Homemade Skin Care:
On the theme of additive-free frugal living, I thought it was high time I braved up and tried my hand at soap-making! It had been on my must-do list for years now, but the thought of little ones and lye and clean-up and the whole process seemed a tad overwhelming. But after trying it out- I am a believer! Though care & attention is needed, it really was remarkably simple and produced a huge batch of buttery smooth soapy goodness that will last my family a good long time!
I must qualify, however, that as a first-timer, I am in no way an expert! Thankfully there is a fabulous wealth of resources out there , so I will walk you through my favorites. Give it a try!
1) Learn the basics! Rachel Meeks of Small Notebook put together a fabulous beginner’s guide just for mamas like us who need it all spelled out.
2) Gather the tools & kitchen supplies. Check out the great post on supplies, resources and another basic videos by Renee Tougas of FIMBY.
3) Choose your recipe! Consider here the initial cost you want to put out. Of course organic ingredients will cost more, as will coconut oil or shea butter. It all depends on the final product you are looking for. Keep in mind also that the fats are not substitutable on a 1:1 basis. There are special formulas and calculators used to determine to the proportion of lye to the type of fat you use, which will then determine whether the soap sets properly- or at all.
This is the basic recipe I used- which made 24 hefty bars. I really liked the ratio of coconut oil to other ingredients and I find it made for a smooth, moisturizing soap.
- 24 oz. Coconut oil
- 24 oz. Olive oil
- 38 oz. Vegetable shortening
- 12 oz. lye
- 32 oz. water
- 4 oz. essential oils of your choice, added at trace
4) Begin! Once the tools & ingredients are gathered, you’ll want to set aside a good couple of hours to focus on the soap making process alone. The lye is very caustic: I chose to wear rubber gloves and keep some vinegar close by (which neutralizes spills.) Set aside a time where you (and it’s more fun with a friend!) can focus and get the job done safely and enjoyably, without worrying about little ones underfoot.
All a round my first batch was a success! I’d love to hear of your experiences with making soap. Any favorite recipes, tricks or tips out there?