Home-made soap recipe for basic soap.
Makes 4 bars.
4 cups of lard or olive oil, or a mix of these
2 cups of purified (distilled) water
5 tablespoons of caustic soda crystals
Prepare the caustic soda solution by pouring the water into a large glass bowl and adding the caustic soda, stirring it with a wooden spoon until it dissolves. It does not need to be heated as a great deal of heat is generated by the soda alone. Test it with a thermometer – it will be ready to use when it has cooled to around 32º C (90º F). While the caustic soda is cooling, melt the lard in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and cool to the same temperature as the caustic soda. With the lard off the heat, add the caustic soda very, very slowly. Stir with a wooden spoon. The first sign that the reaction is taking place is that the lard turns pink as its chemical mixture is broken down, then will gradually turn white. Stir slowly all the time, for about 30 minutes, taking occasional breaks. When the mixture resembles a thick custard, pour into the moulds. Perfume, colour and oils need to be added after the soap has thickened, but before pouring it into the moulds. Stir them in well to ensure they are evenly mixed. Cover the moulds with a towel to stop them drying too fast, and keep in a warm dry place such as the airing cupboard. They will take at least two weeks to set, longer with added ingredients.
Any of the following ingredients can be added for perfume, colour or moisturising effects:
Perfume oils. Add a few drops of any oil of your choice, geranium, camomile, jasmine, lavender, verbena, orange blossom and sandalwood all smell delicious.
Colour. Use just a couple of drops of food colourings to make your soap look more attractive. Pink and green look effective. For yellow use an infusion of saffron, made by putting a teaspoon of saffron in a cup of boiling purified water. Leave to stand for 2 days, and then use a few drops.
Fruits and grains can add texture and moisture. Add 2 tablespoons of mashed avocado, cucumber, strawberry, honey, ground almonds, soaked oatmeal or bran.
Glycerine. Add two tablespoons of glycerine at the start of the thickening process for an extra silky, gentle soap.
Making soap with castile soap flakes. You can bypass the caustic soda stage of soap making by using ready-made simple, unperfumed soap. Use plain soap flakes or grate down bars of white soap, then add the herb of your choice – yarrow, parsley, fennel, honeysuckle and rosemary are all particularly good herbs to use.