Making soap at home isn’t nearly as difficult as I had originally thought. All you need is a few tools, ingredients and a few hours. When choosing tools and utensils for soap making be sure to use them for just this purpose. Also be mindful of what each is made of. You want to be sure all your tools are made of nonreactive materials and that they are all heat tolerant. The chemical reaction of adding lye to water will cause it to heat up to 200 degrees.
There are pro’s and cons to all ways of doing things, I enjoy the hot process method of soap making because of the convenience factor. I simply don’t have the patience, or storage space for that matter, to let soap sit and cure for 6-8 weeks. So today it’s all about hot process so let’s get into it.
You’ll need a fat source ( check out my previous article https://gaiassanctorum.com/2020/06/06/bacon-drippings-for-soap/ ) you’ll need water, lye (sodium hydroxide), a couple of mixing bowls and utensils, scale (all measurements are done by weight), and a crock pot. I suggest a crock pot with the ceramic inserts. A little safety side note: consider using gloves and eye protection, work in a well ventilated space, and always keep vinegar on hand for neutralizing chemical burns or spilled lye. I’m always wiping my workspace with vinegar as a “just in case” because I have kids in and out of my work area.
The size of your crock pot will determine how much soap you can make at one time, so do some “tests” by weighing the liquid volume yours can hold while still leaving about an inch of headspace.
Once you know how big of a batch you can do you can calculate your lye water ratio. Its a three step calculation. Step 1: (amount of fat) x (saponification value) = (amount of lye) the saponification value is the amount of lye it takes to turn a fat into soap and differs depending on the type of fat your using. Step 2: (amount of lye) ÷ 0.3 = (total weight of lye water solution) step 3: (total weight of lye water solution) – (amount of lye) = (water) remember all figures are weights. Or you can do what I do, and use an online calculator. 🤣 My favorite is this one here from Brambleberry https://www.brambleberry.com/calculator?calcType=lye it is super easy to use. You will have to figure out what you want your superfatting level to be. But what the heck is that? Basically it’s the amount of fat/oils not bound to lye and turned into soap. So 0% would mean all the fat is turned into soap. Superfatting levels are purely personal. Different levels will effect the luxuriousness and lather of your soap, so play around with it and find what you like. Keep in mind that results of a superfatting level will not stay constant from one fat source to another. For my soaps I make with animal fats, I like a 5% superfatting level. Now that your ratio is set you can start.
Get your fats melted in the crock pot on low. Sorry I don’t have an actual temp, my crock pot has three settings, warm, low, and high lol. While your fats are melting measure out your water and lye. Be sure to measure them seperately.
Slowly add the lye to the water, NEVER the reverse, and stir until no longer cloudy. Then slowly add lye water to your melted fats in the crock pot. Stir to either well combined or a light trace. A light trace is when the mixture has thickened enough to leave a slight trail behind your stirring utensil. This is easy to achieve with a stick blender or mixer, if you don’t have one don’t fret. Stir well for five minutes and every time the mixture begins to separate, stir it again. Just means it’ll take a little longer to start the saponification process.
Once saponification begins, your batch will go through a couple of transformative phases.
The first I call the gel phase. The fat molecules are beginning to bind to the lye solution. Continue to stir every 10 minutes or so. If left too long it may volcano out onto your counter top
The next phase I call the marshmallow stage. It’s no longer gelatinous and takes on a fluffy look. There’s still chemical changes happening and this creates air pockets that cause the batch to expand and grow. Be sure to keep stirring this down.
There’s two ways to know when your batch is ready for the soap mold. When you stir your batch and no longer hear the sound of air bubbles popping it’s ready. Or you can use the tongue test. Put your tongue to the soap, if all you feel is heat it’s ready. If you feel a zap or zing, give it more time. The tongue test is the more accurate of the two. Once it’s ready scoop into your molds, I like silicone baking molds the best. Bang the mold on a hard surface to be sure it settles well into the shape and removes any air bubbles from between scoops. Set aside to cool. When it’s fully cooled it’s ready to use, but, if you let it sit for a week it will last through more uses.
Want to get creative? Try infusing your fats with herbs for added color and medicinal qualities.❤️ Hint hint, upcoming article😁