NAME OF THE ACTIVITY: Natural Handmade Soap
DESCRIPTION: Cold process soap is scented with essential oils and coloured with botanical elements, has no additives that are bad for the environment and is gentle on sensitive skin. Most soap bars have detergents but no soap. Soap goes through the saponification process, converting fats, oils, lye and water into soap and glycerine. After that chemical process is complete, the soap is safe to use and gentle on skin. There are many methods for creating soap from scratch: cold process, hot process, milk soap and rebatching. You can also make it melt and pour soap at home to mix extra ingredients into it. Don’t forget to use protection when making soap, as lye can burn your skin.
This activity has 4 stages.
- Prepare the ingredients;
- Prepare the mixture;
- Scent the mixture;
- Cut and wrap for use.
- You will learn how to make soap;
- How to use essential oils to make scented soap;
- What kind of essential oils there are and how to mix them;
- Learn basic size and time calculations;
After completing the activity you will achieve the following skills:
- Make soap.
- Organize your work.
- Improve your skills to follow a recipe.
- Improve your math skills.
- Improve your vocabulary.
- Know more about essential oils.
- Improve recycling and eco-friendly skills.
After completing the activity, the learners will achieve the following skills:
- Capacity to implement small calculations by (1) measuring the ingredients; (2) heating the mixture for the exact time; (3) take the exact temperature of the mixture.
- Capacity to make soap and to understand how it is done.
- Recognise and understand what are essential oils and what they can be used for.
- Improve their recycling and ecologic mentality.
- Organize, plan and develop an entire project.
Stove or microwave
Natural colorants (at your preference)
Herbs (at your preference)
Exfoliants (if you like, at your preference)
Pyrex measuring cup (Heat resistant glass bowl)
207 ml (7 oz) of coconut oil
502 ml (17 oz) of olive oil
60 ml (2 oz) of grapeseed oil
78 g of sodium hydroxide (NaOH)
215 g of filtered water
Step 1 – Prepare everything that you will need and set it out accessibly before you begin.
Step 2 – Soap making measurements are done in weight, not volume, so be sure you have a good kitchen scale and weigh all the ingredients.
Step 3 – Put on your protection and keep your work area free from kids and pets.
Step 4 – Gently and slowly heat the oils in a stainless-steel pot on the stove. Or use a microwave and heat for two minutes on high, and then at shorter intervals, until you reach 46°C (115°F). Use a candy thermometer to check the temperature.
Step 5 – Using room-temperature distilled water, weigh the 78 grams of Sodium hydroxide and the 215 grams of filtered water into a heat resistant glass bowl, or large Pyrex measuring cup. While stirring, slowly add the measured amount of lye. Stir until dissolved. This mix will get hot super-fast so be careful. The fumes are powerful, so don’t forget your mask and to open a window, or do this outdoors.
Step 6 – Place the Pyrex in an ice-water bath and cool to room temperature. Use a candy thermometer to check the temperature of the solution.
Step 7 – When both oils and lye/water are at the required temperatures, slowly pour lye/water into the oils while rapidly stirring in small circles. Always add lye/water to oil, not the other way around.
Step 8 – Continue to rapidly stir the mixture until it thickens to the consistency of pudding (called “tracing”). The mixture is ready to be moulded when a drizzle mark from the spatula remains for a few seconds on the top of the mixture. You can speed up the tracing by using a hand blender to mix, but be careful not to overdo it.
Step 9 – Add essential oils, natural colorants and herbs or exfoliants at this stage. (See specific scent recipes below). Work fast as the mixture will quickly start to thicken. There are many options for colouring and scenting soap, but avoid perfumes, fragrance and artificial colours, as the pure essential oils and natural coloured dyes are better for your skin.
Step 10 – Pour the mixture into milk cartons and staple the tops shut. Wrap the cartons in a large towel and set somewhere warm for 48h (i.e. the top of the fridge). The cartons will feel warm and will get hot as the mixture neutralizes and turns into soap.
Step 11 - To unmould your soap, peel off the milk carton and cut each full 1-liter carton lengthwise into 3 equal sections for shower soap, and 4 equal sections for hand soap. Flip each section so that it appears to be a square from the top and cut into 3 equal sections.
Step 12 - Place each bar on a wire rack in a cool dark place to cure for 3 weeks. After three weeks, soap can be buffed with a cotton cloth and wrapped for gifts or use.
Lemongrass, ginger and coffee kitchen soap
Add 1 tablespoon of dry, finely ground coffee at trace
Scent with 15ml lemongrass and 5mil ginger essential oils
Colour with turmeric
Rosemary and Spearmint Shower soap
Scent with 10ml rosemary and 10ml spearmint essential oils
Colour with sage powder
Gently stir in spirulina powder to make a darker green swirl
Add in 1/4 tsp of finely chopped dried mint tea leaves
Orange Vanilla Cinnamon Soap
Add 1 tablespoon dry, finely ground coffee at trace
Scent with 7ml orange, 7ml cinnamon, and 7ml vanilla essential oils
Colour with cinnamon
Gently stir in cocoa powder to make a chocolate colour swirl
Top with dried saffron