Have you ever wanted to learn how to make soap? Do you feel overwhelmed when trying to figure out the complex chemical processes that take place? Fret no more, I'm here to tell you that cold process soap making is easy and fun to do!
Let's start with the basic overview. Soap is made from two basic ingredients, sodium hydroxide and oil. Sodium hydroxide is also known as lye or caustic soda. It consist of small, round beads and usually comes in containers of 1-2 pounds. The other half of the formula, oil, is just what you think it is! Any type of oil can be used. Most cold process soap makers use vegetable oils and butters, although some use beef tallow or lard. You can use more than one type of oil, that is the fun part of making soap! You can mix up different oils and have a completely different bar of soap with different properties and textures.
So what do you do with this lye and oil? Well you first dilute the lye with distilled water so it is more easily dispersed when mixed with the oil. The lye gets very hot and rises in temperature when mixed with water, so be careful. The other half of the equation, the oils, also get heated to a specific temperature.
When the two lye water and oils are roughly the same temperature, you mix them together and this starts the saponification process. Saponification is the name of the reaction that takes place when lye and oils are mixed together at a specific temperature. The lye turns the oils into the substance we know as soap. It takes a few hours, and must harden overnight. Then the soap bars are cut and cured for several weeks.
There are much more detailed instructions on cold process soap making, this is just a basic overview. I encourage you to learn more about this subject and try your hand at making soap!