Easily Make Natural Handmade Soap in your Kitchen

If you look at the ingredients in most “soaps,” you might notice that they aren’t actually soap. They are full of chemicals and detergents, whereas traditionally soap is simply lye mixed with animal fat (lard) or oil, heated till fully reacted and cooled. Other ingredients and fragrances may be added, but basic soap is just fat and lye.  

image of hand made soap with lavender herbs on top

Making soap sounds like a project, but after you’ve collected supplies, it only takes a bit of work and time to make natural soap that lathers beautifully, treats your skin like royalty, and smells like whatever you want it to! Ready to begin your soapmaking journey?

You will definitely need a digital kitchen scale. The measurements for soap are very precise because the lye has to react fully with the fat. They are inexpensive and easy to find, but there is no room for error here. A crockpot and an immersion blender are recommended as well. The following recipe is for coconut oil soap. Coconut oil is easy to work with, lathers luxuriously, and even without added scent, smells delicious. (Stock up on coconut oil as the recipe uses quite a lot; the lye and any scent will last much longer.)

Coconut oil is easy to work with, lathers luxuriously…

A few notes: use Pyrex or glass bowls/measuring cups, wear long sleeves and rubber gloves (safety goggles or even swim goggles are a great precaution; I simply move slowly and look over my shoulder when pouring lye) and just take your time. Fill a sink with water and a cup or two of white vinegar (which neutralizes lye), then put all dishes to soak. Make soap on a dry day as you need fresh air to avoid lye fumes. Finally, soap will last longer if left to cure (dry). Lay bars on a wire rack and store them as long as possible.

33oz. coconut oil (organic is great!)

4.83 oz. lye

12.54 oz. water

Essential oil, amount and scent to taste

 

The recipe looks strange, but precision is key. Measure slowly on the digital scale and yes, you will have to adjust in tiny increments until the number is exact. It’s fun, and kids love to help– just keep them away from lye.

  • Measure oil, lye and water first. Set crockpot to low with oil in it. (Or microwave the oil to liquid before adding.)
  • Go outside with water, lye and spoon, wearing protective gear. Place bowl out of reach of kids and pets. Slowly pour the lye into the water and stir to mix. The bowl will get hot! Let sit for 10-15 minutes, till it turns clear.
  • Slowly add lye mixture to the melted oil in the crockpot and stir it up a bit.
  • Use the immersion blender to move in figure 8’s until the mixture reaches trace–a light, pudding-like consistency.
  • Cover. Cook on low 45-60 minutes. Check occasionally; it should rise like a wave and fold back down. It’s ready when there are no oil puddles, looks semi-translucent, and feels waxy rubbed between your fingers. 
  • Cool for 10-15 minutes and stir in essential oil(s).
  • Pour into silicone soap molds or use a loaf pan lined with parchment (or any baking pan) and cool completely. For pans: slice with a carving knife into thick slabs or squares. If you like a rustic look, don’t smooth the top after pouring.

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