by Texas Homesteader
I’ve had many requests for me to share our soap recipe so I’m sharing with you today. We made several batches using different oils and also different dried botanicals from our homestead. We’re using dried lavender blooms from the beautiful lavender in my flower beds. I also enjoy using crushed dried rosemary from the mammoth rosemary bush at our porch.
It’s a great way to support this blog, so RancherMan & I THANK YOU!
Now let me say here that making cold-processed soap is not hard at all. As a matter of fact, making soap is truly very easy and incredibly fulfilling. But remember you’re dealing with lye and chemical reactions here. You MUST use caution!
Now’s not the time to have the children or small pets underfoot to trip over. What I’m saying here is if it’s not done properly, dealing with lye and the chemical reactions involved can be dangerous. So please do your homework first and proceed at your own risk.
If you’ve made soap before, you already know the precautions to take. But for those new to soap making – please use caution!
I’m no soap-making expert and don’t pretend to be, but here are precautions RancherMan & I take each and every time we’re making soap:
- Making cold-process soap relies on measurement by WEIGHT, not by volume, so you’re going to measure all oils & lye on a digital scale, not rely on what a measuring cup reads!
- Make no substitutions to either quantity or type of oils unless you consult a trusted soap-making oil calculator. Oils must be combined per the recipe in both type as well as quantity measured by weight to result in a safe product. (I’ve used oil calculators before to tweak a recipe but I typically follow this tried-n-true recipe and just tweak my scents or dried botanicals for variations.)
- When mixing lye water – be sure to measure (by weight) the water first and then measure (by weight) the lye and carefully sprinkle the lye into the water to keep from splashing caustic liquids. Never pour water into measured lye – always sprinkle measured lye into measured water.
- Lye is caustic – be sure to wear eye protection, rubber gloves and a paper painter’s mask to protect yourself.
- Always make soap where there is adequate ventilation to avoid inhaling caustic lye fumes.
- Never use metal utensils or containers for caustic lye solutions – opt for silicon spoons, glass or plastic containers and porcelain-lined pans.
- Raw soap must cure for at least 6 weeks – longer is better.
- Follow directions carefully.
- Proceed at your own risk.
Get Your Gear Ready
RancherMan & I set up a work station for making our soap out in the garage with doors & windows open which offered a nice cross breeze. To protect ourselves we wore safety goggles, protective painter’s masks and rubber glove. Before beginning we read over the directions again so we knew what we were going to do and when. And of course we sat out all the tools we’d needed so that we weren’t scrambling looking for things.
We knew we wanted to make different kinds of soap this year. So we started early summer collecting rainwater and placing it in a jar with several sprigs of fresh mint to allow the summertime sun to infuse this all-natural water with a fresh minty scent.
Now that we’re ready to get started with our soap I brought the rainwater in and strained out the mint leaves & stems, dropping the spent leaves into the compost.
Making The Soap
WHEW! Ok, we’re finally ready to start making that soap! RancherMan & I assembled our tools & ingredients. We have some tools that are designated for soap-making only such as a wooden spoon, porcelain pot, plastic containers, etc:
- Rubber Gloves
- *Paper Painter’s Mask
- *Safety Goggles
- *Digital Scale
- Silicone Spoon (not metal)
- *Glass Measuring Cups
- *Plastic Bucket for Lye (no metal)
- *Porcelain-Covered Pot for Soap (no exposed metal)
- Small Containers for Measuring Botanicals & Essential Oils
- *Stick Blender
- *Soap Mold for Raw Soap
- Plastic Wrap
- Thick Towels
I don’t like making soap with palm oil in the ingredient list since it’s not easy to obtain palm oil living out here in the boondocks. So I stick with soaps that call for common oils that I can pick up at our local grocery store. RancherMan & I wanted to make a few 2-lb batches of soap using different scents & dried botanicals.
Each 2-lb batch makes about 9 small bars so this recipe works great for us. This recipe is my favorite. And it’s so versatile since you can change it up with different essential oil scents & botanicals.
- Mint-Infused Rainwater
- Vegetable shortening (Crisco)
- Mid-Grade Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Dried Lavender Blooms, pulverized in coffee grinder
- Dried Rosemary Leaves, pulverized in coffee grinder
- Sodium Hydroxide Lye crystals
- Rosemary Essential Oil (you can buy quality oils here)
First, Mix The Lye Water
First we mixed our lye solution by measuring the water FIRST, then sprinkling the lye crystals on top of the water and stirring with a silicone spoon. The water and lye will cause a chemical reaction so we were sure first put on our eye protection, rubber gloves and paper mask and kept away from the fumes.
We stirred the lye/water mixture gently with a non-metal spoon until the lie completely dissolved. The chemical reaction caused the lye water to heat up quickly. We used a glass candy thermometer to measure the temps – we needed it to cool down to about 100 – 110 degrees.
As the lye water was cooling it’s time to get started with the oils. We measured (by WEIGHT) the liquid olive oil and added it to our measured solid coconut oil & shortening. I poured them all into a large glass measuring cup and heated them in the microwave until the solid oils melted and the oil mixture measured around 100 – 110 degrees.
When the oils and the lye water were both between 100 – 110 degrees it was time to get to blending! We carefully poured the lye water cooled to 110-110 degrees into the melted oils heated to 110-110 degrees and gently stirred with a wooden spoon to get everything blended.
Get To Stirring! And Stirring. And…
Now it was time to make some soap! You’re wanting to get the oils and lye water to reach something called “trace”. That’s where the soap texture changes from just an oily mixture to a thicker almost pudding consistency.
Here’s where I incorporate my shortcut, my secret weapon, my SANITY! Stirring with a wooden spoon will eventually give you trace, but it takes quite a bit of time. I can get the soap to reach trace much quicker – about 20 minutes – using a stick blender.
Watch For False Trace
Now you can get false trace by just turning on the stick blender & going to town with it. You don’t want to do that or your soap won’t turn out correctly. False trace looks like it’s thickened into trace, but it doesn’t stay thick. That’s because the emulsification you’re trying to achieve has not really happened.
So what you want to do is turn the stick blender on for a very short duration and stir about 2-3 times around your pot with the stick blender turned on. Then turn it off & just use the stick blender itself to continue stirring manually to remove the bubbles that have been created beneath the surface. When the bubbles are gone give it another blast with the stick blender then turn it off and use it to stir again. Your mixture will become thicker over time.
It’s reached trace when you can drizzle the liquid soap across the top of the mixture and have it leave a little trail for a few seconds before disappearing beneath the surface. When it reaches trace it was time to add the essential oil and dried botanicals. Lastly give everything a final stir to get everything blended in.
Place Raw Soap In Soap Mold
Now the raw soap is ready to be poured into a soap mold. We have two different molds we use for the soap. For a larger 4-lb batch we use a wooden box RancherMan made for me, lined in plastic to make it easy to remove cooled soap. But for this smaller 2-lb batch we use a silicone pan that measures 8.5 inches by 8.5 inches and about 1.5″ deep.
We poured the thickened soap into the mold, smoothed out the top with a plastic spatula and covered the top of the soap with a piece of plastic. Then we topped the whole thing with thick towels. The towels keep everything well insulated and allow it to cool slowly.
We typically leave the soap in the mold for about 24 – 48 hours before removing it. If the soap still seems a bit too soft to take it out of the mold you can leave the soap in the mold for another 24 hours. Ours took about 48 hours to be ready. At the end of that time the soap is solid but still pretty soft. We carefully folded back the silicone pan to release the soap and placed the whole soap block on a cookie rack to air dry for another 24-48 hours or so.
Now the soap is still soft but a little more firm than before. So we set the soap to the counter and cut it into 9 bars. We used a cute stamp to put our logo on each bar. Now our soap is ready to be fully cured by placing it on a wire rack and exposing it to the air for several weeks. You need to cure soap for at least 6 weeks, but the longer you cure the soap the harder the bar will be & the longer it’ll last in the shower.
Different Variations Of Soap Recipe
We made several different batches of soap:
This 2-lb batch of Rosemary/Lavender soap was made using mint-infused rainwater, rosemary essential oil and half pulverized dried rosemary leaves and half pulverized dried lavender blooms.
Another 2-lb batch of soap we made: Rosemary-Scented Scrubbing Soap. We used mint-infused rainwater, rosemary essential oil & coarsely-chopped rosemary leaves. (this one is RancherMan’s favorite – he loves the scrubbability of this bar!)
We also made a 2-lb batch of Softly-Scented Lavender Soap using filtered water, lavender essential oil & pulverized lavender blooms. (My favorite)
We even made a completely different recipe that was a large 4-lb batch of Vanilla-Scented Shampoo Bars. We used a more foam-producing oil and a blend of vanilla & sweet pea fragrance oils.
And I love Morning Motivation Mint soap using mint-infused rainwater and pulverized dried mint leaves. Refreshing!
There was enough soap to give several bars as gifts and also plenty for RancherMan & me to use for the rest of the year. Thankfully we haven’t had to buy commercial soap for years! Here’s my recipe for the Lavender/Rosemary Cold-Process Soap:
3-Oil Lavender/Rosemary Cold-Process Soap
(2-Lb Recipe, about 9 small bars)
This easy recipe uses only common oils found in any grocery store. The soap lather's beautifully and smells wonderful.
IMPORTANT!! Read all precautions before beginning! Dealing with caustic lye requires safety equipment. Do not attempt to make soap with children or pets around!
- 9.4 oz Vegetable Shortening (ie: Crisco)
- 6 oz Olive Oil (mid-grade is fine & even preferable)
- 6 oz Coconut Oil
- 7 oz Mint-Infused Rainwater
- 3 oz Sodium Hydroxide Lye Crystals
- 0.9 oz Rosemary Essential Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Dried, Pulverized Lavender Blooms (it's ok to measure this ingredient by volume)
- 1 Tablespoon Dried, Pulverized Rosemary Leaves (it's ok to measure this ingredient by volume)
(read precautions above first)
Mix lye solution by measuring the water first, then sprinkling the measured lye crystals on top of the water. Stir with silicone spoon until the lye is completely dissolved. Mixture will heat up, so allow to cool to about 100 - 110 degrees.
In the meantime measure liquid olive oil and add it to the measured shortening & coconut oil. Pour all into a porcelain-lined pot and heat to 110 - 100 degrees. (or use a large glass measuring cup & heat in a microwave)
When the oils and the lye water are both between 100 - 110 degrees, carefully pour the lye water into the melted oils & gently stir with a non-metal spoon to get everything blended.
Continue stirring until mixture reaches 'trace'.
At trace, add measured essential oils and dried lavender & rosemary, giving everything a final stir to get it all blended.
Pour raw soap into 8.5" x 8.5" x 1.5" deep soap mold, top with a piece of plastic wrap & then cover everything with thick towels. Leave undisturbed for 24-48 hours
Carefully remove soap from mold and place soap block on a wire rack to air dry for another 24-48 hours.
After this time, cut into 9 bars and place bars on a wire rack exposed to the air to fully cure for at least 6 weeks. The longer you cure the soap the harder the bar will be & the longer it'll last in the shower.
IMPORTANT!! Read all cautions first! Dealing with caustic lye requires safety equipment. Do not attempt to make soap with children or pets around!
Stay tuned, I’ll share the other recipes soon!
Zero-Waste Health & Beauty
- Zero-Waste Shaving Using A Safety Razor
- Low-Waste Snap Toothbrushes
- Homemade Minty Mouthwash
- Quick & Easy Homemade Deodorant
- MYO Light & Sheer Face Powder
- 3-Ingredient Beeswax Lip Balm
- Homemade Vanilla-Scented Shampoo Bar Soap
- 3-Ingredient DRY SHAMPOO Mix
- Homemade Hairspray
- MYO Naturally-Scented Hair Conditioner
- Morning Motivation Mint Soap
- Homemade Soap: Lavender/Rosemary
- Soap Grows On TREES! Soapberry Shampoo
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Hi there! Sorry if i sound daft, but when you use the stick blender, is it all plastic or does it have a metal blade or doesnt it matter at that point in the recipie? Only asking because mine is a metal attatchment? Thank you
My stick blender has a plastic shaft, only the blade is metal. Hummm… Raw soap can react with metals – it’s always been fine with my stick blender where the only metal is the tiny blade – but all ingredients are measured, mixed and cured in strictly non-metallic containers. I’m just not sure – Can any veteran soap makers weigh in here? Would it be bad to use a stick blender when the shaft touching the raw soap is all metal? ~TxH~
I love making soap! Will definitely have to try this soon. Thanks for sharing with us at the homestead blog hop!
This soap has certainly been a delightful one Danielle. ~TxH~
I have been wanting to make soap! Now to find me some rainwater… it isn’t too plentiful in LA 😉
Melissa, the first few times we made soap we just used purified water and it did fine. Fingers crossed that you get some of the wet stuff soon! ~TxH~
I can almost smell this through the computer! I love both rosemary and lavendar and this soap must smell amazing! Thanks so much for joining us at Share The Wealth Sunday!
Love the idea of a homemade soap. So much better then what you purchase in store.
We do love this soap Lady Lilith – such affordable luxury! ~TxH~
Oh yes ma’am. I consider it an affordable luxury. And if I can use botanicals from right here on our homestead – bonus! ~TxH~
Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty The rosemary lavender soap sounds divine!
We love it Stacey! ~TxH~
I’ll need to wait until July (maybe) to get any rain water to make the infused water! 🙂 I bet writing these instructions was half the battle. It does sound intimidating. I’m sure the details make it wonderful. Nice gift.
Wishes for tasty dishes,
It really was, Linda. Although making homemade soap is super easy, there are precautions necessary when dealing with lye and chemical reactions. As long as you are mindful of the precautions, the whole process is a snap. As a matter of fact, RancherMan & I would make one batch of soap and when it was poured into the mold we’d make another batch with different scents or botanicals right then – we had everything out already we might as well! It was a fun project for us and one of the most appreciated and talked-about parts of our homemade Christmas gifts ever. ~TxH~
Pingback: Recipe: Vanilla-Scented Shampoo Soap Bars
This reminds my of my Grandma!! Love lavender soap! Thanks for sharing on My 2 Favorite Things on Thursday! hope to see you again this week! Pinned!
Lavender’s my fave too Elaine. One of the soap variations we made with this recipe used with pulverized lavender blooms and lavender fragrance oil & regular rainwater so the lavender scent would be stronger. Love it, RancherMan has to leave those bars for me… LOL! ~TxH~
What a labor of love! I definitely think we’ll be trying this out this year. The kids would enjoy helping collect and infuse the rainwater. Thanks for sharing at Merry Monday.
I have always wanted to try to make homemade soap, I have been a little afraid, but after reading your very detailed instructions I think I’m going to get all the proper tools and give it a try. My husband is a taxidermist so we are very used to having to be very careful with harmful chemicals. You did a awesome job with your post! I do have a question, what if you don’t have rain water collected? Can you use distilled water? You may have posted something about that above and I was reading over it to fast.
I just started a blog myself, my parents have always farmed and we raise black Angus cattle, chickens, garden and do as much as possible for our family including homeschooling our 4 children. I stumbled across your blog on Pilgrims and Strangers and absolutely love your site!
That’s awesome Hayley, I hope you give this soap recipe a try. I was pretty intimidated to try my first batch several years ago but by using appropriate caution I find that I really love it, and it’s an activity that RancherMan & I always do together. It’s fun deciding together what scent it will be or if we want to add dried botanicals. When we didn’t use rainwater for the soap we’ve used regular filtered water in the past & it’s always worked out beautifully. I’m so glad you stopped by for a visit today! ~TxH~
Wow! I had so much fun reading about all this! How blessed to receive one of these soaps! I can almost smell them. It was great to provide the recipe and exacting instructions to assure safety and success! I’m not likely to try this, but I loved reading about this today! Visiting as your neighbor from #TuesdayswithaTwist!
The soaps were very well received by our gift recipients Pam, and RancherMan & I have plenty of high-quality soap for ourselves until the next soap-making session. Win/win! So glad you stopped by today. ~TxH~
Sure does look like a lot of work but great rewards in the end I’m sure. What great little gifts these would make especially made into different shapes
Tammy; is there anything that you don’t do or make? You are amazing.
Have a great day along with a wonderful week.
Can’t believe that it will be in the 70’s come this weekend. Whoo Hoo
It’s a lot of instruction Colleen because of the caution you must use, but it’s really very simple & straightforward to make soap: Weigh ingredients – mix lye/water and wait to cool to 100 degrees. Mix oils and heat to 100 degrees. Mix the two and blend until trace, place in mold & cut after 24/48 hours. It is always a fun project RancherMan & I do together usually about every other year – we make enough soap for ourselves for a couple of years as well as our Christmas gifts that year. And yes oh yes I’m eyeballing the weather, we’ll be hosting my brother this weekend. He’s a native Texan who moved to the frozen tundra in the northern US so this beautiful Texas January weather will really make him long for his native home… LOL Enjoy the beautiful weather, sweet girl! ~TxH~
I’ve never made homemade lye soap before but now that you have blogged about it, I’m feeling more confident and think I will try to. Thanks so much for your detailed steps and directions on how to d-i-y. My daughter and I both want to make our own ;-). I’m also interested in making some shampoo bars as well. Thank you so much for your help. I just love to read your blogs 😉 !
As long as you follow the recipe & are mindful of the cautions Sharon, making soap is very easy and oh-so-fulfilling. RancherMan & I typically make several of these 2-lb batches and change up the botanicals and/or scents for each batch to have a nice variety – the recipe & the procedure is all the same. Plus after that first batch you have a little more confidence to try it again the next day with your scent variations. I’ll be sharing our shampoo bar recipe next week, be sure to check it out! ~TxH~
Thanks for sharing on Strangers & Pilgrims On Earth I cant wait to try this. I have all of this growing in my garden.
It’s so much fun to do Heather and I always feel like I’ve really, REALLY provided for my family when I cut a new batch of soap into bars… ~TxH~
In the ingredients list, you have Crisco, but I don’t see any mention of it in the instructions. Do you use it, and if so, when is it added? Can you use coconut oil in place of the Crisco?
Right you are Mary, my sentence said something like “solid oils like coconut oil”, that’s not near clear enough! Thanks so much for pointing that out, I’ve changed the text to specifically mention the shortening as well. I’ll also amend the cautions to include that when making cold-process soap, you should make no substitutions to either quantity or type of oils unless you consult a trusted soap-making oil calculator. Oils must be combined per the recipe in both type as well as quantity measured by weight to result in a safe product. I’ve used oil calculators before to tweak a recipe but I typically follow this tried-n-true recipe and just tweak my scents or dried botanicals for variations. ~TxH~
Making soap is something I’ve always wanted to do… along with canning!! Your soap sounds wonderful and thank you for the link!
Have you ever made oatmeal soap?
I’ve made a few different kinds of soaps in the past Cheryl, but I typically stick to a few recipes – this one is my favorite all-purpose soap because I can tweak the scents and/or dried botanicals for variations. I also make a castile soap and a shampoo bar pretty often. There are LOTS of recipes out there though. ~TxH~
Soap is one of the few things that I have yet to try making. I guess I’m scared.
I hear ya Judith, I was initially very intimidated to make soap too. And to be honest, making homemade soap deserves your careful attention because you’re dealing with lye and chemical reactions. But if you’re following the recipe carefully and adhering to all safety precautions, making soap is not difficult at all. RancherMan & I make soap every couple of years to keep ourselves supplied and/or to include in our homemade Christmas baskets. We will typically make a batch one day, amend the scents/botanicals to make another batch the next day until we have a few batches of various scented soaps so we have variety for ourselves as well as for our gifts. Those soaps were very well received in this year’s Christmas baskets! ~TxH~