Four years ago, I took a class in cold process soap making at the Spruill Center for the Arts (where I also took my Ceramic/Wheel classes). Four weeks later, I said goodbye to store bought bath soap, and I never looked back.
Like with baking or cooking, developing soap recipes is so much fun. The possibilities are endless! One only have to keep in mind that the ingredients have to come together perfectly when mixed together. I get to play with different kinds of oils and fats; use different liquid like milk, fruit & vegetable juices, teas and herbal infusions; and other cool stuff like essential oils, fragrance oils, oatmeal, citrus rinds, cornmeal, herbs, flowers and spices.
The resulting soap is very mild and natural and leaves the skin soft.
Palm Kernel Oil, Beeswax Oil, Coconut Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Shortening, Lye, Distilled Water, Powdered Goat Milk, Dried Peppermint Leaves, Peppermint Oil, Vitamin E, Salt and Sugar.
Use only non-reactive materials like glass, ceramic and wood. Wear gloves, long sleeves and eye protection.
Basic Soap Making Steps
Calculate recipe. Look for the saponification value of the fats being used on a saponification chart, which is then used to calculate the appropriate amount of lye. Excess unreacted lye in the soap will result in very high pH and can burn or irritate skin. Not enough lye and the soap is greasy.
Prepare molds --spray and/or line with plastic wrap or butcher paper.
Measure all ingredients. Nine out of ten failed batches are due to inaccurate measuring of the ingredients.
Add salt & sugar to water & thoroughly dissolve. Sugar adds lather and salt add hardness (although, debatable).
Add lye to water. DO NOT add water to lye. ALWAYS sprinkle lye onto surface of water and stir until completely dissolved. Allow it to cool to at least 90-95 degrees.
Mix all oils and fats together and heat over water (double boiler) to 100-120 degrees. DO NOT let the temperature rise above 120 degrees. Remove from heat and stir to continue melting. All fats should be completely liquid and NOT above 120 degrees.
Slowly and carefully add the lye water to the oil mixture. Use small pulses of the stick blender for initial mixing. Then stir continuously for 10-15 minutes until mixture reaches trace.
To identify trace, drip some soap from your spoon onto the surface of the soap. Drips will leave a trace, or slight mound or shadow on the surface. Or, draw a line through the soap with your spoon. The line should remain for a few seconds before blending back into soap.
Add powdered goats milk, peppermint leaves, peppermint oil and Vitamin E. Stir in thoroughly.
Pour into prepared mold, cover surface with plastic wrap, cover
and wrap in towel. Insulate for 24 hours.
Remove soap from mold. Cut into desired size bars. Lay the soap in a rack so that air can circulate around it. Allow soap to cure and dry for 4-6 weeks before using it. During this time, the soaps PH level will remarkably drop and your finished product will be wonderful mild and natural homemade soap.