How to Make Liquid Soap
The first thing you need to know is that making soap is science. This type of science is an exact science. There is no a little of this and a little of that. Exactly so much lye plus water plus exactly so much fat will make soap. If you get that wrong then you can burn your skin. So, if you think you are beyond following exact measurements than you should probably not try to make soap. If you can handle using a scale and weighing things properly then you can have a lot of fun making soap! There is a forgiving margin of error, but not so much that you don’t have to weigh everything.
Equipment You Will Need to Make Soap
The equipment you will need to make your liquid soap is a stainless steel pot, a large stainless steel spoon, a hand blender (immersion blender), an electronic digital scale like a postal scale, protective glasses, rubber gloves and a 40-ounce or larger glass or plastic jar. The reason you need stainless steel is because other metals will react with the lye and that can be a dangerous reaction. Stainless steel doesn’t react. If you don’t know if your pot is stainless steel and it doesn’t say on the bottom of the pot, then use a glass pot or a bowl that is ceramic, glass, or stainless steel.
The Liquid Soap Recipe
16 ounce of Palm Oil
6 ounces of Coconut Oil
4.5 ounces of Potassium Hydroxide
38 ounces of COLD water
This liquid soap recipe makes 64 ounces of liquid soap. It is opaque and not transparent. It should be very gentle on the skin.
How to Make Lye Solution
Get out the electronic scale and weigh out 38 ounces of COLD water and pour it into your large glass or plastic jar.
Next put on your protective eye glasses and rubber gloves. You absolutely need protective wear when handing potassium hydroxide because it will burn your skin if one crumb of it gets on you. Put a plastic container on your scale then turn on the scale. It will read zero even though the bowl is on top of the scale. Carefully add the potassium hydroxide (lye) to the bowl until it is 4.5 ounces. Remove the lye and set aside.
Take both the bowl of lye and the jar of water outside and slowly sprinkle the lye on the water. Make sure to not have your face directly over this mixture while you are mixing it together. It will give off a gas and that gas will make you cough. This is why you are mixing it outside. After about 1 minute of mixing you can bring the mixture inside.
You will notice that when you mix the lye with the cold water that it generates a lot of heat. That is the chemical reaction going on and giving off heat. This is normal.
Lye solution (potassium hydroxide and water) is a toxic solution. If anyone or anything drinks it then they will die. So, you do not leave this anywhere where any pet, child or adult might drink it thinking that it is lemonade or something else. Only make lye solution when you are ready to use it for this reason.
Allow your lye solution to cool down as much as possible. When it is cool enough to put your hand on the glass jar and it is just warm, that is ideal. If it is too hot to touch the outside of the jar then it is too hot to use. Do not stick your finger in the jar. It is caustic and will badly burn your finger. When the lye solution is cool enough to use, go to the next step.
Heat Your Fats
The fats you are using for this liquid soap are palm oil and coconut oil. You can purchase coconut oil at most grocery stores. The most popular brand is Lou Ana, but you can buy the least expensive brand. They are all the same as long as they are 100% pure coconut oil. For palm oil you will need to buy it mail order unless you can find a vegetable shortening that is 100% palm oil. If you need to buy online, Columbus Foods has a good price for palm oil. The palm oil you want is the Palm Oil RBD (Refined, Bleached, and Deodorized).
Pour your fats into your stainless steel pot and heat the oils until they reach a temperature of anywhere from 110 to 140 degrees. When it is in that range then turn off the heat and place the pot into your sink. Plug in your hand blender and have it ready to use.
It is Time to Make Soap
Put on your safety glasses and rubber gloves. Carefully pour the lye solution into the heated oils that are in the pot and stir with the large spoon. Be very careful not to splash the raw soap solution on you. Put your hand blender into the pot and turn it on. Blend with your blender for a minute then stir with your spoon for a minute. Be careful to not over blend the soap. Blend it only until it looks like it is staying together and not separating. This will only take a minute or two.
Put a cover on your pot and let it sit undisturbed for a full 24 hours. If you feel the side of the pot you will notice that it is warm. The chemical reaction will continue to generate heat while it turns the fats, lye and water into soap.
Once the 24 hours are up, you can remove the cover and stir. It should be ready and safe to use. It is always a good idea to have a pH meter or pH papers around to test the soap before you use it. Sometimes you think you followed the directions carefully but you missed something. If you did not do the measuring properly or heat it properly then you won’t have soap at the end of the process. You will have lye solution and fats. If the recipe was not done properly then it will burn your skin. If you have a pH meter or pH papers then the pH of this liquid soap should be around 10. If the pH is 12 or higher then it is going to burn your skin.
Add Color and Scent
If you would like your homemade liquid soap to have a special smell then you can add any skin safe soap making fragrance to it. How much to use depends on the fragrance that you buy. Generally, the less expensive ones are the one you will need to use about 1 ounce per pound of soap. The more expensive fragrances you use about 25% of that. So, follow the directions from your soap making supplier on how much to use in your liquid soap. It is best if you start off with less because you can always add more. You cannot use cologne because it contains alcohol. Alcohol and other perfume fillers are going to have a bad reaction with your soap. Do not use potpourri oils because they are not safe to use on the skin. Hand stir your fragrance into the soap and do not use the hand blender.
For coloring you also need to make sure you buy a skin safe color to add to your liquid soap. Candle dyes are not skin safe colorants, they are approved for candles, but not for skin care products. Purchase your colorants from a reputable soap making supplies company. Hand stir your colorant into the soap.
Liquid Soap Making Without Using Lye
You can make liquid soap another way. A lot of people do not want to use lye or don’t have it in the house because it is a dangerous substance. It is also so old fashioned that it is getting harder and harder to find in stores.
You can make a liquid soap by purchasing a bar of soap. It does need to be 100% pure soap and not a detergent bar. Ivory soap is pure soap, a detergent bar would be Dial, Dove and most other bars. Use a cheese grater and grate up a bar of Ivory soap. Put it in a large bowl and add 3 cups of boiling water to it. Stir and let it sit overnight.
In the morning, stir it and you will see it become very thick and satiny. If it is too thick then you can add another cup of water, stir it in and let it sit all day. You can keep adding water when it thickens up on you again. It does tend to thicken up over time. You can add any skin safe fragrance or skin safe colorant to this type of liquid soap also. There is no way to get rid of the Ivory scent, but you can add enough fragrance to cover it up with a different scent.
Preservatives Are Needed
Preservatives are needed for liquid soap making, oddly enough. You would think that given it is soap that it wouldn’t need one, but it does. Anything with water in it that sits around needs an antimicrobial. If you don’t want to use one then you can make just enough soap to use for a month and then make another fresh batch. If you want to add an antimicrobial to your liquid soap then you can buy one at the bigger soap making supply companies.
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