How to make soap, part one | Queen of Green | David Suzuki Foundation
Photo: How to make soap, part one

There are at least six reason you should learn to make soap!

I make soap. You can, too.

Learn new terms like sodium hydroxide (lye), saponification, cold-process and curing —- and come out smelling like a rose!

Over the past few years I've made 35 batches of soap. Here's why you might try:

  1. You like DIY projects and want to learn another
  2. You hate DIY projects but want to learn about ingredients in store-bought soap
  3. You like cooking and baking, i.e., experimenting with endless combinations of oils, fats and additives like oats, orange peel, honey, clay and essential oils
  4. You hate scouring store-bought soap ingredient lists to avoid toxic chemicals like PEGs and parfum (fragrance)
  5. You're scared of lye (also found in foods like bagels and olives)
  6. You like chemistry

To make soap, you need an acid and a base to react with one another and neutralize into a salt—that's saponification. Soap is a salt.

The cold-process method uses lye as a base, fats and oils for acid, water and reaction heat only (no external heat). Ask your Grandma. She probably used animal-based fats like lard or tallow to make soap! I'll teach you how to make all-vegetable soaps — without palm oil.

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Make soap in March

My blogs this month break down soap-making for beginners:

Week 1: Some background (buy or borrow a book)
Week 2: Supplies and ingredients (oils, fats and essential oils)
Week 3: The method, step-by-step
Week 4: My favourite recipe
Week 5: Your questions answered

Vegetable oils have different properties and require different amounts of lye. One type of oil might lather well but be drying. Another may produce a weak lather but create a hard bar. A third oil might clean well but make a soft bar. That's why I like to use a combination of five to twelve different fats and oils per recipe.

What can you do this week?

Add these fats and oils to your grocery list: coconut oil, olive oil (not pomace), grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, castor oil and butters like shea, mango or cocoa.

And enter to win a deluxe soap-making kit donated by Voyageur Soap & Candle Company Ltd. ($79.95 value) which contains:

  1. A four-pound wooden soap mold
  2. Pre-measured soap kit and essential oil
  3. Natural powdered colourant
  4. Steel cutting blade
  5. Thermometer
  6. Instruction booklets

Sincerely,
Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green

a Rafflecopter giveaway

March 3, 2014
http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/queen-of-green/2014/03/how-to-make-soap-part-one/

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66 Comments

Apr 14, 2014
7:57 AM

My kids and I love DIY projects and now that we have bees and beeswax to experiment with, soap has been on our wishlist of things to do.

Apr 13, 2014
12:31 AM

My Grandmother made her own soap and I remember it was the best cleaning and never did irritate the skin. I would want to make my own soap so I know whats in it. I would want it to be as pure as possible.

your blog wasnt taking comments for a few days.. I am hoping one of these showed.

Apr 12, 2014
1:28 AM

My Grandmother made her own soap and I remember it was the best cleaning and never did irritate the skin. I would want to make my own soap so I know whats in it. I would want it to be as pure as possible.

Apr 11, 2014
3:31 PM

I like the idea that I don’t have to worry about what is in my soap — I went to a soap-making workshop with my mom, and I was surprised at how easy it was. It is a lot of fun!

Apr 11, 2014
11:28 AM

Would love to make my own natural soap that is free of chemicals and other harsh ingredients that irritate my skin!

Apr 11, 2014
11:08 AM

I have always been interested in living a greener (and healthier) life. I have allergies and finding products that don’t irritate or dry out my skin has been difficult (not to mention expensive). The Voyageur website is my ticket to better skin as well as giving me the satisfaction of making my own soaps :) I’m so excited! Thank you Queen of Green!

Apr 11, 2014
11:08 AM

I have always been interested in living a greener (and healthier) life. I have allergies and finding products that don’t irritate or dry out my skin has been difficult (not to mention expensive). The Voyageur website is my ticket to better skin as well as giving me the satisfaction of making my own soaps :) I’m so excited! Thank you Queen of Green!

Apr 08, 2014
7:51 PM

I’ve made homemade soap and it’s so wonderful on skin, especially when there’s coconut oil included (for rich lather). After drying, I wrap each in tissue paper, closing with an ingredient label, and make gifts sets for friends and family with them. Using a proper mould and cutter would sure be easier (and look better) than my crooked kitchen knife cuts though!

Mar 31, 2014
1:22 PM

Thanks for the info! I am stoked to start making my own soap and look forward to seeing the outcome! I have recently started the “no poo” method, cutting out shampoo’s and conditioners and substituting baking soda and apple cider vinegar. I love it and it has prompted me to start looking at making all natural cleaning products as well. Thanks again,

Mar 31, 2014
7:58 AM

Cant wait to start making soap for my family of Six!!

Mar 30, 2014
5:14 AM

I’ve wanted to make soap for soooo long — just never seem to get organized enough to get the ingredients together and actually do it. I buy all my soap from local soapmakers, but it would be wonderful to make my own and tailor it to what I really want in a soap.

Mar 29, 2014
2:56 PM

I’ve desperately been wanting to make my own soap. I love knowing what is in any product that i am using. I use soap nuts for laundry soap. Vinegar and water for an all purpose cleaner. Castile soap for basically everything. But have yet to tackling making my own soap!

Mar 26, 2014
7:30 AM

We do a “make it , bake it or fix it ” each year at Christmas. This year I would like to make soap.

Mar 25, 2014
1:32 PM

My husband has a ton of chemical allergies… I am stoked about trying this

Mar 20, 2014
11:19 AM

I figure if I can help the environment by using only natural products, I’d like to give soap making a try. I plan to begin making laundry detergent and household cleaning products. Being green is not new to me — I’ve been at it for just over 45 years, starting by reducing the use of commercial products. Now it’s time to go natural by making as many of my own as possible..

Mar 19, 2014
4:59 PM

I love DIY and have seen soap making all over youtube videos! I would love to try!

Mar 19, 2014
2:49 PM

I have always thought making my own soap was light years away from me. This certainly makes me feel more hopeful.

Mar 19, 2014
12:29 PM

I think I will help somone try and make soap

Mar 19, 2014
12:02 PM

I’ve been wanting to try to make soap for a while now, maybe this will get me going.

Mar 18, 2014
9:59 AM

Looking forward to trying my own soap making. Looking at specific recipes that include bug repellant properties. Have also considered adding essential oils like lemongrass and citronella to my home made laundry detergent for the summer months to repel mosquito’s further

Mar 17, 2014
6:25 PM

Why not take matters into your own hands? Creating products that you would generally buy ready-made is empowering.

Mar 16, 2014
4:14 PM

What a great idea! I’m looking forward to giving it a try, I love baking, but don’t always want to eat cookies and sweets that aren’t very healthy so this is a fun alternative! :)

Mar 13, 2014
10:55 AM

thanks for the tutorial Lindsay, I look forward to seeing the results and trying again unsupervised.

Mar 13, 2014
9:39 AM

I’ve always wanted to make soap!

Mar 12, 2014
2:17 PM

This is gonna be good. I always wanted to make my own soap.

Mar 12, 2014
8:00 AM

Can’t wait to try making my own soap, and avoid all those nasty additives.

Mar 05, 2014
1:24 PM

I have been yearning to make my own soap for the past couple of years. The idea of creating soap with ingredients that are safe for my sensitive skin is just one of the many reasons this is appealing to me. I recently made my own lotion, and I love it! I can’t wait to make soap for the first time!

Mar 05, 2014
12:56 PM

Great give away! I previously tried to make soap for the first time and it was great! I am trying to attain my goal to be as self sufficient and use as many natural porducts as possible and will be making soap again soon! What an excellent give away! Good luck to all participants! I would love to have the opportunity to try this kit and help me on my journey to attain my goal to be green as possible.

Mar 05, 2014
9:18 AM

I can’t wait to try this! Thanks for the inspiration.

Mar 05, 2014
9:15 AM

So excited about this post. I already use many diy cleaning and self care products, this will be a nice addition!

Mar 05, 2014
8:40 AM

I would love to make soap! I’ve never tried before and it would be a cool wedding favour for my wedding guests!

Mar 05, 2014
7:33 AM

Oh, I can’t wait for the rest!

Mar 05, 2014
7:29 AM

I love these DIYs! Will definitely try this!

Mar 05, 2014
4:42 AM

I enjoy the Queen of Green tips. I would love to make my own soap because as someone in the Health Care field, I am constantly washing my hands and it is an ongoing battle to keep them from drying out and cracking.

Mar 05, 2014
3:29 AM

I made soap ages ago, but am keen to try it again with goat’s milk. I love the goat’s milk soap that I use daily on my face. It lathers and moisturizes nicely. I try to stay away from palm oil though, because most of it is harming the rainforests and biodiversity!

Mar 04, 2014
11:20 PM

Would love the kit to help me get started! This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time :)

Mar 04, 2014
10:52 PM

I’ve wanted to try making my own soap for a few years now. This will be an exciting month :)

Mar 04, 2014
10:39 PM

I made the laundry soap from washing soda and borax and grated soap so this seems like a good next step so I have nice natural bars to use.

Mar 04, 2014
10:32 PM

Why will I try to make soap, you ask?

To help the environment.

To help mine and my family’s health.

:)

Mar 04, 2014
9:58 PM

Live your blog! Thanks for sharing your green ideas.

Mar 04, 2014
8:37 PM

Always wanted to try makinhg my own soap. Great to know there is a starter kit available!

Mar 04, 2014
7:58 PM

I’ve never even thought about making my own soap. Wow!

Mar 04, 2014
7:37 PM

Awesome! I’d wanted to try it and had finally found some pure lye close by. Looking forward to the rest of this series! Thanks!

Mar 04, 2014
6:47 PM

This is awesome! I have been wanting to make my own soap for the past year or so, but never quite got jump started. This will definitely get me going, Im so excited to learn how to make soap at home with natural ingredients!

Mar 04, 2014
6:33 PM

I love this idea! I think it will soon be one of those life-skills that we’ll need along with knowing how to cobble together a solar panel and grow our own dinner. Urbanization has given us so much for so little, and yet this has taken away so much…

Mar 04, 2014
6:33 PM

Would love to win to make soap.

Mar 04, 2014
6:28 PM

Thanks for this post!

Mar 04, 2014
6:26 PM

I love home made soap. I made some last year with a friend and would love the kit to make more!

Mar 04, 2014
6:16 PM

I’ve been trying to make soap for quite some time now but I have a few things getting in my way.

1) I live out in the boonies and supplies are hard to come by

2) Since I live in the boonies everything costs quite a bit more

So I’ve been slowly gathering what I need so I can get started!

Mar 04, 2014
6:10 PM

I have really always wanted to make my own soap but just found the start up cost too expensive. Fingers crossed I win the give away:))

Mar 04, 2014
6:01 PM

I make my own soap all the time for more than a year and half now. I simply love the creation involved. It’s a huge positive change to use a handmade natural soap. It’s not comparable to commercial soap. I also get to use a wide variety of herbs and oils in the process. My favorite is coffee, rosemary, chamomile, coconut milk, green tea, muds and clays.

Mar 04, 2014
6:00 PM

Would love to make my own all natural soap, this would be a great start.

Mar 04, 2014
5:46 PM

Would love to learn about soap making from a reliable source, and eventually make my own :)

Mar 04, 2014
5:37 PM

I have all of the ingredients but just need a final push to try. This post might be the push I need! Thanks!

Mar 04, 2014
5:31 PM

I spend a small fortune on buying locally or naturally made soaps. I would LOVE to make my own but have always been a little unsure of where to even begin. This kit would be an awesome start!

Mar 04, 2014
5:22 PM

Because i can make it smell any way I want! Yummy

Mar 04, 2014
5:20 PM

Because I want to live healthier without commercial additives!! And it sounds like a lot of fun!!

Mar 04, 2014
5:17 PM

Why would I like to make soap? Why WOULDN’T I like to make soap! The scientific process fascinates me!

Mar 04, 2014
5:09 PM

I like to use simple, natural and safe ingredients…. so why not make it myself? I’m thinking this could be fun!

Mar 04, 2014
5:05 PM

It sounds like so much fun to be able to choose your own scents!

Mar 04, 2014
5:04 PM

I want to start making homemade soaps, variety of pure products is not that great where I live so to make these at home is looking more appealing.

Mar 04, 2014
4:59 PM

I’m definitely going to try making soap! I’ve wanted to for a while, but admittedly, I’m afraid of lye. LOL! A little encouragement, some good instructions, and I’ll be off and running!

Mar 04, 2014
4:57 PM

It is something that I’ve always wanted to do. Never had an opportunity!

Mar 04, 2014
4:57 PM

THANKS! I WILL TRY THIS DUE TO SENSITIVE SKIN

Mar 04, 2014
4:55 PM

Loved to learn!

Mar 04, 2014
4:26 PM

I will try to make soap because maybe it will be cheaper than buying it. Also I can experiment making something that is unique to me.

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