A Practical Guide
Included in this page

  • Complete soapmaking instructions, including pictures
  • Tips on how to make soap turn out every time
  • Recipes you can use that fit your mold

Practical Soapmaking
I have tried to write this page with as much information as possible, without writing a book. It was a hard task cutting down the information without sacrificing clarity. 
Soapmaking is quite complex.  I hope that I have made it as easy as possible for you, so you can feel confident with soapmaking before you start on more exciting  experimentation.

One of the wonderful things about Soapmaking is that you have complete control over what you put in it.  Some people put herbs and texture in for interest, others don't like the feel of the bits in their soap, they want the smooth natural feel of the soap.  Let your imagination go wild so you will truly feel like it is your soap when you decide what you want to put in it.

I know people who like to color their soap by adding crayons to the oils, and I know people who prefer natural colorings.  On these pages we have included a list of things that you can add to your soap, but keep in mind, not everything can be added to soap.  For example, lavender flowers turn black in soap which some people might consider very ugly in a beautiful lavender soap

This book is not intended to stand on its own as a resource. There are many books on soapmaking, and many soapmakers waiting to share the experience with you. 

I would like to thank Linda Munro for use of her hands, her kitchen, and her humor.  Without her help, creating this book would have been a much more boring experience.

A Practical Guide

Please read all four web pages before attempting to make soap
Please read all the cautions.  It is very important that you understand the precautions that you must take when making soap, to make soapmaking a good
experience. 

Equipment needed:

  • Soapmaking oils.
  • Beeswax
  • Distilled water.
  • Sodium Hydroxide
  • Soap mold that will make 12 bars of soap.
  • Freezer paper to be used as a mold liner.
  • Fragrance or essential oil (optional).
  • Candy thermometer.
  • Rubber gloves.
  • Safety goggles.
  • A stainless steel pot (do not use aluminium)
  • A  large pyrex measuring cup, minimum 4 cups, or other heat resistant container that you would be able to pour your lye in a smooth steady stream.
  • Two plastic stir sticks.
  • A potato peeler.
  • A sharp knife
  • A plate to put your plastic stir stick on.
  • Scotch tape.
  • An old shirt with long sleeves.
  • Two ounces of vegetable oil.
  • Old rags in case of spill.
  • An old dish Cloth.
  • A stick hand blender (like the Braun hand blenders) this is not absolutely necessary but it will cut your tracing time to minutes instead of hours.

Heating the Oils:

Put all of your oils and beeswax into the pot and place it on the stove element at about level 3 (low).  You want to heat the oils very slowly.  If you heat the oils too high it will take much longer for it to cool to the temperature to make soap.

While the oils are heating use a bit of vegetable oil to oil the  plastic container that you will be using as your mold.  Use the freezer paper (shiny side towards the soap) to line the bottom of the plastic container, smooth the paper as much as possible.  The oil keeps the  paper in place and the paper ensures that you can remove your soap from the mold without sticking.  Tape the edges of the freezer paper to the outer sides of  the mold.

At this stage, make sure you have all of your extra ingredients ready, (fragrance, herbs, and/or colour).  When the time comes to add them, they must be ready to just pour into the soap.

When your oils have not quite melted (small bits of beeswax about the size of very thin quarters have not melted yet) turn the heat off.  The oils will continue to heat just enough to melt the rest of the wax.

Clip your thermometer on the edge of the pot and remove the pot from the element..  The temperature should be about 150o .  If it is higher, don't worry, it will cool down in time.

Mixing the Lye:
Important: Please read the warnings on all of the pages

Gather the following items

Lye
Distilled Water
Stir Stick
Rubber Gloves
Pyrex Container
and
Safety Glasses

Warning: Always pour the lye into the water.  If you pour the water into the lye, the lye will spatter and spit and you may get some lye on you. When pouring the lye into the water there will be fumes and the temperature of the water will rise to about 175o in about 1 minute.  If you inhale the fumes you will start to cough.  Try to keep the fumes blowing away from you.  This will only last for about 5 minutes, but you have to keep stirring for about one minute.  If you stop stirring  the lye will harden on the bottom of the container.  If the water starts to bubble quickly, stop pouring until the bubbling stops.  Slowly start pouring again, if the water boils again, stop pouring, wait a minute and try again.
I have only had the bubbling phenomenon  happen once and that was when I made tea with my water before making soap with it (a failed experiment), but I thought I would mention it just in case.

This picture shows Linda wearing shorts.  This is not a good idea when making soap.  We all take shortcuts in life, but the reality is, if you spill lye on your legs, you are going to get burned!

Measure your distilled water into the  pyrex container and put on your protective clothing including rubber gloves and goggles.  (if you have a back porch or an outside area you may want to combine the lye and water outside)

Slowly pour the lye into the water. You must keep stirring the lye for 5 minutes or the lye will harden onto the bottom of the container.