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26 July 2007

How to make cold process soap


I'm sure many of you are wondering: "Why make soap when I can buy it cheaply at the supermarket?" My cold process soap is made with vegetable oils and when it is made and cured, it contains no harsh chemicals or dyes. Often commercial soap is made with tallow (animal fat) and contains synthetic fragrance and dye and retains almost no glycerin. Glycerin is a natural emollient that helps with the lather and moisturises the skin. The makers of commercial soaps extract the glycerin and sell it as a separate product as it's more valuable than the soap. Then they add chemicals to make the soap lather. Crazy.

Making your own soap allows you to add whatever you want to add. If you want a plain and pure soap, as I do, you can have that, or you can start with the plain soap and add colour, herbs and fragrance. The choice is yours.

I want to add a little about animal and bird fat. I know Kirsty makes her soap with duck fat and I think that's great. I think that if you're living true to your simple living values, and you're a meat eater, then you should be using every part of that animal or bird. Soap making helps you to do that. So if you raise beef, pigs or ducks, I'm pretty sure there are a lot of good soap recipes for you to use your animal fats. I will, however, be concentrating my post on what I make - vegetable-based soap.

EQUIPMENT
  • Stainless steel saucepan 
  • Wooden or plastic spoon 
  • Scales - most soap ingredients are measured by weight, not volume 
  • Jug - for holding oils 
  • Measuring jug - for measuring water. It's ok to measure the water by volume 
  • Thermometer - you can use either a milk or candy thermometer 
  • Stick blender (optional) 
  • Newspaper to cover your work area 

DON'T use any aluminium pots or spoons. You may use stainless steel or cast iron and your spoon may be of steel, wood or plastic.


RECIPE The recipe may change every time you make soap but the method of making it remains the same. This is the recipe I use now:
  1. 450 mls rain water, spring water or distilled water 
  2. 172 grams caustic soda/lye 
  3. 1000 grams olive oil 
  4. 250 grams copha or coconut oil



Temperature conversion calculator http://www.onlineconversion.com/temperature.htm

WARNING
If you are new to soap making, be warned, it should never be attempted when children or animals are around. The lye (caustic soda) you will use, burns, and if you spill it on skin you need to wash it off immediately under running water or vinegar. If you drop it on the floor or bench top, wipe it up straight away as it will burn a hole. When you mix the lye with water, even though it's not on the stove, it will heat up considerably and burn if you drop any on yourself or splash it in your eyes. There are also fumes. When you mix the lye with the water, fumes will come off it. Make sure you mix your lye in a well ventilated room.

Many soap makers wear latex gloves, goggles and a mask. I don't as I know what I'm doing and I'm very careful. Please use these safeguards while you're learning to make soap. When you're experienced, you might be able to dispense with them. Are you still with me after that warning? Soap making is a simple process that is made difficult by using lye (caustic soda). There is absolutely NO WAY to make soap from scratch without using lye. If you make sure you're alone when making soap, if you have all your ingredients measured out and have a clean and clear work area, you shouldn't have any problems. The entire process should take about 30 minutes. BTW, the process of soapmaking - saponification - neutralises the lye and by the time the soap is cured, no lye remains in the soap. 

METHOD
Lay out the newspaper over your work area.


Grease your moulds.


Put on your safety gear.

Measure and weigh all your ingredients.

Weigh all your oils and place them in a saucepan.

Measure out the water and leave it in your measuring jug.

Measure out the lye into a small bowl.




Clip the thermometer onto the side of the saucepan and place on low heat on the stove. Slowly heat the oils to 50 degrees Celsius (122 F).




With the water already in the jug, carefully pour in the lye and stir gently until fully dissolved. Stand back a bit as there will be fumes coming up from this mix and it will heat up.




Now you need to have the oil at 50C and the lye at 50C (122F). When they're the same temperature, carefully pour the lye water into the oils and avoid splashing it.


Start mixing. You can either use a spoon and stir for about 20 minutes or use a stick blender and mix for about 5 - 10 minutes, making sure your blender doesn't overheat. I use an old Mixmaster (KitchenAid) as it has a very low setting that doesn't splatter. It gently stirs and reaches trace within 5 or 6 minutes. Don't use a hand beater and it splashes too much and the soap is still caustic at this stage.




TRACE
Trace is the sign you look for that the soap has become stable and is ready to be poured into a mould. Before you reach trace, the surface of the mixture will be smooth. When you reach trace, slight ripples will form on the surface and remain there. The mix should be thick, but pourable.




This is what the mix looks like when you've reached trace. Notice how there are ripple staying on the surface.
If you're going to add fragrance, add it when you reach trace and give it a good mix. Then pour the mixture into the greased mould. I use a resin cake form that I bought for $2 at the dollar shop. You can also use plastic ice block trays, milk cartons or any plastic shape. Make sure you grease it - I use cooking spray, and if you're using a milk carton, make sure it's absolutely clean.



If you want to colour your soap you should research this yourself as I've never coloured my soap. Food colouring is unstable and not considered suitable, you'll need to buy soap dye or use natural powders like turmeric, cinnamon or cocoa.

Once the soap is in the mould, cover it with a towel so it cools down slowly.




The next morning, or about 15 hours later, release the soap from the mould and cut it into whatever shape you desire.


I add nothing to my soaps, but I do stamp them with a plain old rubber stamp. And I don't fiddle with the shape, I just cut them into blocks with a sharp knife. I like my soap to look handmade, but many soap makers fashion their soaps to look very professional and store bought. You do what you want to do.

Place the cakes of soap on a drying rack in an area they can stay in for a couple of weeks. Turn the soap over every day to allow it to dry out evenly. I cure my soaps for about six weeks before using them. The drier they are when you use them, the longer they last. You could use your soap after a week or so, but when it gets wet it will go soft and won't last long. It's better to cure them for a few weeks. This batch made 12 hefty blocks of soap.

You can also use your soap to pour into loofahs that have been cut into disks. Just wrap the bottom of the loofah in a small piece of plastic wrap so the hot soap doesn't run through.
The next morning, or when it's set, just tidy up the top with a sharp knife and allow the loofah soaps to cure for a few weeks.


ADDITION: I forgot to add something about soap calculators. When you want to try a new recipe with different oils, you'll need to run the recipe through a soap calculator to give you the correct ratios of oils, water and lye. This is the one I use: http://www.snowdriftfarm.com/soapcalculator.htm Just fill in the weight of the oil you'll use and it will calculate your lye and water for you (for the recipe above we used 1.5 litres). This will give you the exact amount of lye and water you need to add. Then make the soap as above.

95 comments:

  1. wow, thanks for that very informative tutorial. I shall be giving this a go one day :)

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  2. I have been eagerly awaiting this tutorial! I look forward to trying it. Just a quick question though Rhonda, where do you buy caustic soda from? Thanks for a great tutorial.

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  3. shell, you buy it from the supermarket, it will be in the cleaning aisle, near the borax. OR
    You can get it from a hardware store. Good luck with your soap.

    Don't buy expensive oils, cheap ones are fine for this. : )

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  4. You make excellent tutorials. This must have taken a long time to put together. Thankyou!

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  5. Your soap is beautiful and you did a great job explaining the process!
    I just made some plain ole stain stick soap this weekend and I need to make a special soap for some friends that we are going to swap!

    I just love your blog!

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  6. That tutorial is great rhonda! Very reassuring as it looks just like mine! I was worried I'd gone wrong lol. Have you ever used the tongue test to check if it is still caustic? I'm not sure what to expect..burning tongue??? Thanks heaps!

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  7. This has me totally worked up.

    Heading out for caustic soda.

    Right now.

    x

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  8. oh I will be doing this soon. I've always been a little afraid of the caustic soda, but after this tutorial I think I can do it.

    Lenny

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  9. Thanks everyone. : )

    Kirsty, I haven't tried that test but I think you would get a burning tongue.

    Go Shula and Lenny!

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  10. Looks like it is something I could manage, but I think since I have children around most of the time I might try the other recipe you posted without the caustic soda. Nicely written btw Rhonda, you make it look easy. Love the stamped images 9on the soap. Is that easy to do as the soap is still quite soft?

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  11. I agree with lisa, might be something I have to wait a little bit longer to try, but I'm definately interested in making soaps for our family, especially with my children's allergies. Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing all your experiences in frugality with your readers. You really are a wealth of much appreciated info.

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  12. I've never seen it explained so simply before! Thank you so much for doing this. I've bookmarked this for later. I'm not sure when I will be able to try making soap, but I definitely will!

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  13. thanks everyone. Remember I did earn my living as a technical writer for a long time - hence I wrote procedures to explain processes.

    Lisa, when the soap comes out of the mould, depending on the recipe you use, it will be solid but not fully set. You have to press the stamp in hard, but it's not difficult at all.

    Good luck with your soaps.

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  14. Hi Rhonda,

    I'd really like to make soap and to keep some for Christmas gifts. Thank you for the wonderful tutorial.

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  15. Great tutorial Rhonda. Your tech writing roots certainly show through. Just goes to show all those pesky screen shots were useful to users after all LOL.
    I couldn't find coconut oil at the supermarket - nearest I could come up with was Copha which has a bit of lecithin in it. Would this work, or should I be looking somewhere other than the oils aisle?
    Hmmm just had a brainwave as I was typing that - maybe the sunscreen aisle?

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  16. This takes me back. I used to be an avid soaper. But like you so rightly pointed out, you can't really do it when you have little ones around...so I haven't made soap for three years. It's a little like making your own bread...homemade is always better and healthier and cheaper than the shop bought stuff.

    Can I link to this?

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  17. Marg, you could use copha, just run the amounts through the soap calculator first. OR you can usually find cheap coconut oil at the asian grocery store, if you have one near by.

    Natalie, of course you can link to it. I hope you get back to your soaps when the children are a bit older.

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  18. I found your blog by way of Homespun Living. What great info on cold process soap! I am in the process of gathering supplies to make my first batch! Thanks for all of the wonderful information!

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  19. I visited from Homespun Living! I love your soap! It is so pretty with the rubber stamp on top. I'm a soap maker and will have to give that a try. Thanks for your great tutorial.

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  20. After waiting the 24 hours to cure, I unmolded the soap and it still smells like why. I think I did something wrong? help!

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  21. I have always wanted to do this. Thanks for sharing.

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  22. Hi! I came across your site while visiting Maggie's Creative Portal. That was a really neat post on how to make soap. I've always wanted to know how to make soap at home and you did such a great job explaining the process. I have looked for such explanations before but never found it. I will pass on this recipe and one day hopefully make my own soap.

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  23. Hi, I read your soap recipe and I believe I followed it "proportionally". I went to the store and I didn't bought as you wrote rice bran oil, I bought instead rice oil which I honestly don't know if they are the same. You mention adding 600 grams of rice bran oil which is 2.4 times more than the bottle I bought of rice oil, so based on this I calculated the formula ending up like this:
    Olive oil 169 grams
    Rice oil 220 grams
    Coconut oil 161 grams
    Caustic soda 84 grams
    Faucet water 238 mililiters
    My big concern here is that I never reached the trace stage even though I used a manual stick blender for about 40 minutes (crazy), so based on all of this here come my doubts:
    1) Is rice bran oil the same as rice oil?
    2) Is there a difference between rain water and faucet water?
    3) Is my formula wrong?
    4) Do you know why I never got to the trace stage?

    Thanks and regards

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  24. Hi, i am a bit confused by your comment "Now you need to have the oil at 50C and the lye at 50C. When they're the same temperature, carefully pour the lye water into the oils and avoid splashing it." Does this mean i have to put the Lye water on the stove to warm it up first? Will i need two thermometers for this?

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  25. For the anonymous who is having problems with coming to trace, take a look at this page http://www.thesage.com/calcs/lyecalc2.php
    I like to use that calculator when determining how much lye to use. Chances are you're not adding the lye and oils together at the right time, or you may not have enough water. (I did THAT one time, no trace, period the end!)
    What I generally do is pour the water into the lye and stir until the lye is dissolved. The lye WILL get hot. Before I do this step I have already measure out ALL my oils or fat and put them in a separate container. (I do NOT heat them to 50 degrees, but there are MANY ways to make soap too.) After the lye mixture has heated up and is cooling down some (ie: steam has pretty much evaporated and quit coming off of the solution) I ever so gently pour the lye/water mixture into my container of oils or fat. I then mix and mix, etc. You WILL come to trace, it just seems like the first time you make soap it takes FOREVER. As far as Rice Bran Oil and Rice oil, I did a search on both of them, and I didn't come across anything that said they were different. My thinking is it's just adding or leaving out the 'word' Bran.

    Also another comment I thought I'd give an answer for, just because I've done it! The tongue test on your soap to see if it is still lye heavy will NOT burn your tongue so to speak, however the feeling is that of touching your tongue to a 9 volt battery. You get a 'ZAP'. Then you know your soap is lye heavy. In my experience, I end up re-batching the soap instead of letting it dry further. But that is just my experience.
    For those of you who would like, I own and maintain a website called Old Fashioned Families, you can find it here: www.oldfashionedfamilies.com and we have some articles that have been posted by other Soap Makers in the forums. It might help you a bit. I know when I first started making soap I was SO cautious and made sure I read EVERYTHING I could get my hands on about the processes.
    Rhonda, I hope you don't find me intrusive, there were just some questions that I had had when I was making soap so I thought I'd suggest some things. :)

    Have a great day!

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  26. can i use distilled water like other recipes call for instead of rain water?

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  27. The lye and watyer heats up by itself. It doesn't need the stove.

    Not at all Audie, welcome!

    Bekah, distilled water is fine.

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  28. I'd really love to try this. Can I just ask a silly question - what do you use to grease the moulds?
    Thankyou,
    Mel

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  29. I had a go making the soap and when it came to trace the oil seem to separte. Can a dirty wooden spoon contaminate the lye water?

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  30. Rhonda, That was a great tutorial. Once the kids go back to school I'll give it a go.
    Donetta

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  31. This is really great! thanks! Question; have you ever made soap with goat milk?
    Sarah
    erleichda2@hotmail.com

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  32. great tutorial, i was just wondering whether there is any possibility of a printable version for the soap recipe and the bread making one as well. Thanks.

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  33. Thank you, so much, for providing this tutorial. I collected all my soap-making "things" many years ago. I've read thousands of websites and I still have never taken the plunge.

    I look forward to finally putting all my supplies to better use.

    I've so enjoyed your blog and all the inspiration I've been getting, as I dig myself back into a more frugal life. Thanks, again. ~Heidi, Summerville, SC

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  34. Hi! thanks for all the great soapmaking tutorial and tips. I tried my first-ever batch the other day and after I popped it out of the mould and tried to cut it, it was rock hard and didn't cut well (felt like I was cutting cocoa butter - it broke off in big chunks) any suggestions on why this happened? I used a different recipe and used the soap calc. (I put olive oil, cocoa butter and coconut oil in the soap). I live way up north in Canada and used melted snow since I didn't have distilled or rain water...maybe that affected it?
    can this be rebatched?
    Thanks!

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  35. I'm making a soap mold.. what is the best rubber to use???

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  36. HI WHAT SIZE BOWL IN QUARTS DO YOU USE ON YOUR KITCHENAID MIXER FOR THE SOAP RECIPE?? LOVE THE LOOK OF YOUR BARS!!! THANKS TONS! SANDY

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  37. Hi! I've made a few batches of soap now with your recipe (thankyou!!), but am having trouble with my latest batch. I think I must have gotten too impatient with reaching trace, and as a result, the soap hasn't set well. It just isn't drying out well enough to cut, even after about 18-20 hours. Do you know if you can melt it and mix it again to reach trace? It seems like such a huge waste to just write it off.

    Thanks! :o)

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  38. Hi, I was wondering if anyone knows what the measurements for the oils and lye are in milliliters so that I don't have to buy a scale? Thanks, Chris

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  39. This is really inspiring. Does anybody know if Sodium Hydroxide 70% will work same as 100%? Couldn't get any answer on that. Cannot find pure caustic soda here in Laos either.

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  40. I have one question. Not sure if I missed something or not. I see where you heat the oils to 50c. You say that the water/lye solution should also be 50c before you mix the two, correct? Does that mean you have to heat up the water/lye solution, too? I don't see where you did that.

    Thanks for the clarification. I really would love to do this but I need to make absolutely sure I understand the whole process before even attempting it.

    Thanks!

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  41. Hello from Iowa in the US! Caustic soda goes by the name of lye here, and it's been removed from the grocery store shelves. My husband found some online and we've made one batch (used it all up and gave some away) and are ready to make more. Love this soap!! Thanks for the great tutorial! Sue

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  42. What an awesome tute!

    I make soap with a friend of mine at her house. We meet at night when our kids are in bed. One night we made 3 batches, one right after the other. After they sat overnight I picked them up. Other times, she keeps them for most of the curing time because she has more space than I do (and much older kids).

    Amy

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  43. Ireally enjoy reading your blog. The soap making instructions are so easy to follow. I made my first batch and love it!
    I do have a question. When do you stamp the soap? I tried to stamp mine the next morning and it did not work.

    Thanks so much,

    Michelle

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  44. Hi, soo interesting..

    Can you tell me what it works out costing you for a bar of soap then??

    Thanks

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  45. Thanks so much for this tutorial! It has really helped me understand the steps much better!

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  46. When making goat milk soap, I measured the milk in volume (cup) rather than weight. Is this wrong?
    And, I froze the milk in cubes, and it didnt' seem to totally get hot enough to disolve all the lye. Never reached the 92degrees needed in recipe.
    SHould I use 1/2 raw milk and 1/2 frozen in the recipe?
    Suggestions?
    Nancy

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  47. Just found this post, Thank you! I think its one of the best on soap making I ve seen yet. I have everything I need but time right now. Will be getting this ready as soon as the gardens in !

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  48. Hi!

    Could I use sunflower oil / lard in place of rice bran oil? I can't seem to find it anywhere!

    Sarah

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  49. I followed this recipe to the letter, but I think my soap turned out lye-heavy. When I first tried to stamp the bars, they cracked and became crumbly. After curing for 3 weeks, the outsides are white (not just a light coating, but 1cm deep I think). The bars are brittle. I tried washing my hands with a bar and got a stinging red feeling.

    Does anyone have any advice about what to do differently next time?

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  50. Thank you so much for your instruction. I first read it a while back and I kept coming back to it, toying with the idea and researching.I read many other tutorials for couple of months but yours was the easiest to understand and follow.

    My first ever batch is now resting in its towel wrap. Thank you so much for your inspirational blog!

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  51. Thanks for this very precise recipe Rhonda.
    I work with Indigenous women in East Arnhem land and we are going to follow your recipe, and I have a few questions from the ladies.
    1. How can we add the natural soap leaves found in the bush to our soap?
    2. Because of the heat and humidity how should we store the soap to cure.

    Thanks from the senior healers of Arnhem Land.

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  52. Hello Healing. Please tell the aunties I'm very pleased they're using my recipe. I have found a link you might refer to for the addition of botanicals - the soap plant. http://www.soap-body-and-spa.com/herbs-and-botanicals.html

    As for curing the soap, I know how humid it can be up there - I used to work with one of the communities on Cape York. You'll have to play it by ear. Maybe wrap it in a towel and keep it in the coolist place available.

    Good luck and let me know how it goes.

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  53. This will come to you as a strange question. I am an artist and am working on a project that involves making soap bars with relief sculpture. What I was wondering, is if I could substitute castrole oil or some form of engine oil for the traditonal oils such as palm and if so which one might work the best?

    Further more, what material would be best for making a mold, I was think rubber. Lastly, I need the soap when it is in it liquid state and ready to pour to fall into the details of the mold. Do you have any tips for my pouring to be a success?

    Thank you.
    Sincerely
    James

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  54. Hi James, this site lists suitable oils for soap - castor oil is there. Rubber or silicone moulds are good.

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  55. The bowls, thermometer etc that are used to make soap - do they need to be dedicated to soap making? ie - will they be contaminated by this use, or would you be OK to wash the thermometer off and use it in jam as usual?

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  56. FINALLY made my soap! My first, try and I wanted white, plain, "soap-smelling" bars! I got a golden-colored bar so I quickly added some pulsed oatmeal and spices/fragrance and made an exfoliate layer, sort of a spiced "swirl" on top. Today I unmolded it and cut it into bars. I am very happy with the soap process, but sure wish I had those snowy white plain (AKA simple & beautiful which is my style!) bars that you have! :( I have FINALLY found the rice bran oil, though, for next time! I can't see my husband & 17-yr-old son using this spicy (cinnamon & clove) soap!

    Next I want to try the washing powder or liquid but what is "washing soda"? Where do you get it and what names does it come under? Thanks so much for your helpful blog. I will post my soap/pictures in my blog (probably tonight). Please take a peak but do not laugh!) :) I sure didn't get white.... (Due to the color of the Palm Kernel Oil which was the color the soap came out!

    http://allthingswonderful-viv.blogspot.com/

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  57. Dear,

    I am santosh from India. Thanks for the tutorial. I want to try the soap making. Please let me know the average ingredients required to make the some number of soaps. for example to make 50 soaps of 50 gms each how much oil, lye and flavouring agent is required.

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  58. Just wanted to say that I think its wonderful for you to share your soap making tutorial! I make my own soap as well and don't think I will be going back to the store bought brands for a while. Its wonderful to know exactly what is going onto your skin.
    and the loofah idea is great! I have never tried that before but I think I will now :)

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  59. Thanks for this very DETAILED tutorial.
    Homemade soap is SO much fun. I love it!

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  60. I have always wanted to make soap. I make my own laundry soap...but never tried bar soap. I, did, however, buy some this past fall...and it irritated my husbands and childrens skin...? I am almost leary to try and make any if my family can't use it! ;) Maybe whoever made the soap I bought used different ingredients? I am not sure. Thank you though, for this wonderful tutorial! :)

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  61. I surfed into this wonderful blog and am going to try the cold press soap. However, where do I get caustic soda?? I live in Arkansas in the United States. Eileene

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  62. This is a mighty impressive account of soap making, so natural!

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  63. I've just come across your blog and I really love it! I think it's great that there are people like you who are so generous with their knowledge. I'm now looking forward to trying out the soap making. Thanks a lot

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  64. Hi, Rhonda can I use goat milk or I have to use water to work.
    Thank you, Sam

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  65. HELP, Just made my first batch of soap and something went wrong. At first it was looking really good in the mixer and then all of a sudden it seemed to start seperating. It never got smooth and creamy again. I went ahead and poured it in molds but it doesn't look good....Can you think of what I might have done wrong....and can it be salvaged in any way??

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  66. Rhonda:
    I have found this recipe to start out with. Seems easy enough, but it says nothing about heating the oil. Is it necessary, or can i just wait for the lye to cool a bit and add it right to the non-heated oils. These oils don't call to be heated as it's just olive oil, already pourable.
    Please advise!
    Miranda
    http://www.soapnuts.com/indexcp.html

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  67. I have to try this! Caustic soda sounds scary though...

    Stephanie :)
    www.simplicitymom.blogspot.com

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  68. If any one is looking for a great place to find materials, oils, fragrances, soap molds, Majestic Mountain Sage is a great resource! They have great product, and wonderful customer service. There is also a lye calculator a fragrance calculator and even a measurement converter! They are awesome!

    www.thesage.com

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  69. Hi Rhonda
    I am interested in making my own soap, but am wondering what you use it for as I am interested in removing detergents from my household and replacing with soap, but am unsure if your recipe is suitable for this. For example I would like to use it in place of shampoo and conditioner, for rubbing on stains on clothes, for doing dishes etc?? Can you enlighten me a little further please?
    Kind Regards
    Jane

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  70. Hi
    I have been making soap with the melt and pour, but after reading your clear instructions, decided to have a go. Loved that there was no palm oil in it. Everything seemed to go well, but it has turned out powdery and some has fallen apart. I used silicone molds and it came to trace easily. Can you tell me what I might have done wrong? I would like to try again, but don't want the same problem. I did measure very carefully.

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  71. Hi again

    One failure and one success!! I have tried again, with the only difference being that I used distilled water this time and tank water the first time. I now have lovely honey coloured soaps curing.

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  72. Hi Rhonda,

    I've been researching soapmaking online, and your tutorial was by far the most informative and easy to follow. I'll be giving soapmaking a go I think!! :)

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  73. Hi

    At what stage can one ad fresh herbs, lavender leaves etc to the soap mixture?
    Pity about having to use caustic soda - it just doesnt soun d right even though it disapates.
    Thanks

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  74. Greetings..

    Love the tutorial..just wondering if including fragrant oils to this quantity how much would one use?

    Also..the technique of heating the lye up to 50C was a little lost on me. I gather the lye heats up itself and I imagine it would almost be instantaneous.

    Is the process to heat the oils up to 50C first..then the lye so as one can use the same thermometer?

    Cheers..Daniela

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  75. Daniela, the oil and lye have to be at the same temperature when you mix them. The lye heats up itself and you wait for that to cool down - so do that first, then you heat up the oils. You can use the same thermometer.

    I never use fragrant oils so I can't advise you. I only know they go in at trace and you need a fair amount.

    I hope it turns out well for you.

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  76. Dear Rhonda Jean I am hoping you can help me. I have been make your lovely soap for the last couple of years. I've got my girlfriends doing it also. We love it and I use it as shampoo also as it suits my hair type.
    We are having a soap making session on tuesday. Being a good little thrifty I remembered seeing your writing about using copha instead of coconut oil in one of your blogs. I have 2 blocks of copha left over from doing white xmas lollies in December. But for the life of me I cannot find that blog about using copha. Would you please help me and point me in the right direction for the copha/soap blog. Thank you.

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  77. Anon, here it is:
    http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com/2010/09/soap-new-recipe.html

    Enjoy your soap making on Tuesday. I'll be teaching my Frugal Home Workshop then and talking about this recipe.

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  78. Nicole from HamptonMay 30, 2011 8:14 am

    Thanks so much Rhonda for taking the time to share all of this information with the public.

    Yesterday I made my very first batch of soap using your Recipe (above) and a little help from my husband.

    The mixture took less than 2 minutes to get to "trace" using my stick blender so I was quite concerned that things were not going to work out. I used Copha instead of Coconut Oil, so am wondering whether this made a difference.

    This morning I turned the soap out of the mould and cut in to use-size pieces, and the cutting was very easy to do, with the soap holding its shape.

    Now that soap bars are sitting out on racks, where they shall remain for around 4 weeks. (My concern is keeping the dust off them, so I think I'm going to cover with a tea towel.) Maybe putting them in to a cupboard would solve this issue.

    I have to say that I'm thrilled! I even got little bubbles from the knife when I was washing it after cutting the soap this morning!

    Thanks so much again.

    Warm regards, Nicole.

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  79. just waiting for the lye mix to cool. I noticed that I have posted in the original comments and it has taken me 4, yes you read that right! 4 years to actually do this. Oh my no wonder it takes me so long to do anything, I procrastinate for years. LOL

    cheers Kate (Lenny)

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  80. I made my first batch of soap yesterday and I am absolutely thrilled with it. Now all I have to do is be patient and wait for it to cure.
    Thankyou for the great recipe & instructions.

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  81. Live in small coastal town in Australia. I understand "how to make the soap" BUT have a big problem trying to buy a stainless steel pot, believe it or not. They are all non-stick which I hate. Can't use the big enamel pot as hubby cooks his mudcrabs in that.

    Can I use aluminium(if I spelt that right) or I have a saucepan that is stainless steel but I do cook in it so would the soap taste ever come out. I think not.
    Great webpage on soap making I have seen so far as I have researched. Good on ya!
    Theresa.

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  82. You can't use aluminium with caustic soda, Theresa. Use your stainless steel saucepan. Steel doesn't absorb anything and after a good clean, it will be ready for cooking again. I've been using my cooking saucepans for as long as I've been making soap.

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  83. Stumbled across this blog -- great info and great living sense :) i am now a Happy Follower! Thanks!!

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  84. That soap looks great, Rhonda - thanks for posting how to make it. I want to make some, but what are the dimensions of your mould, please? I don't want to make a batch, then realise I don't have enough mould space for it all! ;o)

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  85. Theresa from YeppoonOctober 19, 2011 5:20 pm

    Theresa from Australia here again,
    I feel a bit of a fool as I just read you live down the coast. Oh, well that's life.
    I had one successful batch making soap with solid vegetable oil and the rest of your engredients.
    The first problem I have is I used copha and it wouldn't set for a week so I have piled into a bowl awaiting advice. Never seemed to come to a trace quickly-2 hours actually. What do I do with it??
    2nd. Today-my birthday- Got a stickmaster, everything going very well but I left it in the saucepan and a volcana began so I quickly rescued what I could. Too hot, the saucepan held the heat. It is now outside in the gale force winds, and I have rubbed it into some moulds so it didn't burn my hands so it is now terrible looking soap. Leave it and proceed to dry or do something else with it.
    I have become rather addicted to soap making and I was wondering where you get your supplies? Or no advertising, allowed. Who to trust. I just want to make some for xmas presents, that's all.
    I would love to live on acreage like you and we had plans to move from Yeppoon south to be closer to older relatives but my daughter is expecting twins and after xmas will have to stay here with me as both our husbands work at the mines.
    My husband worked for QR National for 43 years as a foreman and in 2008, 14 men in Rockhampton were asked to take redundancy so, after that many years of shift work round the clock, it was hard to adjust and he had no skills outside the rail, so a steep learning curve.
    Better stop, love your life style. Where do you get loofahs?
    Hope you have some answers for me
    Thanks
    Theresa from Yeppoon, Qld

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  86. thank you for this info...how can i tell when my water and my lye have reached 50C...i realize i will need two thermometers, but am i adding the lye to the distilled h20 in the jug??? i know i'm dense...sorry, thanks for your answer...

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  87. Theresa from Yeppoon, QldDecember 05, 2011 9:36 pm

    My first batch turned out really well and is now ready to use. My husband, daughter and 15year teenager grand-daughter think it is very moisterising and tool spme home with them.
    It has been a learning curve from then because I started experimenting with essential oils and colours. Alas, failures five times now but I am going to make coloured soap until I run out of the oils I bought. Got enough already to last us for a year.Leave you to the good job you have done with the website.
    Thanks Rhonda

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  88. I saw your article in the Womans Weekly and made a batch of soap according to your recipe. It has been drying for 2 weeks but it is still soft to touch, perhaps like fudge. (It was 1000ml olive oil and 250 copha/coconut oil)Will it harden if I leave it longer or did I do something wrong and should I try remaking it so I dont waste all the ingredients?
    Many thanks and great to know about your blog.
    Fiona

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  89. Fiona, I've had the same thing happen to my soap. The higher grade oils take longer to cure. I just leave mine to harden and then use them as usual. It's better to use cheaper oils in soap.

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  90. Thank you Rhonda the pictures will be very helpful when I come to make my first soap batch.

    Have you estimated how much it costs you to make a batch and thus how much you are saving by making your own soap?

    Thanks
    Sarah

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  91. Hello, I've been reading your blog for a while now, and just found this post! I am very excited to give this a go. I am curious though, the link you provide to the Snow Drift Farms calculator doesn't appear to be working anymore. I tried googling them, but all I have found is other people talking about using their calculator. Any ideas on what I may be doing wrong? Thank you so much!

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  92. Lori, here's another calculator to try:

    http://brambleberry.com/pages/lye-calculator.aspx

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  93. Hello, i have a book called Natural Soapmaking by Marie Browning and some of her recipes asks for 1 cup grated vegetable soap, while others require grated beauty bars. i was wondering if i can replace the beauty bar with this vegetable soap and add other scented oils and ingredients (like powdered skim milk, shea/coco butter) to it. thank you :D

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  94. Brilliant instructions :) Have bookmarked this page and can't wait to give it a go this holidays... DO you mind if I post the results of my attempt on my blog?

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  95. Thanks for this tutorial! Now a question: To make the most inexpensive type of soap, would it be OK to simply use one oil, like Canola, for example, instead of the higher priced ones. Getting clean is the goal - and it seems like it might work.

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