Homemade Lye Soap

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If you have never made your own soap, you may think it’s a really complicated process. I know that’s what I thought. I was afraid of the lye, didn’t understand how easy it was to be creative, and felt like I was learning chemistry. Then a friend showed me how she makes it, and after some alterations to make the recipe my own, I came up with this simple soap. We now make a lot of different kinds of soaps here on the farm, but this always has been our go-to recipe. We have used it around here for years, and it’s always fun trying new scents and additives. The trick to soap making? Just get started and don’t be afraid!

Simple Soap from One Ash Farm Recipes

2 cups liquid ~ this can be things like chamomile tea, pureed cucumbers mixed with some water or green tea, or goat milk
6 ounces food grade lye ~ weigh this out on your digital scale
8 ounces olive oil
16 ounces coconut oil
1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) shortening (yes, the kind you cook with)
Essential oils or soap fragrance oil
Any other additives (cornmeal, dried herbs, oatmeal, etc.)

– Combine the liquid and the lye and stir until mixed. Make sure you are pouring the lye into the liquid, not the other way around! The mixture will begin to get hot from the chemical reaction with the lye. Be sure to wear your apron and protective goggles. And don’t splash!

– Slowly add the oils to the liquid/lye mixture, and, using your stick blender, mix thoroughly until saponification occurs. (This is when the mixture begins to thicken and you can see a trace, or trail, through the soap.) Saponification is the chemical process that creates a hard soap and neutralizes the caustic effects of the lye.

– Quickly add your essential oils (generally 2 to 3 ounces for this amount of soap) or soap fragrance, and any additives. Make sure they are well-blended using your stick blender. Do not over mix, and don’t let the soap harden.

– Pour the completed mixture into your pre-greased soap mold.

– Now you can design the top of your soap bars. Smooth the mixture, or give it some peaks like when you ice a cake. You can also lightly press in some dried herbs like lavender or rosemary.

– Once the mixture is firm enough (generally 24 to 48 hours), turn your mold upside down onto a parchment or wax paper covered surface. If needed, use a knife or other tool to cut the soap into the size.

– Leave the soap to harden for about 2 weeks, rotating occasionally so it dries all around.

– After it has dried, you will have your own beautiful bars of soap to give or enjoy!

Have fun making your own soap!

Turn to Part 1 for “The Benefits of Soap Making.”

Turn to Part 2 for “The Equipment Needed for Soap Making.”