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HOW TO: Make your own natural soaps at home
In the first part of our four-part series, we show you how to make all-natural hand and body soap. You will learn the step by step soap making process using the cold-pressed method and in no time at all, you’ll become a pro! No parabens, no petrochemicals and no sodium laurel sulphate (SLS)!
1. ¾ cup of spring water or distilled water
2. 2/3 cup coconut oil (Use Organic Coconut Oil by Crede available from Feelgood Health, call 021 797 0193 to order)
3. 2/3 cup organic cold pressed olive oil
4. ¼ cup lye also called caustic soda/sodium hydroxide
Choose equipment that you won’t use during cooking. Avoid using plastic as it may melt and don’t use aluminium or copper because it will react with the lye
Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
1. Stainless steel, glass or enamel mixing bowl
2. Stainless steel saucepan
3. Steel or silicone spoon
4. Soap moulds or silicone baking pan
7. Jug to hold the oils or water
9. Essential oils of your choice (see our recommendations below for some lovely blends)
A little bit about the cold-pressed process
The easiest and probably the most basic form of making soap is using the cold-pressed method. This method doesn’t use any heat except when it is needed to melt the oils.
What you need to know about lye
Newbies to soapmaking need to take note here. When working with lye, make sure that you are wearing protective gloves, mask and eye protection. Lye is caustic and burns if spilt on your skin. If you mix lye with water, it will heat up and fume even if it’s not on the stove. NEVER ADD WATER TO LYE, ALWAYS ADD LYE TO WATER.
Any spills or splashes on the floor or surfaces will also burn and cause a hole. Avoid using it around small children and animals, and make sure that you are in a well ventilated room.
Start off by covering your work surface with newspaper. Put on your gloves and protective gear. Have all your ingredients and equipment ready on your work surface. Measure and weigh all the ingredients accurately. Once you’ve weighed the oils, pour them into a saucepan and place on a low heat – 50 degrees Celsius (122F). Measure your water into the jug. Now measure the lye into a bowl. Pour the lye carefully into the water. Stir gently while standing back to avoid the fumes.
Check the temperature of your oils and lye, you need to have them both at 50 degrees Celsius (122F). When they have both cooled down to 50C, you can add the lye carefully into the oils. Stir using a spoon for about 10 to 20 minutes or use a stick blender for about 5 to 10 minutes.
Blend on the lowest setting. The mixture will lighten in colour and thicken – looking like vanilla pudding. There will also be slight ripples on the surface of the mixture but it will remain smooth. When it reaches this consistency, it’s at “trace”. Trace basically means that the soap is now stable and is ready to be poured in to the mould.
At this point, you can also add essential oils or herbs to the mixture, and then stir thoroughly. Adding essential oils to your soap adds a wonderful therapeutic dimension. Have a look at our recommended blends below.
Pour the mixture into a greased mould using cooking spray. Cover it with plastic wrap and wrap in a towel to cool down. Leave your soap for about 15 hours and then check on it. Once the soap is cold and firm, turn it out on parchment paper or a baking rack. Cut into blocks or bars. Place your soaps on a drying rack and allow to dry for 4 to 6 weeks – the drier they are, the longer they’ll keep.
Place in a beautiful glass jar or decorative tin or tie a pretty ribbon around a few blocks of soap and voila, you have the perfect gift to give! You can also add some Feelgood Health aromatherapy products, lie back and relax!
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