Our great grandmothers made soap outdoors in large pots over open fires, but most of us will be making our soap indoors in our kitchens. Unlike our ancestors, we use modern conveniences like food processors and different types of blenders. We can also use soap base or commercially made soap bars to cut the need to work with lye. We don't have to take advantage of these things; it is simply a matter of choice. I like to make all my soaps by hand, from start to finish. That way I know exactly what is going into my soap and then on my body. Don't get me wrong though, I use a soap base for all my glycerin soaps (melt and pour), these are great and I have found a company that uses only natural ingredients in their bases
You will reap countless rewards for spending a few hours creating handmade soaps. Family and friends will fuss over your handcrafted gifts and goodies. In an age of mass production there's a charm in creating with one's hands and heart.
There is so much fun that lies ahead of you. Like a knight on a mission, you will enjoy spending time gathering all types of ingredients for your soaps. Enjoy the pleasure of finding the right scent that pleases your nose. Relax and enjoy the challenge of mixing herbs or flowers, spices or oils. Making soap isn't a race to cross the finish line first, it is a journey that provides as much creativity in the process as it provides gratification as the result.
I have included a simple get you started recipe below, this is a basic soap recipe without any of the extra additives. But feel free to explore and invent new ways to make this recipe one of your personal own. Good Luck.
A mild, off white Castile-type soap, this soap cures into nice, hard bars that produces lots of exploding lather. It is an excellent all-purpose soap and a good choice for hand-milling recipes because it is so versatile; you can again mold this recipe into both body bars.
14 oz tepid water 6 oz of lye 12 oz coconut oil (Found in local health food stores) 8 oz palm oil (substitute with vegetable shortening if needed) 20 oz olive oil
Blend water and lie set aside and cool to 100 degrees F. Melt and blend oils set aside to 100 degrees. Blend mixtures together once temperatures match. Stir the mixture until the soap traces (thickens like pudding). Pour into molds. Leave soap set 4 to 8 hours or until soap is solid and firm to touch. Release soap from mold and allow curing 6 to 8 weeks.
The archaeological record shows that the Babylonians were making soap around 2800 B.C. The first written mention of soap has been found on Sumerian clay tablet dating from about 2500 B.C., which mention using soap to wash wool. Another Sumerian tablet describes soap made from water, alkali, and cassia oil. There is further evidence that the Phoenicians were using soap around 600 B.C.. These early references to soap and soap making show that soap used to clean textile fibers, such as wool and cotton, in preparation for weaving them into cloth. In addition, the ancient Egyptians bathed regularly with a soap like substance made from combination of animal and vegetable oils with alkaline salts.
According to ancient Roman legend, the word soap comes from the name Mount Soap, were animals sacrificed. The rain-washed a mixture of melted animal fats and wood ashes into the Tiber River, where the soapy mixture discovered to useful for washing cloths and skin. Soap was also used in the extremely popular Roman baths, built around 312 B.C.. The Romans thought to have acquired the knowledge from the Gauls. With the fall of the Roman Empire, soap popularity and bathing in Europe went into decline. The joy and pleasure of bathing and soap didn’t return to everyday life in Europe until several centuries later.
The English began soap crafting during the twelfth century. Unfortunately, soap was a heavy taxed luxury item that only the rich could afford. In 1853, when the English soap tax repealed, a boom in the soap trade coincided with a change in social attitudes toward personal cleanliness.
In colonial America, soap making considered women’s work. Each year, women would set aside a time, usually just before spring-cleaning, to make soap from ashes, animal and cooking greases that saved during the winter, and rainwater. The process involved tickling rainwater through the ashes to make lie. The fats and grease boiled and rendered and mixed together with the lye, forming the thick substance that was perfect for making soap.
We have come a long way since then, there has been some people wanting to make their own soap, especially with natural and herbal ingredients. Simplified techniques and easy to find supplies have made soap making easy, profitable, and fun. Crafting soap has begun again, for people love to produce one of kind soaps.