MAKE YOUR OWN fragrant soap
Making your own soap at home is fun and easy, plus it gives you complete control over the ingredients.
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.
STEP – BY– STEP