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Homemade Lye Soap
can make your own lye soap at home; it’s really
not hard to do. Soap is what you get, when you combine fat
with some sort of caustic agent, using water as your catalyst.
You won’t need anything exotic to make your own soap;
most of the ingredients you need may be as close as your grocery
What will you need? For a basic soap, you only need
water, lye, and some kind of fat and oil. For a more luxurious
soap, you might want to add coloring dyes and scenting
oils. You probably have water as close as your kitchen
tap; some people prefer to use rainwater or distilled water
in their soap.
What is lye, anywhy? Its chemical name is sodium
hydroxide; it’s a very strong base, so when you
handle it. Make sure that you read the directions on the package
of lye carefully, and following them scrupulously. When making
soap, you might want to reference a lye calculator
that way you know exactly how much lye is suppose to go into
your soap; it depends on the kind of oil or fat you plan to
The first step is to dissolve the lye in the water.
Never pour the water into the lye; instead, pour the lye into
the water. If half your water is ice, that’s even better.
Stir the lye to dissolve it; and as you stir, watch for the
reaction that will take place. The lye can every start the
water boiling, and if this happens, stop stirring until the
bubbling stops. Then let the lye water cool down to room temperature.
So what about the oil? Just about any fat or oil can be used
to make soap, from plant oils and hydrogenated fats to animal
fats. If you chose to use an animal fat, make sure
it’ is clean, not rancid, has no salt, and is free of
solid particles. The advantage of animal fats (like tallow
or lard) is that they’ll give you a denser soap. Plant
oils such as coconut oils will give a rich lather;
and olive oil soap
will yield fine, silky bubbles that are soothing to the skin.
Saponification is the technical name for the chemical
process between lye and fat. It may take more or less time
to trace, but when it does and your batch starts to
thicken, that’s the time to add coloring and perfume
oils. Pour the traced soap into molds, and let it harden.
It will have to ‘cure’ for one to three days,
and then dry a bit longer before you can enjoy it.
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