Introduction to Soap Making: Making a Basic Batch of Soap 16


The day has finally arrived when I get to make my very first batch of soap. I was a little nervous. I know the dangers of using lye, but I put on my goggles and gloves and was prepared to dive in. This week I am plowing through 20 batches of soap. Whew! Today I made 5 batches of soap using an MMS recipe that is an old favorite in the blog kitchen. I made them one right after the other to help get the hang of cold process soapmaking. You will notice there are 6 soaps in the picture, the first one was a visual demonstration and from there I was on my own!

When Julie Andrews played Maria in The Sound of Music she taught the children to sing and got right down to the basics. She sang, “Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.” I had this song running through my head as I was preparing to make the soap.

Today I am just covering how to make a basic batch of soap. How do you mix the lye? How do you know when you are done mixing the soap and it is ready to pour? What precautions do you need to take? These are all part of the basics of how to get started making your own first batch of soap.

Ingredients
Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
Coconut Oil
Olive Oil
Sodium Hydroxide
Distilled Water
Equipment
Scale
Microwave Safe Container
Spoons
Immersion Blender
Soap Mold

Recipe:

Recipe in Grams
170 grams Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
141.75 grams Coconut Oil
141.75 grams Olive Oil
62.37 grams Sodium Hydroxide
Q.S. Distilled Water
Recipe in Ounces
6 ounces Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
5 ounces Coconut Oil
5 ounces Olive Oil
2.2 ounces Sodium Hydroxide
Q.S. Distilled Water
Recipe in Percentages
37.5 % Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
31.25 % Coconut Oil
31.25 % Olive Oil
Q.S. Sodium Hydroxide
Q.S. Distilled Water

Instructions
Weigh out the fats in a microwave-safe container. I was ordered to make 20 fat kits. 20! All of these jars were set aside with a label showing what oils were in each jar. I also made 20 lye kits. Since this recipe is the same all across each of the batches I knew how much lye was needed (I used the Lye Calculator) and that it would be the same for each jar of fats. Today I used the microwave on 3 jars at a time, just until fats were melted, stir well. In a separate container that can handle the heat of mixing lye, I measured distilled water. Carefully pour lye crystals into measured water. Do not pour water on top of lye! This will cause an extreme overheating of the water! Always pour the lye into the water. Stir well, making sure to dissolve all of the lye crystals. A little extra stirring will also help to release the extra heat and help cool the water a little. When lye is mixed with water it heats up, A LOT!!

Pour lye solution into the melted fats. Start mixing with the immersion blender. The lye and fats need to be mixed well. High speed is not necessary, but consistent mixing is important. I have heard there are times when the blenders were turned on HIGH and the liquid splashed from the container. Low speed is what I used on my immersion blender. When I stopped mixing to get an idea if my soap was ready to pour into the mold I was told to watch for a layer of slightly darker liquid on top. This is the unmixed fat. Tipping the immersion blend slightly will cause the whole mixture to go through the blades and make more efficient mixing. Be patient and keep mixing until the dark layer of fat disappears. Pour into mold. The soap mixture is very fluid at this point! Some of the items I have read indicate the mixture is thick. This was not a thickened or pudding-like mixture! I used a Rubbermaid Draw Organizer lined with Saran Wrap (this will help pull the soap out later).

Leave the soap to set for 24 hours. Remove the soap from the mold and cut into bars and allow to cure.

Notes: An extra precaution you can take while mixing the lye is to wear a mask over your nose and mouth, or to mix outside. Breathing in the lye steam will make you cough and I find this unpleasant. It is also important to note that the lye solution will leave a mark on your counter. Always set your spoons, immersion blender, and anything that has touched the lye or raw soap mixture on something which will protect the counter. If lye does come into contact with your counter top, wipe it up immediately.

Joy

Finished product

Pre-measured oils

Pre-measured lye

Weighing oils

Melted oils

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16 thoughts on “Introduction to Soap Making: Making a Basic Batch of Soap

  • Lauri

    Joy, I set the Pyrex with the distilled water in the sink before I add the lye and I cover all of my counters with newspapers. I don’t use the immersion blender right at first, preferring to use a silicone spatula and hand stir at first. Also what temps do you like? I really like to mix my lye and oils together between 100 and 110 degrees. Any warmer and the batch moves to trace too fast.

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    • Tina

      Lauri,
      Putting your beaker or mixing vessel in the sink is a great idea. It helps contain any cracked or broken glass containers that may come about due to thermal shock. Hand mixing may give you time to center your mind on the activity at hand. Starting with an immersion blender is not a bad idea, nor is hand stirring. Either way must feel comfortable to the maker and allow the right frame of mind for the task.

      Currently we are mixing the lye solution and fats together at about 125°F. Our valley has had a very wet and production snow this week. One member of our staff had a foot of snow in her driveway!

      Cheers!
      Tina

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    • Andee

      This actually didn’t help me as much as I thought it would. I’ve found that my best temperatures for my lye and oils is 115-125 F in the hot summer and 120-130 F in the cold winter. I use a thermometer, but I don’t worry about getting exact temperatures. It helps me make better soap!

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  • Lynn Schall

    Congratulations! You sure got off to a great start, 5 batches is a lot to do for your first try, wait until you cut it and I bet you will be hooked. I can’t wait to hear more, thanks for sharing, Lynn Schall

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  • Julie

    I really appreciate your thoughts on making your first batch of soap. This is something I plan to dive into eventually and I appreciate being able to follow along with someone who is also new! Thank you!

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  • Melinda Cusack

    Thanks for sharing your experience, I am also new to soap making..so many questions every time I make soap I come up with more…

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    • Tina

      Oh, do ask away! We learn a lot about soap just from the questions that are asked by our customers. If you have the question, I can guarantee that someone else does too.

      Cheers!
      Tina

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  • Mesha

    5 batches in a row! That’t really diving in there 🙂
    So are you totally addicted to it yet?

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    • Joy

      I am getting there. I have a problem with being a perfectionist. If it doesn’t come out perfect I get frustrated, but I also don’t like to give up. After I start seeing good results I am going to go nuts with soapmaking in the blog kitchen.

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  • Madea

    Excellent tutorial. I am going to enjoy this series and bookmark it. Next year (2013) I get to make soap and I am excited.

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  • Wanda

    Good consistent non wavering safety is the best practice. I started making soap the day you blogged you were going to. So far I have made 4 batches all turned out perfect. Thank God. I hope to sell them at the farmers market. Oh I Oven Hot Processed mine so I only cure them for a week or two depending on the degree of softeness when they come out of the mold. And of course I test the Ph before I use them or give a sample away to a neighbor. Keep up the good work and try out the Oven Hot Process. I haven’t tried the CP and don’t know if I will.
    Good Luck Joy

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  • Lauri

    I don’t use the stick blender too quickly but start with a heat proof spatula and then add in then stick blender. I like the mixing of oils and lye to go slowly, my soap turns out better when I do not rush it.

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  • Wanda

    Joy, I too am a perfectionist which when mine turn out good to start I was totally surprised I didn’t have to turn a whole batch of soap in to laundry soap. Hang in your tutorial is excellent thank you for the information and I look forward to learning more about cold process soap. Most people start out with CP but I had read blogs and instructional pages for 3 mths and then decided on OHP. oh and this website and your products are unbeatable.

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