Sunday, March 18, 2012

Soap Making Mini Vacation

I took the day off from working on the house yesterday and just did fun stuff. Among other things I got to make a batch of soap. The scent for this one, our eighth batch, is Citrus Splash. I thought I'd share my process with you just for fun.

First of all, when we decided to start making soap for our local Farmer's Market this year I talked to a good friend, a soap maker. She invited me over for coffee and talked me through the whole process. That was an eye opener. I really didn't know anything about making soap even though I sort of remember mom making it.  I had some vague idea that it involved cooking something on the stove and a lot of stirring. But mom rendered her own lard and that may be where that memory came from. We had an old Charter Oak wood cook stove when I was growing up and that's my memory. Mom stirring a huge old pot on that stove. And it was connected to making soap somehow.

Mom's soap was just lard and lye. I must have been very young the last time she made it because my memories are so sketchy. I remember she had collected ash from the stove. She put them in a sieve and poured water over them so she must have been making the lye she needed. But I don't remember how much water or ash or, obviously, the amount of lye she got out of the process. Anyway, I do remember the finished product. It was hard and brown and didn't have any scent that I remember. But it cleaned good.

I make my own lard and lye soap now. I don't make my own lye or render my own lard and I put scent in it. Mine is hard and white and smells of Lavender and Eucalyptus and mint. It still cleans real good.

Yesterday's soap didn't have any lard in it at all. I used a four oil recipe for this one. This is everything needed to make a batch. Well, except for the mold and liner. Actually, here I've already mixed the lye and water and it's cooling.

The oil is weighed out and mixed prior to heating. Every measurement is by weight not volume.

The oil and lye solution is mixed together and stirred until ready. Then it's poured into the mold, covered, and put to bed for 24 hours or so. My husband made this mold out of scrap lumber and we line it with butcher paper.

Out of the mold but still wrapped in the liner this log of soap is just in the right stage to cut.
I need a guide to cut the soap into bars or they come out very uneven. I didn't have one so I repurposed on old bread cutting guide and it works great. Using every other slot the bars are cut exactly one inch thick and weigh between 4.5 and 5 ounces.
A crinkle cutter makes a really nice bar.

We don't have drying racks or much room to spread out so we're repurposing old plastic soda crates by turning them upside down. I can get two batches of soap on each case. By turning another one upside down on top the soap is protected from my kitties while it cures. The bars should be cured and ready to use in about four to six weeks. My house smells wonderful with all these scents from the curing soap bars.



  1. Even on your day off, you're busy! And very resourceful, too!

  2. Busy but with fun stuff. This was much more fun than ripping baseboards up or patching tiny nail holes. :-}
    I'm a pack rat who can't throw anything away that might be useful some day.