These are the instructions for making your own gentle hand or face soap. It's work, but worth the effort!
Time Required: 1 Day
- If you are using a pure fat, such as coconut oil or olive oil, you can skip to step 5. Coconut oil yields a soft, quick-lathering soap. Olive oil and other vegetable cooking oils yield a soft soap that never completely hardens.
- Render the tallow by cutting it into chunks, placing it into the large pot, covering it, and heating on medium heat until it is melted. Stir occassionally.
- Cool the fat to below the boiling point of water. Add a volume of water equal to that of the fat. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover and remove from heat. Let sit overnight.
- Remove the fat from the pot. Discard non-fat gunk (scrape it off of the bottom of the fat) and any liquid.
- Measure 2.75 kg rendered fat. Cut the fat into tennis-ball size chunks and place the pieces into a large bowl.
- Set up all of your materials. Ventilate the area (or work outside), put on safety gear, and open all containers.
- Make soap :-) Pour the water into a large glass or ceramic bowl (not metal). Carefully pour the lye into the bowl and mix the water and lye with the wooden spoon.
- The reaction between water and lye gives off heat (is exothermic) and vapors that you should avoid breathing. The spoon will be somewhat degraded by the lye.
- Once the lye is dissolved by the water, start adding the chunks of fat, a bit at a time. Keep stirring until the fat is melted. If necessary, add heat (put on a low burner with ventilation).
- Stir in the lemon juice and fragrance oil (optional). Once the soap is well-mixed, pour it into molds. If you use glass baking dishes for molds, you can cut the soap into bars after it has become firmer (not hard).
- The soap will harden in approximately an hour.
- You may wrap the finished soap in clean cotton rags. It can be stored for 3-6 months in a cool, well-ventilated location.
- Wear gloves when washing your equipment, as their may be some unreacted lye remaining. Wash in very hot water to help melt away the residue.
- Adult supervision required! Wear gloves and protective eyewear and cover exposed skin to avoid accidental exposure to the lye. Keep out of reach of children!
- If you get lye on your skin, immediately wash it with lots of cold water. Read the cautions on the container before opening the lye.
- Don't measure the lye. Instead, adjust the soap recipe to accomodate the container size of the lye.
- Cooking oils are sensitive to air and light, and soap made from cooking oils will spoil in a few weeks unless it is refrigerated.
- Volatile fragrance oils or even dried herbs or spices may be added to the soap to scent it. Fragrance is optional.
What You Need
- 4 kg (9 lb) suet (tallow)
- 350 g (12 oz) lye
- 750 ml (3 C) water
- 500 ml (2 C) lemon juice
- 7.5 ml (.25 oz) fragrance
- wooden spoon
- ventilated work area
- molds/glass baking dishes