Forget hand sanitizers! When soap is at a premium why not make your own?
I’ve been making soap for close to twenty years now and I thought it was the perfect time to share the process with you as it’s both enjoyable and relaxing and yields the most creamy and fragrant – and of course cleansing – soap you can imagine!
You’ll need a recipe – and though I’ve acquired many over the years – my favorite is the one I received when I first learned the craft.
I don’t expect you to read the instructions above; I just wanted to show you how wonderfully low tech they are.
The gist of it is this – mix lye and oils together and stir until a chemical process called saponification takes place.
First the Lye
I use Red Devil Lye (sodium hydroxide) added to water. This stuff is caustic and requires the most caution. I usually mix it outside, let the fumes rise in the open air, then bring it back inside to cool down (for yes, it becomes very hot.)
Then the Oils
I melt these together in a stainless steel pot on the stove. My recipe called for coconut oil, olive oil and vegetable shortening, but many different oils can be used.
Once melted, the oils need to cool and when both the lye and oils are lukewarm I mix them together and stir.
This is the fun part, when the solution slowly changes before your eyes, dreamily, imperceptibly thickening, until ‘trace’ occurs and you see an imprint remain when you dribble the soap on top. (Or when it becomes thick like split-pea soup.)
If you’re lucky and have a good recipe, this will take 15 or 20 minutes. Then you add your essential oils or fragrances and pour into prepared molds. I sometimes split the batch to make two different fragrances, one of which is always lavender.
When it hardens, I cut it, let it cure for 30 days and voila – I have soap! And yes, those really are sleeping kitties. 🙂
Wasn’t that fun?