As part of a zero trash lifestyle,
I am seeking new and fun ways to come up with items that we currently use that have lots of unnecessary packaging. Like cosmetics, for example. A bar of soap in the store will come in a carboard box, wrapped in plastic. Guess they don’t want it to spoil? They also have yucky chemicals in them that our skin does aborb, and some of the scents can give different family members a headache.
The first solution I came up with was to buy it in bulk from the local health food store.
But, at $12.99/lb. it got rather pricey quickly. So, I learned to make my own from “raw” ingredients. You can also skip to the video below to see exactly how I make it, step by step.
Make Your Own Bar Soap
What you need to gather
- 2 ounces castor oil
- 4 ounces cocoa butter
- 24 ounces coconut oil
- 24 ounces olive oil
- 21 ounces distilled water
- 7.4 ounces lye (sodium hydroxide)
First, you want to get all your stuff together.
I order most of my ingredients from Amazon. They are all linked for you. You will also need a crockpot, a measuring cup, glass bowl, digital scale for accurate measurement, wooden spoons, and safety equipment such as eye protection and rubber gloves for working with the sodium hydroxide.You will also want to make sure your sink is ready with hot, soapy water and pour some plain white vinegar in there as well. I put about 2 cups of vinegar to 1 gallon hot water to neutralize the caustic lye.
Next, measure out your oils.
I put the already liquid oils, castor and olive, in the crockpot as they were measured. The solid oils, coconut and cocoa butter will need to be measured solid and melted down.You’ll want to be careful to not let them get too hot on the stove.
Measure your lye and water.
I can’t stress enough how you need to be careful using this caustic. When you mix these two ingredients together, always pour the lye into the water and not water into the lye. The chemical reaction could cause it to volcano out of the bowl. It will get very hot very quickly and the odor is quite strong for a few moments. I put mine in the windowsill, and open the window while it is cooling off.
Mix your solid oils with the liquid oils in your crockpot.
Gently, gently, gently, add the lye to the oils. Please make sure to use the protective equipment, as splashes can and do occur! Then, stir the oils and lye water together.
You can stir with a spoon to get to “trace”, but I much prefer at this point to use a stick blender for 5 minutes.
Trace is achieved when the mixture begins to resemble custard and falls back in waves.Cover and “cook” on low for about 45-60 minutes.This is what my batch looked like when it had cooked for 45 minutes. While it is “cooking”, prepare your molds. I use an old drawer organizer I found at the thrift store for $.50. I line it with parchment paper and grease it with some coconut oil.
After an hour, your soap will be “done.”
It will look clear in some spots, and may have glycerine on top. Just stir that good stuff right back in.
Pour your soap into the mold, and let it sit overnight undisturbed in a cool area.
Scrape out the leftovers for instant delight! Soap is ready to use right now, as the cooking process has soaponified the lye.
The next day, take out your soap block and cut into the size pieces you want.
I got 32 bars from this batch, and it’ll last my family of 5 about 6-8 months. I store in the bathroom linen closet, and you can rotate them once in a while if you want. They will continue to “cure” and harden as they sit, but they are ready for use right now. Check out the video below to get further help. Please be sure to check out the very ending, where my uber OCD hubby is scraping the soap!