DIY – Adventures in soap making!

Back in October I ended up buying an industrial sized drum of 35% peroxide and a 25kg bag of Lye from a guy off Kijiji. He was using it for woodworking (so he says, but who knows, maybe he was making drugs :-o) Anyway, so I ended up paying something like $35 bucks or something for them. The peroxide was for work but the lye… I had no idea what to do with the lye but I took it home anyway.

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I did some googling and quickly figured out a basic soap recipe and made a batch of basic soap with four different oils. (Castor/Olive/Semolina/Coconut) I’ll save rehashing soap recipes, there are already lots of websites out there that will tell you HOW to make soap. Just pick something you like, be careful and start your chemistry lab. It’s fun! (Also use this: Soapcalc)

I don’t know why I keep seeing all these blogs and comments of women that say it took them months to stop being scared of lye or are still terrified to work with it… maybe it’s because I’m used to handling chemicals, lye is NOT scary. Just be careful and jump right in.

I used a cute silicone heartshaped ice cube mold that I already had on hand to set the soap in. it turned out pretty cool so I made a second batch that week of larger soaps to wash the dog with.

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They’re nothing special, just a very basic olive oil soap to which I added some Tea Tree and peppermint essential oil. I tried to unmold them too quick after about 24 hours so I totally botched a few bars, they needed to sit for a few days to be hard enough to unmold. They ended up quite soft and have been curing on the shelf in my basement until now.

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They’ve turned a much darker colour and are very hard now and ready for use. In fact I used a whole bar on my dog after this happened:

IMG_4861f089a79b5626c831d0932e8f27ebDog sees beach after 4 months of no beach -> dives right in -> gets out of water and rolls his non-wet half in stinky mud. He had to be hosed down in the tub and scrubbed, I used up a full bar of soap to get his fur thoroughly shampoo’d and cleaned up. He smells clean again now though! Or rather, he just smells like his earthy, sandalwoody-pleasant dog-self again. And no itch, the soap was superfatted to be very rich – you can read what that is right here –  and contains no dye, no artificial anything, it’s very gentle.

So, having actual days off these days means my creative side comes out more. When I don’t have time to breathe and just putter around the house I just don’t have the energy or ideas to work on little projects. Late last fall I decided to start taking a regular schedule and work more regular hours with scheduled days off and it’s working out so nicely! Among all the other healthful changes I have made in my life in the past year already, I am finding more time to come up with ideas! ANYWAY, this past weekend I made another batch of soaps! I started with a simple olive oil and coconut superfatted 19% base (about 60% coconut, 40% olive oil) (yes that’s a lot, but it’s my chem lab and I’ll do what I want)

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Lye is kind of fun to play with, it reacts when you add distilled water and heats up very rapidly. I just do it in the sink with the window and door open to create good airflow and gloves on. I’ve only made small batches with about 250 grams of oil, so I’m not working with a lot of lye here.

I grabbed these cute little icecube molds from Dollarama, they have sillicone pushout bottoms making it easier to get the soaps out and I figured they are the perfect small size to make trial batch of single/a few time use mini bars. There was no actual recipe that I followed for the process after creating the soap base. I did some rough research, added salt to make some into scrub bars and added essential oils, cinnamon, honey into others to make something else.

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Look how super cute these little scrub bars are! I made four types of mini-soaps which if you follow me on instagram you’ve already seen me spam about 🙂 I made a Frosted Cranberry body scrub bar, Cinnamon, Honey & Vanilla body scrub bar, ‪‎Peppermint ‎Vanilla ‬body scrub bar and ‪a few Ylang‬ Ylang & Tea tree face bars.

So far nobody likes the Ylang Ylang :-(, I personally do think it smells a bit like old lady but… I have a small bottle of DoTerra Ylang Ylang essential oil so I figured I’d try to do something with it. I love the peppermint vanilla scent and I’ll be trying out the cinnamon scrub bar in the shower tonight.

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These hardened up much faster than my first two batches of soap due to the high coconut oil content. They were too soft after 4 hours but I was able to unmold them easily and without damage after 24 hours. I decided to wrap them up after 72 hours, they are hardening quite nicely! Right now they have the feel of a Dove bar, I suspect they will get harder over the coming weeks.

I made my own cigar band wrappers with scrapbooking leftovers I used to make my new planner a few months ago, I glued them shut and lined them all up on a plastic tray to place downstairs to cure for a few more weeks before I give them away (and ship a few off to other places)

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They look like truffles and they do smell delicious but they are definitely not edible!

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Aren’t they adorable? I tried out the Cinnamon scrub bar this evening and the lather is great, again very similar to a Dove bar. Unlike my other bars which go quite soft when wet these stay nice and hard, lather well and dont leave my hands feeling dried out at all. I am so happy with how this turned out. They’re awesome!

I will be modifying this recipe further this week. I’m looking for more scent and soap ideas. My next batch will likely be a chunk of castile soap but I’m thinking of how to make a good grease-fighting handscrub soap with added salt or sand or oatmeal something to be abrasive for cleaning hands covered in oil from working in the garage. Any ideas? Ever make soap? It’s so much fun!

Published by Renée

I write about my life, travel and my financial up and downs on my blog, Nickel By Nickel, while contradicting myself daily. ;)

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