Our homemade bars are silky, scent-free, and fantastic for the skin– I use it on my face and it’s been the first product to leave me with clear skin, even among fancy, expensive cleansers.
The formula and process are simple, though precision of method, measurements and temperature are essential with any soap-making. Oatmeal or scented oils could be easily added at the end of the process; I just love the plain kind too much to mess with it.
Within the next year I hope to be using homemade lye and tallow in the process as well– keep an eye out for those projects.
Homemade Bar Soap
All measurements are by weight; you will need a digital scale. Lye is a dangerous, reactive substance, so the utmost care must be taken for the duration of its handling. Work over newspaper in a well-ventilated area. Keep a set of soap-making pots and utensils, along with dish-washing gloves, apart from those used for cooking.
32 oz cold water
12 oz lye
24 oz olive oil
24 oz coconut oil
38 oz lard
Measure the water into a medium stainless steel pot or vessel. Slowly add the lye, stirring gently with a wooden spoon. The chemical reaction will cause the temperature to shoot up and fumes will likely rise off the mixture, so use extreme caution. We prefer to set this pot outside in a safe place to speed the cooling process and avoid the fumes.
In a large stainless steel pot, add the fats over low heat. Stir occasionally to combine well and check the temperature regularly. When it reaches between 95 and 105 degrees fahrenheit, remove it from the heat. Maintain the temperature until the lye has cooled to the same temperature.
When the lye mixture and fat mixture are within a degree or so of the same temperature, between 95 and 105 degrees, slowly pour the lye solution into the fat. Stir constantly with the wooden spoon until the product begins to thicken a bit and begins to trace, which means the spoon leaves a faint trail; this can be exceedingly subtle, and the stirring may take 45 minutes or more.
When you achieve trace, pour the mixture into molds or a broad dish or loaf pan. We use silicone molds. Cover the soap with a generous heap of towels or blankets for insulation. Resist checking for at least 24 hours.
After 24 hours, check to see if the soap is setting up and growing firm. If it’s still soft, leave covered for another day. If you have used a slab-style container rather than individual-bar molds, remove the soap when it is firm enough to hold its shape but soft enough to cut into desired bars without cracking and crumbling. Set bars out on a rack or stack of newspaper, overturning each bar weekly, to cure for at least 4 weeks.