This is a slightly altered version of the original post. Pictures are included at the end.
M~ helped me with my first batch. He’s a very science-y and chemistry-know-how kind of guy. He’s my Mad Scientist. ♥
I was very excited and very nervous about my first batch of soap. I had browsed several forums and lots of blogs for several weeks leading up to April 28th. Nervous, mostly because I would be working with lye! It’s caustic and can cause burns on the skin. M~ has a scar on his hand from when he wasn’t being careful.
With each batch, I always set up my supplies, equipment, and tools before hand. I don’t want to forget anything. Safety first! We wore gloves and goggles; I even wore the face mask/filter. After five batches, I still do. (During a trip to San Francisco in May, I bought an apron, and wear that, too.) I always keep a spray bottle with water and apple-cider vinegar in case lye gets on our skin. At the end, I also clean the lye pot out with vinegar, too.
The dogs wanted to help, but I shoo’ed them out the back door.
The recipe I used was from Soap Making Resources. Instead of relying on the amounts given (this is true of any recipe I find) I ALWAYS add it to the Soap Calc Lye Calculator so I can get the exact amounts down to grams. Very helpful! Very precise! This recipe is free and comes with a pictorial. It’s very informative and very detailed; Steve goes into great detail. For amounts and how-to, go to the link provided. I also added a couple items to the ingredients. I’ve been cooking for far too long to follow a recipe exactly. But be careful of what you’re adding. Add extra oil, and it might not go through the saponification process.
Because of my fear of lye, I measured out the oils first, adding them to the stock pot. Safety note: NEVER use an aluminum pot with lye. It does very bad things. It creates hydrogen gas, which is flammable. I use stainless steel pots and don’t have any trouble. I have read of other soapers using glass. Measuring the oils can be a messy process, especially with some of the harder oils, like Coconut oil and Palm oil. For the coconut oil, I placed it in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes to warm it up so its easier to pour. The shea butter is hard, but was probably the easiest to weigh. And the least messy. I put the oils on a low heat so they can melt down, and bring the temp up to 100° F.
The essential oils were also measured out beforehand. Essential oils are added at trace. The scale I have can be frustrating. When adding small amounts, the scale might not budge right away, and if its lingering too long, it will automatically turn off. M~ was getting upset because I was abusing his scale. I didn’t think I was abusing it, but I was getting flustered. Maybe I was abusing it? On the plus side, my kitchen smelled of citrus fruits for several days. Mmm. That makes it all better, right?
I added the Tussah Silk into the lye and water mixture. The lye heats up the water to generally between 130°-150°, so when the silk is added, it melts down quickly. It was interesting watching the ball of fluff dissolve. Silk adds lather, slip and silkiness to the soap. I always keep the sink or bucket of cold water on hand to help bring the water/lye mixture temperature down. Or even the oils, if they get too warm.
Both the Lye mixture and the Oils needed to be at nearly the same temperature before they can be mixed. I’ve heard bad things happen if they are not close in temperature. M~ used 2 means of measuring temperature, just so it could be accurate: The temperature gun and the thermometer. He’s so precise. (I only use the temperature gun now.)
Once the lye water and oils were at/near 100° F, we poured the lye water into the pot of oils, then mixed with the electric stir stick. It took about 15-20 minutes before it got to a light trace. The essential oils were added, which made it this very pretty yellow color.
I added Madder root powder in 2/3s of the mixture for color. It’s supposed to turn into a red color – anywhere from pink to mauve, but when I added it in, it was a deep, rich brown color. I think I added too much. I kept 2 cups of it out to keep the original yellow color and poured it over the top. Eventually, I will feel confident enough to do swirls and patterns.
Yes, I used a shoe box lined with freezer paper for the mold. I didn’t have anything else on hand, and the soap molds are so pricey. (While visiting wine country in May, I picked up a wood wine bottle box which I now use for my soap mold.) I waited 48 hours before I cut the soap… with a guitar wire. Hee! (I now have a straight blade and wavy blade for cutting soap.)
I ended up getting a bit of the oil/lye mix on my face near my hairline (NEAR MY EYE!!!). Somehow, soap mixture was on the frames of my glasses, which got transferred to my face. It started to burn, so I grabbed the spray bottle (vinegar+water) and went into the bathroom. I sprayed the spot several times until it no longer stung. M~ assured me that it didn’t leave a mark. I was very worried.
Other than the potential scare of being scarred for life, this project was fun, interesting and I loving making my own soap.
Coconut Oil , 76 degrees
Sweet Almond Oil
Orange 5x essential oil
Lavender 40/42 essential oil
Pink Grapefruit essential oil
Ylang Ylang III essential oil
Madder Root powder
Lauric – 12 | Myristic – 5 | Palmitic – 17 | Stearic – 5 | Ricinoleic – 6 | Oleic – 42
Linoleic – 9 | Linolenic – 0 | INS 150