I was encouraged by a friend to try my hand at soap making. I was very doubtful about her assessment: "It's really easy!" I went to read about it on Rhonda's excellent blog and decided to try. I followed Rhonda's instructions for the olive soap. The result was OK, although not excellent. The fail is not necessary in the instructions, I had a very inaccurate set of scales that might have more than anything to do with the result.
By then I was determined to make some soap I liked and borrowed a book the local library. I cannot even remember the title, but honestly, any book on the subject would do and the net is heaving both with recipes and instructional videos. The most important bit of the making is to get the proportion of lye and oil right. There are a number of good lye calculators on the net and I use this one.
I am not entirely sure if I should confess what I did next...my Hubbie had been making chips and afterwards wondered about the waste of the oil. (Of health reasons we won't re-use). He then aired the thought of filtering the oil and using it in soap making. I must say that this soap was purely meant to be for cleaning and the oil had only fried potatoes, nothing else and it really did not have bits in it when it went into the pot. As the other ingredient, lye, is not expensive I decided to try. I think I added a smidgen of coconut oil, just to add some lather. You know what? It worked. We have been using this soap quite happily. Even my sister was gifted some and really liked it. Although I did not reveal the story before she had used it...I did not want to gross her out.
I did make a batch of soap for Christmas presents. If you received some you can be safe to use it without looking for potato bits, I used oils directly from the bottles! This time I wanted to make it a bit special and extracted some goodness out of Calendula petals into sunflower oil on my windowsill for some weeks. I then used the oil in the making of the soap. There was also a bit of coconut oil and some dried Calendula petals added and some lavender oil for scent. This soap is very good for anybody with dry skin.
In general the home made soap, like the posh hand made ones from the health food shops, are far superior to the industrially made ones. It is such a delight to use it. Because all the ingredients of the nice oils are left in the soap, it is not as harsh for your skin. I understand that in the industrial process glycerin is extracted first as it is more valuable to sell as an ingredient to the cosmetic industry. It is actually quite an eye opener to look at the ingredients list of even a good soap from the supermarket shelves. Something which should have very simple ingredients has suddenly an arm long list. I leave you to draw the conclusions. I can wholeheartedly recommend making your own soap, it is really easy! (Just the common warning, do not attempt while you are having small children or pets around).
Wanting the present would fill somewhat more I also gifted a facecloth with all of my soaps. They were made as described here.
I did produce more than the pictured ones, just did not take photos of them all.
I have reports from my giftees (not a word, I know) that they love the soap to that degree that they would like to receive more when they have used up their lot. Hmm...I think I'll send the recipe.
My soap recipe for my Christmas Soap:
1000gr sunflower oil
250 gr coconut oil
172 gr lye
Some of the sunflower oil was infused with Calendula. I added maybe 5ml of lavender oil and the Calendula petals when the soap had reached trace.If you really want to scent your soap, prepare to use considerable amounts of essential oils. This also explains, why only certain oils are used; you better use something with distinctive and strong scent and at the same time it needs to be one of the affordable oils. In our household we honestly prefer unscented cosmetics and detergents.
I won't write how to make the soap as the process has been described so many times...you could start at Rhonda's blog, it has the recipe/process button in the side bar.