Introduction to Soapmaking

Making soap at home is one of the easiest and most rewarding crafts you can learn. (I held a "class"once on soapmaking and it was so easy I was embarrassed.) All it takes is a few simple ingredients available in any store in the country. Don't let the lye in the list of ingredients fool you, commercial soaps are made with the same ingredients. All the hype about "lye" soap being harsh is just meant to catch another customer. Soap is naturally alkaline; skin is naturally acidic. Give your skin and hair a splash of vinegar rinse (recipe on cosmetic page) to restore the balance for wonderfully clean, fresh and breathing skin and hair.

Turn your homemade olive oil soap into shampoos, facial soaps, and liquid hand-soaps. Olive oil is the best soap you can use. It is cost-prohibitive to make it for commercial use and therefore not widely available. If it is, it is usually mixed with other inferior oils or fats. Since this is my original recipe, you can share it with friends. Dandruff and flaky or dry skin caused from commercial soaps will likely disappear.

I hope you'll give soapmaking a try. Let me know if you have any problems and I will try to offer a solution. My address is on the home page.

The procedure for soapmaking always follows the same method regardless of the type of fat used or additional ingredients added. Mix the measured lye into a heat-proof glass or ceramic bowl into which the cold water has been placed. The mixture will get very hot. Let it set until it reaches about 90 degrees. (This will feel comfortably hot to your hands.) Protect counter tops and floors from spills with layers of newspaper. The mixture is very caustic at this point. If you get it on your skin it will irrate it. Immediately rinse with cold water and vinegar. When you purchase lye, usually in the "drain opener" section of the store, shake the can to be sure the lye isn't in clumps. Fresh lye will sound more like salt. Lumps form in older lye and it will have lost some of its potency. If it's all you can find, use it.

When the lye mixture has cooled slowly pour it into the olive oil in an extremely thin stream, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. (Always pour lye into fat, never the opposite.) Take your time with this step. Make sure the lye water is incorporating fully into the fat. At this point herbs, spices, fillers and essential oils can be added. When your soap is finished set the mixture in an area free of drafts. My first batch of olive oil soap separated and I had to keep stirring over a period of several days before it remained mixed, but since I have had no problems. Soap needs to set for at least 2 weeks before you can use it. It mellows with age. I always make fresh soap when I begin to run low so I never run out. I was using expensive shampoos and conditioners lately because I neglected to make shampoo. My hair was beginning to feel dry and straw-like. When I finally had some shampoo made and began using it and the vinegar rinse, I couldn't believe the difference. If you're ready let's begin.

Basic Olive Oil Soap

1 cup cold water
1/4 cup lye
2 cups olive oil

Follow the procedure above.  Pour this into a rectangular  plastic tub.   Cover loosely with
plastic to keep out  dust.  Stir if necessary until water no longer separates.  Cut into bar
size squares when mixture is set,  but not hard, usually within 12 hours.   Allow 2 cure for 
at least 2 weeks before using.

Liquid Oily Skin and Hair Formula

1/2 cup olive oil soap, grated
4 cups water
2 Tablespoons rosemary leaves
2 Tablespoons lavender flowers
1 Tablespoon thyme leaves

Bring water to a boil, remove from heat and add herbs to 2 cups of the water.  Set tea aside 
to steep for 1/2 hour.   Pour the remaining  2 cups of water over grated soap and stir until 
soap is melted.  Gently  reheat  tea  and  pour  through  coffee filter to strain into soap.  
Squeeze filter to extract all  the  tea.    Stir until well blended.  Every batch of soap is 
different.  You may need to add more water if your shampoo is too thick.   Don't worry about 
diluting it, the soap will still work fine.

Liquid Normal Skin and Hair Formula

1/2 cup olive oil soap,grated
4 cups water
2 Tablespoons sage leaves, crushed
2 Tablespoons chamomile flowers
2 Tablespoons lemon peel

Follow directions for Oily Formula.

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Body and hair care products for you to try.