How to Make Soap With Lye – Easy Steps

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Making your soap at home is excellent, because this way, you are aware of the things that you are putting in your body. You can be extra cautious and add only such ingredients that are pure and organic and hence opt for a better option. However, even if you have never tried to make soap of your own, the process may seem a little intimidating, because it is somewhat technical and requires a certain level of precision to master the art. 

Even experts, who have been making soaps at home for years, now have started with irregularities and their share of misfortunes. But, with the help of some simple steps and focus, you will be able to know how to make soap with lye of your own.

lye soap recipe

Ingredients You Need:

The components you require for making soap at home can be easily divided into three sections, and this is the best way to go about your adventures. These three categories are:

  • Fats and oils: Fats and oils are those ingredients that go into a pot. This includes things like lard or pork fat and tallow or beef fat. Vegetarian options include palm oil, coconut oil, and olive oil. It is best to avoid Crisco or Vegetable oil because of their soy content, pesticide residues, and preservatives. 
  • Lye and water: This are the most crucial ingredient or group of parts for your soap. Lye and water combine to form lye water, which is separately built from the fats and oil components. In case you are going for a milk recipe, the water here is replaced with milk to make the water. 
  • Essential oils and other ingredients:These are the fancy ingredients that are to be added at the last second, and these are what adds the peculiar color, texture, and smell to your soap. They may also include salt or honey. 

Tools You Need:

To make soap with lye at home, here are the tools you will need:

    • One large stainless-steel pot (you cannot use aluminum or iron).
    • Stainless steel spoon and ladle.
    • Plastic spatula.
    • Ziplock bag.
    • Hand mixer or a stick blender for better tracing.
    • Plastic container for making the lye water.
    • Measuring bowls for oil.
    • A digital scale that measures in ounces up to the tenth place.
    • Mold for pouring soap.
    • Thermometer.
    • Wax paper.
    • Towels.

Steps to Know How to Make Lye Soap

Step 1: Oils and Fats

  • Different oils are required for adding different texture and consistency to your soap. While coconut oil is high for more extensive, using castor oil guarantees a lot of bubbles. Once you have figured out what oil you want to use, the one thing that you have to keep in mind is that all the ingredients that you will need to make the soap will have to be weight and not measured.
  • This is essential for adding precision to your soap. Remember, the smaller the size of the batch, the more precise your measurements need to be. You can take the help of a cheap weighing scale, and after you have placed the bowl, you must reset the scale to zero, so you do not weigh your ingredients along with the weight of the container. 
  • Using a rubber spatula is optimum because it will help you to scrape off the bits and pieces into a large stainless-steel bowl where you can perform the rest of the steps.

Step 2: Making the Lye Water

  • If you’re wondering where you will be able to get your hand on lye, you might be pleased to see that they are available online in markets like Amazon. However, if you are looking for them in your local grocery store, you may not be able to find them because most stores don’t sell them as lye is also used for making some illegal drugs. Make sure that you get pure lye crystals and not any form of liquid mixtures as they won’t give you the desired results. 
  • Lye is sodium hydroxide. They are usually derived from ash. Another form that is derived from firewood ash is potassium hydroxide or potash, which are used in making softer soaps. This chemical is reactive when it comes in touch with water and produces heat and gas. The heat generated blast the lye water mixture to about 200°F depending on what the starting temperature of your water was. 
  • The best way to use lye is by weighing it in a plastic zip-lock bag while you weigh your water in a plastic container. This way, you will make sure to pour these into the water and not vice versa. Pouring water to lye disrupts the ratio, and the immense amount of heat created can cause it to blast. It’s best to pour the lye into the water outdoor than indoor to avoid any undesirable consequences and keep stirring the mixture for even heat distribution. 
  • You will know that the lye has been dissolved when there are no more fumes. Once this state has been reached, take the mixture indoors very carefully. Make sure that nothing splashes on your skin because it will cause a burn to your skin and terrible itchiness. Since lye is reactive to aluminum and iron, use only plastic, stainless steel, or glass utensils for this process. 
  • For safety, you must use some safety goggles, wear long sleeves, gloves, and mouth masks. Inhaling the lye fumes is toxic and will make you feel uncomfortable. Make sure to keep your kids out of your kitchen when working with lye and try to minimize splashes. 

Step 3: The Temperatures

  • When making soap, temperatures are essential to be kept in mind for the chemical reaction to take place. The fat molecules are permanently blasted open by the lye molecules, and they then transform into soap. You will need to melt your fats and oil, so they are around 100°F. 
  • Make sure that the lye, as well as the fat mixtures, is less than 100°F when you mix the lye to the fats. This temperature should be as close as possible. If you find it challenging to get the two to these temperatures and find that one of them is cooling faster than the other, you can give your hotter mixture a cold bath in your sink, which will help you to get the temperature down steadily till it reaches 100°F.
  • On the other hand, you can give the more cooling mixture a hot bath, so it doesn’t lose the heat so fast. Being precise is vital here. That way, you will not have to make any guesses and pour when the temperature is right. 

Step 4: Trace

  • The mixture of fat and lye water after having blended with a stick blender becomes ready to be poured into the mold, and at this point, it is called a trace. It leaves a “trace” behind at the top of the mixture.

  • The soap mixture becomes creamier and much thicker once you stir it. Use a big spook to drizzle some of the blends on the top, and if it sinks, then your mixture is not ready yet. However, this may not be the case for Castile soaps.

  • You must find the angle where the light is reflecting off it. At this point, if you drizzle and that leaves a light path where the drizzle was, you have come to the end of a light trace. However, if it becomes like a thick pudding along the way, you have reached the point of a full mark, and it needs to be poured immediately. Otherwise, it will end up setting on the pot itself. 

Step 5: Essential Oils

  • This is the step that must be done right at the last second. Essential oils are to be added after you have incorporated your lye water into the fat, and it has traced. Only after this will you be adding your essential oils.
  • If you want a real and organic soap, it is best to use natural essential oils, and most recipes use this. Depending on the method you use, there will be a certain amount prescribed by the formula as to how much essential oil must be poured in. However, some essential oils are more potent than others, so you cannot rely on the recipe entirely, although you may use it as an initial starting point.
  • Mix the said amount, and once you can start to smell it, you are good to go.
  • Depending on whether you like your soap having a strong scent or not, you can go for more or refrain from adding more. 

Step 6: Pour and Then Incubate

All you must do now is, line your mold with wax paper. Do not use plastic packet because it will cause wrinkles and no good results. After you have poured your soap mix into the frame, give it a slight jiggle, so you know it has settled evenly into the mold. Now place the frame on a very vertical surface for a minimum of 24 hours. Cover this in a towel to keep the heat intact. Cover more during winter than summer. You must incubate your soap for a minister of 24 hours, keeping it covered on a towel or blanket. After this time has crossed, check to see if it has set, and only after you have made sure that the mixture has set, you can release it from the mold and cut into pieces. If you do not have shape and are looking for cheaper options, these will come in handy:

  • A plastic container with straight edges.
  • A glass container.
  • A sturdy cardboard boxes. 
  • Pringles can
  • PVC pipes.
  • Small wooden planter. 

Step 7: Curing and Storing

  • DIY Lye soap is not ready to be used immediately. The lye still requires some time to convert the oil molecules to soap. Hence it is hazardous to use it right away as it may burn your skin. The more time you allow it for setting, the milder, long-lasting, and harder it will become.
  • After you have cut your soap, let it cure for 4 to y weeks at least and keep turning them from one side to another to make sure that it dries out evenly on all sides. Some people argue that keeping the soap for long makes the essential oils dry out. However, this is only true if you keep your soap standing for years.
  • You can keep them in plastic drawers for letting them dry out. Make sure that you keep them away from excessive moisture because then they will gather mold over time.
  • Keeping your soap to cure in a nice, cool place is perfect. 

Summarizing the Steps:

  • Weigh your fats and melt them in a large bowl.
  • Weigh your lye in a zip lock bag and then weigh in your water on a separate plastic container. From outside, slowly pour it in the lye into the water and keep stirring it with a stainless-steel spoon continuously. Make sure you do not pour water into there, it must always be the other way around, lye into the water. 
  • Prepare your mold and add a line of wax paper if you deem fit. 
  • Weigh the essential oils precisely and then set them aside. 
  • When the fats and oil, as well as the lye water, reach a temperature of 100°F, pour the lye water into the fats and oil mixture. 
  • Use your stick blender for 5 minutes and then mix it with your hand for 5 minutes. Keep doing this alternatively until the mixture forms a trace. 
  • Add your essential oils as well as all the coloring agents you want to. Mix well after adding these agents. 
  • Pour them into the already prepared molds and keep them for incubation for at least 24 hours. 
  • Remove from the mold and cut them into desired shapes and sizes. 
  • Let the air out, so the soaps harden. 
  • The soaps are ready to be used in 4-6 weeks. 

Now, you can soon start making different variants if you understand the basics correctly. The process will quickly become much easier and more efficient, balanced with the benefit of organic material in your handmade soap.

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