Making Soap from Scratch
The essential ingredient for making soap from scratch is lye, but personally, I found this very hard to find. I had several people at DIY stores regard me suspiciously when asking how to find lye.
- Lye is extremely irritating to skin and can do damage to eye. Always wear protective gloves and goggles when handling lye, and keep lye WELL away from children. If you DO get lye on skin, immediately apply lemon juice or vinegar.
- Never use metal pans or utensils when making soap from scratch. The lye mixture will degrade the metal (except for stainless steel) and deposit small bits of metal in your soap! Heavy plastic, ceramic, and glass are good materials for making soap. A shoe box, lined with several layers of plastic wrap, and greased with shortening can even be used as a cheap mold!
- Always add lye slowly to cold water, as the water will heat up due to the chemical reaction. You then put this mixture into the fat.
The recipe for making soap is generally oil or lard, olive oil works especially well, lye, and water. Here is a great video for making soap in a slow cooker. Of course, you wouldn’t ever want to use the same basin for cooking food. There are many different processes for making soap, including cold process and hot process. Here are a few great resources to answer all your questions, Miller’s Homemade Soap and Teach Soap.