Today we should have our basic equipment. Ideally this means you
have your goggles, scale, mixing container, spoon, immersion blender, gloves and a mold. If you have selected a box, milk carton or drawer organizer for your mold, the first thing we need to do is calculate how much soap our mold can hold.
To do this you will need a few things. Your mold, a tape measure, a notebook and a calculator. Using your tape measure, measure the inside of the mold. We will need the length, width and depth.
Now we just need to calculate the volume. My mold (drawer organizer) is 3″x8.5″x1.75″. To calculate for the volume, multiply all of the numbers together. Or if you want to keep things simple, use our volume calculator! This results for my mold is a volume of 44.63 cubic inches. Divide the total cubic inches by 44. For me, this is almost one. This means that my mold can only hold a batch of soap from 1 lb of oils.
If I used a Kleenex box where my measurements are 4.25″x4.25″x5″ my volume is 90.31 cubic inches. 90.31/44 is 2.05. This means my Kleenex box could hold a 2 lb fat batch. How cool is that? You can choose almost anything to be a mold. And now you know how much your mold can hold! No guessing required.
The other thing that needs to be discussed is safety. When I first started making soap, I was astonished to discover that sodium hydroxide are like micro bouncy balls on steroids. They bounce like crazy. They are also sensitive to static electricity. So what does this mean for you?
This means you should make soap in a clean working space with no distractions. Prevent children and pets from coming into your soaping area while you are working. Wearing gloves, goggles and even an apron are helpful when making soap. Even shirts with long sleeves are helpful. When you are done, make sure you wipe down the surfaces well. You want to clean up any spills or drips as soon as possible.
Now that the hard work is out of the way, we can start to plan the fun stuff. For your first several batches of soap, we recommend that you try several simple formulas that suit your budget and what is available to you. Some of us have easy access to tallow and lard. Others have easy access to sunflower oil. So how do you create a formulation? Well it is as easy as 6-5-4-1.
What do I mean by 6-5-4-1? Well, this is the break down of our recipe. We are using 16 oz or 1 lb of fat to create our recipe. Let’s start with our smallest number.
1 stands for 1 oz. This is the luxury oil that we use in our soap. This can be a variety of oils. These oils can be things like Shea Butter, Lanolin, Argan Oil, Jojoba Oil, Neem Oil or even Rosehip Oil. I recommend you choose your luxury oil first, the luxury oil will determine what oils you choose for the rest of your formulation.
The reason these are luxury oils is because a little goes a long way. Additionally some of these oils can be expensive. So how do we keep our pocket book happy and the practice of making handmade soap sustainable? We use specialty/luxury oils appropriately. Many people are surprised at how a little can go a long way. In the case of soap making, more is not always better. Often it is detrimental to the sustainability of soap making and the health of your pocket book.
Our next three amounts are interchangeable; within reason. I will explain why I rearrange these numbers during my next several posts. Typically I use Hydrogenated Soybean Oil (6 oz), Coconut Oil (5oz) and OIive Oil (4 oz) in my soap. My Hydrogenated Soybean Oil is used because it makes a light colored bar that is firm. It also helps keeps my costs reasonable. You can use things like Lard, Tallow, or even Palm Oil in place of Hydrogenated Soybean Oil. You are looking for inexpensive oils that create a firm bar.
Coconut Oil give that big fluffy lather that we all associate with getting clean. Have a bar of soap that bubbles a lot? It probably contains Coconut Oil. Not wanting to use Coconut Oil? Try Palm Kernel Oil!
Last is the Olive Oil. This gives that dense creamy lather that we all know and love. Other oils that contain high oleic fatty acids will be good alternatives to Olive Oil. Some of those alternatives can Rice Bran Oil, Sunflower Oil, Peanut Oil and even Safflower Oil.
Alright, I know you are on brain overload. So take a breath. When you are ready, go look in your cupboard for some oils you might want to use. We will meet back tomorrow and make our first batch of soap together!