Every day, more and more people are going back to the basics. They have discovered that this is an essential step they must take to protect their health and well-being. As we learn more about the harmful ingredients that are being added to our soaps, many of us are realizing that the only way to protect our health is to make our own. The process is not only easy, it can also be very rewarding. Below are the basic steps involved in the Cold Process method for making handmade soap.
Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients
You don’t need a lot of ingredients to make soap. Just three basic things will get you started.
- Distilled water
- Sodium hydroxide (lye)
- And some type of fat. Vegetable fat like olive or coconut oil is quite common.
These make up the base of any type of soap you want to make. From this, you can add your own combination of essential oils, dyes for coloring, or herbs in order to get the type of effect you want. Some popular optional ingredients include:
- Coffee grounds
- Dried flowers
- Cocoa powder
Step 2: The Solution
In order to make any type of soap, you need to create a chemical process called ‘saponification.’ This is the process of separating the glycerol molecules from the fatty acids. To do this, you take a solution of lye and water and then mix it with the oils to begin the process. The precise ratio of oil to lye can be determined by using a lye calculator. This will allow you to get the precise measurements for mixing the perfect solution.
Make sure you take precautionary measures when mixing the solution. The combination of lye with water will create fumes, so it is best to do it outside or in a well-ventilated area. A good rule to follow is to always make sure you add the lye to the water rather than water to the lye. This will lower the risk of a major eruption that could cause you and anyone around you harm.
You also need to wear protective covering. You don’t want to get even a drop of lye on your skin as it will cause painful burns. Wear long sleeves on your arms and make sure that you protect your face from possible splashes.
Step 3: Blend Until You Get Trace
Trace simply means that you need to continue to mix the solution until the mixture is completely separated. This is important because if the solution is not thoroughly mixed, the oils can separate leaving pockets in the soap where lye can seep in.
It is important to get the trace just right. If your trace is not complete, you will get separation and it will not form a soap. On the other hand, if you mix the ingredients too long after you have achieved trace, your soap will become too hard a brittle to mold.
Step 4: Molding
Once you have reached trace, pour the solution into molds and wait for it to cure. With Cold Process this could take as little as a few days, but for the best results, it is recommended that you take longer. Ideally four to six weeks is best. Make sure that the molds are kept in a cool location with good ventilation so that the excess water can evaporate easily. This makes for a firmer bar that will last longer.
Once you have mastered the art of soap making, there is a good chance that you will want to do it again and again. Not only will you have healthier options for taking care of your body, but you’ll develop a new skill that will likely inspire you to try many more things as you endeavor to go back to the basics.