To make soap you will need some basic equipment. A very large measuring jug, wooden spoon, goggles, thick rubber gloves, apron, stainless steel large saucepan, a hand blender, moulds for the soap and accurate digital weighing scales.
The ingredients, suppliers and prices:
295g of caustic soda – Boots – 1.44
750ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Tesco -2.25
850ml Sunflower Oil – tesco – 1.05
625g Cookeen – Tesco – 1.25
half small bottle of Lavender essential oil – Liskeard posh handbag shop/now closed – .50
900ml water – I use bottled but you can use tap.
total = 6.49 and I will make 24 large bars of soap at 27p per bar.
I followed the instructions and recipe for soap on the Channel 4 website. There are many soap making websites, with recipes on the net. It is very easy and very cheap to make. Do not imagine your soap to turn out to be the mass produced type of soap you find in Tesco, the cheapest bar I saw in there today was 43p for their ivory soap. There soap will have animal fat as the main product, certainly will not be one third olive oil and certainly not have the purity and simplicity of homemade soap.
Start by very careful and accurately weighing your ingredients. Add the solid oil to the liquid oil and gently heat in a stainless steel saucepan until all the ingredients are liquid. Leave to cool.
Now measure out the water and ADD THE CAUSTIC SODA TO THE WATER!!! NEVER the other way round!!!
When the oils and caustic and water mixture are a similar temperature, gently pour the caustic mix into the oils. You can check the temperature by touching the outside of both containers. They should be still warm when you mix them.
The mixing and blending takes ages!!! and ages!! and ages!!! You will have white finger by the end of it, but you just have to keep mixing.
Below is an example of the soap being at ‘trace’. I have lifted it out of the mixture and it leaves a noticable pattern when I stir the surface and drop some soap on top.
Below is an even clearer picture of trace.
Below, you can see the pale colour of ‘real’ vegetable soap.
I pour mine into plastic tubs, but old margarine tubs or ice cream tubs will do. I fill them right up so I can have quite large bars of soap as they shrink when you dry them.
The soap starts to set and harden straight away. This is the second batch of soap that I have made and I am already using the previous batch. It is a low foaming soap and very mild on my skin, as well as having a gentle lavender fragrance that permeates through our home. It grates well for clothes and household washing and it holds together well in the shower.
After pouring into moulds, I put the lids on the boxes and they are sat wrapped up in towels to keep them warm over night. I will remove the towels and check the soap tomorrow morning, although it was set when I checked it a few hours ago, the latent heat keeps ‘cooking’ the soap.