Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Lather Project: 30 Soaps in 30 Days - Day 9, Soap 9

We’re on Day 9!

And I thought now would be the perfect time for a hot-process soapmaking tutorial. While I enjoy all methods of soap making, I find that the hot-process method allows for greater control over the finished product and satisfies my need for immediate gratification!

First things first:
Step 1. Assemble all your tools and ingredients. For this tutorial, we’re using:

4 Quart Crockpot
Postage Scale
2 Plastic long-handled Spatulas
1 2 Quart Plastic Container
1 4 Cup Plastic Container
1 2 Cup Glass Container
Rubber Gloves & Protective Eyewear

Olive Oil
Coconut Oil
Soybean Oil
Sodium Hydroxide
Distilled Water

This is a take on the soap recipe fondly known in soap making circles as the ‘Walmart Recipe’. It’s known as such because all the oils are readily available and can be purchased at Walmart as well as many grocery stores and wholesale clubs.

Here’s how my 2 ½ lb Recipe looks, and it will yield almost 3 1/2 lbs of soap:
14oz Olive Oil
14oz Soybean Oil
12oz Coconut Oil
15.2oz Distilled Water
5.7oz Sodium Hydroxide
*Remember when soap making to run every recipe through a soap calculator to avoid any errors or oversights.

Step 2. Measure out the Olive Oil, Coconut Oil & Soybean Oil. Melt the oils in the Crockpot on the Warm setting.

Step 3. Measure out distilled Water and in a separate container measure out the Sodium Hydroxide. Be sure to don your gloves & goggle before handling lye. I prefer to freeze my distilled water (or any liquids) before adding the lye because it cuts down on fumes and keeps the temperature from climbing too high. Slowly add the lye - I add in 1/4ths - to the Distilled Water, carefully stirring the entire time.

Step 4. Once the oils are melted and the lye water is almost clear, carefully pour the lye solution into the crockpot with the oils. Use the stick blender for about 1 minute to ensure all the lye is incorporated.

Step 5. After about 15 minutes or so, your soap will start solidify - it looks to me like a very thick pudding. I tend to hand mix a bit at this point, but it’s not necessary.

Step 6. After another 15 minutes or so, the next stage the soap will reach is a ‘mashed potato’ stage - it will still be thick, but more grainy-looking rather than smooth. Time to stickblend again for about 1 minute.

Step 7. After another 15 minutes or so has gone by, the soap will thin out and have a clear and chunky texture - commonly know as ‘applesauce’ stage. Here is when I take the stick blender and mix for about 1 minute.

Step 8. You’ll see that the soap starts to become glossy after about another 15 minutes. It should be somewhat translucent and shiny. This is the first time you can check to see if you’ve got soap! The best way to tell if all the lye has cooked out is to take the ‘tongue-test’ - touch your tongue to a bit of cooled-off soap. If you feel a tingling (or ‘zap’), lye is still present and you must continue to cook. Continue cooking and check again after every 15 minutes. If you feel nothing and it has a soapy taste, you’ve got soap!

Step 9. Once your soap passes the tongue-test, it’s time to put it in the mold. I’m using a cardboard box that Domino’s sandwiches come in lined with a garbage bag to show you don’t need anything fancy! Carefully ‘glop’ your hot soap into the box, banging on a hard surface after each addition to eliminate any air bubbles.

Step 10. Cover your soap with a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap. Use a folded towel to smooth the top. Allow to cool and unmold.

You can trim and slice your soap as you please!

Stay Tuned Tomorrow
for Day 9!


  1. Great blog! Love the pictures! You have a great project.. I can't believe making 30 soaps in 30 days! WOW! Following you.. :D

  2. wow thanks for sharing this post! i love to see how soap is made and may attempt it someday!

  3. oh man, it looks so hard to make!

  4. Very cool tutorial! I never have thought about how soap is made. Sort of like a mini version of one of those 'how it's made' shows (which I Love!)

  5. at what stage would you add the essential oils? love love the tutorial by the way. one of the best i've seen

  6. Hi Delicia - thanks for taking the time to read my Tutorial!
    You'd need to know the flashpoint of the essential oil you're adding. Insert a thermometer into your batch and once the temp goes below the EO's flashpoint, you can safely at it without the oil & it's scent burning off.


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