*Good scale for weighing oils, water and lye. Scale must measure in small increments (I use a digital food scale from Walmart)
*Stick blender-This is optional, unless you like hand stirring for an hour or more! You can get one for less than $12 at Walmart or other discount stores.
*Stainless or Enamel Stock Pot -DO NOT USE ALUMINUM, IT WILL CORRODE.
*Plastic bowl for measuring lye.
*Glass or Plastic Pitcher (to mix lye)
*Glass or Plastic measuring cups (to measure oils)
*Plastic or wooden spoon for hand mixing
*Plastic Bag or freezer paper to line mold.
*Rubber Gloves (LYE will burn your skin).
*Googles to protect eyes.
*Vinegar(If you get lye or "hot" soap on your skin rinse with vinegar. It will stop the burn.)
*Mold- Can be a purchased mold, cardboard box, etc. As long as you can line it, cover it and insulate it.
1. Weigh water in pitcher, set aside. Weigh lye. While stirring the water, slowly add lye until all has been added and is dissolve. DO NOT add water to lye The mixture will be hot be careful not to breath in fumes. Put the pitcher out of reach of children and pets, allow to cool.
2. Weigh all oils and put in pot. Melt them slowly until all oil is completely melted. Allow the oils to cool.
3. Get your mold ready. Set aside.
4.Check temperatures often. It may be necessary to adjust the temperature of either the lye mixture or oils. To do this place the pot or pitcher in a hot or cold water bath, checking the temps often. When both the oil and lye mixture are around the temps specified in the recipe, it is time to plug in your stick blender (if you chose to buy one) or get your trusty spoon.
5. SLOWLY pour the lye mixture into the oils. Stir,stir,stir. If you have a stick blend the stir process will only take from 1 minute to 30 minutes to reach trace ( I blend for about 1 minute, then let it rest for 2-3 minute). If the spoon is your weapon of choice, the process can last for up to 1 ½ hours. *If you chose to stir by hand, stir for about 5 minutes then let the mixture rest for 10min. Stir for another 5 minutes and let rest for 10 minutes.
6. TRACE. You will be stirring and you will notice the mixture is uniform in color ( no free oils) and is beginning to thicken. Trace is said to have occurred when you lift a spoonful of the soap mixture and drip it on to the surface of the mixture and the soap drop stays on top or makes an indention that stays for more than a second, you have reached trace. This may be tricky to figure out what trace looks like, until you've had a couple batches under your belt. The best way to describe it is the mixture will resemble the consistency of cake batter.
7. You have trace. It is time to add any butters like (shea or cocoa butter) and whatever fragrance or essential oils you desire. Stir them in well otherwise you may have oil pits in your soap (trust me I know!).
8. Pour the mixture in the mold. Smooth the top. Put on the lid. Wrap the mold in a blanket to help retain the heat. LEAVE IT ALONE.(I know the temptation to peek is overwhelming but you must behave.)
9. After about 24 hrs check it. If the soap has hardened up, remove it from the mold, place on a cutting board used only for soap making, and cut into bars. Use a knife that is not serrated for best results. Place cut bars on a rack, shelf, whatever, where it can sit and cure.
For best results, allow the soap to cure for at minimum two weeks, preferably 3-4weeks. This allows the water to evaporate from the soap and make a nice hard bar that will last much longer.