HOW TO MAKE YOUR PERFECT NATURAL SOAP
Learn how to make perfect natural soap. Read our step by step guide of natural soap making.
Bathroom soaps are mostly made by a cold process. These soaps are rarely made from the fat of animal origin, and vegetable oils are mostly used here. There are numerous demands to be fulfilled for soaps: design, color, odor, hardness, creaminess, cleansing power, skin care…
Keeping in mind all the requirements that arise, the question is: Does it make sense to make your own soap and can it be good enough as soaps bought in stores? It can be even better!
Since it is possible to make a bar of soap according to your own needs (someone has sensitive skin, so no commercial soap doesn’t match), and that no expensive equipment is required, it makes sense to try.
Even viewed through the pricing of economic viability it is tempting, because you will get a high-quality soap, which cannot be bought anywhere, and in places where it can be found, it will not be cheap.
If you have decided to try, the first thing to look at is the protection measures, because making soaps can be dangerous, as bases (hydroxide) are used.
The following equipment is required for cold soap preparation:
- protective equipment (gloves, glasses, …)
- a stick blender
- plastic mixing bowls (more pieces needed if you will make multi-colored soaps)
- Precise digital scale with an accuracy of 0.1 g
- molds for the soap compound
The following material is required:
- Vegetable oils (olive, palm, coconut …), can be found in the health food stores; it is better to get refined oils but cold pressed, not only because of lower prices, but also because it ensures you will get a cleaner soap
- base, most commonly sodium hydroxide (soda), can be bought in paint and varnish stores
- distilled water or well-purified rainwater
- pigments – food coloring or natural plant colors
- Scented substances, which may be synthetic or natural, in the form of essential oils.
THE COLD PROCESS OF SOAP MAKING
The cold process involves intensive mixing of the ingredients using a stick blender to maximize the effect. Although this process is much faster (and therefore more popular) than a warm process, the soaps obtained by this process cannot be used immediately after the preparation but have to wait 2-3 months until they are ready for use.
The reason is that the process needed to make the final form of soap is not completed, which means that there is still a part of the fat in the soap, so the use of it will cause irritation of the skin. That’s why the soaps obtained by cold process need more time to “mature”.
Cold soap preparation is performed in the following steps:
- Creating or purchasing a mold in which the soap is poured
The mold should be made of a material that is resistant to hydroxides, because in the soap mass there is a soda that has not yet worked. Therefore the mold must not be of aluminum or stain-proof materials.
Suitable materials are wood, plastics, silicone rubber, stainless steel … The mold should be made in such a way that the soap can easily be removed after hardening, meaning it should be either detachable or shrinkable material in question. Also, the inside of the mold should be smooth so that the soap would not stick to the walls.
- Calculation of the amount of each ingredient (oil, fat, water)
First you need to determine the size of the mold. It can be calculated or measured if the mold is irregular. The volume should be expressed in liters. The best way is to express dimension in decimeters, so the volume will be expressed in liters.
Depending on the volume of the mold, the required amount of oil is obtained. The amount is obtained by measuring the volume in liters and multiply it by 790. The required oil mass is this way transferred into grams.
If the soap is made of several types of oil, their relationship should be determined. Different types of oils give the soap different properties.
For example, coconut oil gives hardness, good dryness and good cleaning power, but the soap is rough for the skin, while olive oil delivers soft and creamy soap, soft for the skin.
By combining these two oils, a soap of extraordinary properties can be obtained.
When you have decided how many of which oils you will use, you can determine how much fat is needed by a calculator or a chart.
Sometimes it is practiced that one piece of the oil remains in the soap, because of its value to the skin, usually 2-5%. In that case, the amount of oil is reduced for these two or five percentages because we don’t want to turn the full amount of oil into soap.
The third essential ingredient is water. The water mass is obtained by multiplying the oil mass by 0.38.
We want to make soap containing 40% olive, 30% palm oil and 30% coconut oil. This is the relationship that gives soap with the best properties. We have obtained a mold with a capacity of 1 liter (or several smaller molds with a total volume of 1 liter).
The total amount of oil needed is 790 grams (because the mold is 1 liter), consisting of 316 g of olive, 237 g of palm oil and 237 g of coconut oil. If we want 2% of olive oil to remain as oil and not be turned into soap, then we will not calculate the amount of soda for 316 g, but for 0.98 x 316 g = 309.7 g.
We can find the corresponding soap numbers for each of the three oils in the chart, and determine the required amount of soda: 309.7×0.133 + 237×0.139 + 237×0.234 = 129.6 grams. The amount of water is: 0.38 x 790 g = 300.2 g.
- Measurement and preparation of ingredients
First, measure the required amount of distilled water on the scale. Then measure the hydroxide. Fatty soda is very dangerous, so it is imperative to apply the appropriate protective measures.
Now you have to provide a chemical-resistant container and a high temperature to continue the process.
The water is extracted into the bowl and then the amount of soda is slowly poured into the water, with slight stirring.
Never put water into the soda, because the reaction will be very extreme!
The process of dissolving the soda in water is followed by high temperature and aggressive exfoliations, so it is recommended to do this in a room with good ventilation, best outside.
When the solution is cooled to room temperature, it can be mixed with preheated oils, which also have to be at room temperature prior to mixing.
When all of the ingredients are contained in a mixing vessel, a stick blender for mixing ingredients is used:
Make sure that the mass does not spill out of the bowl because the content can be dangerous to the skin, mucous membranes or eyes.
During the mixing, the mass becomes louder. The mixing process can be stopped when the so-called “trace” appears. It occurs when traces remain on the surface of the soap while an object is being dragged along the surface, or the mass is no longer so fluid.
- Adding color and flavor
As the trace is noticed, it is the time to add color, mixing it with the mixer. Colors can be edible food colors, used for cakes. You can also use minced paprika, cocoa, coffee…
After the color the aroma is added. The aroma can be natural, based on essential oils (purchased in pharmacies and food stores) or synthetic.
If a multi-colored soap is desired, then the mass should be divided into several vessels. It should be taken into account that the color and aroma of soap after the “maturing” will be less intense than when it was made. The reason is the remaining amount of greasy soda in the soap.
- Pouring the soap mass to mold, mold removal and soap storage
The inside of the mold can be coated with a thin layer of oil, so that the soap after clamping doesn’t stick to the mold walls. When soaking the soap, make sure that no air bubbles appear in the mass.
After the soap has rested in the mold one day, it was sufficiently hardened and can be removed. If it is anticipated that the soap is cut into smaller pieces, it is best to use a thinner knife.
At this stage, the soap is still relatively soft, so after cutting it into pieces, it can be imprinted with the appropriate stamp, desired markings or motifs.
Then the pieces of soap are left to “mature”, to a place that is not exposed to sunlight, so they won’t lose too much moisture.
The soap mustn’t dehydrate!
After soaking for at least two months, the soap is ready for use. Theoretically, the saponification never ends, but after two months the content of the soda is so small that it is considered completely harmless.