How to Make Your Own Soap

Written by Sun Dahlfred on .

Making your own soap is easy and good for the body as well as for the environment and the pocketbook.

Below is a list of oils and their characteristics when they are used for making soap. Don't allow yourself to get bogged down with all the technicalities below the chart:

Here are some helpful insights for making soap.

A good lye calculator tells you how much lye and water to use with the amount and kind of oil that you have/want to use for making soap. We often make soap from our used palm oil (after many rounds of deep-frying use) together with some coconut oil and olive oil which make for a gentle and cleansing mix. The lye we use is a sodium hydroxide that is readily available at hardware stores and sold as "soda fye" at 79 baht/kilo currently which Thai people use to clear clogged drains. I normally use the SoapCalc below:

The above calculator gives you a range of values for good soap characteristics. By inputting various amounts of oil, superfat, etc. into the calculator, it'll tell you how that soap will turn out in terms of cleansing, foaming, hardiness, etc. I normally increase/decrease  some of my oils to achieve the quality of soap I want.

I normally leave the superfat at 5% just to be sure that I have some leeway with the soap so that it won't be too dry. However, for making detergent for dishes and laundry, 0% superfat has worked well for me (which I discovered by accident). And in the humidity of Thailand, using 0% superfat on our skin has not been a problem.

Below are some video links to show how to make soap:

1. Make a lye solution at least half an hour beforehand to allow for it to cool sufficiently to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celcius):

2. Mix the lye solution into the oil mixture when both are about 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Pour into molds and leave to solidify for 48 hours to lower the ph.

4. Cut into bar size and leave to cure for 4-6 weeks in a well-ventilated area.

Once cured, the bars of soap can be used to make liquid soap, dish and laundry detergent.

To make liquid soap, just grate and dissolve 13 oz. soap bar in 5 liters of hot water and leave overnight before bottling and using. I find that adding 2 tablespoons of salt to the hot mixture will help keep the soap from being slimy.

For fabric softener, we normally just use 1/3 cup of white distilled vinegar per load (either in the fabric softener slot or in the rinse cycle.). It makes the clothes soft when line dried and it strips the fabric from soap residue. And there is no vinegary smell once the clothes are dried.

I hope that this has been helpful.

Below is a link to a laundry detergent recipe you may want to use, using soap, washing soda (baked baking soda). I'd leave out borax and just use vinegar in the rinse cycle.

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