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It’s no secret that handcrafted soap is amazing!
Handcrafted soap, also known as Castile soap, is moisturizing, nourishing, cleansing, and all-natural. It suds well and doesn’t leave your skin dried out. There are many recipes available online for hot process soap and a lot of room for creativity!
I love hot process soap because it is easy to make and ready to use right away. Sometimes I go for a basic recipe like I’m going to share with you here and sometimes I like to make herbal, coffee, or coconut milk soap!
Basic Hot Process Soap:
- 18 oz olive oil
- 8 oz coconut oil
- 6 oz palm oil
- 1 oz castor oil
- 10 oz water
- 4.8 oz lye (sodium hydroxide)
- 2 Tbsp essential oils (optional, for scent and benefit)
- Kitchen scale
- Heat proof bowls
- Hand blender
- Soap mold (or loaf pan)
- Parchment paper
- Cardboard box
- Kitchen towel
- Rubber gloves and eye protection
Note: It is very important to wear protective gear when handling lye. It is a caustic substance and will burn the skin! This is not a good DIY to do with the kids around.
To start your hot process soap, measure your oils by weight and add them to your crock pot. Melt the oils on low.
Measure out your water by weight in a heat proof bowl.
Wearing your protective gear measure your lye into another bowl.
Carefully add the lye to the water (you may want to step outside, it can put off some strong fumes). Stirring as you pour. Note: Never add water to lye, it will cause an overflowing chemical reaction!
Once your oils are melted, add the lye mixture to the crock-pot.
Continuing to wear your protective gear, use your hand blender to mix your soap to “trace”. Trace is when your soap appears like pudding.
Cover your crock-pot and let the soap cook for about an hour to reach neutrality. If you desire you can test the soap to be sure it is between 7 and 10 pH. This is the neutral zone for soap. (You can find test strips here.)
At this point your soap should be starting to bubble over itself. (See the photo, it’s hard to explain!) Add in your essential oils if using and stir well. Your kitchen will smell fantastic for the rest of the day.
Line your soap mold with parchment paper. Carefully scoop your soap into the mold, it’s hot so don’t get it on your hands! (I speak from experience…)
Place your mold in a cardboard box and cover with a towel. Set it where it won’t be disturbed for 24 hours.
Once your soap is set, remove it from the mold and cut into bars. Hot process soap cooks to neutrality so it is safe to use right away!
For the remaining bars, place them in a cool dry place slightly spaced out from each other. (I use a cardboard box.) This helps the soap to continue drying. Fully dried soap will last longer once you start using it in the bath or shower.
And now you have handcrafted soap!
Additional soapmaking tips:
If you’d like to create an herbal soap, simply replace the water in the above recipe with herbal infused water. I like to steep lavender in water to make a skin soothing soap.
For an exfoliating coffee soap, replace your water with strong brewed coffee. Instead of adding essential oils, mix in fine ground coffee to create an exfoliating texture.
Making coconut milk soap is a little trickier. Cut your water amount in half and sub coconut milk for the rest of the liquid. The trick is that you wait to add the coconut milk until the soap is at trace. Mix your half amount of water and lye, add to the oil mixture, blend until trace, and then add the coconut milk before cooking.
The coconut milk adds a nice nourishing softness to hot process soap. It doesn’t smell much like coconut, although that would be nice with a little lime essential oil!
There is some upfront cost to soapmaking, but in the end you are saving quite a bit per bar of soap compared to purchasing handcrafted soaps from shops like mine. If you are a little leery to get started you are more than welcome to try a bar of hot process soap from my shop Southern Vines Soap Company.
Don’t hesitate to ask me any questions! I love making soap and I make a lot of it. My friends and family are always asking me to bring them soap!
Have you tried hot process soap making?