Handmade Soap....made easy

Buddy Burner  Paper Pots

Copyright 2000  Robin Follette

CAUTION:  If you try this recipe you are assuming a risk.  Handmade soap is made with lye, a caustic substance.  There will not be lye in the soap when it is done if you've done this right.

I strongly recommend making your first batch of soap when you have time to do it from start to finish without interruption.  Allow about two hours for this.


Pan to melt solid oils
Container to mix soap (not aluminum, I use a plastic bucket)
Plastic container to mix lye and water in
Meat or candy thermometer
Bowl to set on the scale while you measure
Scale  All amounts are by weight, not volume.
Plastic spoon for mixing
Plastic molds that will hold a total of eight pounds of liquid
Rubber or Latex gloves (should be worn from start to finish)
Safety Eye Wear (should be worn from start to finish)

I recommend wearing gloves and eye protection.  You'll be dealing with a caustic acid which can blind and burn very quickly.  If you have lye to skin contact rinse with running water for several minutes.  Long sleeves and pants, and shoes should be worn.

Makes four pounds of soap.

1 pound olive oil (be sure it's 100% olive, not a blend)
1 pound coconut oil
2 pounds vegetable shortening such as Crisco (I use 100% soybean)

9 oz lye
24 oz water or 32 oz goat milk (see note below)

If you have soft water you can use it right from the tap.  If not, collect rain water or buy water.  Hard water should not be used.   Measure out cold water.  Never use hot.  The water will go to 160° very quickly when using cold.  Measure out lye.

In a well ventilated place pour the lye into the water and stir.  Never pour water into lye.  It can heat too quickly and over flow.  I recommend *not* using a glass container for this.  The glass may have been just fine the other 100 times you've used it but this time it may be unstable. Better safe than sorry with a chemical that can burn and blind.  Set this back away from children, where anyone could mistake it for water, etc. It's important that everyone in the house know what you're doing and what you're working with.  The lye/water solution should be clear and look like water.

While the lye is cooling, weigh and melt the coconut and vegetable oils. When those are melted, remove from heat and add the olive oil.   Weigh essential oils and additives.

Temperature is some what important but not worth worrying over.  If your oil and lye are within 10° of each other they're fine.  When the two are some where between 90-115° dump the lye solution into the oil and stir.  I use a Rival stick blender.  If you're using a stick blender you can bring it to trace in 5-10 minutes.  Once the lye and oils are mixed you can stir off and on until trace.  Stir all edges of the container and into the center to make sure you have all of the liquid moving well.  To check for trace dribble some of the soap back onto the rest of the soap in the container.  If it leaves a trail you've reached trace.  Give it a few good stirs to be sure it's a true trace (it can't be stirred down to a thinner state).

If you want to add something like oatmeal or corn meal, herbs, spices. etc. add them now.  Once those are blended in well add essential or fragrance oil for scent. Your soap is now ready to pour into your molds.  I use wooden molds my father made for me.  You can be very creative.  Don't use anything that's aluminum because of the reaction that the lye/aluminum creates.  If it's cold you should put a heavy towel over the mold to help keep in the warmth.  Keep the filled molds out of drafts and temperature changes. If the temperature changes quickly the oils in the soap will separate.

The soap will saponify within 24 hours.  The temperature of it will rise to 160-180° while this happens.  When the temperature drops back to room temp and the soap is solid it's ready to be unmolded.  If the soap is soft, uncover the mold and let it set for a day or two.  Cut into bars and let dry.  The longer the soap dries the better it will be and the longer it will last.

You must use common sense and extreme care when making soap.  You are responsible for your own well being.  I've provided instructions~the rest is up to you.

Note:  Milk will curdle, give off an ammonia smell and discolor.  To help control this I freeze the milk I'm using until it's slushy.  Add the lye very slowly and keep stirring.

 Soap books

*The Natural Soap Book : Making Herbal and Vegetable-Based Soaps - Susan Miller Cavitch

Soap : Making It, Enjoying It - Ann Bramson

Soap Recipes : Seventy Tried-And-True Ways to Make Modern Soap With Herbs, Beeswax and Vegetable Oils - Elaine C. White, James Tollett (Illustrator)

* My personal preference.