Soap base is made by saponification, or the altering of lye and fatty acids by chemical reaction. Part home chemistry, part cooking, soap making is an ancient and simple process that produces an excellent natural product.
Basic Soap Chemistry
Choose a fat for your soap base. Olive oil is a common choice, as is plain, food-grade lard. A no-frills soap base can be made by simply combining lye, water and lard. Additional oils can be added if you would like a more refined and nourishing soap base.
Lye is the reactive agent for soap and must be made into a solution to start the process. Lye is caustic. The vapour, dust or fumes should never be inhaled. It should never come in contact with skin or any surface that you do not want damaged. Add the lye to cold water to be dissolved. It will begin to spontaneously heat up. Stir carefully with a non-metallic utensil to mix well then set aside to cool.
Mix room-temperature lard with the lye solution then place in a container to harden. A more refined way is to heat the oils or lard and add the lye solution, resulting in a much smoother soap. Many recipes for soap and variations of oil combinations can be found on the Internet or at the library in soap-crafting books.
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