I make soap. You can, too.
Over the past few years I've made 35 batches of soap. Here's why you might try:
- You like DIY projects and want to learn another
- You hate DIY projects but want to learn about ingredients in store-bought soap
- 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
- You hate scouring store-bought soap ingredient lists to avoid toxic chemicals like PEGs and parfum (fragrance)
- You're scared of lye (also found in foods like bagels and olives)
- 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:
- A four-pound wooden soap mold
- Pre-measured soap kit and essential oil
- Natural powdered colourant
- Steel cutting blade
- Instruction booklets
Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green