let me know how your batches turn out!

    2. Hello again! Thanks so much for taking the time to reply to me. I did a little shopping locally yesterday and found that Organic All Vegetable Shortening is 100% non hydrogenated Palm Oil so I think that will save me there. I got it at a natural grocery store in my area (right across the street woo hoo!). They also had essential oils that you referenced in your recipe. They have spirulina powder (which is SO expensive) and spirulina capsules so I may try just getting those and opening them. Surely they have the powder inside the capsules. I’m making your recipe this weekend so I’ll let you know how it goes.

      I’m all fired up on this soap making LOL. I just want to have an assortment so that I can make some nice “homemade” gift baskets for Christmas gifts. My hubby and I ride 30 minutes to work together each way and since he’s driving, I’m crocheting like crazy working on homemade dish cloths to go with the soap. I also have some sewing projects for the weekend that I’m looking forward to working on. It’s driving me crazy to be stuck at work all day when I have all of this fun stuff going on at home. Ha!

      I did see that you moved to Florida. I grew up in Florida and now live in Missouri. Oh how I miss Florida. I want to be there so bad I can TASTE it.

      Great to “meet” you and MANY THANKS for the recipes, tutorials, pictures. All are wonderful!

      Gina

    3. I’m so glad you were able to find the palm oil locally! Come to think of it, I do tend to hit the natural food/health stores for certain ingredients. We had a great little store in Joshua Tree, CA that sold spices and herbs in bulk and I could get spirulina at a great price. Another source for natural colorants that I like is http://www.soap-making-resource.com. I like their sample kit where you get around 2oz of ~19 different herbs/spices to try out what you like to use. I find that I use a lot of clays, the matter root powder (a great pink), spirulina, walnut hull powder and comfrey powder.

      Good luck getting your Christmas gifts ready! Crocheting is one thing I always have wanted to learn but haven’t had time to. I love handmade washcloths so I’m sure everyone will adore them with your soaps.

      It’s funny that we’re backwards. I don’t know if you noticed but I’m originally from MO and miss it dearly. It just goes to show that ‘there’s no place like home’!

  18. I actually wait a day or two to wash my dishes because then the leftover soap in the dishes has finished saponification and I don’t need to add soap or use gloves. I also don’t have to worry about my dishes staying a little greasy.

    cabinofbows@yahoo.com

    1. I just wanted to offer since you’ve been so helpful, I already made another batch – but it was a coffee bar. Next I’m planning on making a Neapolitan looking bar! I love the acrylic mold! It’s so great, I used one bar already cause I couldn’t wait and it was so amazing. My gf’s sister used it too and she described as aroma therapy! Since I’m new to this, I have to memorize always add lye to the water and always add the lye/water solution to the oils. Is this so the lye (and then later the lye/water solution) has enough material to mix with?

    1. I’ve only ever seen that you’re supposed add the lye solution to oils and, honestly, it just makes the most sense. Usually there’s more oil than lye solution so I add in the smaller (easier to lift) item over the heavier bucket of oils.

    1. I dry my herbs in a dehydrator. I dry them at around 110˚ for about a day (~24 hours). If you don’t get enough moisture out, they’ll definitely go bad much faster.

  19. I’ve heard varying opinions on temperature to mix at. My first batch I soaped around 100-110F and it turned out very chalky. The next time I soaped around 80F and it turned out much better. You’d suggest to still soap around 100-110F still?

    1. You know what Tim, that’s a good point! I HAVE found that I’ve been soaping at a lower temperature over this past year. I find that anywhere around 90˚-100˚ works just fine for me. I have several soaps/shampoos that are made with beer and I DEFINITELY get those down to 80˚ or less before combining. The alcohol tends to make these bars gel fast and get quite hot during saponification.
      Thanks for catching that – I’ll be changing the temp recommendation on the post!

    2. So you’d say keep it around 90 or 100? I had one person tell me that I should soap around 160F but now that I think about it, I wonder if they were just messing with me. Thanks for the help!

  20. I love the soap recipe you have here, the finished product looks really great. Can you tell me about your mold though? I use the cardboard box and parchment paper method and it doesn’t look so uniform as I’d like.

    1. I’ve been meaning to do a mold-making tutorial for my drop-side wooden mold. We have a move coming up in the near future so that’s going to have to wait for a couple months. I’ll tell you how I make my mold:
      I use birch or poplar wood and cut 5 pieces.
      The bottom is 4.5″x17″
      The long sides are 3.5″x15.25″
      The short sides are 3.5″x4.5″
      I add little hinges to the sides and attach them to the base piece. 2 hinges on the long sides and 1 on each short side. When it’s put together, it holds around 55-65oz of soap and the soap log is 3″ wide and 15.5″long. Then cut to size. I keep it all attached using a chain of rubberbands and they also hold down the paper. For more info on that and some pictures of the mold you can go to: https://emilyslittlehomestead.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/how-to-line-a-soap-mold/
      I hope this helps!

    2. Thanks for the response! After posting, I saw your tutorial and looked through it. I think I got confused around the portion about cutting the 4 flaps, so you cut the ones that are more towards the cardboard side on the ends? And then fold everything in and place in the mold? I was doing something similar to this, except I used two sheets of paper (one laying each direction), cut them to tape and over lap and then taped them down. Only done this twice now and it didn’t produce as clean a bar as I’d like. I think I may break down and buy one of those acrylic molds even though it’s sooo expensive.

    3. I’d say that you could superfat just fine. I ran your recipe through my lye calculator with a 5% superfat added in and it looked good. I don’t think additional essential oil would affect it.

  21. How much soap does this make? My class is making soap for a chemistry final and we need to make about 2 lbs of soap!

  22. Thanks for that great recipe Emily. The soap looks great. I’m going to have a go at this, but I’ll substitute the palm oil for another oil. Does it matter what other oil I use. I’m thinking macadamia.

    Cheers

    Donna

    1. Hi Donna,
      I’m so glad you like this recipe! Many soap makers prefer not to use palm oil but make sure you substitute with an oil that will create a hard bar of soap (same characteristics as palm). I suggest using one or some of the following in place of palm oil: Babassu oil, Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, Lanolin, Lard, or Tallow. Macadamia Nut oil is a “softer” oil but if you’d like to use it in your batch, replace a small percentage of olive oil with it. Make sure and run your recipe through a soap calculator like http://www.SoapCalc.net/calc/SoapCalcWP.asp to make sure you have the correct amount of lye for your new oils. I hope this helps!
      Emily

    2. Emily, what do you think of this recipe + the essential oils and the Spirulina:

      10% Castor
      20% Palm Oil
      30% Coconut Oil
      35% Olive Oil
      5% Grape Seed Oil

    3. Hi Tim, I think your recipe looks great! It’s got the appropriate hardness, conditioning, and INS properties, etc. I might have to try it out on one of my next soap batches!

    1. Hi there! I buy my lye from AAA Chemicals. They seem to have the best prices on food-grade lye. You can get small amounts or buy bulk. Good luck and have fun making your soap!

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