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How to learn how to make soap
How I did it: My cousin did the reading and research. We settled on a simple process (so we thought). We bought a gallon of olive oil, a can of lye and plastic molds and bowls for processing the soap in.
I have enough of a chemistry background to understand the basics of what was going to happen. My cousin actually has a degree in science. Be warned!! Lye is very caustic, you need to protect your eyes and exposed skin. Working out doors for at least the initial stage seems like a very good idea.
We mixed the soap and poured it to set up in blocks, knowing that once it hardened we would mill it (basically shred it and cook it again).
What we didn't understand was how long this intial batch would take to cure. Our soap wasn't ready by Xmas. But when it did finally cure we grated it up cooked it down in small batches and added natural scents.
Our aim was to make a bar soap for use in the kitchen, so we used scents that we thought would neutralize strong odors.
We made lemon scented ones, and Bengal Spice scented ones, and coffee latte. We tried making a gentle oatmeal soap as well.
We didn't really test the pH of the soap, and I feel like the soaps didn't come out exactly the right pH and I don't like using them for anything but hand soap (they are too harsh for the rest of my body...okay no beating around the bush...too harsh for my crotch and butt!).
I'm not sure how much we ended up spending since we had to buy some things new...and the gallon of olive oil was $16...but we got at least 50 bars of soap out of it. I STILL have soap and we did this not last Xmas but the Xmas before.
Lessons & tips: Read, read, read and read some more.
Double check your math! I think our soap took so long to cure because we made a mistake in a measurement conversion.
Resources: It didn't really help or hurt...but all I could think of was Fight Club as we were making our soap...