Let’s learn how to make vegan soap at home. The only reason you’ll likely want to do this is because you enjoy learning new things or you want to find a new hobby.
If you’d like to try the best organic and vegan lip balm please check out “Buy Lip Balm” on the menu bar. I think it really is terrific and it’s a great way to support this site if you think it has value.
I used to make and sell homemade liquid soaps as well as hard soaps, lotions, shave oils as well as the lip balm which you can buy as I continue to make that product.
Making home made vegan soap is fun but it is quite labour intensive and more expensive than buying the many vegan soaps out there.
But we’re making our own soap for fun right. So let’s get to it. This is perhaps the easiest and simplest home made soap recipe and as such is a great place for beginners to start. But before we get to the actual making of soap we need to make sure we have all the necessary tools. This is what you will need.
8 to 12 quart stainless steel or enamel pot DO NOT USE iron, tin, aluminum or teflon as they will be corroded by lye. Avoid cast iron as it will discolour the soap
3 quart stainless steel pot DO NOT USE iron, tin, aluminum or teflon as they will be corroded by lye. Avoid cast iron as it will discolour the soap
2 to 3 quart heat resistant glass bowl
2 or more heavy duty rubber or silicone spatulas
2 thermometers reading 0 to 220 Fahrenheit
mold for the soap – 10″ x 14″ x 4″ will be good for around 6 pounds of soap DO NOT USE iron, tin, aluminum or teflon as they will be corroded by lye. Avoid cast iron as it will discolour the soap
wax paper to line the mold
sharp paring knife for cutting soap into blocks
safety goggles and rubber gloves
immersion blender – optional
Before we get any further I need you to understand the dangers of making soap. Soap making at home is extremely hazardous because you are using lye. Lye can cause burns, caustic fumes and kill you if swallowed. As such, do not work with lye (sodium hydroxide) when children are around. ALWAYS use goggle and gloves when working with lye and throughout the soap making process.
Keep vinegar handy in case you are splashed with lye. As vinegar is an acid, rinse any part of you that comes in contact with lye (an alkali) to neutralize the lye. Then you can rinse the affected area under cool water.
Follow all safety precautions and use good common sense when working with lye. When making soap make sure you are in a well ventilated area. Open as many windows and doors as possible as the fumes created by lye are unpleasant and unhealthy.
Okay, let’s make some soap. For the lye (sodium hydroxide) you should speak to your local craft store or soap/candle making supply store. You might also be able to find your oils there too. You want pure lye, not lye used for drain opener.
Vegan Valor’s vanilla soap
This will make around 6 pounds or about 20 soaps each around 4 ounces.
Before you start make sure you have all your tools, safety equipment and ingredients with you in the kitchen. Prepare the mold by covering the bottom and halfway up the sides with wax paper. Tape the wax paper in place.
1.5 pounds of water (distilled is best)
237 grams of lye (pure sodium hydroxide)
2 pounds of olive oil
1 pound 4 ounces of coconut oil
12 ounces of palm oil
15 to 20 teaspoons pure essential oil of vanilla measure this out and set aside
Put on your goggles and gloves and weigh out the lye and set aside. Use a bowl of some sort, plastic is okay here.
Put the glass pitcher on the scale, tare it to zero and weigh the water into it.
Take the pitcher off the scale and put on a sturdy counter top. Now carefully add the lye to the water. LYE MUST ALWAYS BE ADDED TO WATER NOT THE OTHER WAY ROUND. Stir briskly as you add the lye into the water. The fumes will be strong so make sure you are well ventilated. Leave the area if necessary to catch a breath. Adding the lye to the water in portions can help. NOTE, the water mixture will get to 200 Fahrenheit as you add in the lye. Once all lye has been added to the water set the pitcher aside to cool.
You want the lye mixture to cool to 80 Fahrenheit before using – this is important for proper saponification of the oils with the lye.
Now take the 12 quart pot and place it on the scale. Tare the scale to zero and weigh in the olive oil. Set aside.
Take the 3 quart pot and put on scale. Tare scale to zero and weigh in the coconut oil and palm oil. Place this pot over the stove and heat over low to medium heat just to melt these oils.
When oils are melted add the palm and coconut oil mixture into the large 12 quart pot containing the olive oil. Let your oil mixture now cool to 80 Fahrenheit (27 Celsius).
Now we make soap. Be sure that both lye and oils are at 80. If not, you can heat the lye up by placing the glass pitcher in a sink of hot water. You can heat the oils by carefully warming them on the stove to about 76 Fahrenheit, then take them off as the residual heat of the pan will bring them to 80 degrees. It’s okay if you aren’t perfectly at 80, try to get within a few degrees though.
This is where soap making becomes a bit of an art. You are still wearing your goggles and gloves right? I didn’t say you could take them off.
Add the lye mixture into the oil mixture. THIS IS IMPORTANT TOO, not the other way round. As you add the lye into the 12 quart pot containing the oils do so slowly, pouring a little bit at a time. Take a minute or 2 to add the lye into the oils. As you do so stir consistently and well.
I use an immersion blender to stir the oil as I add the lye. This helps speed up the saponification process but you can use just a regular spatula too if you are more comfortable that way. If using an immersion blender, only start the blender when it is submerged in the oil, and stop the blender before you take it out of the oil. The lye is very caustic at this stage and you don’t want the blender splattering you with oil and lye mixture which WILL burn you.
Btw, you will void your waranty when using an immersion blender to make soap 🙂
As you blend or stir your oils you will notice that it starts to get ever so slightly thicker. Every couple of minutes or so, take out your spatula or immersion blender and let the oil mixture drizzle onto the surface. If it leaves a feint pattern on the surface for just a brief moment before sinking in, you are ready to add the vanilla. You DO NOT want to wait until the drizzle of oil stays on the surface.
How long this takes is hard to say. You could reach this stage at anywhere from 7 to 40 minutes depending on the oils you are using, but generally it happens before 20 minutes in my experience.
Add the vanilla and stir or blend just to incorporate. You don’t want the oil to seize which means it becomes too thick and hard.
Once the vanilla oil has been stirred into the oil it is time to quickly but carefully pour the mixture into your mold. If you notice any watery or oily type of puddles your stirring was not mixing the ingredients well. These watery or oily puddles will leave solid oil in your soap bars. So rather try again.
However, this is usually unlikely if you’ve been careful and thorough with your stirring.
Pour the soap evenly and into the mold and use a spatula to even it out in the mold. If the bottom of the pot has watery or different consistency to the rest of the mixture, don’t add that into the mold.
When you have poured your soap into the mold, cover the mold fully with heavy cardboard or wood and then wrap it in a blankie. You want the soap to stay warm and continue the saponfication process for the next 24 hours. As such, wrap the mold up in its blankie and leave it somewhere undisturbed for 24 hours.
Once the 24 hours are up, unwrap the mold and take off the cardboard or wood to let it breathe in its mold. Keep away from drafts though.
Between 1 and 7 days later when the soap is firm but not rock hard, cut into blocks and take out of the mold and lay the soap bars on plain brown paper leaving room between each soap. Put them single layer thick.
You are now going to allow them to mature and become milder with age. Using soaps at this point will be too harsh on your skin. Let them sit and age for 4 to 6 weeks before using. About every week turn them over to allow for complete curing.
Enjoy… and send me a bar won’t you 😉