'If we did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.' Thomas Edison

11 May 2010

Handmade Cold-Pressed Soap

After weighing out your ingredients EXACTLY as the recipe says, gently melt your fats/waxes/oils in a stainless steel or enamel pan (perfect condition). I put the pan on top of the scales and weigh it straight in. The same goes for weighing the water in the jug.

Wearing gloves/protective glasses and an apron, gently add your caustic soda to your weighed water. BE CAREFUL not to splash yourself or breath any of the fumes in.


Add a thermometer (glass) to each pot/pan. When both thermometers reach an equal temperature between 120F (49C) and 140F (60C), pour the caustic soda solution into the oil.


Stir occasionally until the mixture thickens to the point where you can trickle some soap off the back of your spatula and it will leave a trace line on the top of the mixture. This is called 'trace'. This is the point where you would add any essential oils/colourings/additives to your mixture. Here I added cedarwood oil and a tablespoon of powdered kelp. Mix thoroughly.

Lightly grease your choosen moulds with vegetable fat. Pour your mixture carefully into the moulds.
Cover with an old towel (insulating the soap) and leave to set for 24hours. (It may take as little as 5 mins to set or it may take a few days.)

(This one actually took 4 days)

Once set, (again wearing rubber gloves) remove the soap from the mould. I have turned it out onto cardboard to protect any surfaces.

Trim the edges off to neaten it up and then cut into bars. I have used an old cheese knife for this, you could use a cheese wire too.

Put all the trimmings into a pot to save for doing a rebatch soap or for using in your laundry.

Cover and leave for 4 weeks until the soap is cured (the soap is no longer caustic).

These two recipes are taken from 'the handmade soap book' by Melinda Coss, and they have both worked for me.
Olive Splendour (pictures in above tutorial)

30 oz (849g) olive oil, 2 oz beeswax, 10oz (283g) distilled or spring water, 4 oz (113g) sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), 1 tbsp (15g) powdered kelp, 2 tsp (10g) cedarwood essential oil, 1tsp (5g) diluted chromium oxide (green) (I left this out of my soap).

Coconut Cream Soap

24 oz (680g) coconut oil, 8 oz (227g) cocoa butter, 16 oz (454g) distilled or spring water, 5 3/4 oz (163g) sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), 2 tsp essential oils of your choice


Equipment should be stainless steel or perfect condition enamel. Glass thermometers are great. Spatulas, plastic jugs and plastic pots for pouring your soap into. Digital scales are preferable as the measurements need to be exact. Rubber gloves, protective glasses, apron to protect yourself with.

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