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Basic Ingredients For Making Soap

September 24th, 2018 Leave a comment Go to comments

Soap is really a pretty simple thing to make and requires very few ingredients. Our ancient ancestors discovered how to make soap probably by accident. So essentially, it doesn’t take any kind of high tech knowledge to produce. Soap is created from the chemical reaction between fatty acids and alkali.


Lye is at the top of the list and is the necessary alkali ingredient. Normally, we think of lye as a drain cleaner and something extremely caustic that will burn skin on contact. It is chemically necessary to have some type of lye to turn oil into soap.

Our ancestors didn’t have a hardware store or the internet where they could easily find lye. They created a weak form of it from wood ashes. In today’s world, we do have ready access but not all lyes are created equally.

For soap making, you need to be sure your lye is pure sodium or potassium hydroxide. You absolutely don’t want to use a brand that contains any heavy metals or other extraneous ingredients. At the end of the soapmaking process, there is no lye left – it has turned into soap.

Fatty Acids – aka Oils

The second necessary ingredient is some type of fatty acid. In the ‘old days’, animal fats were used in the form of tallow. The extra fat from a slaughtered animal was rendered into tallow and used for soap as well as other necessities. No part of the animal was wasted.

Tallow can be easily made from beef fat which is readily available and quite inexpensive from any butcher or supermarket. It’s a traditional ingredient and produces a hard soap with a very rich lather.

Today’s natural soap makers usually use vegetable and plant oils. There’s a huge list of oils that are popular and each has it’s own unique qualities to bring to the final soap product. Coconut oil, olive oil and palm oil are very popular choices and widely used. Different types of oils each have their own unique properties and are what makes soap making so interesting and certainly never boring.

Extra Enhancing Ingredients

Simple nourishing soap can be made with just oil, lye and water. But we can also add all kinds of extra ingredients to enhance it. Sometimes these items will help with a certain type of skin problem and sometimes they are just for our pleasure.

Essential oils are what gives soap it’s heavenly fragrance. They are distilled from the parts of various shrubs and herbs. They can also have therapeutic and medicinal qualities.

Use them sparingly because they are highly concentrated. The best kinds of essential oils are natural and pure. They haven’t been ‘watered down’ with the addition of an inexpensive oil. If you see a price on them that seems too good to be true, it’s probably because they aren’t of the highest quality.

Goat’s milk is another favorite ingredient. It adds a creamy richness to the lather and is very emollient. You can use it in place of the water in your soap recipe.

Botanicals, in the form of fresh or dried herbs and spices, make a nice addition to your soap. You can also add oatmeal or cornmeal as an abrasive to enhance the cleaning ability for your hard working soaps.

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