I always wanted to make soap – especially as my hunt for gluten free vegan toiletries seems endless. So I did! I went for the hot soap process – it’s quicker and the soap is ready to use quicker. The cold process soap needs to be left to cure for weeks to allow the necessary chemical reactions to take place. The hot process speeds those chemical reactions up! I tested two recipes; castille and avocado and shea butter.
Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is highly alkaline and therefore very, very, corrosive. To make soap you need to be sure you are using the right amount of sodium hydroxide (use a lye calculator) and you need protective gloves, glasses and a well ventilated area. Always add the sodium hydroxide to water NEVER the other way around. The NaOH solution will heat up so be careful. You must be confident you are taking all the necessary precautions to keep yourself intact and I am not responsible for any of your mishaps etc.
If you are worried about using something so corrosive on your skin. Don’t. The NaOH will react with the other chemicals in the soap during the process below to form a pH neutral (ish) soap.
Recipes… These are unscented soaps. More lovely scented soaps to follow…
397 g olive oil
397 g coconut oil
28 g castor oil
17 g stearic acid
125 g sodium hydroxide (NaOH)
280 g water
Avocado and shea butter soap
142 g coconut oil
113 g sustainable palm oil
85 g avocado oil
85 g shea butter
61 g sodium hydroxide (NaOH)
140 g water
1. Prepare a suitable mould and line with greaseproof paper. Make sure you are wearing suitable protective gloves, long sleeves and glasses.
2. In a safe, well ventilated area, place the NaOH to a large glass heat proof jug. Slowly add the exact amount of cold water stirring as you add. The solution will heat up. Don’t worry this is normal.
3. In a large pan place all the other ingredients on a very low heat until they are all liquid and combined.
4. Add the NaOH solution to the pan and stir well – keep it on a low heat. The mixture will look a little like custard and start to thicken. Keep stirring.
5. The mixture will soon start to separate and look like it has curdled. This is normal.
6. You will start to see small ‘champagne like’ bubbles forming and the volume of the bubbles will increase. Lower the heat to stop the mixture over flowing or even turn off until the volume reduces. You only need to stir intermitantly but keep an eye on it!
7. Keep going for about an hour until the champagne bubbles no longer form. The mixture will still look separated but you will notice the consistency start to change and thicken.
8. All of a sudden the soap will form and will start to come away from the side of the pan and become a cohesive mix. Turn off the heat and quickly fill your moulds.
9. The top of the soap will be crumbly and dry. This is normal and makes the soap look home made. You can cut it off if you don’t like it.
10. Once the soap has hardened it can be removed from the mould and sliced in to the size you like. Store it in open air.
11. The soap will harden further over the following days and the longer you leave it the harder it will be and the longer it will last