I had a request for the recipes of the three soaps I gave to our mailman, who had given me some wonderful all natural home grown local beeswax, so I’ll start with this one! Using regular soap making directions, here are the ingredients for this 5.4 lb (after 4 week curing) batch. Use a soap making calculator to help with oil selections. There are a lot of them out there, just type in ‘soap making calculator.’
24 oz beef tallow (i render our own grass finished beef tallow)
17 oz olive oil
17 oz coconut oil
4 oz shea butter
2 oz beeswax (locally produced usually)
9.45 oz sodium hydroxide
21.88 oz rainwater
5 Tablespoons of Juniper Leaf essential oil stirred in at trace.
Remember NEVER pour lye (sodium hydroxide) into hot oil (or cold oil). Dissolve it into the water first. I always wear safety goggles and rubber gloves when doing this and always outside. The fumes coming off are very toxic and even the tiniest drop of the mixture will dissolve fabric and skin.
Never let the hot oil get on you either. My goal is to heat the oil (slowly) and stir the sodium hydroxide crystals into the water and let cool so that both oil and lye water reach 106ºF to 110ºF at the same time. (stirring sodium hydroxide into water can cause the water to quickly reach over 200ºF – be very, very careful!). Once they each reach those temps, trickle the lye water into the oils which are being blended. Coming to trace can be as quick as 5 minutes or more than an hour!
Many people use an immersion blender these days – very neat idea, but i’m using an old Sunbeam mixer that works just fine and didn’t cost anything. Any implement used in soap making should be dedicated to that project. Never use them for food again.
Making soap is a labor of love; unless you are set up with commercial equipment and plan to make a LOT to keep costs down, there is little profit in it unless your soap is so good that you can command a premium price. And there are some out there that can.
There are so many excellent sites on the web with a plethora of ingredient choices, recipes, and soap making instructions and tips. Take your time, educate yourself, decide how much effort and expense you want to invest, then go for it! Or decide to purchase it already made. That’s good, too.
Tips: Try not to make a huge financial investment until you are sure you want to do this on a regular basis. I still use an old coffee carafe to stir the sodium hydroxide into the water. You can pick them up at second hand stores for less than a dollar and they can easily take the heat. Estate sales or second hand stores may also yield a workable mixer. You can choose to stir by hand, but i guarantee that will get old quick. A lot of fun stuff can be used for soap molds, but remember you’ll be pouring very hot mixture into them – select carefully. I finally broke down and purchased these very keen loaf molds from Essential Depot. They really make it much easier.