A lot of homesteaders make their own soap either for personal use or for selling them at the farmer’s market. Homemade soaps sell like hotcakes at the farmer’s market, especially if you know how to combine them with different fragrances and herbs. The biggest problem with making soap at home is that it contains lye, this is an alkaline corrosive agent which actually gives the soap its unique properties.
You can not make soap from scratch without lye, lye is essential for making soap, what you can do is buy a soap base that already has lye added to it, this way it is safe to use. The melt-and-pour method is the best way to make soap without handling the lye. Use a soap base, melt it down, add coloring, and fragrance, and pour it into a mold, it is that easy to do.
If you want to make your own soap then my personal recommendation is to use a soap base that is made out of goat milk Click here to check it out on Amazon.com
Lye comes in two forms sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide is found in a lot of cleaning products and some people make their own cleaning products at home with it. Potassium hydroxide gives the soap the best qualities as it is a lot easier to be dissolved in water than sodium hydroxide. Handling lye can be fairly dangerous, as it can burn holes in textiles and it can cause bruising on the skin.
Some people can even develop an allergic reaction to lye, while others develop just an annoying itch. So if you are making your own soap and your skin itches then the most likely culprit is the lye, and you probably added too much lye to the soap. Lye is also some kind of binding agent between the water, fats, and the different oils you might use for your soap. The problem is that if you do not add lye to your soap then the ingredients will not mix.
The end result will be messy water, with chunks of fat and oil on the surface, which you will never be able to use as a soap. Although lye on its own is considered fairly dangerous, but once it is combined with soap then it is safe to use. If you want to sell your homemade soaps at the farmers market then you might want to check out my recent article What sells best at Farmers Market? ( Top 106 ).
How To Make Soap From Scratch Without Lye?
Soap making is a rewarding and creative hobby that allows you to craft your own customized bars of soap. While traditional soap recipes require the use of lye (sodium hydroxide) as a crucial ingredient, some individuals prefer to avoid working with this caustic substance. Fortunately, there are alternative methods to make soap from scratch without lye. One popular technique is known as the “melt and pour” method, where pre-made soap bases are melted and combined with additives like essential oils, herbs, or colorants. This approach offers simplicity and safety, as the soap bases are already saponified and do not require lye handling. Another option is using natural soap substitutes like soapwort or certain plant-based ingredients that naturally contain saponins, which can create a mild cleansing effect.
Making Soap With The Melt And Pour Method
If you do not want to handle lye, then your best option to make homemade soap is to use the melt-and-pour method. The melt-end-pour method is by far one of the easiest and the safest way to make soap without lye. The problem is that if you do not want to handle lye then you can not make soap from scratch. You will need a soap base, this will already have the right amount of lye in it, and it is perfectly safe to handle.
Choose A Soap Base
Soap bases come in several colors and sizes, although most of them are exactly the same. If you want to make a particular color of homemade soap then you should stick with the clear soap bases, on the other hand, if color isn’t important then you should stick with a white soap base as these tend to be a lot cheaper. Some homesteaders who do not want to handle lye, will provide their own raw materials for a soap base and let somebody else handle adding and mixing in the lye, there are several companies that allow this. If you want to make soap from either goat or cow milk then check out which of them are more profitable to keep Goats vs Cows Profit ( Top 13 Things to Consider ).
Choosing A Fragrance For The Soap
The fragrance is how your homemade soap will smell, and you can customize your soap how you want it to smell. A lot of people will tell you to use essential oils, especially if you are in an online mommy group. These essential oils, are not meant for soap making, although the people selling them will tell you that they are virtually good for everything. The truth is that these essential oils are chemically processed oils and they just add some type of fragrance to it.
My personal recommendation is to use fragrance oils that are actually made for soap making, you can find these at almost any hobby shop, both online or offline. Fragrance oils that are not made for soap making tend to be heavily diluted and your soap will smell extremely bland.
Cutting The Soap Base
You will have to cut up your soap base into smaller chunks as this way the soap base will melt a lot easier. You can fairly easily cut the soap base with a knife, although some soap bases have such a high-fat content that it will be difficult to clean the knife. For this, you might want to squeeze a lemon, and use the juice to clean the knife, as the citric acid dislodges and breaks down the fat molecules from the knife and it will be a lot easier to clean.
Use A Double Boiler To Make Soap
If you want to make homemade soap then you will need to use a double boiler. This is basically two boilers stacked one upon the other, the main reason why you need this for soap making is that if you put the soap base directly into a normal boiler than the base of it will burn and stick to the boiler. To melt soap you need heat, but with too much heat you can actually burn your soap and you will probably ruin the boiler.
Just fill the bottom boiler with some water, and place the second boiler on top, this way the soap will not burn as it is not in direct contact with the flame. Some people instead of a double boiler will use a simple boiler, fill it with water and place an empty mason jar in the middle where they will melt the soap base. I do not recommend you do this as the mason jar could easily crack and break due to the high temperatures, and this can get dangerous.
Melting The Soap Base
Once you have set up your double boiler and you have already chopped ut the soap base into smaller chunks then it is time to add them into the boiler. Generally speaking, the smaller the chunks of the soap base are the easier they will melt. It will take only a couple of minutes to melt the soap base, but you will need to stir gently so it doesn’t stick to the boiler. Be extra careful when stirring, as the double boiler, is fairly tall and it could topple over if you are not careful.
Adding Color To The Soap
When coloring the soap you have two options, either use natural ingredients to color it or use a coloring agent specially made for making soap. Do not focus on how the soap will smell, yet as you will do that in the next step. If your soap base doesn’t have a color and it is clear then the coloring which you will add will be more vibrant. If the soap base is white then the color will be somewhat toned down. You will need to experiment with the measures to find the exact color you are looking for.
Adding Fragrance To The Soap
After you got the color which you want then it is time to make the soap smell good. Use fragrance oils that are specially made for soap making, these tend to be highly concentrated and you do not need to add that much. Unfortunately, nobody can tell you how much fragrance oil you should add, you will have to figure it out. My personal recommendation is to start out with just a couple of drops, and not to go overboard with the fragrance. A homemade soap that smells nice is good, but not to the extent that the entire house smells, so less is more in my opinion.
Using Silicone Molds To Shape The Soap
For molds, you have two options, plastic and silicone. My personal recommendation is to use silicone molds as these can resist high temperatures and are extremely flexible which will make getting the soap out extremely easy. Plastic molds tend to be made out of the cheapest plastic possible, these are not the best for molten soap and some plastic molds are so thin that the plastic will deteriorate and it will be a nightmare to get the soap out.
Adding Herbs And Seeds To Soap
Some people will sprinkle on the still liquid soap some dried up herbs or even seeds. The seeds are mostly used as an abrasive agent, basically, it exfoliates the skin much easier than soaps without them. Just be mindful of the size and type of seeds you are adding as they will all end up in your sewage system, and after a while, they might clog it up.
Adding Alcohol To Soap
Alcohol is sprinkled on top of the soap while it is still in the mold, the alcohol will eliminate the small bubbles forming on the surface of the soap. The alcohol will break up the surface bubbles and it will evaporate in a couple of minutes.
Removing The Soap From The Mold
Let the soap in the mold for 24 hours, although the soap tends to become solid in just a couple of hours but it is extremely sensitive in the first 24 hours. Oftentimes people who do not wait enough and take out the soap from the mold will notice that the soap is crumbling in their hand. This is because the core of the soap is not solid yet, and this also depends on the size of the soap itself.
- Soap cannot be made from scratch without some form of lye because lye is essential for the saponification process that turns fats or oils into soap.
- However, you can make soap without directly handling lye by using pre-made soap bases like melt and pour soap bases, which have already undergone the saponification process.
- It’s important to note that when using pre-made soap bases, the saponification process has already taken place, so you won’t have control over the ingredients or customization options as you would when making soap from scratch with lye.