Adventures in Soap Making

This Thursday, Kristy K. is sharing what happened in her Accidentally Green life – she made soap from scratch! (I’ve tried her soap, and it’s great! It lathers well, cleans well, and makes tons of bubbles.) Here’s her guest post:

As a long-time reader and fan of Accidentally Green, I’m constantly looking for ways to make our lives greener and healthier. We’ve switched to glass food storage containers, replaced our household cleaners with safer alternatives and tried to make healthier choices at the grocery store. So when I read a blog post on www.moneysavingmom.com about making homemade soap, I was eager to try it. The process was fairly simple and the results were better than I imagined.

I started with a basic recipe for honey-almond oatmeal, loosely based on Money Saving Mom’s post:

Honey-Almond Oatmeal Soap

Ingredients
28 ounces cold water
12 ounces lye crystals
48 ounces vegetable shortening
21 ounces olive oil
18 ounces coconut oil
1 cup pulverized oats
1 small bottle of honey-almond essential oil
My friend Erika and I cleared an entire afternoon and got to work. I started on the lye mixture. The recipe called for very cold water, so I included ice cubes into the measured water. Then, donning a face mask and thick rubber gloves, I s-l-o-w-ly stirred in the lye crystals. I did this outside on our porch because I wasn’t quite sure why lye is so combustible and didn’t want to take any chances. In retrospect, I should have been wearing goggles as well as a face mask and gloves.

After dissolving the lye crystals in cold water, the liquid becomes hot. Then it must be cooled down.

As the lye was cooling on the porch, Erika measured and melted the fats. She scooped the shortening and oils into a pot and stirred (and stirred) until they were melted.
When the lye was cooled, we slowly stirred it into the fats mixture, which we removed from the stove burner. We set a timer for 10 minutes and using a stick blender, mixed until the liquid started to “trace.” Tracing is just a fancy word that means the mixture turns to a pudding-like consistency. I worried that we wouldn’t know when the soap was beginning to trace, but it was completely obvious. I even did a little dance because I was so excited.
We added the oats and bottle of essential oil after about eight minutes. When we finished mixing, we poured the unfinished soap into two 9-inch by 13-inch pans that were lined with a clean plastic bag. We covered each pan with a sheet of cardboard and a dish cloth, then piled a few books on top to make sure no air or curious little children got in as the soap was curing.
To our surprise, we found solidified soap two days later!
I cut it into bars and used some right away, and not only did it smell great, it lathered up even better than store-bought soap. I’ve read that the cut soap should be left out for several weeks to finish curing, but I didn’t have any issues with using it immediately.
 Since then I’ve tried cocoa peppermint, orange lavender and lavender eucalyptus, using the same basic recipe, but switching the essential oils. With each batch producing about 30 bars of soap, it’s both economical and fun to make. My family loves it and I love making it!
Because we used lye for our soap-making, the process can be potentially dangerous. I purposefully left out temperatures and times so that you can research soap-making for yourself before starting. I used the basic recipe found at www.moneysavingmom.com and the directions for making soap at http://www.millersoap.com/.


How about you?
How are you and your family living an Accidentally Green life? Please e-mail stories and/or photos to accidentallygreen@gmail.com. They’ll be posted on an upcoming Thursday.
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Hilary Kimes Bernstein is a Christ follower, wife, mama, and journalist. She writes about making healthy decisions that honor God and happen to help the environment at Accidentally Green. Short and sweet - like her writing - Hilary is the author of several healthy living eBooks.

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Lovely comments so far...

  1. Obviously, I’m not a photographer! :)

  2. I like your photos! :) I think they show the process … and I think they’re better than my bread making photos. :)

  3. I am really thankful to you for this great read!! You did a very great job, keep it up
    Soap making

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