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Lip balms


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Natural Soaps


Skin types


Combination Skin

Combination skin can be extremely difficult to deal with. The forehead, nose and chin are oily and prone to spots and blackheads whereas the cheeks and neck area tend to be dry and sensitive. It is best to use very mild products on the face and neck area and then moisturize the dry areas and use an antiseptic astringent on the oily areas.

Dry Skin

Skin can become drier as one gets older and sebaceous activity slows down. Dry skin can flake and feel tight and uncomfortable. It is also prone to wrinkles. The care of dry skin should aim to protect and nourish the skin and to prevent any further loss of moisture.

Normal skin

Normal skin is a well-balanced and healthy skin, producing just enough oil to keep lines and wrinkles at bay yet rarely producing too much. Spots are seldom a problem on normal skin. However, because this type of skin is so easy-going there is the temptation to neglect it. To keep normal skin healthy, a good cleansing, toning and nourishing routine is essential.

Oily Skin

Oily skin often occurs during the teenage years due to overactive sebaceous glands. Some people however can experience oily skin in their later years and be bothered by spots and blackheads which often accompany this condition. In older people the oily area is often confined to the centre of the forehead, the nose and the chin. The gentle cleansing and toning of oily skin can prevent the pores from becoming clogged with oil and dirt thus reducing the risk of infection.

Once you are happy that you have identified your skin type, always make sure that products you use are specifically formulated for your skin type. The three basic areas of skin care are Cleansing, Toning and Moisturizing. Cleansing is the most important of the three. Here are a selection of lotions, face masks, scrubs and steam baths that you can try making yourself:



Cleansing Creams & Lotions Recipes


Hand Degreaser

To clean greasy, grimy hands pour some olive oil over them and rub oil into hands. Take some paper towels and wipe off the gook. If they aren't clean yet, simply repeat the process until are. Then to remove the olive oil run some very warm water over your hands and dry hands with a paper towel.

Make a hand cleaning paste by mixing corn meal and apple cider vinegar.




Basic lotions:

To begin, for a lotion base all you need is water, oil and an emulsifier. An emulsifier is simply an ingredient that blends the water and oil together. Here is the base that I begin with to make my lotion:

* 1/2 cup distilled water
* 1/2 cup oil (Your choice, a good one is olive, almond, macadamia nut, or grape seed)
* 1 TBS liquid lecithin


You can experiment from here by adding essential oils, combining other oils; you can steep beneficial herbs into your water before you add your oil, etc.


Here is a nice winter lotion to get you started:

* 1/2 cup distilled water
* 1/2 cup olive oil
* 1 TBS lecithin
* 6-8 drops of geranium oil
* 2-4 drops Myrrh oil
* 400 IU Vitamin E oil (1-2 open capsules)

Geranium oil is good for supporting balance and rejuvenating dry skin conditions and for wrinkled and matured skin.

Myrrh is a gentle oil that is effective in replenishing moisture.

Vitamin E oil is an excellent antioxidant and helps to protect the skin as well as a nice preservative.

Blend all ingredients in the blender either on whip or cream. You will have a nice creamy firm lotion. Add more water to make a lighter lotion. Store in the refrigerator in hot climates or store in a cool place. Shake well before use.


How to make a cleanser for oily skin:



50ml almond oil
50ml glycerine
50g medium oatmeal



- Heat the almond oil in a basin over a saucepan of hot water.
- Add the glycerine.
- Mix well.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Stir in the oatmeal.
- Store in fridge.




How to make a cool cleansing milk for all skin types:



the juice of half a cucumber
3/4 pint skimmed milk
1 teaspoon rosewater


- Chop the cucumber finely and allow the juice to drain through a cloth lined sieve into a basin.
- After about 30 minutes gently squeeze the cloth to extract as much juice as possible.
- Add the juice to the milk.
- Store the cleansing milk in the fridge.
- It should be ok for use for 2 days.
- Soak pads of cotton wool in the cleanser and gently wipe the face.



How to make an elderflower cleansing milk for all skin types:



the flowers from 2 heads of elderflower
3/4 pint skimmed milk
1 small sprig of thyme


- Put the herbs with the milk in an earthenware or enamel container.
- Bring to the boil very slowly and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 3 hours.
- Strain.
- Keep in the fridge and use within 2 days.
- Soak pads of cotton wool in the cleanser and gently wipe the face.



How to make elderflower moisturising lotion:



1 teaspoon cocoa butter
5 teaspoons almond oil
1 teaspoon lanoline
2 teaspoons elderflower infusion


- Melt the cocoa butter, almond oil and lanoline together in a basin over a pan of hot water on a low heat.
- Remove from heat and beat in the elderflower infusion.
- Keep beating until cool.
- Use within 2 days and store in fridge.



How to make a rosewater & glycerine moisturiser:



3 tablespoons glycerine
3 tablespoons rosewater


- Pour both ingredients into a clean bottle.
- Replace cap.
- Shake ingredients.
- The bottle will need to be shaken each time before using.


Soft Skin Lotion


1 cup dried chamomile

4 tablespoons honey

1 cup milk

8 teaspoons wheat germ



Steep chamomile in milk for a few hours. Strain, keeping liquid. Add honey and wheat germ to liquid mixture. Blend well. Place in a bottle. Refrigerate any used portions. Keeps up to a week

Oily Skin Moisturiser

  • 1/2 cup of almond oil
  • 2 tablespoons of beeswax (grated)
  • 1/2 cup of distilled water
  • 1/4 cup of rose water
  • 5 drops of galbanum essential oil
  • 4 drops of rose essential oil


  • Combine beeswax with distilled water and melt over low heat
  • When It is blended, pour it into a blender and blend on low speed
  • While the blender is still running, add gradually almond oil, rose water and the rest of the essential oils
  • The mix will look like frosting and will slowly thicken as it cools down
  • Pour it into a glass jar and use sparingly

This lotion can be used anywhere from 3-5 months, as long as it is kept in a cool and dry place.


    Shea butter moisturizer
  • 170g shea butter, melted in microwave (100 percent Unrefined)
  • 8g cocoa butter, melted in microwave
  • 170g almond oil
  • teaspoon cornstarch
  • 5-7ml fluid ounce essential oil

1. Place ice in a large bowl and place a metal bowl on the ice.

2. Mix the ingredients together in the metal bowl.

3. Sprinkle the cornstarch over the oils.

4. Whip with an electric hand mixer and continue to beat.

5. Adding in the essential oils desired.

6. Continue to beat until light, fluffy thick and cool.

7. Place in a glass jar, store out of sunlight and use as needed.





Use toner regularly in the morning and again in the evening after cleansing. Simply dampen a soft cloth or cotton pad with toner and use it to moisten your face, neck and upper chest. For extremely oily skin, or if you have been perspiring heavily, use the toner several times between cleansings during the day.

Ingredient Benefits:

Rose water for delicate skin: Produced when extracting the essential oil of rose, rose water is a good base for a toner. It is added to many skin-care products because of its tightening, invigorating effect. Used alone, rose water nourishes the skin and helps make it stay soft and silky.

Orange-blossom water for gentle freshening: Like rose water, orange-blossom water is a by product of the essential-oil extraction process. Made when producing neroli oil, it is mildly astringent and helps restore suppleness and vitality, which are often lacking in mature skin. It naturally soothes sensitive facial tissue and increases blood flow to the skin.

Preserving toner: Homemade toners will keep for about six months. During summer, it is advisable to store them in the refrigerator to preserve their freshness. Manufacturers add alcohol to their recipes to extend the shelf-life of the commercial toners and astringents. When making toner at home, it is best to avoid using alcohol in your blends. Alcohol is particularly irritating to sensitive and dry skin because it removes the oils that protect the skin. For a natural preservative, try using vinegar-especially mild cider vinegar-in your homemade toners instead. Just add a few drops of vinegar to your toner mix; be sure to shake well before using.

Cucumber juice to tighten skin: Fresh cucumber juice contains vitamins and large amounts of natural sulfur, which help to tighten pores and disinfect the skin, giving it smooth, clear and healthy appearance.

Apple-cider vinegar for blocked pores: Unprocessed and unheated apple-cider vinegar, which is light brown, cloudy liquid, contains malic acid, a natural alpha-hydroxy acid. This substance gently loosens the dead skin cells on the surface of the face, leaving smooth, silky skin. Diluted apple-cider vinegar also acts as a normalizer, since it can regulate the oiliness of the skin. In addition, it helps prevent inflammation. You can find it in many health food-stores.

Yarrow tincture for clear skin: A tincture made from yarrow flowers and leaves can help control oil production because of the herb's astringent properties. It is also effective for treating inflamed, infected pimples. Yarrow tincture is available in health-food stores that specialize in herbal medicine.

Mint hydrosol for inflammation: The process of producing essential oils leaves behind watery by-products, or hydrosols, which retain the plants healing properties in diluted form. Mint hydrosol, which is made from the peppermint plant, can freshen and clarify oily, blemished skin. It also has a mild antibacterial effect and helps prevent the formation of red, inflamed, painful pimples.

Raspberry for circulation: Raspberry purée contains sulfur, which helps to counteract inflammation and promotes circulation.

Hydrosol - The condensed water that is left behind when plants are steam distilled to make essential oil. A little like waters made from roses and lavenders and other herbs, except more pure and a little more concentrated. You can make your own waters, just by steeping an herb in warm water and straining. Or, you can purchase hydrosols. See below. What is a hydrosol?

Make your own Tinctures
Tinctures are alcohol-based solutions which draw out the healing ingredients from herbs and flowers. You can make tinctures using wild flowers or flowers from your garden. Simply use chopped flowers and pack it in a jar half filled with the strongest vodka. Use 100 – 150 gr. fresh flowers or herbs to 150ml alcohol. If you use dried herbs or flowers use only 10 – 15 gr. in 150ml alcohol. Seal the jar and leave it in on a sunny window sill for 2 – 3 days. Then store in a dark place at room temperature for 2 – 3 weeks, shaking it every day. Strain through muslin cloth and store in a dark bottle. The tincture will keep for 2 – 3 years.


The Recipes



Gentle toner



6 tablespoons rosewater
3 tablespoons witch hazel


- Pour into a clean bottle.
- Shake and store in fridge for use.



Rose Skin Toner


The Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups witch hazel

  • 1/2 cup dried rose petals

  • 5 sprigs of fresh rosemary

The Instructions

Mix ingredients together making sure it is all blended well. Strain. Splash on your face after cleaning skin.



Witch Hazel - this natural extract from the witch hazel plant gently, but effectively cleanses pores deeply to remove the last trace of dirt, oil and makeup leaving skin feeling soft, moisturized and refreshed.


Rosemary - stimulates circulation to skin and scalp. Great toning and astringent properties. Helps clear and revitalize congested or sluggish skin.


For Blemished Skin

The ingredients

1 cup mint hydrosol
3 tbsp. dried chamomile flowers
3 tbsp. dried lemon-balm leaves
2 tbsp. wheat bran
1 tbsp. freshly strained raspberry juice
1 tsp. raw apple-cider vinegar


The instructions

This toner helps heal painful pimples and removes bacteria and excessive oil. Bring the mint hydrosol to a simmering a small pot. Remove it from the heat and add herbs and the wheat bran. Cover; steep for 1 hour. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve, and then through a coffee filter. Squeeze the filter to extract all the liquid. Pour the toner into a bottle with the juice and vinegar. Refrigerate. Shake well before each use. It will keep for up to 2 weeks.

Rose Toner


The ingredients

1/2 cup rose water
3 tbsp. orange-blossom water
4 drops everlasting oil  aka Helichrysum oil
8 drops lavender essential oil


The instructions

Pour all ingredients into dark glass bottle and shake well before each use. The everlasting oil protects against damage from irritation and inflammation and supports the natural functions of your skin. Lavender essential oil prevents cracking and heals minor inflammations. It also helps relieve itching and is very good for cases of eczema.



Elderflower Toner


The ingredients

2-3 drops honey
1 tsp. elderflower glycerite
3 tbsp. rose water
3 tbsp. orange-blossom water


The instructions

This toner is especially good for thirsty, dehydrated skin. Dissolve the honey in the elderflower glycerite and pour into a 4-oz. dark glass bottle; add the rose and orange blossom waters. Shake the blend well before each use. Components in the elderflowers, when combined with honey, act as a humectant, which means that they help draw moisture from the air to the skin. This makes them particularly well-suited for sensitive skin. Honey also helps alleviate parched, flaky skin.


For Oily Skin


The ingredients

1 cup mint hydrosol
3tbsp. dried coltsfoot flowers
3 tbsp. dried sage leaves
1 tsp. raw apple-cider vinegar


The instructions

This toner speeds the healing of pimples and regulates the activity of the oil glands. Simmer the hydrosol in a small pot, and then remove it from the heat. Add the herbs and cover. Steep for 1 hr. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve then filter. Squeeze the filter to extract all the liquid. Add the vinegar and store in a bottle. Shake before using. It will keep for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.


Patchouli Toner


The ingredients

8 drops patchouli oil
1 tsp. lemon-balm glycerite
6 tbsp. rose water


The instructions

For mature, sensitive or environmentally damaged complexions, blend patchouli essential oil oil in lemon-balm glycerite. Top it off with rose water and pour it into a 4-oz. dark glass bottle. Shake before using. This blend is ideal for chapped skin.



Vinegar Facial Soak / toner


Heat rose vinegar (see recipe below), slowly until it is a comfortable temperature to apply to the skin.  Soak a clean warm wash cloth in vinegar and lay over the face for five minutes.  Repeat this procedure four times, each time re-dipping the washcloth to reapply.  For best results, keep the washcloth on the skin for a total of 20 minutes. This facial soak is an excellent exfoliant and skin stimulant

The information above was compiled from 3 websites: http://www.pioneerthinking.com/lotions.html , http://www.greenchronicle.com/health_beauty/skin_care.htm & http://www.a1-natural-beauty.com/Toner.html



 New directions body care recipes & supplies http://www.newdirections.com.au/recipes/recipes.php?id=0

                Soap making supplies  http://www.simplynaturalsoapmakingsupplies.com.au/epages/auau9075.sf



Lip Balm


For all of these recipes (unless otherwise stated), the method is the same. Gently melt all the ingredients together in a glass bowl in the microwave, ore over an alternative low heat, stirring until combined. Add any flavours / colours / essential oils etc at the end, just prior to pouring into appropriate sized jars/containers. To make balms firmer, add more beeswax, to make them softer, add less. Generally I use 2 simple lip balm bases, and add flavour/scent. The possibilities are endless, I have included just a few of my favourites.


Basic Recipe 1 - Honey & Almond Lip Balm


8t Almond oil

2t Beeswax

1t Honey


Basic Recipe 2 - Cocoa Butter Lip Balm


70g Cocoa butter

75g Beeswax

40ml Almond oil


Basic recipe for flavoured lip balms


7t Almond oil

2t Beeswax

1t Honey

5 drops of flavouring/essence of your choice.




Some other recipes you might like to try:



Cocoa Mint Lip balm


43g. cocoa butter (non-deodorize)
28g. beeswax
43g. shea butter
1 500iu liquid capsule pure Vitamin E
3-5 drops peppermint essential oil


* Add last 2 ingredients when first 3 are melted

& combine thoroughly

Luscious lip balm

2g alkanet root (optional- to give a pinky/red tinge)
1/2 cup apricot, almond, or grapeseed oil
1/8 cup beeswax
1/2 tablespoon honey
a few drops of pure essential oil to taste (orange, wintergreen, mints, vanilla, and rose are my favorites)


1. If using alkanet, simmer the root over low heat in a double boiler in oil for about 15-20 minutes, or until the oil has turned a deep red/black color. The deeper the color the redder the oil will be when strained and bottled. Strain through a double layer of cheesecloth or a fine meshed strainer. If using other emollient herbs, simmer in oil in double boiler over low heat for 20-30 minutes. Strain.

2. Add beeswax, honey, and essential oil. A taste test here is appropriate. Then, test for consistency by placing a tablespoon of the oil in the freezer for 5 minutes. If the test batch is too hard, add a bit more oil to soften; if it is too soft, add more beeswax to harden, pour into containers.



Choc-Mint Lip balm


55g cocoa butter
4 drops peppermint essential oil
1 drop neroli essential oil
1 drop chocolate fragrance oil
1 tablespoon sweet almond oil


Melt the cocoa butter in a double boiler. Remove from heat and then add the sweet almond oil. Stir well to mix.
Add the essential oils and the chocolate oil. Stir to combine.


Real Chocolate lip balm


1 tablespoon beeswax pellets

1 tablespoon roughly chopped shea butter
1 tablespoon grated cocoa butter
1 tablespoon sweet almond oil

1 tablespoon castor oil

15 drops pure vanilla extract

2 or three pieces of your favourite chocolate


Melt all ingredients together & pour into containers.


Balm For Chapped Lips

1/2 oz Beeswax
1/2 oz Coconut oil
2 Vitamin E capsules

Melt the beeswax and coconut oil together and add
the contents of the vitamin E capsules. Pour into
containers to cool. You can add a few drops of
Rosemary oil to help heal severely chapped lips.




Peppermint Lip Balm

1 3/4 teaspoons Coconut oil
2 teaspoons Cocoa Butter, melted
1 teaspoon Beeswax, melted
1/2 teaspoon Pumpkin Seed oil
2 drops Peppermint essential oil

Combine melted ingredients.
Stir quickly and fill containers.


Soothing Lip Balm

1 teaspoon Coconut oil
1 teaspoon Beeswax, melted
1 Vitamin E capsule
1 drop of Essential Oil
(Vanilla, Orange, Lemon or Tangerine)

Mix ingredients together and place in containers.


Sweet Lip Balm

5 to 6 Tablespoons Sweet Almond, Jojoba, or Castor oil
1 Tablespoon Beeswax
2 Tablespoons pure Honey
10 drops oil of Spearmint, Peppermint, or Tea Tree
1/2 tube of favourite colored, moisturizing lipstick

Melt together oils and beeswax in a small saucepan over low heat, or microwave till wax is melted. Use the larger amount of oil if you want a thinner, glossier consistency. Remove from heat. Add honey and blend mixture thoroughly. If you want to add color, add the lipstick now. Stir the mixture occasionally as it cools to prevent separation. It should be as thick as petroleum jelly when ready.. If you add essential oil add it after the gloss has almost cooled and stir thoroughly.








Bath Salts

Basic Bath Salts

1 cup mineral (epsom) salts or sea salt
1 teaspoon glycerin or vitamin E oil
15 - 20 drops essential oils of your choice
few drops of food colouring if desired.

Mix all ingredients together, stirring well to blend.
Store in an airtight container. Add 1/4 cup or
more of the mixture to running bath water.









Bath Salts

2 cups Epsom salts
1 cup sea salt, rock salt or coarse salt
food colouring (optional)
1/4 teaspoon glycerin
essential oil for fragrance

Combine salts in a large glass bowl. Mix well.
Add food colouring, a few drops at a time, until
desired colour is achieved. For plain white salts,
skip this step. Add glycerin and essential oil,
(4 or 5 drops) and mix together well. Spoon salts
into containers and seal. When giving as a gift,
attach a tag to salts describing the scent and
instructions to use 1/3 to 1/2 cup in the bath.



Herbal Bath Crystals

1/2 cup Sea Salt
1/2 cup Epsom Salts
1/2 cup fresh herbs leaves or flowers
1/4 cup Baking Soda
few drops essential oils

Blend the above ingredients in a food processor
or blender. Some oils to try: Lemon Balm, Rosemary,
Patchouli, High John, Rose, Geranium & Grapefruit.
Place 1/4 cup of the mixture under running warm
water for fragrant herbal bath.



Fizzy Bath Salts

16 oz Baking soda
8 oz Cornstarch
8 oz Citric acid
10 drops Lavender essential oil
5 drops Patchouli essential oil
5 drops Rosemary or Bayberry essential oil

Blend together the dry ingredients. Blend the oils
and add them one drop at a time to the dry
ingredients. Mix with your hands, then rub the
mixture thru a fine sieve to further distribute the
oils into the dry ingredients. Store tightly covered
for 2 weeks before using to fully develop the scent.




Make your own Organic soap

An in-depth run down on how to make soap, courtesy of: Al Durtschi, E-mail: mark@waltonfeed.com


To skip the informational section and go straight to the soap recipes, click here.



Water: For best results, use rain, distilled, reverse osmosis or de-mineralized water. Your water should be 0.38 of your fat by weight. Don't worry too much about getting it exact, however, as this measurement isn't terribly critical.


Poison! Lye: You should know a little bit about lye, or sodium hydroxide. Lye is a very strong base. If you get it on you, you will find it's bad stuff. (Be sure to store lye where kids or pets can NEVER get at it.) You must use care in determining what utensils and mixing containers you use when handling lye. Use wooden or plastic spoons and enameled, plastic or glass bowls for mixing. (Lye will eat up Aluminum in a hurry. Also, lye instantly and permanently takes the shine off Formica. Formica is so sensitive to lye that it left timeless streaks across the table where I wiped a few dry crystals off with my hand. Now, with our table top and kitchen counter tops ruined, the wife ushers me outside when I handle lye.) Use'em! You would be wise to wear eye protection and rubber gloves when handling the lye crystals or the lye solution after you have mixed it into the water.
            Dissolve lye in cold water. Having half your water as ice would be so much the better. Never pour the water into the lye. Doing this could cause the mixture to explode and blow very corrosive lye water and crystals all over the place. Rather, always pour the lye into the water. If you don't stir it immediately as you pour the lye into the water, the lye will settle to the bottom and quickly solidify. This isn't a problem as tapping it with the stirring utensil will break it up. As you mix it, a physical reaction takes place between the lye and the water generating a lot of heat. If you are making a large batch of soap, the lye can even start the water boiling - with little droplets of lye water splattering all over the place. If this starts happening, stop stirring it until the bubbling stops. Generally, it doesn't take more than a minute to dissolve the lye crystals into the water. You know this has happened as the water will become relatively clear. Before using, the lye water must now cool down to about 29°C (or room temperature if your mixing area's above 29°C) before adding it to the fat.


Fats and Oils used in soap making. In my experiments I have learned almost any fat or oil can be used to make soap. Fats for soap making include animal fats such as tallow (fat from beef), lard (fat from pork), and the various plant derived oils and hydrogenated fats. Traditionally, animal fats have been used, with beef tallow making the hardest soap, pork lard a medium hardness soap and chicken fat the softest. It's generally accepted that the harder fats make better soap.
            There are a multitude of fats and they each bring their own unique qualities to soap. If you want to know what a particular fat will do, make a small batch of only that fat and see what kind of bar it makes. Armed with this knowledge you can mix fats to give your soap the qualities you want. This is how soap recipes are born.
            Whatever type of fat or oil you use, you must ensure it is clean and free of impurities. It shouldn't be rancid, have excess salt in it, or have any solid particles. (Many people remember the soap ‘grandma used to make,’ and have unpleasant memories of nasty smelling stuff. If Grandma had used clean, fresh, fat, her soap would have smelled clean and fresh. But we can't blame Grandma as she did the best she could with what she had. You will notice that Mrs. Mertz disagrees with me on this point in her ‘
how we used to do it’ page.)
            Rancid and dirty fat can be cleaned by boiling it for a few minutes in a large pot with four parts water to one part fat. Set it aside and let it cool. After it has solidified, remove the fat from the pot in one piece. One way to do this is to run hot water around the outside of the pot, melting a thin layer of fat next to the pan. It should then slide out. Scrape all the foreign matter off the bottom of the fat. If it is still dirty, repeat the cleaning process again. It is also fairly easy to
render your own fat.
            What are your best fats for soap making? Amazingly, the soap making professionals feel that lard beats tallow and vegetable oils for gentleness to your skin. However, soap made with 100% lard doesn't lather very well. But it cleans beautifully. There is a predominant idea today that you must get bubbles for the soap to do its job. Soap making professionals have told me this is not the case. But if you want bubbles, you can have the kind of bubbles you want by using different oils.


            Different Fats that create bubbles:

  • Coconut Oil gives big, fluffy bubbles. One hundred percent coconut oil soap is sometimes used around maritime operations as it will even lather in sea water, really, about the only soap that will. Soap with coconut oil can be a tiny bit harsh on some people's skin. If you'd like cheap coconut oil, get a one or five gallon bucket of popcorn popping oil which is 100% coconut oil that's dyed yellow. Yes, you will be stuck with yellow soap but this won't be a problem for most people.

  • Olive oil gives very fine, silky bubbles. This oil is very good for the skin.

In your soap making, use at least 25% of these fats as part of your overall fat to get the desired effect you're seeking.

Saponification (Sap) Value: Each fat requires a different amount of lye to change the fat to soap. See our Lye to Fat Ratio Table Page for a short discussion on this and a listing of different fats and the lye required to convert them to soap.
            The temperature of the fat is important. It needs to be a bit above it’s melting point. This is 130 degrees F for beef tallow, or 85 degrees F for pork lard, or about the same temperature for vegetable oil. The hotter your oil, the faster the chemical reaction between the lye and the fat. But the hotter the oil, the easier the soap separates into layers during the mixing stage.



Mixing: With the lye water and fat at the right temperature, very gradually pour the lye water into the fat using a very small stream. Stir gently only in one direction the whole time you are adding the lye water. This helps it mix. You should insulate your mixing pot with old rags, etc, to prevent the fat from hardening before you've finished mixing the soap.



Saponification and its role in the mixing process: Simply stated, saponification is the name for the chemical process that happens between lye and fat as they turn into soap. It doesn't happen all at once, but actually takes days to complete. There are different levels of this process, and the most important one for you to know about is the "Trace" stage. This is the point at which your soap has thickened up somewhat. As you let the soap run off your mixing spoon back into the mixture, the falling soap stays on top and doesn't blend in, but leaves its "trace" mark on top. Its thickness is another way to know when trace occurs. Its consistency is much like the thickness of pudding after it's cooked but before it has set up.
            With stirring only, it can take a long time to get your soap to the trace stage depending on many variables. One of these variables is the heavyness of the fat. The lighter the fat or oil, the longer it will take it to trace. You can expect a wait anywhere from 30-60 minutes for animal fats to several hours or even days for the vegetable oils. Does this mean you need to sit and stir your soap for several hours until it traces? I don't. After mixing it for about 15 minutes, I do other things and mix the settled layers back up every 15 or 20 minutes when I happen to go by it. (You may wish to set your timer so you don't completely forget it!) At the trace stage of thickness, it won't separate out into layers when you pour it in your setting trays or molds.


            A False Trace can happen when making soap with fats that are solid at room temperature, such as tallow, lard, or shortening. If the temperature of your soap mix drops below the melting temperature of your fat, it will start to solidify. As it does, your batch will start to thicken up just like it was tracing - but it's not! Rather, it's the fats solidifying. To prevent this from happening, be sure that the soap you are mixing stays above the melting temperature of the fat. In fact, the warmer your soap, the quicker it will saponify. It wouldn't hurt to keep your soap up to around 46°C to speed this process along a little more quickly. At 120 degrees F lanolin will curdle your batch, so sometimes, depending on the additives you've included, you may need to be very careful how hot you get it.
            Vegetable oils can also be used for making soap. These oils are liquid at room temperature and without employing a trick or two usually require many hours of mixing before they trace.
Hand Held Stick Blender             Trick 1: Use a blender. The more finely the lye and fat molecules are intermixed the faster they will saponify. Using a blender, the trace stage can be reached in minutes instead of hours. Don't use an upright blender unless you don't mind millions of tiny air bubbles being permanently whipped into your soap. Use the hand-held type instead. With one of these, even your most stubborn oils should trace within 20 minutes. Sometimes, you can get a trace with animal fats in just a couple of minutes. Anyone who has sat around for hours stirring a batch of soap will be ecstatic with this.
            Trick 2: Cook it. There are a couple of processes that I have developed myself yet are rather unorthodox. And this is one of them. If you don't have a blender, perhaps cooking your soap is for you. See the
soap cooking section for more details. After it has cooled, pour or spoon it into the soap mold or tray and treat it like you would for the no-cook recipes. Even though it has been cooked, the chemical reaction that slowly turns liquid vegetable oils into soap will take much longer than cooked animal fat soaps.



When your soap has traced you can add
your superfatting, coloring and perfume oils.



Superfatting oil: When your soap gets to its trace stage, the saponification process is around 90% complete. Fat added at this point makes your soap softer. There is a reason why the superfatting oil is added after tracing instead of at the beginning with all the other fats. If it was added at the beginning you wouldn't have any control over which fat or oil ended up as your 'free fat' as all fats would saponify together. This is presupposing you are going to superfat with a different fat or oil than you used to make your soap with. Exotic oils are generally used in superfatting. They are added at trace to give the benefit of their desirable qualities without having to use so much it empties your wallet. A good rule of thumb is to use 1 oz. per pound of total fat used in the recipe. (That's one part superfatting oil to 16 parts total fat.) Let me list just 2 of the more common superfatting oils:

  • Avocado Oil: Feels very soft to the skin and makes an excellent shaving soap.

  • Cocoa Butter: Makes a hard bar. It smells and looks nice, but doesn't lather.

Coloring Dyes: Several things are used to color soap. crayon Approved items are clays, mineral pigments and spices. You can get these items from soap supply companies. Moving back into the area of unorthodoxy again, I color all my soap with a piece of crayon. Virtually all crayon is made with stearic acid, a type of fat. The stearic acid saponifies into the soap leaving behind the pigment.
            I melt crayon into my soap after it has traced. Don't be tempted to put your crayon in at the beginning as the lye will change its color. You may need to heat a half cup or so of your traced soap to about 150 degrees F to get it to the melting temperature of the crayon. Even adding a crayon at this late stage of mixing, you may notice a slight color shift over time.



Scenting Oils: There are two types of scenting oils, FO's (fragrance oils) and EO's (essential oils). An EO is made from distilling the oil out of the plant it comes from. A fragrance oil is a man-made chemical that's steeped in alcohol. EO's are usually used in soap making as FO's have been known to seize soap, or turn it into a yucky ball that doesn't saponify correctly. EO's are much more expensive and harder to find than FO's but also have better scent retention. If it is an EO, it will most often say so on the label. You will also know it by the exorbitant cost. FOs can often be used safely at trace however. Make a small test batch first to see if your FO is going to work before making a big batch. Be aware that rose and cucumber FOs are notorious for seizing soap. If you want to use an FO that can possibly seize soap, you can safely use it during a rebatch. Certain fragrance oils and essential oils change the saponification characteristics of a mix. Jasmine absolute from real flowers is damaged by strong alkali. It is a natural fragrance and not a fragrance oil.



The Setting Tray: Mrs. Mertz used a galvanized tub. Other old timers used a wooden box in the shape of a tray with a cloth laid in the bottom of it. The cloth was used to help remove the hardened soap from the tray. If you are going to use a solid tray, may I recommend plastic wrap instead of cloth as a barrier between your soap and the tray. But there is something even simpler than this. If you have any square edged, flexible plastic trays with lips at least as high as a bar of soap is thick, use this instead. After the soap has hardened, a slight flexing of the tray will dislodge the soap. When the soap begins to harden (1 hour to 3 days depending on how fast the curing process is moving along), section it into bars. When cutting, the soap should still be soft enough to easily run a table knife through it but hard enough that the soap doesn't run back together again. After it has further hardened (3-7 days), remove it from the tray, and break it into bars following the knife marks made earlier. Even though your soap looks hard at this stage, it is far from done. There's a good chance it contains a bit of lye that should dissipate into the soap as the saponification process continues. This will be true as long as you had your lye/fat ratio correct in the first place. Your soap will need to sit for 2-6 weeks to dry out and cure, depending on the fat you used. Use litmus paper to test the lye content of your finished soap. Be sure to wash off any soda ash that has formed before testing. Soda ash has a high pH value. Your soap should be below a pH of 10 within 36-72 hours after it has traced. The closer the pH of the finished soap is to 7 the better but don't expect normally made soap to reach this. If your soap is over a pH of 10, let it sit around for a week or two. Hopefully as the soap continues to saponify the lye will get transformed and the pH will drop. Your soap should be below a pH of 10 before you use it. Below a pH of 9 would be better. There are a few seasoned soap makers that test the pH by tasting the soap. Your tongue will tingle if there is still too much lye in it. Of course, you don't want to swallow this stuff. This was suggested to me as a possibility by Mrs. Mertz and also by other contemporary soap makers who sell soap.

Final Curing and Storage: With the soap out of the tray or molds, stack it up and set it in a warm dry place for at least two weeks. When it has fully cured, place it in a plastic bag or air tight container, and store it in a cool, dry place. You might notice a thin, white powdery layer on the outside of your soap. This is soda ash, and forms as a result of the carbon dioxide in the air interacting with the lye in the soap. This outer layer quickly washes off the first time you use it. If this is a concern, cover your setting soap with plastic wrap so the air can't get to it. After saponification nears completion, you can remove the air barrier to let your soap dry out. After all this, if there is still a thin layer of soda ash on your soap after it has cured, wash it off, then let the surface of your soap dry before storage.


Final Soap Making Tips:

My experience: The recipes I used left a lot to be desired. The instructions weren't sufficiently detailed for me to really figure it all out and so I made several mistakes which I will now point out.


The first thing I had trouble with was getting the lye/water/fat ratio correct. Often the recipe simply said ‘a can of lye.’ Obviously, in yesteryear all lye cans must have been the same size. Not so any more. From analyzing several recipes both relatively modern and old, I find the lye to fat ratio in many recipes to be lye heavy. I suggest you figure the lye yourself using the fat to lye table before using a recipe. Then alter it accordingly when making your soap. Let’s not forget the 0.38 parts of water to one part fat by weight. (Water, lye and fat are the primary ingredients for all soap recipes I've found, and will make a good bar of soap all by themselves.) Depending on what you want to use the soap for, you may wish to deviate from the lye-fat table. Make laundry soap intentionally lye heavy and delicate facial soaps intentionally a bit fat heavy. Mix it:

  • Double the SAP table's figures for lye for really tuff cleaning jobs, like laundry soap.

  • Use the 5% fat column for regular hand soap.

  • Use the 9% or 10% column for delicate facial cleaner


  1. Note: The more lye in the soap, the harder bar it makes. (One of my friends told me how before the days of the automatic washing machine, his mother always threw a bar of home made soap into the wash during her ‘manual wash cycle’ then pulled it out before the ‘rinse.’ The same bar of soap lasted several batches!)

  2. The second thing I had trouble with was adding the different ingredients at the right times. rinse created some real messes with this one. Here is a suggested order to add things: Start out with...

  3. Water

  4. Sugar can be used in soap recipes for making clear soap. It won't dissolve if you try to add it after the lye or fats have been mixed in. Don't add sugar if you plan on cooking your soap.

  5. Salt: It may be of interest to know that the commercial soap makers use salt to separate out the glycerin which is a natural by-product of soap making. Then they sell it as a by-product even though by removing it, they reduce the quality of their soap. Commercial soap makers use salt to curdle a batch of soap. Salt is sometimes used to clean fat during the rendering process and can be used to help solidify soap when making it from ashes. Under normal circumstances you probably won't add salt.

  6. Ammonia is an emulsifying agent that helps a mixed batch of impure oils to get together closely enough to saponify readily. As the soap cures the ammonia evaporates, leaving your bar ammonia free.

  7. Borax is an emulsifying agent that helps a mixed batch of impure oils to get together closely enough to saponify readily. When the soap is used the borax acts as a water softener.

  8. Lye - Mix all your fats together before adding your lye water to them.

  9. Fat or Oil

  10. Lanolin (Lanolin comes from sheep's wool. It's oil based and mixes with the other fats very nicely. Adding Lanolin as a superfatting oil at trace is also a option. Lanolin is a mix of cholesterol, other heavy alcohols and fatty acids. It's good for the skin and has a low sap value. Lanolin does require a little lye.

  11. Lemon Juice

After Trace: All the following items are optional:

  1. Ground Oatmeal (abrasive element)

  2. Vitamin E This is an antioxidant, and acts as an anti-rancidity agent. Poke a hole in one end of the pill with a pin and squeeze it out into your batch.

  3. Colouring/Dyes

  4. Superfatting Oil

  5. Scenting oils: To prevent the lye from eating up your perfume, you need to add this as late as possible in the saponification process - the last thing before you put it in the mold.

The third thing I had trouble with was getting it to trace correctly.
           Trying different things, I happened on a couple of different ways of getting soap to trace. Three methods of getting soap to trace have already been discussed. When I first started making soap I didn't know the first thing about "trace." Because of this, I had several failed batches until I developed a unorthodox way of setting soap that incidentally is a lot faster than waiting for it to trace by stirring only. The following method will only work with fats that are solid at room temperature, like tallow, lard, and shortening. You can't colour or scent your soap if you do it this way as you should only add these things after tracing. Professional soap makers are leery of this method as they feel it is important to stir the batch to trace as it keeps the molecules moving. Yet I add this last method here as I've had excellent luck with it.
            The Intentional False Trace: After all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, set your mixing container in cold water and continue to stir, especially the sides and bottom. I use a big spatula to do this as the fat will solidify first on the sides and bottom of the pan. This solidifying fat/lye mixture must be remixed into the warmer mass in the centre of the pot. As the mixture cools, continue to quickly stir it while the whole batch thickens. When it gets to the consistency of thick gravy or pudding, (trace consistency) pour it into your setting tray. The idea here is to get it so thick there is no way it can separate, yet fluid enough so it will flow. With it in the setting tray, put it in the refrigerator so the fat in the soap can continue to solidify. After it is cold, take it out of the refrigerator and set it aside. Unless you make the soap during very hot weather, it stirring re-melt and separate. Anywhere from an hour to a day, depending on how fast it is setting up, the soap should be ready to cut into bar sized pieces. Note: Don't get confused here. If you actually
traced your soap, you shouldn't put it in the refrigerator. The refrigerator is only used when you thickened your soap in cold water before tracing had a chance to happen.


Final curing: As mentioned before, it takes soap days for the saponification process to complete, then weeks before it has cured with all the water evaporating. My experience is that it takes about 1 to 3 days for the soap to set up hard enough to cut the soap into hand soap sized bars without it melting back together again. Check it once or twice a day. You don't want it so hard you can't run a table knife through it. After sectioning the soap in the setting tray, leave it in the pan to further harden 3 - 5 days. You want it to be hard enough so it will maintain its shape and not break up as you are taking it out of the tray. You can't hurt it by leaving it too long, but if you take it out too soon you can accidentally break pieces off or put big cracks in the bars that will later break. When it has cured long enough, remove the now solid soap and break it up into bars from the knife marks made earlier. If you used a solid pan lined with plastic wrap, after the soap is removed, use your finger to smooth out the small grooves made by the wrinkles in the plastic wrap. (If you wait, it will be too hard and you can't be able to do this.) It is then stacked up and left to further dry (cure) for two or more weeks.


Using It: Even mentioning this may seem like over kill. When I first used that initial bar of lye heavy soap from my first ever attempt at soap making, I rubbed and rubbed, and didn't get much off it. But I soon learned that I was just breaking it in. After I used it a few times, it was much easier to use. If you have kids, to decrease their resistance to using soap ‘you’ made, break it in first then put it out for them to use.


Floating soap: Ivan Stern discovered the easy way to make your soap float. Just add a tablespoon of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) or so to your soap mixture after you've added almost all of the alkali. The bicarbonate reacts with the fatty acids to release CO2 into the mixture. Be aware this adds a very small amount of caustic material to your batch.





Soap Cooking In A Modern Setting


Most soap recipes found today aren't cooked. However, cooking does offer some advantages.

Pro’s to cooking soap:

  • Cooking the soap solution greatly speeds up the chemical reaction needed to make soap. Instead of taking weeks to cure, it’s ready for use much sooner.

  • It's a relatively quick way to trace vegetable oils.

Cons to cooking soap:

  • I no longer cook soap as a hand held blender works just as fast.

  • This can be very dangerous. Before the process is complete, the soap can get up to 330 degrees F. From 220 degrees F. to 275 degrees F. it has a tendency to splutter or spatter soap out of the pot if it boils too vigorously. This is not something you want to do with children around.

  • There is a chance of fire. If you have a fire extinguisher handy and use a pot with high sides, you shouldn't have any trouble. Have a lid handy to smother any flames, and never leave cooking soap unattended. Be sure to wear adequate protection. This includes long gloves and protection for all exposed skin and face. A face shield would be a good idea. No one wants a drop or two of this stuff spattering on their face or arms and making a scar.

  • There are some things you can't put in your recipe if you are going to cook it.

How It’s Done...

For cooking, you must modify the recipe somewhat. Don't add any sugar or salt as this will make a mess. Lanolin will curdle your batch if it is heated above 120 degrees F. You should be able to add the other ingredients in the recipes found on these pages. However, the three basic ingredients, fat, lye and water make great soap all by themselves.

With your ingredients well mixed, place your soap mixture in an stainless steel or enameled pot. Turn the heat on moderately high until it gets to the boiling point, then turn it down so it maintains a slow but rolling boil - a low enough boil so it is not spattering all over the place. If it starts spattering out of the pot, pull it off the heat partially until it slows down. Then turn down the heat. Your goal is to keep it boiling, but not so vigorously that it becomes dangerous. Stir constantly and always be conscious of how it’s boiling and behaving. As it boils two things happen:


  • The chemical reaction necessary to make soap is greatly accelerated.

  • Some of the water in the soap is boiled off.

The soap cooks somewhat like candy in that it starts boiling at a temperature of about 220 degrees F and as it continues to boil the water off, the temperature rises. It is very important to know when to quit. As it slowly gets thicker, the instant the bubbles start appearing in the same place, giving you a hint that it is acting just a bit more rigid than before, pull it off the heat. In my experience this happens at a temperature of between 300 and 330 degrees F. It would be handy to keep a candy thermometer around as an aid in checking on it’s progress. If you let it go too long and the soap separates, add a little more water to bring it back into suspension.

  • 300 - 310 degrees F for lard

  • 320 - 330 degrees for vegetable oil

If you don't want to, it really isn't necessary to bring the soap up to these high temperatures. This is the way I do it however. To see if you've cooked it long enough, you can also dribble a bit of soap onto a plate then wait for it to cool. If it's setting up you have cooked it long enough.

With the pot off the heat, place it in cool water. If you don't, the soap is so hot it will continue to bubble for a few minutes with the pot off the stove! Also, if you tried to pour hot soap at these temperatures, it would melt a hole right through your plastic mold! Continue to stir it until it has cooled off - down to at least 120 degrees. As it cools you may wish to add a piece of crayon. As it melts it will color your soap. This is also a good time to add fragrance oils (FO's). After it has cooled, it should have the consistency of thick pudding. Pour, or scoop the soap into your soap tray or mold, then smooth it out the best you can with a spatula. As it is very sticky, to get it nice and smooth on top, place a layer of plastic wrap on it and continue to smooth it out. I like to place something flat on top of it and press down lightly. This makes it as flat on top as it is on the bottom. A couple of hours later as the soap has continued to cool and harden, you can remove this top layer of plastic wrap. Smooth any imperfections out with your finger that were created by wrinkles in the plastic wrap.

Soap made from Animal Fat: After a couple of hours, section it into bar sized squares with a table knife. Depending on how firm it is, on the second day, you can remove it from the tray and break it into bar sized pieces using the knife marks you put into it. After two more days it should be mostly cured. After it has dried it's ready for storage. After curing, give it a litmus paper test. It should be a PH of 9 or less. Or you can give it the taste test.

Soap made from Vegetable Oil: After you get it in the soap tray, treat it in the same way as you would for soap made from animal fat using a non-cook recipe. It will take longer to cure but still makes fine soap.





Lye to Fat Ratio Table


This table is for those of you who want to get a bit more scientific in soap making, or just want to check and see if the person who created the recipe you're planning on using knew what they were doing. Each fat has its own saponification value, or "SAP Value." And because of this, each fat requires a different amount of lye to convert the fat to soap.

For the soap to be made with no left over lye or fat you must have very accurate measuring equipment. As the same oil from different sources will have a slightly different saponification value, we recommend you keep your soap a bit fat heavy to ensure you don't end up with lye in your finished product.

In the table below use the 0-4% excess fat columns (pink) if you have accurate technical equipment to test for excess fat or lye. Use the 5-8% excess fat columns (green) to make good hand/body soap. and the 9-10% columns (blue) if you want excessively fat heavy soap.

This page was written under close consultation by Tina Howard at Majestic Mountain Sage. In fact, the following table was made using her lye calculator, which will automatically calculate the amount of lye you need for a large variety of different fats. You plug into her calculator the fats and quantities and it returns how much lye you'll need.


Using the Lye Calculation table

Calculate the amount of lye you need by multiplying the amounts of each fat (including superfatting oil) in your recipe by the number intersected by the fat and your desired excess fat column. Then add the different lye amounts for the different fats in your recipe together.


Example: You want to calculate the amount of lye for a recipe that calls for for 450g. of lard as it's only fat. You want your finished soap to have 5% excess fat. Intersecting the Lard row with the 5% column, you find the number 0.132. Multiply 450 (fat wt) by 0.132 = 59.4g lye.


Desired Excess Fat In Finished Soap
0% 1% 2% 3% 4% 5% 6% 7% 8% 9% 10%
Goat Fat
Mutton Fat
0% 1% 2% 3% 4% 5% 6% 7% 8% 9% 10%
Canola Oil
Castor Oil
Corn Oil
Olive Oil
Palm Oil
Peanut Oil
Weight of water needed = Total weight of fat in recipe times 0.38

Using potasium hydroxide instead of Lye? Multiply the lye by 1.4 - Using the example
at the top of the table, 1.4 X 2.1 oz (lye used) = 2.94 oz of potasium hydroxide.


NOTE: The common alkalis used in soapmaking are sodium hydroxide (NaOH), also called caustic soda; and potassium hydroxide (KOH), also called caustic potash.


Why different oils have their own SAP values: It all has to do with the length of the fatty acid chain. Briefly, it takes the same amount of lye to saponify a short fatty acid molecule as it does to saponify a long fatty acid molecule. The longer a fatty acid molecule is, the more a set number of them weigh. Saying this in another way, the longer chain fatty acids have a higher molecular weight. Hence, it takes less lye to saponify the longer chain fats. You can determine which fats above are the longer chain fats by looking at their SAP values. The higher the SAP number, the shorter the chain. Most of the fats above revolve around 18 carbon chain molecules with the sap value hovering around .136-.140 in the 0% Excess Fat Column. (The reason they are all slightly different is because the mixture of different fatty acids in each fat or oil is slightly different.) On the other hand, coconut oil contains about 47% lauric (C12), 19% myristic (C14), 9.5% palmitic acid (C16) and 20-25% other residues. Because coconut oil has several shorter string molecules, it takes more lye to turn a given weight of them into soap. Coconut's SAP value is .184. The reason for this is: the smaller the molecule, the more you can fit into a given volume. The more you can fit in a given volume, the more saponifiable bonds will be required and the more base you will consume.

Speaking of a molar (equal number of molecules) ratio, then it takes an equal level of base to saponify the fat/oil, although the larger molecule will have a larger volume.



Organic soap recipes

Here are a list of soap recipes to try. If you haven't done so, please read the above information for your understanding and safety.



Directions for the three recipes adjacent

Cover benchtops with newspaper and also put a layer on newspaper down on the floor in case of any splashes. If you get any splashes on benches etc wash area and then apply vinegar to neutralise. Wear safety goggles, rubber gloves, long sleeves/trousers and footwear. Use accurate scales to measure your ingredients.

Measure your chilled water and pour into a tall sided pliable plastic jug or bucket. While wearing safety gear measure your caustic soda and then pour the caustic soda INTO your chilled water, stir well with a plastic or stainless steel long handled spoon until the sodium hydroxide dissolves. Set aside in a safe place and allow to cool to at least 40°C (use a stainless steel thermometer). This is best done in a well ventilated room. You will get some initial fumes - try not to breathe them in. I mix this caustic and water mixture in the kitchen sink to contain any spills.

Measure your oils and, in a large stainless steel saucepan or small stainless steel stock pot, heat them gently. Once the solid fats and oils are melted allow the temperature to drop to 40 or 45° C.

Slowly pour the caustic and water solution into the melted oils. Be careful not to splash while combining the mixtures. Stir with a long handled plastic or stainless steel spoon until the mixture traces. If tracing takes more than 15 minutes, which it often does, stir for the first 15 minutes, then stir for 5 minutes at 15 minute intervals. Tracing looks like a thickened homemade custard. To test if your mixture has reached trace, dribble a line of soap across the top of the mixture. If the line remains visible on top then the soap has traced. If it sinks into the mixture quickly then you need to continue stirring. If you have a handheld stick blender you can use that to reach trace, give it short steady bursts and stir in between.

Once tracing occurs you can add the 20 mls of essential or skin safe fragrant oils. Stir in well. You can also add ground herbs or oatmeal for texture (I usually add about 1/4 of a cup but it's a personal thing and you may find you like less or more). The more finely ground the herbs or oatmeal the better, coarse herbs/oatmeal can be unpleasantly scratchy rather than exfoliating. Cosmetic clays can also be added. Mix them with a little bit of water first before adding at trace (so they incorporate easily). You can mix thoroughly for a solid colour or just gently stir through once or twice for a swirled effect.

Pour the soap into your mould. A good mould for this recipe is a 1 litre washed milk carton or a 1 litre takeaway container lined with a freezer bag. Put a piece of clingwrap over the top of the filled mould and put it aside (somewhere out of the way) and loosely wrap around a couple of towels to insulate the soap. After a day or two the soap can be turned out of the mould (or with the milk carton the mould is torn off). If the soap is very soft still (dents easily), allow it to cure for a few more days to further firm before cutting (it cuts best when the texture/firmness is like cheddar cheese).

Cut soap into bars and set the bars out on a cake rack to cure and dry. This will allow the bar to further firm and finish saponification. Let them sit for 4 weeks to fully harden and to allow as much water to evaporate out as possible. I use a paint scraper to cut my bars as it is thinner than a knife and sometimes knives can be too thick and cause the soap to chip and crack whilst you cut it. The more time that soap is allowed to sit the harder it becomes and the longer it will last when being used.

Each recipe makes 8 full bars.


Recipe 1

450 grams olive oil
250 grams coconut oil
250 mls chilled water (spring or de-ionised)
90 grams caustic soda (sodium hydroxide/NaOH)
20 mls of essential or skin safe fragrant oils
1/4 cup ground herbs or ground oatmeal
1 tablespoon of cosmetic clay






Recipe 2

250 grams macadamia nut oil
250 grams olive oil
250 grams coconut oil
250 grams palm oil
50 grams castor oil
390 mls water
135 grams sodium hydroxide

25 mls of essential or skin safe fragrant oil/s
1/4 cup ground herbs/oatmeal
1 tablespoon of cosmetic clay

Macadamia nut oil is a lovely oil to use in soaps. Macadamia nut oil is very close (molecularly) to our own skin sebum so it is nourishing to have in soap.

The coconut and castor oils make for great big bubbles. The coconut and palm provide initial hardness, with the olive adding to that later as well.



Recipe 3

600 grams olive oil
150 grams coconut oil
150 grams palm oil
50 grams apricot kernel oil
50 grams avocado oil
375 mls water
130 grams sodium hydroxide

25 mls of essential or skin safe fragrant oils
1/4 cup ground herbs/oatmeal
1 tablespoon of cosmetic clay

This recipe can be soft at first and needs a good six to eight weeks to age. As with all soaps high in olive oil once they are thoroughly cured and aged they make for a very hard and long lasting bar.

The ingredients in this recipe are very nourishing and this soap would suit those with sensitive skins.



  • Temperature is crucial when mixing the oils with the lye. If too hot, it will separate; too cool and it won't turn into soap. If you have a thick layer of oily stuff after the 18 hour covered period, the soap will be unusable. If it has a layer of white stuff, don't worry about it, that's normal. If there are small white lumps in the soap, they are lye and it will burn if used.


  • Continue to wear rubber gloves when washing up all the utensils.


  • Adding any chemical to water significantly reduces the risk of the chemical splashing back to your face. Remember, "Do what you oughtta, add acid to water". It works with base as well.



  • Making up a recipe yourself, using one from the net or a friend or changing one you've been given? ALWAYS re-run your recipe through a soap calculator to make sure that the amount of caustic soda (NaOH) is correct. Typos *do* happen! Much better to spend a few minutes double checking than to ruin a batch or worse.


  • Accuracy in weighing is IMPORTANT. Inaccurate measuring can make for a very harsh or very soft soap.


  • Only use pliable plastic jugs, plastic or stainless spoons and stainless steel saucepans. The caustic nature of raw soap does not react well with glass, brittle plastic or metals other than stainless steel.


  • Store soap which is not in use in a cool dry area. In a paper bag in the linen closest is always a good spot.


  • Don't let handmade soap sit in water between uses or sit directly under running water for any long duration as it soaks the water up and gets mushy (the technical term!).


  • Want to add colour to your soap? This is easy with ultramarines or oxides. A medium strength solid colour is approximately 1 teaspoon per kilo of oils. You can add this colour to your caustic water or at trace. It helps to blend the ultramarines and oxides with a little water first if adding at trace, to help them incorporate in better. Give a good stir with the stick blender to get a nice even solid colour. If you are wanting to swirl these colours through you may only need 1/2 teaspoon of colour. If swirling remember to add your scent first before you colour. Pour off into a jug a small amount of soap, mix the colour in thoroughly, pour the coloured soap back into the pot, stir the mixture gently (once) and then pour off into the mould.


  • If buying caustic soda from the supermarket don't get Drano, it contains additives. You need to get a brand which says 98-99% pure, commonly Digger's Brand.





  • Lye (Sodium Hydroxide)is a harsh base and can be extremely dangerous. Avoid skin and eye contact. If you get skin contact, flush with a diluted acid (water and vinegar would do fine) and seek medical attention. If you get eye contact flush with cool water for 15 - 20 minutes. Use eye wash centre or eye flush bottles if available, seek medical attention immediately. If swallowed, contact poison control center.
  • Don't use the same tools for food preparation as you do for soapmaking. Wooden spoons are porous and will suffer splintering when used repeatedly for soaping. Similarly, whisks have too many little nooks and crannies in which caustic substance can hide.
  • Caution! Put on your rubber gloves and goggles when working with lye. Do not leave lye in reach of children and animals. Always add lye to water, not water to lye!
  • In the instance that lye should come in contact with your skin, do not run it under water. Neutralize the burn with vinegar. Water will only make it hurt worse.


Shea Butter Soap (from Soothing Soaps by Sandy Maine)

2 cups glycerin soap base, melted in a double boiler
2 tbsp shea butter, melted separately
Several drops of your favorite essential oil (optional)

Mix well, pour into molds (you can use regular food storage containers), and cool.







Shea Butter Soap Base

(all measurements by weight)


907g. coconut oil

1134g. Shea butter - the refined natural with Vit E makes a very white, luscious bar of soap

296g. lye

765g. water (the good stuff)


Temps should be at 32°C to 37°C for fats and lye water
Melt your fats in a big stainless steel pot nice a slow ..on low..
When your lye mixture is cool enough you can add it to the fats.
Stir this mixture until you get a very thick and creamy looking batter.
Now, add your scent







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