Glycerine or natural soap is made with vegetable and plant oils. Soap is formed during a chemical reaction between an acid and a base. Lye, or sodium hydroxide, is a basic salt. Plant oils are fatty acids. When they chemically combine, or link up molecules, it is called saponification, and this process is used to make soap. You can make your own glycerine soap at home with a kit and add herbs or scent-infused oils called extracts to scent it.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Microwave safe container
- Plastic spatula
- Candy thermometer
- Distilled water, 3/4 cup
- Large glass measuring cup
- Rubber kitchen gloves
- Large mixing bowl
- Clear cling film
- Vegetable shortening
- Paper towel
- Large knife
- Waxed paper
Place the pre-mixed oil bottle into a bowl of hot water. Let it sit until the oil melts into a liquid and becomes translucent. Pour all of the oil into a microwave safe container. Put the container into the microwave and heat the oil for one minute on the high heat setting. Stir the oil with a plastic spatula. Heat it on the high heat setting at 20-second intervals, stirring and checking the temperature with a candy thermometer between heating, until the oil has reached 65.6 degrees Celsius.
Pour 3/4-cup distilled water into a large glass measuring cup. Put on rubber kitchen gloves. Carefully open one bottle of lye and slowly pour it into the water while you stir it with a plastic spatula. The lye and water mixture will heat up and release fumes as they chemically react with each other. Do not directly inhale the fumes. Keep stirring the lye solution until it becomes clear. Insert a candy thermometer into the water and lye mixture and let it sit in a safe place until it cools down to 65.6 degrees Celsius.
Check the temperature of the melted oil. Re-heat it in 20-second intervals in the microwave if it has cooled down below 65.6 degrees Celsius. Pour the oil into a large mixing bowl. Use a plastic spatula to remove all of the oil from the microwave-safe container. Slowly pour the 150 degree water and lye solution into the oil while stirring it with a plastic spatula in small fast circles. Once all of the water and lye solution has been added, stir the mixture in a large figure eight pattern, occasionally scraping against the sides of the bowl to move the outer part of the mixture inward. After five minutes, pick up a small amount of the mixture with a plastic spatula and drizzle it over the surface. If it leaves a trail or mark on the surface for two or more seconds before it sinks down, your soap has "traced" or become thick enough to be poured into soap moulds. If it does not, keep stirring and testing for "trace" every three minutes until it does.
Add herbs or essential oils that are included with the glycerine soap kit at this time. Stir until it is completely mixed into the soap.
Apply a thin layer of vegetable shortening onto the interior of the soap mould with a piece of paper towel. Pour the soap into the soap mould. Wrap the top of the mould with clear cling film. Cover the mould with a towel and set it in a warm safe place that isn't near any drafts. Let the soap mould sit for the specified moulding time that the kit states.
Pick up the moulding tray at the corners and twist the tray to release the soap. Press the back of the mould to remove the soap. If you find that it is still difficult to remove, put the mould into your freezer for hour hous and then remove it. If the mould has a single cavity that you poured all of the soap into to make one large piece, cut the large piece of soap into 4-inch-by-3-inch bars with a large knife.
Set down a sheet of waxed paper in a cool, dry, dark location in your house that won't be disturbed. Evenly space the soap bars out onto the waxed paper. Let the soap sit or cure for four weeks.
Finish the cured soap by removing the rough outer surface with an abrasive cloth. Remove large surface lumps with a paring knife. Decorate or carve your soap as desired. Wrap a 3-inch band of cloth around the centre of the soap, leaving 1/2-inch bare on either side so people can see and smell it.
Tips and warnings
- Lye is a caustic substance that can cause painful chemical burns. Always wear gloves when working with lye and handle it with extreme care.
- Always cut away, not toward yourself when using sharp knives.
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