Basic Soap Tutorial (Blog Archive September 2018)

This week, I've done a soap tutorial. Please bear with me as I've only done this once before. It's a little rough, but it's a good starting point for tutorials.

So this is a very basic traditional lye soap recipe. This is a vegan recipe using olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, and palm kernel oil flakes.  It's fairly simple and I felt it was a good starting point for soap tutorials.  I wanted to do a soap tutorial because it took me a long time to get over the anxiety that came with the warnings on every soap recipe/article/tutorial I'd come across.

Now I will preface this with saying that the warnings are there for a reason, but that being said lye isn't that difficult to work with. You definitely don't want to make this a project to do with your young children, but I think the teens and possibly tweens would understand safety precautions if you just show them this scene from fight club. As I'll say in the video, it's not really like this. Actually I think that's just baking soda and water on his hand, but I digress. It starts off as an itching sensation and after a few minutes you're like, "What the hell?" and then eventually you realize you've splashed yourself. You can neutralize by dumping a little apple cider vinegar on it, and then just wash with soap and water. The longest I've had a splash on my skin was I think about 5-10 minutes? I was doing a lot of coloring and swirling and stuff and I just told myself to deal with it because my soap was thickening up FAST and I needed to move. That mark lasted a couple of months, and that was just a red circle the size of a pencil eraser.

You can watch the tutorial by clicking here, or you can click on the YouTube link in the upper right hand corner, click on subscribe and the bell to be notified when we have a new video posted. Don't forget to like the video! Every click and like helps us reach more viewers.


In this video I am using 5 lb silicone loaf molds. Mike made boxes for them because you use these basically as liners for a soap mold. So he made a very basic box with a little extra length so I could reach in and pull the soap out when it hardened. There's also a slot cut into that box so I can remove the loaf from the mold, place it back into the box, and cut the soap to relatively the same width.  You can purchase these molds on the Brambleberry website by clicking here. They are currently sold out, but they stock these all the time, so I imagine you'll see them listed again soon. These molds are nice and thick and really hold up well. 

For BULK oils, I shop at soaper's choice. You can get to their website by clicking here. They have the best prices I've found so far on your base oils. I get the 50lb pails usually. I think the olive oil/rice bran blend that I use comes as 35lbs max. When using your lye calculator with that blend, I just put it in as olive oil pomice as both oils have the same SAP value.
Speaking of lye calculators, this one is nice. I have one on my phone that I've been using, so I haven't been using the web based ones, but this one at Soap Guild seems pretty robust. I use an app called "Soap Calc Pro" on my phone (iPhone) and the icon looks like the title screen for Breaking Bad.
Lye, I've been getting at Ace Hardware. 100% lye drain cleaner is basically what I'm buying. You can purchase it online, but a lot of places will make you buy oil with your lye, or else you have to pay extra on shipping because hazardous materials and all. If you want to make soap in bulk, talk to the local manager about ordering it by the case. Many of them will make you a deal on a bulk price. Here is a link to the kind of lye that I've been using. My home depot will do it for a little under $3/bottle and depending on what I'm doing, that bottle is just shy of 3 batches. So about $1/loaf.


2 oz Palm Kernel Oil Flakes
7 oz Coconut Oil
20 oz Palm Oil
21 oz Olive Oil Pomace/Rice Bran Oil blend (or just olive oil or rice bran oil)

Lye Mixture:
19 oz  water
6.59 oz Lye

Directions: Measure out all of your ingredients. Combine your oils in a crock pot or steel pot and heat until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature, but no more than 90 degrees.

While your oils are melting, measure out your water and lye, and then combine by pouring your lye into the water. Do NOT pour the water into the lye as it can splash and cause chemical burns. If you are splashed with lye, rinse with apple cider vinegar and wash vigorously with soap and water to neutralize.  Make sure you are wearing a respirator or are in a very well ventilated area as lye fumes will burn the crap out of your throat. I've done this. It sucks.  Stir until the lye is dissolved and allow lye mixture to cool to room temperature. I have often placed my lye mixture in the fridge to cool, and it's okay if it's a little cold. Cooler temps mean you have more time to work with your blended oil and lye mixture. If you're wanting to do some swirls or do creative things that take more setup time, cooler oils give you more time to work before it becomes too thick.

Once everything has cooled down, you combine your lye mixture with your oil by pouring the lye mixture into the oil. Always remember to pour the lye into whatever material. Easiest way to prevent an accident.  Blend with a stick blender on low, keeping the blender deep in the mixture to avoid splashing.
Blend oils and lye mixture until it has thickened to a pudding like consistency. You'll know it is ready when your stick blender leaves a trail behind in the mixture. This is known as "trace".  At this point, you should have set up your molds and have them ready, you will pour the mixture into your molds, and set them somewhere safe for the next 24-48 hours to finish the chemical reaction and harden.
Once hardened, you may remove the soap loaf from the mold, and then cut into bars. Space on bars on shelves so that a little bit of air can move between them and cure for 4 weeks before using. The soap does need to cure for 4 weeks as this is how it completes the chemical reaction and forms soap. This recipe has extra fat or has been "superfatted" by 5%. That means 5% of the oils do NOT saponify during the chemical reaction and that 5% is what soaks in and moisturizes. It is also what leaves that sticky film in the bathtub. Superfatted soap is awesome for your skin.

I hope you enjoy my video tutorial, and recipe that I've posted here. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment and I'll answer if I am able!

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