Simple Soapmaking

Why fuss making soap? Here are some good reasons:

  • home made soap can easily duplicate and surpass commercial products for considerably less price
  • you can scent, color or make them all natural if that is your preference
  • it's fun and creative
  • it is a good barterable skill, not to mention a necessary item - one we would not want to do without
  • home made bars can last longer than their commercial counterparts depending on ingredients used

  • Soap knowledge benefits do not stop with soap. Many of the same techniques can be applied for making shampoo, lips balm, lotions, bath salts and perfume For some of these other products, the process is much simpler.

    Soapmaking is not a recent invention. Like many skills, various legends surround its beginning. It is generally agreed the origin traces back to early Roman days. One legend says soap was "discovered" after heavy rain saturated the slopes of Mount Sapo, an ancient site of many animal sacrifices. The residual animal fat and ash collected under the ceremonial altars. You'll find from reading the rest of these pages, fat, ash and water are the key ingredients of soap. When the fat and ash mixed with the rain, the mixture flowed down the slopes to the banks of the Tiber River where washerwomen were cleaning clothes. Miraculously their clothing cleaned easier and more quickly mixed with this substance! Voila! The emergence of soap!

    It is doubtful it really happened this way as there is a little more to the soapmaking process, but it makes for an interesting tale. With a bit of practice and experimentation, you'll be making your own fabulous creations!

    There is some confusion between soap and cleansing items for shower and bath which are not really soaps at all, but detergents. Soaps are made by combining:
  • lye (a form of potash, sometimes called "caustic soda" or sodium hydroxide, NaOH)
  • animal fats and/or vegetable oils
  • water

  • Combining these three ingredients to make soup is called "saponification", a term you will hear frequently in the craft. Detergents differ from soap because they contain petroleum distillates instead of fats or oils.

    There are several ways to make soap:
    • Cold Press Method - saponification takes place over several days. Glycerin which is a natural by-product of this process remains in the finished soap. This natural emollient will make your soap kind to the skin.
    • Blender Method - to make one pound batches only.
    • Continuous Process Method - the method by which commercial products are made.
    • Boiling Method - Steam is introduced into the soap mixture. After saponification has been completed, salt is added which causes the soap and glycerin to separate. Since we want to make the kindest , richest soaps, we will concentrate on the first two methods.
    This website has been divided into easy-to-understand sections. For basic instructions, read either "Is it Soap Yet?" or "Soapmaking Instructions." Before making your first batch, be sure to read "Safety Precautions for Lye." Lye is a caustic substance that needs to be handled carefully. A few simple but important guidelines will make soapmaking a fun, safe experience. The remaining topics will help you decide things like:
  • what do I need to make soap
  • should I use Fragrance Oils or Essential Oils
  • what can I color my soap with
  • what else can go in soap and why
  • what type of molds are available
  • signs of problems and how to fix them
  • and of course, recipes!
  • Ready for some fun? Let's do it!

    Is It Soap Yet? Soapmaking Made Easy by Holly Deyo
    Safety Precautions for Lye
    Supply List, what you need to make soap
    Useable Fats and Oils
    Rendering Fat, easy as pie
    Essential Oils and Fragrances, their differences, how much and when to add them, safety precautions
    Hand-Milled Soap Additives
    Making Hand-Milled Soap
    Making Soap in a Blender
    Tips and Troubleshooting
    Fragrance Calculator, on-line program calculates the correct amount of fragrance for any recipe
    Conversion Calculator complete on-line weight, volume and capacity converter from Mountain sage
    Saponification Chart print off and keep with your soapmaking instructions
    Lye-to-Fat Ratio Chart ready for you to print out and use off-line
    Lye Calculator this is a terrific little on-line program from Mountain Sage
    Capacity and Volume Converter on-line program
    Capacity and Volume Converter on-line program
    Capacity and Volume Converter on-line program
    Weight Converter on-line program
    Weight Converter on-line program
    Temperature Converter on-line program
    Temperature Converter on-line program
    Temperature Converter on-line program
    Links for Soapmaking Supplies
    Main website:
    Preparedness website:

    Contents © 1996-2018 Holly Deyo.
    All rights reserved.