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DIY Soaps to Make at Home This Summer

DIY Soaps to Make at Home This Summer

Published by N-Essentials Team on 19th Dec 2023

Every summer in Australia, we’re often blessed with holidays and plenty of long evenings with the family. Whether you’re celebrating Christmas or simply getting together, we know how those long days and short nights can be the perfect time to make some memories.

A great way to keep everyone occupied, especially the children, is always DIY projects. Today, we’re going to explore the process for making sweet-smelling soaps that you can give away as gifts or create for your own home.

Materials You Need

Making your own soaps at home can be a fun and creative process. Here's a basic list of soap making supplies and ingredients you'll typically need:

Soap Base

This is the foundation of your soap. You can choose from a variety of bases like glycerin, goat milk, shea butter, or olive oil, depending on the type of soap you want to make.

Essential Oils or Fragrance Oils

Essential oils are used to add scent to your soap. Popular choices include lavender, peppermint, and rosemary.

Colourants

If you want to add colour to your soaps, you can use soap-safe dyes or natural colourants like clays or plant powders.

Moulds

Soap moulds come in various shapes and sizes. Silicone moulds are popular because they're easy to use and clean.

Microwave or Double Boiler

For melting your soap base.

Mixing Utensils

Such as spoons or spatulas, preferably ones you don't use for food.

Measuring Cups or Scales

To accurately measure your ingredients.

Additives

Optional ingredients like herbs, oatmeal, coffee grounds, or flower petals can be added for texture and exfoliation.

Alcohol in a Spray Bottle

Rubbing alcohol can help to remove bubbles from the surface of your soap.

Protective Gear

Although most beginner soap-making doesn't involve harsh chemicals, it's good practice to wear gloves and an apron.

Soap Processes

Soap making is a timeless process that has evolved into several methods, each offering its own unique approach to creating these essential and often luxurious items. From the traditional cold and hot processes, which involve a hands-on approach with lye and oils, to the more beginner-friendly methods, where pre-made soap bases are simply melted and customised, there's a technique suitable for every level of expertise.

Today, we'll be focusing specifically on the cold and hot process methods, diving into the intricate and rewarding journey of traditional soap making. Whether you're an experienced soap artisan or a newcomer to this craft, each method offers its distinct pleasures and challenges, making soap making a versatile and fulfilling activity.

Basic Cold Process Soap Recipe

Ingredients:

Steps:

  1. Suit up with gloves, goggles, and an apron. Always work in a well-ventilated area.
  2. Carefully mix lye with distilled water and let it cool. Note that lye is a dangerous corrosive substance and should be handled with the utmost care!
  3. Melt solid oils and combine them with liquid oils.
  4. Once both the lye solution and oils reach a similar temperature, slowly combine them.
  5. Use an immersion blender to mix until the soap batter reaches a pudding-like consistency, known as 'trace'.
  6. If using, add fragrance, colourants, and additives.
  7. Pour the mixture into moulds and cover them lightly with a cloth or plastic wrap.
  8. Let the soap sit in the mould for 24-48 hours, then unmold and cure for 4-6 weeks.

Hot Process Soap Making: A Variation of Traditional Soap Crafting

Hot process soap making is a twist on the traditional method of soap making. It shares several steps with the cold process method but differs in the key area of cooking the soap.

This extra step speeds up the saponification process, allowing the soap to be used sooner, often with a distinct, rustic character.

Common Steps with Cold Process

  1. As with cold processes, safety is paramount. Wear protective gear like gloves, goggles, and an apron, and ensure you're working in a well-ventilated space.
  2. Just like in the cold process, carefully mix lye (sodium hydroxide) with distilled water and let it cool.
  3. Use the same types of oils (such as olive, coconut, and palm) as in the cold process. Melt solid oils and blend them with liquid oils.

Distinct Steps in Hot Process:

  1. After combining the lye solution and oils, the hot process diverges by cooking the mixture. This can be done in a crockpot or double boiler on a low setting, typically taking about 1-2 hours.
  2. Once the cooking is complete and the zap test is passed, you can add any desired extras like essential oils, colourants, or additives, similar to cold process.
  3. Spoon the hot soap mixture into moulds. Unlike cold process, hot process soap has a thicker, more rustic texture and can be used almost immediately. However, a short curing period of one to two weeks is still recommended for a better-quality bar.

But how do you create unique pieces of soap with different layers and fragrances? Let’s take a look.

Create Layered Soaps

When making a layered soap, particularly with different scents or colours, allowing each layer to be set slightly before adding the next is crucial for achieving distinct, separate layers. Here's a bit more detail on how to do this:

Step 1: Pour the First Layer

Start by pouring the first scented and coloured layer of your melted soap base into the mould. For example, a Tropical Getaway soap made with coconut, pineapple and mango. This could be the coconut-scented layer.

Step 2: Allow to Set

Let this layer cool and begin to solidify. You want it to form a skin that's firm enough to support the next layer without blending into it. This usually takes about 10-30 minutes, depending on the temperature and thickness of the layer. The surface should be firm to the touch but not completely hardened.

Step 3: Test the Firmness

Gently touch the surface of the first layer. If your finger leaves a slight indent but the layer holds its shape and doesn't allow the second layer to penetrate, it's ready for the next layer.

Step 4: Spritz with Alcohol

Lightly spray the set layer with rubbing alcohol. This helps the next layer adhere better and eliminates any bubbles that might have formed.

Step 5: Pour the Second Layer

Carefully pour the next scented layer over the first. Do this gently to avoid breaking through the skin of the first layer. For a clean and straight layer, pour slowly and evenly.

Step 6: Repeat the Process

Allow the second layer to set as you did with the first, then test its firmness, spritz with alcohol, and proceed to add the third layer in the same manner.

By allowing each layer to set slightly, you create distinct visual layers in your soap, each with its own scent and colour. This technique adds a professional and aesthetically pleasing touch to your homemade soaps.

Scent Profiles for the Summer

Want examples of what kind of scents to mix and match?

Summer Breeze Soap

  • Lemon: Offers a sharp, invigorating citrus scent that's clean and energising.
  • Lime: Contributes a tart, vibrant aroma, adding a burst of freshness.
  • Orange: Rounds out the trio with a sweet, fruity fragrance reminiscent of a sunny orchard.

Refreshing Mint Soap

  • Peppermint: Delivers a cool, sharp minty aroma, perfect for awakening the senses.
  • Spearmint: Offers a slightly sweeter, more gentle mint fragrance, adding depth to the blend.
  • Eucalyptus: Introduces a clean, crisp scent with subtle woody undertones, enhancing the minty freshness.

Cooling Floral Soap

  • Blue Tansy: Delivers a cool, sharp sweet aroma, perfect for awakening the senses.
  • Geranium: Offers a slightly sweeter, more gentle floral fragrance, adding depth to the blend.
  • Eucalyptus: Introduces a clean, crisp scent with subtle woody undertones, enhancing the minty freshness.

Try these out and post your results online when you try them out. For more information and interesting projects, feel free to get in touch with us today or check out our blog. 

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