Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Making Natural Body Wash From Scratch

 There are many ways to make liquid soap, so I thought I would share how I made mine.
First, I add the hard and soft oils to a large stainless steel pot. Make sure you are not using an aluminum pot. I can't remember how large this pot is, but I think it's a standard stock pot.

 While the oils are melting, I measure the potassium hydroxide. This comes in flakes and  after measuring, it is added to distilled water. When the lye dissolves, it makes a loud "swishing" sound...sort of how a train sounds. Right after mixing, the lye/water is added to the melted oils. I do not wait for the lye to cool down.
 This is what the mixture looks like right after adding the lye/water solution. The pot is placed on low heat. I use a gas stove, so I use the simmer setting.
 After stick blending for a minute, the mixture looks like thick milk.
 Now this is the tricky part.  Stick blending  speeds up the reaction between the lye and oil, but you have to be careful that the mixture doesn't overheat. If it does, it can volcano out of the pot..a big mess....don't ask me how I know!

The trick is to stick blend the mixture while the pot is off the heat and hand stir when the pot is on the heat. I just rotate (on and off the heat) every min or so.
 Patience is the key! The mixture takes a long time to reach the next stage and how long depends on how much heat you use, and how long you use the stick blender.
At this stage the mixture becomes thicker and is similar to thin pudding texture.
 Now, this is the fun part! The "mashed potato" stage happens quickly! One second the mixture is thin pudding, and then it resembles mashed potatoes. Now, I stir and stir until I can't anymore.
Next I place my pot (with the cover on) into the over, which is set at 200F. Every 30 minutes I check on the mixture (now soap paste). The paste will turn from white to opaque when it is finished. This process takes between 2 and 3 hours.
 While I am waiting for the soap paste to finish, I measure out my Borax and distilled water. This solution will dilute the soap paste and help neutralize the soap paste.
 Don't forget your goggles! One tiny drop of lye in your eye, can blind you for life. The risk is just not worth it. Always, always, wear your goggles! Ok, I will step off my soap box.
This is what the soap paste looks like after just an hour. It is still quite white.

This is what the soap past looks like when finished. The paste should be the color of Vaseline, a shiny amber color.

After boiling the distilled water, and dissolving the Borax in the water, I add the solution to the soap paste.

This part is not a fun part. The paste has to dissolve into the water. This takes lots of stirring, and stirring, and stirring. I usually stir the pot, and come back every half hour and stir again. Keeping the lid on, and a towel over the pot, keeps the soap warm and easier to dilute. Did I mention you have to stir and stir and stir?

After a few sessions of stirring, I put the lid on and wait until the next day. After a night of resting, the lumps are easier to dissolve.

You can add fragrance when you add the Borax solution, but I like to keep mine unscented. I add the fragrance as the body wash is ordered. Adding fragrances and essential oils can change the density of the soap. Some will make the soap thicker, and some will thin the soap. I like to keep my liquid soap a little thick in case the fragrance thins when added.

You can see the body wash in the above picture. It is a light amber color. I don't color my soap, but when I add a fragrance that contains vanilla, the soap will turn a darker amber color.

 Making body wash/liquid soap is not hard, but it is time consuming. I find it very rewarding after it is all finished. My recipe makes 6 pounds of liquid soap, so I make a pretty large batch.

I hope you enjoyed the process! Handmade body wash is made with pure fresh oils, and doesn't contain any additives or chemicals like store bought soap.

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