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Making Your Natural Soap

April 24, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 230

Making your own soap is a great fun and the best way to know just what is in it. Many people suffer from sensitive skin but some products marketed for sensitive skin are the same as those for normal skin with the colours and scents removed. This is great if your skin was sensitive to the colour or scent but if it was sensitive to another ingredient it does not help.

Making your own soap lets you clean your skin whilst knowing exactly what you are using. Many skin products for sale contain ingredients that some irritate sensitive skins including parabens, sodium lauryl sulphate, propylene glycol, petroleum based products, tricolsan and some forms of alcohol. When you make soap at home you only need vegetable oils like olive, coconut, corn, sunflower, etc. and caustic soda. These soaps simply have fewer ingredients and are also less likely to irritate your skin. You can personalise them by adding essential oils for their healing properties and scents, or oatmeal for exfoliation, or honey for moisture.

There are many recipes for natural soaps on the internet. To avoid information overload you could limit your search by looking for simple or beginners recipes. Castile soaps are very simple and great for sensitive skin as they are based on olive oil. The simplest castile soap would be made from olive oil, caustic soda and water. For more lather you could add coconut oil, for scent a little essential oil like lavender. I'd start by making a small batch so perhaps one where all the ingredients together weigh 500g or about a pound in total.

Caustic soda must be handled with care. Once it comes into contact with moisture it can burn eyes or skin. Wear gloves, goggles, and dare I say it, clothes, when you handle it, and the soap, until the soap is solid. Once the soap is made the caustic soda is safe. It reacts with the oils, splitting them into fatty acids and glycerine. The glycerine remains and helps your skin hold moisture. The fatty acids combine with the caustic soda to make the soap itself. You need the right amount of caustic soda to oils so use a trusted recipe or run it through an online lye calculator. You can buy caustic soda from the cleaning section of shop - but do check it does not contain other ingredients too, or you can buy it from a soap company.

You don't need complicated equipment to make soap; a sturdy straight sided box lined bottom and sides with greaseproof paper, a couple of jugs, a pan, a large spoon, accurate weighing scales, washing up gloves, and an apron but a thermometer and stick blend are handy.

The method is always the same; weigh the water, put the gloves on, and weigh the caustic soda and slowly, gently add it to the water. Stir gently and set aside to cool. Weigh, and then melt, your oils if not liquid already. Weigh out any other ingredients like honey or essential oils. Put those gloves back on (I know I didn't say to take them off but I bet you wanted to!) and when the oils and the caustic soda solution (often called lye) are at about the same temperature (easier to measure with a thermometer!!) pour one into the other and stir with a spoon or stick blender. After 2 to 30 minutes (less time if using a stick blender) the water and oils stop separating and look like a thin custard. Stop blending and add any essential oils or other bits that take your fancy and stir in with a spoon. Once stirred thoroughly pour the liquid into the lined box and wrap it in an old towel for a day.

After a day check the soap by gently pressing the surface. If it feels like cheddar cheese, so a little give but definitely solid, lift it from the box onto a chopping board. If it's not hard enough leave another 12 hours and check again. Cut the soap into bars using a cheese cutter or sharp knife and put the slices somewhere to air dry (or cure) for 4 weeks. After the 4 weeks the soap should be hard and dry. Sometimes you get a little white dust on the surface and this can be cut away to show good soap inside. I always test soap on a non sensitive part of myself to make sure it's good before I let anyone else try it - particularly if I'm using a new recipe.

Like all skills soap making can seem a bit complicated the first couple of times. You can make it easier by choosing a simple recipe with a smaller number of ingredients, lining your box and weighing out all the ingredients before you start. There are lots of good online tutorials you can watch before you have your first go. After a few batches you could be a confident soap maker and begin experiment with more advanced techniques like making goats milk soap or liquid soap.

To see Helen's handmade soaps visit http://www.favershamsoaps.co.uk or https://www.facebook.com/FavershamSoaps

Source: EzineArticles
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