Monday, November 17, 2008

Hand Made Soap the easy way

This is a small batch "blender recipe" that will give you 5-6 bars of castile soap. I have made this several times and it has never failed me. Credit for this recipe must be given to Phill at city mouse country house. The directions are copied and pasted from the original from Phill who says this is a recipe he developed by learning from friends like Peggy at Hidden Haven Homestead.

Lye is the active ingredient in home made soap making unless you are using the melt and pour recipes or kits. Lye is a caustic chemical so it must be properly handled. Don't be afraid, but be safe and take precautions such as wearing latex gloves and avoiding the fumes.

Castile soap is Olive Oil soap. Some say the blender and the containers that you use to make the soap should not ever be used for anything else. I tend to disagree here as it’s just soap. Safety goggles are a good idea too. Do not allow lye to come into contact with anything because it corrodes. DO NOT use metal measurers or containers for the very same reason.

Soap always contains three things - a fat (olive oil, in this case), a liquid (water, milk, tea), and lye (sodium hydroxide). Lye is available from online suppliers. It is usually very difficult to find locally. Believe me I have tried. Where it once used to be a common hardware or grocery store item, it has been removed from the local markets because of its use in illegal drug making. This is the same reason crystal drain opener is not made with lye anymore. I was fortunate enough to have an Amish neighbor provide me with lye for my soap making.

my latest batch...lavender with oatmeal

Basic All-Natural Castile Oatmeal Soap, Blender Batch

3/4 Cup Water (put it in the freezer until almost frozen)
4 1/2 tablespoons Lye Crystals (I measure ahead and place into a small glass ramekin until ready to use)
2 Cups Olive Oil (not evoo, just cheap olive oil. Again, measure and have at hand)
1/2 Cup Ground Oatmeal (I use closer to a cup)
1/2 Ounce of Essential Oil Scent (optional)
Some sort of mold

1. Grind your oatmeal in the blender beforehand. You can decide how chunky or powdery you would like it.

2. Put your 3/4 cup water in a heat-safe container (I use pyrex so it's an automatic measure). Place this in the freezer until the water just begins to freeze around the edges.
Add in your 4 1/2 tablespoons lye crystals slowly and carefully. No splashing. Best to do this in a well ventilated area or perhaps outside - there are fumes. Stir well, very gently for a few minutes. The liquid will seriously heat up. Let is sit, well ventilated until it cools down a little. I insert a glass thermometer but a good indicator is waiting until the liquid is clear and the cloudiness disappears. You want to let the lye mixture cool down to around 100 to 120 degrees. Again, wear gloves, and do not touch it.

3. While the lye/water mixture is cooling, pour your 2 cups of Olive Oil into the blender. When cool enough, carefully pour the cooled lye/water mixture into the blender and put the top on. I cover the top with a towel for extra safety. On low, start blending the mixture together. It will reach "trace" in a minute or two. "Trace" is when it starts to thicken, the consistency of thick cream. Wait ten seconds before you take the top off - you know how a blender sometimes "burps" after it stops. Take the top off and add your ground oatmeal and essential oil "at trace." Put the top (and towel) back on, and blend for a few seconds to mix in the scent and oats. Don't go nuts and don't blend it too much - Once you reach trace, this stuff will thicken quickly, and you need to be able to pour it. Ideally, it's thin enough to pour, but not too thin. The consistency of a cake batter would be good.

4. Have your mold(s) ready beforehand. You can use anything flexible. They sell soap molds in craft stores; you can line a cardboard box with piece of a tough trash bag, or use old yogurt or sour cream containers. Could be anything as long as it is plastic and you could pour roughly the size of a bar of soap into it. If you used small plastic yogurt cups, pouring about an inch of liquid in each would make about six or seven. Or you could pour it all into one larger plastic thing (like one of those glad containers) and cut it into bars later.

5. Again, wait a few seconds before taking the towel and top off in case the liquid "burps." Carefully take the top off of the blender and pour about an inch into each mold.

6. Soap has to cure. Put it up out of the way and let it sit for three weeks. Most folks say the longer it sits the better it gets. Do not use the soap before it has properly aged. If you used one big mold and need to cut it into pieces, pop it out after a few days and cut it up, then put it away to cure. If you used smaller molds, pop it out after a few days and put it away to cure. Place the bars on something that will allow them to breathe, or at least stand them on end with a little space in between - they need air.

7. Keep the gloves on and carefully wash everything up.

This whole process takes about ten/fifteen minutes per batch. I've found the natural soap is wonderful and has been a miracle for dry skin. I find that rose essential oil goes well with thus oatmeal recipe, although most often I make it without scent.

Additional notes from city mouse- I've found really inexpensive olive oil/soy mixes in the dollar store. They work fine. Don't go for expensive olive oil - It doesn't matter. Also, you can mix oils. I've melted cocoa butter and subbed that for part of the olive oil (cocoa butter makes an extremely hard bar). You can melt down shortening and use that. Old timers used lard. Each oil has a different property, and you can combine the properties by combining oils. I've tried different combinations, but I honestly prefer the plain old olive oil. It seems to be the best for moisturizing. If you use a different oil, use an online lye calculator to check the amount of lye - different oils require different amounts of lye.
Here's a description of what each oil does -
Here's an online lye calculator-


  1. Interesting post. We make soap every year to give as Christmas gifts. We always used wooden molds that I made, I didn't know if the plastic one's would hold up. I will definately try the plastic molds this year. Everyone loves our homemade soap. It is so easy to make, too.


  2. I used to make soap, but it's been years since I did it. This year it's back on my to-do list. Thank you for the step by step instructions.


    you've been tagged! See my blog for information.

  3. WHERE do you find lye crystals? I'm thinking I'll just have to drip my own if I can't find some soon.

    By the way, I tagged you for a meme at my blog.

  4. I was excited to see your post! I want to make soaps and I've have been looking around for an easy recipe to start with and this one is PERFECT!! I am going to buy some molds, they really make the soap look nice.
    To answer Country Wife's question I found lye at my local Agway (grain/hardware) store.
    Thanks again, I will let you know how I do!

  5. Matthew - The molds I use are the heavy clear plastic ones. I've seen some that are a white, thin plastic and I'm not sure they would hold up very well or tolerate the heat.

    granny Sue - you are welcome!

    country wife - if you can't find lye locally you can find it online I'm sure.

    country girl - Thanks for answering CW's question. Yes, I like the molds, but have made it in a pan and cut it into bars as well. The soaps pictured are for gifting, so using the molds makes them look a little more special.
    Yes, let me know how you do with it!

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed your post! I am a soapmaker by trade and I have never made soap in a blender, but it sure looks like a great way to try it!

    I have on occasion made castille soap from oils of hemp, palm, jojoba, almond or even exotic things like macadamia nut oil! Each oil imparts a different benefit to the soap and to your skin too! A little research and some trial and error will make anyone a great soaper!

    For molds, it's great to use wood. My husband fashioned some of my first molds (tiny batches of say 6 bars) out of pine. Then I lined them with freezer paper and duct taped any edges. The wood insulates the soap as it cools and dries and makes generally a better bar of soap. You can also quite literally pour the soap into them and "hot process" it by putting it into the coolest oven setting you have (250 or less) for about 3-4 hours. The smaller the batch, the less time needed. :) The wood withstands the heat and can be used over and over. The soap is more dry this way when you cut it and can be used more quickly (for those of us that are less patient!)

    Just make sure that you never mix anything aluminum with lye or soap. The lye and aluminum can make a nasty reaction. ALWAYS use wood or stainless steel.

    We have grown in the last six years to the point where we make 25 pound batches each time (yielding us more than 75 bars) and we make several batches each time. If anyone is interested in how we make soap, and seeing some color pics, just check out this link --

    You can see wooden molds with the duct tape and soap in them. I hope you enjoy!

  7. Great Post!! I love the look of your soaps!!

    I have made glycerin soaps before. But your post makes me want to branch out!


  8. Very cool! Isn't soapmaking a blast?? I love it! Looks like you have some really nifty moulds!

    Thank you for your sweet comments on the blog. you are wonderful!

    In friendship,

  9. Tracy - wow, thanks for sharing all the info and the link. I had no idea you were such a pro at this.

    My mom used to make all our soap when I was a kid, with lard of course. I like the castile so well because it's one of th few soaps that doesn't irritate my sensitive skin. I use nothing but my homemade soap now and the small blender batches are so quick and easy and work out great for our needs.

    Carolyn - Hi! Thanks, I like them, too, especially the healing hand one. I could get carried away with all pretty soap molds that are available.

    Lacy - Hey girl. Yes, I am so glad to have learned this after all these years. And when I make laundry soap I use your tutorial! It works great. I will never buy soap or detergent again when I can make it for pennies on the dollar.

    You are welcome dear and I think you're pretty great as well. :)

  10. Thank you so much for this soap recipe! I had no idea you could make such a small batch in the blender. I've been wanting to try soap making for some time now but was always intimidated by the larger batches.

    I used your recipe with goat's milk instead of water, left out the oatmeal and it worked perfectly!

    Thank you!

  11. Mary - I'm so glad you found this useful and successful. Your goat milk soap sounds wonderful! Thanks for dropping in and commenting.


  12. i do not have a blender. could i use a hand mixer? and do i have to put the oatmeal in the soap?
    thank you.

    1. i can't answer that except to say this, i personally would not use a hand mixer due to the tendency for it to splatter and considering that lye is very caustic. my mother used to make it by hand stirring. it would take a lot longer but it works. as for the oatmeal, i've never made it w/o, so i can't say for sure. i would imagine you could, but i would search out other recipes online just to see if the ingredient ratios might be different. good luck!


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