Making soap isn’t difficult. Today I’m sharing my quick and easy beginner soap recipe with fun ideas for personalizing it by adding exfoliants, essential oils, etc.
Growing up, I was always interested in making things.
I also loved being outside in the garden, and growing herbs in every little spare area of the garden. Somehow, I don’t think my mom appreciated my spearmint overtaking the rest of her garden quite as much as I do. (I personally think, “The more the merrier!!”)
Going to the bookstore, when I was’t forced to use the time to study for some big exam, meant time to sip coffee or tea while looking at crafting books and magazines, beautiful cookbooks from around the world, or, of course, books about herbs and how to use them.
One of the books that we had at home that I remember loving was a book about making your own soaps and perfumes. I followed a few of the recipes, but didn’t really have much luck with them. I tried making a rose petal perfume, but didn’t particularly love the way it turned out.
The worst disaster, though, was when I tried to make soap.
The book shared ways to be frugal. It explained how to clean used cooking oil for using in your soap. For some reason, I decided that I would be doing that right from the beginning. I mean, reuse, recycle, right?!?!?
Refining the oil was a horrible, messy process, and I don’t know what sort of quality fat I ended up with. I proceeded, though, and continued to make my soap. The trouble is, I remember trying to use my soap later on, and it stung every time I used it!! I don’t know if it was because I didn’t let it sit. In fact, years later, I don’t even remember the book mentioning that it is important to let your soap sit; it probably did; I probably had. In any case if I had made the soap right, it shouldn’t have stung days later. More likely the main problem was that the fats used weren’t really specified, and that the right concentration of lye probably didn’t get used. I ended up throwing most of my soap away, only to find, and try, a bar years later. It no longer stung. Hmmm
Part of me had been wanting to try making soap again, but part of me was held back by my not-so-stellar first experience with soap making.
Months ago I bought lye with the intention of making some soap again, but when I sat down to find a good recipe for it, I became overwhelmed. I wasn’t really finding straight recipes for making soaps, but was instead led to various lye calculators online that would help me formulate my own. Normally I love this sort of experimentation, but, I guess, being a newbie with soap making, I just wanted somebody to tell me exactly what to do; just this once!! Maybe having been here for so long, seeing that most of the calculations and recipes were calculated in ounces really intimidated me too. Although I still weigh myself in pounds, rather than kilos, I much prefer seeing things in grams than ounces (Are they weight ounces? Fluid ounces?!?!?!?).
I searched the web in Spanish, hoping to find some good soap recipes in grams, and I did!! I made a soap off from a Spanish blog, and have been playing with the concentrations ever since. I was going to make a basic castile soap and had bought a liter of olive oil just for that very purpose earlier in the morning, but I knew that my husband was’t going to be impressed with a soap that wouldn’t lather. So, I decided to make a modified castile soap, a coconut plus olive oil based soap instead.
Before you begin, you should read these safety warnings:
Keep in mind when making soap that you have to be very careful with the lye. I don’t think the book I had read was quite as emphatic about that as most places I have read online. I don’t remember mixing the lye into the water outside, or wearing protective gloves or glasses. Luckily, nothing bad happened, and, years later, I still have my eyesight. Just in case, though, you should protect yourself when making soap!! Wear glasses and gloves throughout the process, and have vinegar on hand in case you get some lye on your skin; rinse it off with vinegar rather than water!
Ok let’s get to making an easy beginner soap!
Once I reached trace, I decided I couldn’t resist trying out adding things to my soap.
I made the majority of the soap in a silicone bread pan using lavender essential oil just as the recipe had suggested. I set some of it aside before adding in the essential oil and added coffee grounds to part of it and tangerine essential oil and poppy seeds to the rest.
The coffee grounds and poppy seeds should help with exfoliation when using the soap. If I decide that I like the coffee soap, next time I would substitute using coffee for the water in the recipe to give it more of a coffee scent. Who knows, maybe the caffeine in the grounds will help circulation and help combat cellulite. A lot of cellulite creams do add caffeine! Coffee is also known to help remove odors, so it might be a good soap for cleaning up in the kitchen too.
As for the tangerine poppy seed soap, it just sounded like a fun combination to me. I love citrus scents, and think I will have to buy more citrus essential oils for experimenting with soaps and other personal products.
Now that I have gotten over the hurdle that has kept me from making soap again all of these years, I forsee myself experimenting with it quite a bit. The lye calculators no longer intimidate me either; I can just convert from ounces to grams!!
This post is also available in Español.