Have you ever tried making a batch of soap at home? Making your own soap, all handmade at home is the best thing and so very rewarding! You know what goes into it and you have total control of the output. If you are interested to test it and is your first time looking into it, I have got you covered. In this post, I go over the basics- shelf life, longevity tricks, ingredients, couple of recipes to get you started etc.
The lifespan of homemade soap can vary depending on various factors such as the ingredients used, the curing process, and how the soap is stored. On average, properly made and stored homemade soap can last for about one to two years. However, this is just a general estimate, and the actual longevity of the soap can differ.
Natural Tips to Make a Homemade Soap Bar Last Long
To ensure that your homemade soap lasts as long as possible, consider the following tips:
- Curing: Allow your soap to cure for a recommended period, typically 4 to 6 weeks. During this time, excess moisture evaporates, resulting in a harder and longer-lasting bar of soap.
- Ingredients: Use oils and fats that contribute to a hard and long-lasting soap. Certain oils, like coconut oil, palm oil, and shea butter, can help create a harder bar.
- Storage: Store your soap in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and excessive heat. High temperatures and humidity can cause the soap to soften and deteriorate faster.
- Keep it dry: Soap should be kept in a dry environment to prevent it from softening or dissolving prematurely. After each use, place the soap on a well-draining soap dish or rack that allows excess water to drain away. Avoid leaving the soap in standing water or in a humid bathroom environment.
- Use a soap saver: If your soap dish doesn’t have good drainage, consider using a soap saver or a raised soap tray. These accessories can help keep the soap dry between uses and prevent it from sitting in moisture.
- Allow for airflow: Proper air circulation is crucial for preventing the soap from becoming overly soft or developing a mushy texture. Avoid storing soap in airtight containers or wrapping it tightly in plastic. Instead, allow air to circulate around the soap bars.
- Store in a cool, dry place: Choose a storage location that is cool, dry, and away from direct sunlight. Excessive temperatures and high humidity can cause the soap to soften, lose its fragrance, or spoil more quickly.
- Use appropriate packaging: If you plan to store the soap for an extended period or want to protect it from external factors, consider wrapping each bar individually in wax paper or breathable fabric. This helps to retain the soap’s scent and prevents it from sticking to other surfaces. Avoid using plastic wrap or airtight containers, as they can trap moisture and shorten the soap’s shelf life.
- Rotate and use within a reasonable timeframe: While homemade soap can last for a decent amount of time, it’s best to use it within a reasonable timeframe to enjoy its optimal quality. Rotate your soap supply, using older bars first and allowing newly made bars to continue curing.
By following these storage tips, you can help prolong the shelf life of your homemade soap and ensure it remains in excellent condition for as long as possible. Proper storage of homemade bar soap is essential for maintaining its longevity and quality.
However, these guidelines are general recommendations, and the actual lifespan of handmade soap bars can still vary depending on individual factors. It’s always a good idea to observe the soap’s appearance, scent, and texture over time to determine if it’s still suitable for use. If a soap becomes discolored, develops an off smell, or becomes mushy or excessively soft, it may be time to replace it.
Natural Oils, Natural Ingredients
There is a wide variety of oils that can be used in homemade soap making, each contributing its unique properties to the final product. Here are some common oils used in soap making:
- Olive Oil: Olive oil produces a mild and moisturizing soap. It creates a creamy lather and is gentle on the skin.
- Coconut Oil: Coconut oil contributes to a hard bar of soap that produces a rich, bubbly lather. It adds cleansing properties to the soap but can be drying if used in high amounts.
- Palm Oil: Palm oil helps create a firm bar with a stable lather. However, it is important to ensure that the palm oil used is sustainably sourced.
- Sweet Almond Oil: Sweet almond oil is moisturizing and adds a luxurious feel to soap. It is suitable for sensitive or dry skin.
- Castor Oil: Castor oil provides excellent lather and moisturizing properties to soap. It also helps create a stable and creamy lather.
- Shea Butter: Shea butter adds creaminess and moisturizing properties to soap. It is particularly beneficial for dry or sensitive skin.
- Avocado Oil: Avocado oil is rich in vitamins and contributes to a conditioning and moisturizing bar of soap. It helps create a stable lather.
- Jojoba Oil: Jojoba oil is actually a liquid wax that closely resembles the skin’s natural sebum. It adds conditioning properties to soap and is suitable for all skin types.
- Sunflower Oil: Sunflower oil is a light and moisturizing oil that produces a mild and creamy lather. It is often used as a base oil in soap making.
These are just a few examples of oils commonly used in homemade soap making. Soap makers often create their own unique recipes by combining different oils to achieve desired properties such as lather, moisturization, hardness, and conditioning. It’s important to research and experiment to find the oil combination that works best for your specific needs and preferences.
Essential Oils in Soap Making
You can also use essential oils in homemade soap making to add fragrance to your soap. Fragrance oils such as Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts that provide natural scents and can offer additional benefits depending on the specific oil used. Here are a few important points to consider when using essential oils in soap making:
- Choose high-quality essential oils: It’s important to use high-quality, pure essential oils that are specifically intended for cosmetic use. Ensure that the essential oils you purchase are suitable for soap making and are not diluted or adulterated with synthetic fragrances.
- Calculate the appropriate usage rate: Essential oils are potent, and using too much can irritate the skin or cause the scent to be overpowering. Different essential oils have different usage rates, so it’s essential to research and follow recommended guidelines. Typically, a usage rate of around 0.5% to 3% of the total soap batch weight is common, depending on the essential oil and desired strength of the scent.
- Add essential oils at the right stage: Essential oils are typically added to the soap mixture after it reaches trace, when the oils and lye solution have emulsified. This is to ensure that the fragrance is not affected by the lye’s high pH, which could potentially alter the scent.
- Mix thoroughly: Once you add the essential oils to your soap mixture, stir or blend thoroughly to ensure that the fragrance is evenly distributed throughout the soap. This will help create a consistent scent in the final product.
- Consider the scent’s longevity: Some essential oils have stronger scents that can last longer in soap, while others may fade over time. Experiment with different essential oils to find ones that provide a lasting scent in your soap.
- Perform a patch test: If you’re making soap for personal use or gifts, consider performing a patch test on a small area of skin to ensure that the essential oil fragrance does not cause any skin irritation or allergic reactions.
Essential oils can have different properties and potential sensitivities, so it’s crucial to research and understand each oil before incorporating it into your soap recipes. It’s also recommended to keep a record of the oils used in each batch for future reference or in case of any potential sensitivities or allergies.
Basic Recipe for a natural handmade cold process soap
Now, lets look at a basic recipe here. Making handmade soap at home can be a fun and rewarding process. Instructions for making a simple cold process handmade natural soap:
- 500 grams of vegetable oils (such as olive oil, coconut oil, or palm oil)
- 70 grams of sodium hydroxide (lye)
- 200 ml of water or liquid (such as milk, herbal tea, or aloe vera juice)
- Optional: essential oils, herbs, colorants, or additives for scent and texture
Note: When working with lye, it’s important to take safety precautions. Wear gloves, goggles, and protective clothing, and work in a well-ventilated area.
- Prepare your workspace: Cover your work surface with newspaper or a protective layer. Ensure you have all the necessary equipment, including a digital scale, heat-resistant containers, a stainless steel or heat-resistant plastic spoon, a soap mold, and a thermometer.
- Weigh and mix the oils: Measure out the vegetable oils using a digital scale and combine them in a heat-resistant container. Gently melt the oils using a double boiler or microwave until they are fully liquid. Set aside to cool.
- Prepare the lye solution: In a separate heat-resistant container, carefully measure the water or chosen liquid. Gradually add the sodium hydroxide to the liquid while stirring gently until it is fully dissolved. Be cautious as the mixture will generate heat and fumes. Allow the lye solution to cool to around 40-50°C (104-122°F).
- Combine the oils and lye solution: When both the oils and lye solution have cooled, pour the lye solution into the container with the oils. Stir the mixture using a spoon or an immersion blender until it reaches trace. Trace is the point at which the mixture thickens to a pudding-like consistency.
- Add optional ingredients: If desired, add essential oils, herbs, colorants, or other additives to the soap mixture. Stir well to ensure they are evenly distributed.
- Pour into molds: Pour the soap mixture into your chosen soap molds. Tap the molds gently on a flat surface to remove any air bubbles. Smooth the top with a spatula if needed.
- Cure and unmold: Cover the molds with a plastic wrap or a towel to insulate them. Allow the soap to cure for about 24 to 48 hours, or until it has hardened enough to be unmolded. Once unmolded, place the bars on a rack or tray and let them cure for an additional 4 to 6 weeks to complete the saponification process.
- Store and enjoy: After the curing period, your homemade soap is ready to use! Store the bars in a cool, dry place or wrap them in wax paper to preserve their freshness.
This is a basic recipe to get you started. As you gain experience, you can explore different oils, scents, colors, and techniques to create your own unique handmade soaps.
Extending Shelf Life of Soap