Making Soap - Tips and FAQ
Tips and FAQ
Lye will react with some metals, including aluminum, zinc,
and tin. Do not use containers made of these materials.
Contact with lye can cause injury, as can ingestion or exposure to
fumes. Exercise care when handling lye!
Soap that has hardened (2-3 days or so) but not yet cured is
still very caustic. Exercise the same care when handling it as
you would with pure lye.
It is very important that the lye and fat are the same
temperature when mixing begins. If no thermometer is avaliable,
this may require some trial and error.
How can I tell when the soap is ready to pour into
The mixture is ready when it "traces". Allow
some soap to drip back onto the heating soap. When is ready
it should leave a small mound. Alternately, draw a line in the
liquid soap with the stirring utensil- It will leave a trace for a few
seconds when ready.
Why is my soap seperating as it cures?
Soap will re-seperate into lye and fat if
cooled too rapidly. You can re-melt the soap and pour it back
into the molds, taking care to keep it warmer as it hardens.
Why is there a white powder forming on my curing
The white powder which can form on the surface
of soap as it cures is soda ash, formed as lye reacts with carbon
dioxide. You can try to prevent it from forming by covering the
soap with plastic or waxed paper while it cures, if avaliable. If
not, the soda ash can simply be cut or washed off after the soap has
Why are there bubbles of clear liquid in
If you cut the soap before curing and see bubbles of
clear liquid, it is pure lye. Be careful! Reduce the amount
of lye or increase the amount of fat you use in subsequent batches.
Why does my soap smell like a rotting animal carcass?
If too much fat is used, some of it will not combine with
the lye, and will go rancid. Adjust proportions accordingly.
Why is my soap slimy?
"Slimy" soap can result from incorrect portions of ingredients.
Take care to make accurate measurements.
How can I cut the soap?
If you are making a large quantity of soap or
do not have any molds, you may wish to mold one large slab of soap and
then cut it into smaller bars. This is easily done with a piece
of wire, as a knife will chip the cured soap. Alternately, you
can cut the soap with a hot knife when you remove it from the molds,
Can I make soap that doesn't smell like nothing?
You can add just about any aromatic oil or
other fragrance you can think of to a basic soap recipe to make scented
soap, as well as milk, honey, herbs, or countless other additives that
serve a cosmetic or medicinal purpose. See the
links page for ideas and