Making soap at home can be an inexpensive project using easy to find ingredients and equipment. The recipe presented below is the cheapest soap recipe that I have found, but can be altered with changes made with essential oils, coloring agents, or herbs.
Soap is a combination of fats, water, and lye that undergoes a chemical change called soponificataion. All soap contains lye, sometimes called caustic soda or sodium hydroxide.
When choosing equipment, use steel, enamel-ware, glass, or Pyrex. Plastic spoons work well for stirring. Never use aluminum.
Protect your eyes, skin and clothing when making soap. Keep some vinegar on hand in case of spills. Lye can cause a nasty burn.
Equipment Needed to Make Soap
Large pot - steel or enamel-ware
Large Pyrex container - for lye solution
Electric hand mixer with steel blades
Scale - kitchen scale that weighs in ounces
Plastic containers for measuring fats
Glass candy thermometer
Mold - wood or plastic (Tupperware type container works well)
Eye, skin, and clothing protection
Plastic bags (to cover and protect counter)
Frugal Soap Recipe
42 ounces Crisco
17 ounces water
6 1/2 ounces lye
1 Tablespoon sugar (dissolved in water)
5 ounces Canola oil
5 ounces Castor oil
5 ounces Coconut oil
1 1/2 ounces essential oil
How to Make Soap
1) Prepare work area and equipment. Place plastic on kitchen counter. Have everything you need on hand. Ventilate area when combining water and lye as it creates toxic fumes.
2) Dissolve sugar in small amount of hot water. (This will be part of your water measure)
3) Weigh water. Always remember to weigh the container first and set scale to zero. Pour into large Pyrex container. Add lye to water. (Never the reverse). Mix well.
4) Weigh fats, beginning with Crisco. Make sure to weigh the container first.
5) Place fats in steel or enamel pot on low heat. Do not add essential oils until later
6) When the temperature of fat mixture and lye solution are both 110 degrees Fahrenheit, slowly add the lye and water solution to the fats. (This can be tricky, you may have to set one or the other into a sink with cold water. The temperature must be equal)
7) Mix together. Pulse with hand mixer. The mixture will thicken into a pudding like consistency called "trace," as pictured on the right. If you drag a spoon through the mixture, it will leave a trail.
8) During the mixing, add colorants, or herbs.
9) Last, add the essential oils and mix well
10) Pour the soap mixture into a greased mold and cover with plastic wrap
11) Cover with a towel and slowly cool 24 hours to 3 days.
12) Remove soap from mold onto cutting board. Run a knife around the edges, turn mold upside down and thump on the bottom
13) Cut soap into bars
14) Arrange soap on a slotted rack or basket. Keep a small space between the bars to ensure air circulation.
15) Cure soap for one month. The longer it sits, the harder and more long lasting the bars of soap.
This recipe creates a bar of white soap. You can add specks of color by mixing in some herbs. Fresh herbs will turn brown but dried herbs may retain color.
Tumeric - golden yellow to orange yellow
Sage - pale, dull green
Sea kelp granules - pale green with dark flecks
Cocoa - dark brown
Cinnamon - reddish brown
Ground non-toxic crayons
Commercial cosmetic grade coloring agents