Saturday, November 16, 2013

Our Adventures in Making Soap

I have been wanting to make soap for a long time however because of the chemical process involved I have found it to be a little intimating.  Back in May I ordered a soap making kit so I didn't have to go and source lots of products and I thought this would be a good introduction.  I purchased the kit through "City Chicks" however you can also buy them directly from "Green Living Australia" where the kit comes from.

The only ingredients I had to purchase was the Olive Oil, Distilled Water and the Caustic Soda (Sodium Hydroxide).  These items were purchased from Woolworths and I used "Demineralized Water" as that's what Woollies had.  While I was shopping I rang Green Living Australia before I purchased it.  The Demineralized Water and the Caustic Soda were both in the cleaning isle and even though I had gone up and down the isle twice I couldn't find the Caustic Soda and had to ask the staff to help me and we eventually found it.  

My friend Karin came over so we could make the soap together for the first time and apart from a coffee and a good chat it was time to get started.  We first had a quick read through all the instructions from start to finish.  Then we had a quick read of Rhonda's Soap Making Post and also Jacqui from A Dusty Country Road as she also has attempted soap making after reading Rhonda's blog.

I put an old towel down on the kitchen bench and one on the table outside where we were going to mix the Water and Caustic Soda. We then carefully weighed and measured all the ingredients and once that was done and the equipment ready we got down to business.

Mixing the oils together on the stove.

The Water and the Caustic Soda were mixed outside wearing gloves and masks and this was in the kitchen sink getting it to cool down to temperature in a sink of water.  It had to be between 34 and 38 degrees C.

Once the same temperature was reached for both I mixed the Caustic Soda Solution into the Oils.

We then put the mixmaster on and let it start mixing the two together in order to reach trace.  It took way longer than the anticipated 15-20 minutes to reach trace and it took our soap well over an hour at which stage we were satisfied that we had done it correctly.  I'm going to get a 2nd therometer as we were using one between two pots so this might fix the problem of our trace however both pots were between 34 and 38 degrees when we mixed them.

We sprayed a few moulds at the beginning of the process as I didn't know how much soap it would make and we needed to be ready with the moulds.  In the end we decided to use the bar tin and it was perfect.

We covered this tray with a breadboard and then wrapped up our baby for 24 hrs.

Proud of our little bundle of joy!!

This was 24 hours later and it was ready to turn out.

James had a go at cutting some soap and I was getting my camera on the correct settings so he could take a picture of me doing the same.

Excitement plus with the first bar of home made soap being cut up.

I cut the last few bars in half to make some smaller soaps.

Rhonda mentioned she stamps her soap....I had a few scrapping stamps and this little leaf one was about the only one that made an impression.

I had to try and find a plastic wire container for the soap to cure in for 6 weeks and came up with this little item from underneath my kitchen sink.  It's been a pretty useless item in my opinion so using it for the soap drying gave it a new purpose.

The soap smells absolutely beautiful and I used "Rose Geranium" and I can't wait to try it out in 6 weeks time.  I'm so pleased I finally booked a time in my diary with Karin and we made it together.  After we finished making it we had to go to school pick up and all the way driving to school I had a big smile on my face because it made me so happy to think that this one little task I had wanted to try was finally achieved.

I have talked about "Happiness" before "in this post" and I would have to say that I would add making soap to the things that make me happy.  I know I put this off for a long time because it sounded scary but with the correct equipment, kids at school and taking care with the Caustic Soda mix it is quite safe.  Also just a thing to remember and this is highlighted in my Soap Making Instructions.  When you are mixing the Caustic Soda and Distilled/ Demineralised Water together IT MUST BE "Add your Caustic Soda to the Water.  DO NOT ADD the Water to the Caustic Soda for safety reasons because the chemical reaction can cause significant heat production, fizzing and splattering.  So just remember have your jug of water and slowly add a bit at a time of Caustic Soda to the water and mix it as you go.  Just do this slowly.

Like any new skill, the first time takes longer and seems more daunting however now we have made soap once we now have the confidence to do it again now we have done the process.

Here's Rhonda's soap making post and I also found this as well.  Check out this amazing Australian Soap Blog with "Simply Soap".

If you haven't tried making soap yet definitely put that on your happiness project.  Now comes the waiting game of 6 weeks before we can use it.  Totally loved making soap.


  1. Hi Kathy! Good on you and Karin for making the soap. It wasn't so difficult, was it? It looks like a good batch too. I guess some of your friends will be getting soap for Christmas. :- ) Well done love.

  2. Rhonda we had lots of fun....I'm glad you think it looks okay so in 6 weeks we'll have made a lovely batch of soap....and yes, a few Christmas presents are in order too. Thanks for stopping by. Kathy

  3. That is a most,impressive bar! Rose geranium is one of my favourite scents, so I can quite understand your pleasure. Lovely photos of you both!

  4. Hi Kathy, your soap looks fantastic :) I agree, making soap is such a lovely thing - wait til you start using it, every time you get to remember that you made it yourself. Plus it feels so nice to use (my mum was even inspired to make her own after I gave her some of ours). I recently made my second batch and it seemed easier the second time around. Lovely post!

  5. good on you Kathy! I am very impressed with your soap making efforts. I love rose geranium too. Thanks for your comments over on my blog. Good suggestion to go out for dinner with a girlfriend, your children are older than mine so you have had more years practice knowing what to do when the going gets tough!

  6. Good for you , giving it a go, the first time is a bit tense as you are dealing with something caustic, but it gets easier each time .I have made 5 batches and given a workshop to a small group, only ever used Rhonda's bbasic 4 ingredients recipe, coconut oil (copha) Olive oil, water and caustic soda, the soap is sooo creamy and gentle, my favourite scent ,if any is Lemon Myrtle which is an Australian native tree and has properties as good as tea tree oil, the perfume is sooooo lovely.......hope you have some more fun soon.