Chemielabor, Seife

My first Soap in Years!

I’m currently looking for a new (local) employer, so I have a lot of downtime that I can use to get creative. Cooking and Blogging is one thing, but I always had a bit of a DIY streak. That includes a variety of areas and always occurs in phases. This time it’s soaping.

I first got into making my own soaps a couple of years ago when I lived in Nuremberg. Since I was new to the city and didn’t know a lot of people outside of work, I started to delve into things that I could do on my own and in my own apartment. One thing was cooking, the other: soaping. It uses a lot of similar ingredients and tools and both involves science. Extra pro: You save a lot of money when you don’t buy overpriced drug store soaps and cosmetics, that usually are loaded up with petrol derivatives and other chemicals.

What is Soap?

Per Definition, Soap is a salt of a fatty acid, the result of a chemical process called saponification. Fats and oils are mixed with a base (the opposite of acid). The base reacts with the triglycerides in the fats and forms soap, leaving glycerin (known for its moisturizing properties) as a byproduct.

The base used in soap making is commonly called „lye“ and usually one of those two:

  • Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) makes a hard soap, e.g. for soap bars
  • Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) makes a soft soap, e.g. for liquid soap or shampoo bases

Soap recipes are formulated by their type of use, read more about this on soaphistory.net and about ingredients and their properties here.

Soaping Equipment

When making soap, you should invest in a couple of bowls and beakers for soap use only, since soap isn’t exactly safe for eating. ;) I’ve read somewhere that this rule only applies to plastic bowls and not to glass and stainless steel.. But better be safe, right? You really only need something to stir. But if you don’t want to go stir-crazy, better buy a stick blender. You can get cheaper ones at amazon for around €30. So what you’ll need:

  • A large bowl or pot, at least 2 litre capacity (for making your soap in there)
  • A stick blender
  • A couple of spoons
  • 2 measuring jugs (one for the lye crystals and one to mix it into)
  • A couple of small bowls for measuring out fats, essential oils, etc
  • A wire whisk
  • A rubber spatula (for scraping out the bowls)
  • Some sort of molds (You could buy special soap molds but regular silicone baking molds will do just fine, or recycle cleaned yoghurt jars!)

Lye Safety

When mixing the lye with distilled water, the jug will get hot. REALLY hot. Exothermic reaction and all that. Also, lye makes nasty burns on your skin, and if it gets in your eye, you might go blind. So please wear appropriate safety gear. If you get something on your skin, splash some regular white vinegar on top, as it will neutralize the lye.

There are a couple of good videos on Youtube that explain Lye safety. I selected one of them by soapqueentv.

 

 

And do NOT keep your kids around.

Ingredient Calculation

Since every oil and fat has its own unique properties, it is important to check how much lye to use, using a lye calculator. If you use a recipe from the internet, double-check it with the lye calculator for correct proportions. When you use essential oils (EO) and fragrance oils (FO), you need to calculate the amounts that are safe to use for soap making. There are a couple ones as websites on the internet, as well as apps for your smart phones. Here some links:

(EN) Brambleberry Lye Calculator
(EN) Brambleberry Fragrance Calculator
(EN) Brambleberry Calculator iPhone App <- I’m using this
(DE) Naturseife.com Seifenrechner

All important information relayed.. Now here’s my first soap in years! :)

Earthling Soap

called „Earthling“ because I’ve scented it with and earthy fragrance oil modeled after a well-known beauty product line for men.

400g olive oil
100g canola oil
100g coconut oil (melted)

79g NaOH
198g destilled water

10g Tabak fragrance oil (bought here)

The recipe filled 8 rose-shaped silicone molds. I will weigh each piece of soap after they have finished curing.

Here are two pictures I snapped today, one still molded, one unmolded. :)

DSC01042 DSC01043