MAKE YOUR OWN fra­grant soap

Mak­ing your own soap at home is fun and easy, plus it gives you com­plete con­trol over the in­gre­di­ents.

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Sim­ple soap can be made with just three in­gre­di­ents: fat (like palm short­en­ing, tal­low or olive oil), lye (sodium hy­drox­ide) and wa­ter. Lye can be dan­ger­ous, how­ever, so safety pre­cau­tions must be taken.

Lye should be added to cold wa­ter only. Adding it to warm wa­ter can cause tem­per­a­tures to sky­rocket. Com­bin­ing the two also cre­ates fumes, which should not be in­haled. Wear gloves, gog­gles and long sleeves when us­ing lye, and make sure there is good air ven­ti­la­tion.


• 450g palm short­en­ing • 450g co­conut oil • 450ml ex­tra vir­gin olive oil • 200g sodium hy­drox­ide • 450ml wa­ter • zest and juice of 2 lemons • 50ml es­sen­tial oil of your choice (le­mon or lemon­grass is ideal) • rub­ber gloves • safety glasses • stain­less steel pot • plas­tic mould • spat­ula • ther­mome­ter • bak­ing pa­per (to line mould)


1. Melt the palm short­en­ing, olive and co­conut oils in a large pot. Set aside to cool to 40°C.

2. Make sure there is plenty of ven­ti­la­tion. Add the sodium hy­drox­ide to cold wa­ter (NOT the other way around) and stir. Do not breathe the fumes. Set aside to cool to 40°C (about 45 min­utes).

3. Add the sodium hy­drox­ide mix to the oils. Stir un­til it reaches a por­ridge-like con­sis­tency. Add the es­sen­tial oil and le­mon zest and juice. Pour into your mould.

4. Wrap the plas­tic mould in a towel to keep warm. After 24 hours, cut the soap into bars. Dry on a rack for 3 weeks be­fore us­ing or wrap­ping as gifts for friends and fam­ily.

Never add wa­ter to lye – do it the other way round, adding lye to wa­ter. If you add wa­ter to lye, the lye may ex­pand, or erupt, out of the con­tainer.

If you get lye on your skin, flush it im­me­di­ately un­der cold wa­ter for at least 15 min­utes. Cover with emol­lient, then seek med­i­cal at­ten­tion.

While these warn­ings may sound scary, if used care­fully lye is fine. And in the fi­nal prod­uct, no lye is left. When lye comes into con­tact with oils, a chem­i­cal re­ac­tion oc­curs that changes both sub­stances.


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