Thursday, June 30, 2011


Last Christmas one of our Earth Carers volunteers gave a demo on how to make soap. Since then I've been hooked, so has my colleague and my neighbour. We are getting together on the weekend to try goat's milk soap.

Normal soap is a lot easier to make than you might think. Here are some of my first attempts. I pored the mix over my (home grown) luffa for extra exfoliation!

Basically you mix water with lye (caustic soda) very carefully. This causes a chemical reaction and the solution gets warm. Then you heat oil. Both the lye solution and the oil need to be between 32-43 degrees. Then you mix them together with a stick blender and you get a second chemical reaction, saponification. Pour the mixture into a mold, wait 24 hours, chop it up and Bob's your uncle, soap!

But don't try to make soap until you have read the full version on how to do it.  You do have to be really careful with the lye. Also you can't just use any oil as each type of oil reacts differently to the lye, so it must be recipe specific to the type of oil you want to use. I read the book 'Smart Soapmaking' by Anne L. Watson, which gives good and clear instructions and a few good recipes. Unfortunately she uses some palm oil recipes which I stear clear of.

Soaps make great gifts and can be sold for fund raising. Here is a load I made for my Dad's church fete.

You can use heaps of different essential oils and exfoliants, different shaped molds and colouring. Silicone molds from the op shops work really well. Here is one below with (home grown) poppy seeds and orange essential oil (I have all but given up on making sour dough bread so what else am I to do with my poppy seeds!).

Have a go, it's great fun and just another skill to bring on home. Don't be afraid of the lye. I think, these days, we have lost our nerve with home made stuff. We worry about botulism with preserving, burning our skin off with home made soap, meningitis in our potting mix, bird poo in our tank water... But what about the fun and creative satisfaction with all of the above. To me the risk is worth it. Anyway, it will never happen and if it does I'll die smiling!


  1. Me and a daughter made our first batch a few days ago and you are right, we had been a bit worried about all the scare-talk. It's not hard but be careful. as with anything.
    I'm looking for luffa seeds. You don't sell them do you? Or know of a WA source?


  2. Wow, yours look really good! I made my first batch a few months ago, but instead of buying coco butter (I couldn't find it) I tried to make my own which wasn't that difficult
    It turns out well, but it leaves tiny pieces of coco fibre in the soap, a very gentle scrub.

  3. Hi Barbs, I got the Luffa seeds from Planet Ark in Freo. I think you could get them from Diggers seeds catalogue too. I think its a tad early to plant them, but as soon as it warms up a bit, try them!

  4. Wilma, thats amazing that you made your own coco butter - you will be making your own lye next!