Different oils have different value when producing soap. Olive oil is a gentle moisturizer, coconut oil adds lather, and palm oil hardens well. Once you’ve tried your hand at the process, you can begin to explore adjusting oils or adding scents or texture with herbs or essential oils. Bear in mind that soapmaking is both art and science, and straying too far from the balance of fat to alkali may lead to undesired results. Inexperienced soapmakers should become comfortable with proven recipes before experimentation.
Gather ingredients and tools. Be aware that lye (sodium hydroxide) is extremely caustic. Gloves, long sleeves, protective eyewear and a well-ventilated workspace are recommended when making soap.
Measure ingredients by weight instead of volume for consistent results.
In a plastic or Pyrex container, slowly add 3 ounces of lye to 7 ounces of distilled water (taking care not to splash), and stir using a wooden or stainless-steel spoon to combine.
Temperature will rise quickly once lye and water have been combined, perhaps as high as 200 degrees. Let rest and allow to cool while preparing oil.
Combine 10 ounces olive oil, 6 ounces palm oil and 5 ounces coconut oil in a deep pot and stir over low heat to combine. Once temperature reaches 100-110 degrees, remove from heat.
When lye solution has cooled to between 100 and 110 degrees, slowly add to oil. If oil has cooled to below 100 degrees, reheat before mixing.
Stirring by hand or using a stick blender, mix soap until it becomes thick and opaque. Stirring by hand, this may take up to 45 minutes. Using a stick blender, 2-3 minutes.
When trails of soap drizzled from your spoon or stick blender remain visible on the surface, desired consistency has been reached. This state is known as “trace”.
Pour soap into a small cardboard box lined with a trash bag or parchment paper. The size of the box will dictate the thickness of the completed bar soap. Cover box with a piece of cardboard and allow to rest 24-36 hours until soap is firm and can be cut.
Remove hardened soap from box and cut into bars. Once cut, store bars in a cool, dry place to cure for 4 to 5 weeks before using. Do not use soap before it has finished curing, as lye will still be active and may irritate your skin.