Homemade Gift Series #2: Homemade Soap

Let’s just start this one off with two big, giant warnings!

Warning #1 Making soap at home can be very fun and rewarding, and if done right, it can be an inexpensive way to make gifts. But it can also be very dangerous if proper precautions aren’t taken. Before starting any soap-making project, please familiarize yourself with the dangers, and I would strongly encourage any soap-makers who have children (and even those who don’t) to read this account of a child who was burned by lye in a home soap-making accident. Then, be sure you have someplace you can send your kids while you make soap—preschool, a grandparent’s house, a friend’s house, etc. If you can’t get the young children out of the house, don’t make soap!

And if that wasn’t clear enough…

Warning #2 The purpose of this post is to demonstrate that you can, in fact, make very high quality hand-crafted homemade soap at home and to describe how we make homemade soap. However, before you even consider making your own, you should thoroughly read the additional soap-making resources included in this post, understand thoroughly what you are doing, and take every possible safety precaution. If you choose to make your own soap, you do so at your own risk, and neither The Simple Dollar or Trent Hamm takes any responsibility for any accidents or damage that may occur during that process.

Here’s the scoop, folks: making homemade soap at home is a lot of fun and results in some great soap that not only works well for your own use, but makes for a great gift, too. However, you do use some harsh chemicals in the making of this soap and you absolutely need to take precautions when making it to keep yourself safe and others safe. I hate having to warn people so directly about it, but lye can be dangerous and I don’t want anyone getting hurt by it. Be safe, people.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we made a lot of soap this year…

finished soap

My wife, Sarah, has made many batches of homemade soap over the years and has even conducted classes where she has taught others how to make their own batches of soap. To put it simply, she’s an old hand at this, and she’s turned out some very impressive homemade soaps over the years.

This year, for our homemade gifts project, we decided to make a large batch of homemade soap. Sarah took charge of this project – I mostly served as an assistant to her, doing things like taking our older children to preschool and caring for our baby on the other side of the house and offering hands-on help during the period when the baby slept or when she needed to be around for feedings. She also documented our procedure quite well, so much of this post is made off of her notes.

Before you consider doing this yourself, we both strongly encourage you to read other soap-making resources carefully. Sarah highly recommends the following websites:
http://www.millersoap.com/soapdesign.html offers details on designing your own soap
http://www.soap-making-resource.com/saponification-table.html (and the whole Soap Making Resource website) provides specific details about soap ingredients
http://www.countryfarm-lifestyles.com/saponification-chart.html provides more details about various possible soap ingredients

oils and soaps

Soap Ingredients
Here are the basic ingredients we used in our soap recipe.

Sodium hydroxide (a.k.a. lye) – this can be fairly hard to find. We have had success finding it at Lowe’s Hardware, where we purchased a 2 pound container (with substantial leftovers). Look for it in the drain cleaner section.
Olive oil – we purchased a three liter bottle and used all of it
Coconut oil – we used the entirety of a 14 ounce jar
Lard - we used a one pound block of lard

The three oils (olive oil, coconut oil, and lard) each serve a different purpose in the soap: the olive oil is the base, and is a good soap for your skin but doesn’t lather well and it makes a relatively soft soap. Both the coconut oil and the lard will make the soap harder and improve its lathering. The coconut oil makes a fluffy lather, and the lard makes a stable lather. Overall, this soap would be considered a “castile soap” because it is mostly olive oil. Other recipes that you can find online will use different oils and in different amounts. We chose these oils because they should make a good soap, and they are easy for us to find locally.

These are the two basic ingredients you need for soap – an oil and sodium hydroxide. Everything else that follows is either equipment or is intended to “spruce up” the soap.

safety

Equipment
Pictured above is the safety equipment we used to keep ourselves safe during the soap making. Keep in mind that almost all of this stuff is reusable for other purposes.

Safety goggles (for safety, use goggles, not safety glasses) – we found these at Lowe’s
Latex gloves – again, found at Lowe’s
Vinegar – keep a jug of this on hand to neutralize any spilled lye; if you’re careful, you won’t need it
Old clothes – shirt (long sleeves), pants (preferably a thick fabric like denim), socks and shoes (Don’t wear shorts, sandals, etc!)

We also needed quite a bit of equipment for the actual mixing.

Kitchen scale (it’s just generally useful to have one in the kitchen)
Large pot for melting oils and fats in (can be reused for food)
Measuring cup for measuring water or goat’s milk (can be reused for food)
Container for making lye solution in (can’t be reused for food – we used an old bowl picked up at Goodwill for pennies)
Smaller container for measuring solid lye in (can’t be reused for food – we used another old bowl picked up at Goodwill for pennies)
Spoon for stirring soap (can’t be reused for food)
Bucket for mixing soap in (can’t be reused for food – we used our homemade laundry detergent bucket)
Thermometer (should read temperatures of around 100°F) (can’t be reused for food – we have a general use garage thermometer)

Almost all of this stuff was simply around our house already, so we didn’t have to buy any of these items specifically for the soapmaking.

molds

Soap Molds
Be creative in what you use for molds, and this doesn’t have to be expensive. As you can see, we used yogurt containers, boxes lined with saran wrap, a couple drawer organizers found at a yard sale, and a bread-shaped plastic container that Sarah picked up at a dollar store for $0.50. Other items to consider using include the bottoms of pop bottles, which make nice flower-shaped soaps. If you don’t mind spending a little money, and if you plan on making soap again in the future, you might want to purchase actual soap molds that you can find online or in hobby shops.

Add-Ins
In order to make our homemade soap unique, add some color and texture to it, and make it gentler on the skin, we used a few additional ingredients that aren’t required:

Dried lavender (or possibly sage, peppermint, or other herbs)
Goat milk (we used fresh goat milk from a local farmer)
Oatmeal
Scented lotion

What We Did
Here are the exact amounts of the key ingredients we used in our soap. You absolutely need the oils, the sodium hydroxide, and some water or other liquid.

4.5 cups goat’s milk (or 4.5 cups cow milk, or 4.5 cups water) – partially frozen
2000 g olive oil (this is less than 3 liters)
460 g lard (a 1 lb. package)
382 g coconut oil (a 14 oz. jar)
398 g of sodium hydroxide (this is your lye or drain cleaner)

If you’d like to make this recipe less expensive, leave out the coconut oil and/or the lard. If you do, that will need to change the amount of sodium hydroxide you use. 2,000 g of olive oil needs 255 g of sodium hydroxide, 460 g of lard needs 60 g of sodium hydroxide, and 382 g of coconut oil needs 83 g of sodium hydroxide. (Add all three numbers up to get my total of 398 g.) You should also use only 4 cups of goat’s milk or water instead of 4.5 cups.

Sarah largely wrote the following procedural pieces, with just a bit of detail editing from me.

The night before making the soap, we put the goat’s milk in an old Tupperware container with a lid and froze it in the deep freeze. The next morning, I took it out and let it thaw until I was ready to use it. You would want to do the same with cow’s milk or water. The goal with the frozen liquid is to get it to a slushy consistency.

oils and fats

Once the milk was slushy, I measured out my three oils (olive oil, coconut oil, and lard) and put them in a pot on the stove. I heated them on low heat until the solids were melted and the temperature was around 100°F. Be very careful not to overheat the fats! It won’t ruin anything, but it will take the temperature a long time to drop back down to 100°F.

oatmeal

While the oils were heating, I prepared the lavender and the oatmeal. I put a handful of the oatmeal into my coffee grinder and set it for the finest grind I could. This made a very fine oatmeal powder, which I then dumped into the oils. You do not have to grind the oatmeal – we chose to do it for a smoother texture, but the texture of oats in the soap may also be appealing.

Next, I put about half of my lavender (also about a handful) in the coffee grinder on the coarsest grind setting. I put that into the oils, along with a handful of unground lavender buds (for texture).

I would recommend adding any herbs or oatmeal to the oil before adding the sodium hydroxide. If you have any essential oils, lotions, or colors to add, I would wait until the soap “traces”, which happens after the sodium hydroxide is added, which is the next step.

Put on goggles and gloves now!! Sodium hydroxide (lye) is incredibly caustic and dangerous!! Do not do this while children are anywhere nearby!!

mixing

After adding the lavender and oatmeal, I measured out the sodium hydroxide. I would recommend doing anything involving the sodium hydroxide outside, on a surface lined with garbage bags. I took the kitchen scale outside and put the sodium hydroxide into a container with a lid, so that I could seal it up if I got interrupted while measuring.

Once the sodium hydroxide is measured, I slowly and carefully added it to the goat’s milk slurry. As I mixed, the solution got very hot, which is why I got the liquid so cold to begin with. If you use goat’s milk, you’ll notice that it turns yellow, which I’ve read is a result of the sugars in the milk being caramelized by the heat. (Starting with cold milk lessens this effect.)

At the start of the sodium hydroxide addition, the goat’s milk is white and slushy…

mixing

… and after adding the sodium hydroxide, the goat’s milk mixture is yellow and creamy:

mixing

After mixing, I took the temperature of the sodium hydroxide/milk mixture, and found that it was about 140°F. I had to let it cool down to about 100°F, while keeping the oils at 100°F as well. Once the two liquids reached close to 100°F, it was time to mix.

I poured the oils into the bucket first, and then slowly poured the sodium hydroxide/milk mixture into them. For safety reasons, don’t pour the oils in last. Once everything is mixed, we started stirring. We took turns stirring and kept it up for about an hour and a half before it was ready to pour into the molds. That happens when the soap “traces”, which means that if you run the spoon through it you’ll be able to see an indentation for a few seconds before it disappears. When I teach others how to make soap, I tell my students to wait for the soap to reach a consistency of mayonnaise.

Once the soap traced and before pouring it into the soap molds, I added a few squirts of some scented lotion that I have leftover from a couple of Christmases ago. I’m not sure how much of a difference it will make in the final product, but it might add a little more moisturizing.

soap in molds

We then poured the soap into the molds, put them in the garage, cleaned up, and went to pick up the kids from preschool.

One thing to note is that the color of the soap when you pour it into the molds will be different than the final soap color after it ages. Our soap this time was almost orange in color when we poured it (as you can see), but after aging, it has mellowed to a very light tan.

a large piece

The next day I put on gloves again and unmolded the soaps that needed to be cut (mostly a matter of tapping on the bottom and sometimes cutting around the edge of the soap with a knife), since they were still pretty soft.

several bars

We sliced the large bars (the ones from the old drawer organizers) into smaller individual bars.

a sliced bar

As you can see, the bars have a “rough hewn” look. For some, that’s a big plus as it gives a clear “homemade” effect to the bars. If it’s a negative for you, wait until the bars have aged for a month or so, then sand them down until they’re smooth.

I waited an extra day to unmold the soaps in the yogurt containers, which gave them a chance to get a little bit harder.

molded soap

We particularly liked the “Union Jack” effect on the bars from some of the yogurt containers, as you can see above.

Finally, I covered the table in the garage with cardboard and set out the new soap to age for a few weeks. This allows time for the soap to finish reacting and for the excess water to evaporate, hardening the soap. I would recommend not using the soap until it has had time to age, a minimum of three weeks.

Giving As Gifts
There are a lot of ways to package soaps as gifts. Once the soap is dry, we are going to try out two different packaging ideas – wrapping them in tissue paper, or wrapping them with a strip of brown paper while leaving the edges of the soap exposed. In either case, we’re also going to put a cute homemade sticker on each bar.

Again, if you’re considering doing this, read up on soapmaking, understand what you’re doing, and use proper safety equipment without children around.

If you’re surprised by the “harshness,” remember that this is how soap is made. Whenever you buy soap in a store, some process similar to this is used, often with oils that you’d rather not think about instead of olive oil and coconut oil.

For next week’s homemade gift, we’re going to kick out the jams.

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  1. DeeBee says:

    I recommend that readers who do not wish to make lye soap consider melt-and-pour glycerin soapmaking instead. Using coupons you can print online, A.C. Moore and Michaels craft stores sell glycerin soap bricks that you can cut, melt, and pour into molds after adding colors and scents. Other craft stores probably also offer coupons and discounts. While it is less frugal than making your own lye soap, it is much safer, less expensive than commercial soaps, and still handcrafted.

    You still have to supervise children with heating the soap on the stove or in a microwave so that they are not burned, but the ingredients themselves are not caustic.

  2. Meg says:

    I was just reading through a few books to get ideas for handmade gifts for Christmas, and didnt even think about soap! Thank you for the reminder, and the instructions! I may try it!

  3. Dana T says:

    For those who want to speed up the stirring to get the soap to trace, I find that a stickblender works wonders. The soap traces in a fraction of the time and you can get a stickblender for a couple of bucks at a garage sale or thrift store.

  4. Rebecca says:

    I would love to see a cost breakdown on this. It still is a great gift idea regardless, and I have often thought about doing it just for our family’s use as we have extremely sensitive skin and I could control all the ingredients and fragrances.

  5. Angie says:

    I roughly estimated about $45 for the batch and it looks like you got 68 bars of soap. At 66 cents per bar that’s pretty cost effective even if you compare against the cheapest brand of 10packs of soap! I might have to try it if I didn’t think the fiance would think its too girly to use.

  6. nigel says:

    This is a really good blog! So nice and rare to see local crafts being tried out…and it is fun!

    http://blog.sidestreetstudio.com/wood/10-reasons-why-you-should-buy-local-arts-crafts/

  7. valleycat1 says:

    I would guess one would need to keep any pets away from the area too. I’m just wondering, though, how to get on Trent’s gift list :)

  8. Sandy says:

    As for the cost breakdown – it certainly doesn’t work out cheaper. At least not in my country. BUT you do end up with nice soap!
    I’ve been making my own soap on and off for years, and one trick I’ve learned to speed up trace is to use a stick mixer instead of hand mixing. You can turn that hour and a half into 5 minutes or less. Truly!

  9. kristine says:

    This is great.
    I would like to see cost breakdown as well. The estimate is useful, but an actual breakdown might influence the add-ins chosen.
    This is a great idea, since my sage, upon decimated harvesting, refuses to stop growing! I have more sage than I can ever give as spice rack gifts and/or use myself.

  10. Mike says:

    Wow! I had no idea it was so simple and easy. I will have to try this.

    Sandy- What country are you from? What is a stick mixer? Thanks for the input.

  11. kristine says:

    Is there anyway to add a “printable version” link to your blog? Some articles, like this one, I prefer to print and have in my “homesteading” binder for life after kids. I am not relying on links being there in perpetuity.

    If possible, can the printable version include the images? Just asking.

  12. Nate Poodel says:

    I remember making soap with my mom a time or two as a kid. However, we didn’t bother buying any oil or lard. We just saved up our used cooking oil in large coffee cans and other containers in the utility shed until we were ready to use it. One thing about it you’ll have to strain the oils to get out any bits of food that may have remained before adding any lye or other soap making ingreadients.

  13. Bill says:

    That sounds like a lot of fun. I’m curious about the lye. People have been making soap for a long time, is this something that is mined or made from less harmful base elements?

  14. Bill says:

    Never mind, Lye comes from hard wood ashes. I thought I remembered soup coming from fat and ashes.

    Still sound fun!!

  15. deRuiter says:

    Nice post. For a good, easy, CHEAP plain soap use Carla Emory’s reicpe “Gertrude’s soap with Bleach” from an old copy of “The Encyclopedia Of Country Living.” This soap is made of saved household grease and a can of lye and costs the price of the can of lye and a bit of bleach. Home made soap with this recipe is incredibly gentle to your hands and if you wash with it instead of commercial soap you will have soft, unchapped, uncracked hands all winter as home made soap still contains the glycerine while store bought soap has the glycerine removed as it is a valuable substance used in the manufacture of gunpowder. This soap is only a few pennies per bar. Good for those who don’t want a lot of gunk in the soap, only pure soap. The longer this soap hangs around, the harder (and smaller) the bars get. You make this for almost free, because when you finish cooking, you take all that hardened fat from the top of home made beef or chicken broth, bacon grease, lefover oil from sauteeing in the pan, rendered down beef tallow, dirty oil from deep frying, and put it in a big pot in a cool place, covered. Then when you have a lot, you add some cool water, and simmer over very low heat until all fat is liquid. Then cool, and you will have a cake of clean, beautiful fat on top of some incredibly dirty water. A good bit of beef fat in this mix makes a hard cake of suerior soap. You may have to wash the fat this way twice. The dirty water is full of nutrients and should be poured on the compost heap. Try Carla Emory’s recipe “Gertrude’s Soap With Bleach” for good, plain, cheap soap, and you’ll be hooked! LYE IS MADE FROM WOOD ASHES. YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN AT HOME. YOU CONSTURCK A HOPPER (CONTAINER) OF WOOD WHICH HAS A SERIES OF BAFFLES INSIDE TO SLOW THE TRICKLE OF WATER THROUGH THE FIREPLACE ASHES WITH WHICH YOU FILL THE HOPPER. Pour water in the top, and out comes liquid lye at the bottom. This is how the early settlers made their own lye to make their own soap. It is cheaper time wise, and better to use store bought lye, as the percentage of the caustic agent is constant, you KNOW the exact strength of commercial lye. Lye is also used in the production of hominy, you (not practical to do this at home, don’t) pour the liquid lye over dried corn to make hominy, and then rinse, rinse, rinse to clean off the lye. Remember, illiterate, poorly educated people have been doing all these home projects successfully for hundreds of years. It’s not rocket science.

  16. Alexandra says:

    Sounds like a lot of hard work, mess and danger to make something that really isn’t that much more expensive when storebought, and where half the fun is seeing a large selection of different types in the store and getting a variety of them.

  17. Michelle says:

    Great post on making soap with lots of good photos! I second the stick mixer – it makes things trace much, much faster. With one batch of soap, you can separate it into smaller sub-batches and color and scent them differently, which can give you the variety of different soaps very quickly. Also, it is very fun to try different oil combinations in search of the perfect lather.

    In making soap, I have learned about palm oil and how forests are being clearcut in other countries for use of palm oil in soap. Check out the ingredients of the handcrafted soaps in stores and you will often find palm oil as an ingredient. This is because it provides such a great lather without using animal products. If you make your own soap, you can avoid palm oil as an ingredient.

    Another thing I have learned: always run your soap recipe through a lye calculator before you start your soap making process (soapcalc.com, for example) – that way you will not make a soap that is too lye heavy or too greasy.

  18. Michelle says:

    So far I really like the homemade gift series!

  19. Pattie, RN says:

    Part of the reason you may have a hard time finding lye is actually the same reason that the cold medicine Sudafed is behind the counter in drug stores ~ both are major ingredients for making Meth.

  20. Courtney20 says:

    I think the comments are being unfair on the cost comparisons. Yes, the cost per bar is roughly on par with Ivory, Zest, etc. But you can’t give those as gifts!! I took a quick peek at amazon for gift soaps and about the best I saw was $2/bar. Based on the correct comparisons, 66 cents is a steal even before you factor in the handmade element.

    Any way to order sodium hydroxide from a chemical supply store? We used to use it in the lab all the time.

  21. A says:

    I love Dr Bronners liquid castille soap…just add 50% water and it lasts you a long time. Any ideas how to make castille soap yourself?

  22. Tracy says:

    Re: Pattie’s comment about lye and it’s relationship to methamphetamines. When I first began making soap – about 4 years ago – I could easily get Red Devil Lye at the local hardware store. It then dropped off of the face of the earth (at least around where I live) – all because of its integral involvement in making meth. Google local soap suppliers and you will be able to get some – but you will have to pick it up – they won’t send it through the mail.

    Before I began making soap, I took 2 classes through an adult education class. I strongly recommend finding someone with experience who can teach you before you begin any soap-making venture – other than melt and pour – on your own. It is a very, very dangerous process unless you have some experience. Additionally – please be sure that the container in which you mix the final product (after lye water and oils have been mixed) is not made of aluminum – a chemical reaction will take place that will eat right though it.

    All of that being said – it is one of the most rewarding experiences that you can have. My family gets soap for every gift giving experience. I tell then that they are getting it whether they like it or not, but they love it. I also give it as hostess gifts, baby and wedding showers, secret santa at work, custodian gifts during the holidays – I think that you get the picture. Foremost – I know exactly what I am washing with every single day – I look forward to beginning a new bar and scent every time. It’s such a delight to use something daily that I have made.

    I wish that I could say that I began making soap for the money/environmental/natural saving factors – I didn’t – but I have come to embrace and love those very features. With extreme safety and a hardy amount of training – it’s a fabulous craft to enjoy.

  23. jasony says:

    So… is sodium hydroxide dangerous or not? I couldn’t tell from reading the SEVENTEEN WARNINGS.

    Holy cow, man, one or two is enough! :)

    Good article, though. I may try it… if I can overcome my sudden overwhelming fear of drain cleaner.

  24. rosa rugosa says:

    Well I have a major soap fetish – in fact, I bought two bars of Pre de Provence this week for $6.00 a bar, which was a really good price, in my opinion. But I’m a bit daunted by all the tools, ingredients & precautions involved with homemade soap. So I want to get on the gift list of a soap-maker and I’ll exchange the vanilla extract!
    Seriously Trent, all those beautiful hand cut bars of lavender soap get me quite excited!

  25. Bobbie Czajka says:

    Hi -
    I like the idea of making my own soap. We have family members with sensitive skin.

    Is there something that can be used other than coconut oil? I intensely dislike coconut anything.

    Thank you.

  26. Lisa B says:

    I am inspired by this series.

    I usually make cookies and cakes for gifts but the calories are not always appreciated! This is an alternative that I am considering.

    For those who are considering the costs: there are intangibles involved that are difficult to quantify.
    -The joy and sense of achievement for creating something yourself
    -The thoughtfulness implied by a handmade gift, especially one that has to be made in advance.

    It’s hard to put a price on that!

  27. Beth says:

    I love the idea of making soap for gifts. It’s practical but yet unique and personal also.

    My main question is about the lye. If it is such a dangerous ingredient, why is it used in soap? Is it really something we want to put on our skin and have absorbed into our body? Is there an alternative to this ingredient? I’m asking these questions genuinely as I would like to consider making these lovely bars of soap.

  28. SwingCheese says:

    Lol, Courtney20, I’d love to see the look on someone’s face when I handed them a bar of Irish Spring as a birthday gift!!

    And someone else mentioned pets – lye is also very dangerous to pets. I keep mine in the garage, along with the washing soda (only mildly caustic) and borax. The oils I keep inside, though. I love making my own soap :)

  29. bettycrackpot says:

    i make soap. if you are nervous about making soap yourself, you can always check http://www.etsy.com. another website for soap supplies (including lye, which CAN be shipped) try http://www.brambleberry.com

  30. Roberta says:

    First, the gift series is great. I’m learning a lot and am thinking about things that I might want to make as gifts at some point. Am I the only one however who found the brownish color of these soaps unappealing and sad?

    On another note, this series makes me very grateful that I don’t have to give so many gifts to people. Seeing all that soap and vanilla panicked me a bit: homemade or not, I would go broke if I had to give gifts to that many people.

  31. Karen says:

    I also luv this series.

  32. Dave C. says:

    This is also a great series. I’d be interested in the actual cost breakdown too.

  33. EmilyP says:

    Here’s a practical question, Trent – what are you going to do with the lye bowl and measuring cup, and other things that can’t be re-used for food? Throw them out? Put in a stash of garage tools?

    Do you ever worry when you pick up things at Goodwill that somebody has absentmindedly dropped off “kitchenware” that is no longer food-safe?

  34. Courtney says:

    Trent, I am absolutely loving this homemade gift series. It’s awesome!

    Can I make a suggestion–how about giving away a few of the soaps and the vanilla extract to your devoted blog readers? Like a contest! I’d love to win the soap!

  35. Tressa says:

    I also love this series. I’m wondering if it is too late to suggest homemade gifts to be exchanged between the adults in our family. I may try the idea out on my daughter-in-laws. I’m sure I’m not the only one in our family that is already a little concerned about how everyone is going to afford Christmas this year. I would not want to include homemade gifts for the grandchildren, however. I like being a much loved grandma too much for that.

  36. Steven says:

    @27 Beth

    The lye is dangerous prior to reacting with the fats and oils. After it reacts, it’s relatively harmless.

    Analogy is table salt, which is sodium chloride. Sodium ignites in presence of water and chlorine gas (aka mustard gas) is dangerous. But when they’ve reacted together, goes real well with salt and vinegar chips and watermelon =D.

  37. Great article – and I love the series! I teach a lot of students in Boston and NYC how to make soaps from scratch and have noticed an increase in interest over the past year. Some people want to make a business out of it, others are happy to sell a few bars and the rest just want to know how it’s made. I sell my soaps under the name Back Porch Soap Company.

  38. Martin says:

    Was hoping for an answer to EmilyP’s question #33 as well. After I have poured all the soap out, how can I safely clean all the equipment that used the lye? Also, as I understand that residual material may stay on the equipment, should I stay away from even rinsing them out to avoid the water reacting with the lye?

  39. Owen says:

    Great stuff – I always wanted to try this.

    Second the glycerin soap suggestion. We used to make these as gifts all the time with the kids participating. Lots of little soaps made in all kinds of molds. We would put little tiny rubber toys in the ones for kids so that once the soap was gone they’s have little toy. Melted it in a ceramic jug in the microwave and it can be a food one – you just have to wash the soap off after.

    We even had gift making parties for friends’ kids. Come over and make soap and bath salts and perfume and cookies. Bath salts are totally easy. Epsom salts and sea salt and nice smelly stuff. Perfume the same – high proof plain vodka and essential oils. Hardest part for the perfume is getting little cheap glass dropper bottles to put it in.

    One year we made fizzy bath bombs. They are a bit harder but you can find instructions online.

  40. Sarah says:

    I followed your directions but used cow’s milk instead of goat’s milk. I stirred for two hours and it still didn’t trace. I poured it anyway and I’m hoping something magic will happen and it’ll set but I’m not holding my breath. I ran your numbers through soapcalc and it seems like a good recipe. Next time I’ll try goat’s milk.

  41. Sarah says:

    in case anyone else reads this I want to add that the soap did not trace so I poured it into molds anyway. It solidified and looks like regular soap now so I’m going to tkeep wtching it.

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