Soap from scratch

solarnoon.aspen Posts: 219 ✭✭✭

I started to make lye soap in the 1970's and enjoyed it so much I started a small business, selling it around our province (Saskatchewan, Canada). My soaps were really popular and stood out from others because I didn't use scent. I don't know about you folks, but there are so many scents in so many products that it makes my head spin and actually, makes my sick - literally. I found, even then, that I was not alone in this and people lined up to buy my soap because it was the only type they could find that didn't irritate their skin and give them reactions from scents.

I found a neat couple of ways to decorate them - one being carving each one with a lino tool with numerous designs. Most of the designs originated in long ago cultures and were very simple renditions - with the exception of the bee goddess, which is a little more complex than the others.

The soap is made of lye, water, olive oil, coconut oil and tallow.

Now, years later, after a hiatus of other creative endeavours, I have returned to making soap. I am able to get free fat from a variety of different animals as we now live in an agricultural/hunting area and people usually toss the fat from their harvested animals. I just don't know how to waste anything, so I ask for their fat. Rendered, it is fantastic for soap - deer, pig, cow, goat, sheep. Whether or not I will make the sales I did earlier, will be a story for later. But, I always enjoyed making soap and today I made the third of 5-6 batches that I plan for this winter.

Anyone else out there making soaps?



  • sallyhoward
    sallyhoward Posts: 106 ✭✭✭

    Good luck. I hope your return to soap making goes well. I'm sure there are many people looking for soap free of artificial fragrances.

  • @solarnoon.aspen good luck with the restart of your soap business.

    Making soap is on my list of to be done projects. But it has to wait until i finished the mead and beer brewing.

  • Heidi
    Heidi Posts: 29 ✭✭✭

    I have always wanted to try, but when kids were home, working with lye around them kinda scared me. Since they grew and flew the nest I have been trying and learning all kinds of new things and this is at the top of the 2020 list. I do make melt and pour and recently met a lady with a goat farm nearby who is going to teach me to make goats milk soap next month.

    Good luck! I hope you have great sales again. More and more people are switching to soaps that are free of the artificial stuff.

  • SherryA
    SherryA Posts: 314 ✭✭✭

    Good for you! It is hard to find soap without fragrance.

  • Obiora E
    Obiora E Posts: 517 ✭✭✭✭

    @solarnoon.aspen No I have not made soap yet. I had the thought back in 2008 but stopped being interested and my brother resurrected the idea but nothing yet. I want to stop talking about it and start making some this year.

  • csinclair461
    csinclair461 Posts: 159 ✭✭✭

    I have been making my own soap for several years now. I used to buy bars of unscented coconut oil soap at a local store, and then the manufacturer stopped making it. It was unique. I wanted it again, but it took me a while to get brave enough to work with lye. I'm so glad for youtube videos and bloggers! My recipe (gotten online) is just coconut oil, lye, water. I use it as shampoo and bar soap. Two of my kids have adopted using it as shampoo as well, they like it better than shampoo. It's very sudsy. The recipe I use, and the video that encouraged me to go for it: One thing I recently learned is that I can bring it to trace by hand stirring in intervals (stir it for awhile, walk away for about 15m, repeat for about an hour = trace!). Most people prefer the immersion blender. I just prefer hand stirring and am glad I can do it without too much trouble.

  • VickiP
    VickiP Posts: 586 ✭✭✭✭

    I have not used lye for soap making, I have done "melt and pour." I was recently cleaning out some of my craft stuff and found some of my melt and pour supplies. Thanks for the reminder, I guess I will use it up and then look into lye soap.

  • jjocean
    jjocean Posts: 31 ✭✭✭

    I remember my grandmother telling me how they made lye out of hardwood ashes and boiling rainwater. After a few days they drained the water out of a small hole in the barrel. I think they boiled that water down before making the soap from tallow. Doesn't sound fun but it must have worked for years.

  • VickiP
    VickiP Posts: 586 ✭✭✭✭

    I make Pozole using ashes from my wood stove. I don't do anything too ambitious with it, just toss a couple of hands-full of ashes into a stainless pot of water stir it well add, the dried corn bring it to a boil and then let it soak. After a bit of time I start to check it to see if the hulls are starting to slip off, when they do I rinse it in many changes of water, rub off the hulls and its good to go. I have wondered if a similar approach would work for soap. Maybe let it settle and carefully dip out the cleared solution? I may have to give that a try.

  • burekcrew86
    burekcrew86 Posts: 248 ✭✭✭

    I love making my own soap and have for years. I prefer making goat milk soap. Nothing compares to it, in my mind. I use my soap to make my homemade laundry soap too. There’s just something about putting natural ingredients together to make something as natural and useful as soap. I get a kick out of it every time!

  • bkpelfrey
    bkpelfrey Posts: 23 ✭✭✭

    I just finished buying my supplies and am looking forward to my first soap making this weekend. Wish me luck

  • DebiB
    DebiB Posts: 92 ✭✭✭

    @solarnoon.aspen yes, it seems we have quite a community that makes soap. There is nothing like using homemade soap, it is so much easier on your skin than the soap (really detergent) from the store. Today I’m digging out a recipe for an activated charcoal soap that is used as a facial soap. Either today or tomorrow I’m planning on making a batch of it.


  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,621 admin

    @DebiB Good luck with your charcoal soap. There is a local soap maker in my area that makes a charcoal soap and I love it. It is the only hand soap we use now.

  • solarnoon.aspen
    solarnoon.aspen Posts: 219 ✭✭✭

    I notice a few responses have referred to the dangers of lye. I had a skull and crossbones sign that my kids knew ( way back in the 70's) and now adults know - means 'business'. As for my safety, I wear a face mask and safety glasses when I'm mixing the lye. It just takes care of any drops that might splat on my face. As for other body parts, long sleeves and rubber gloves. Any trouble from it is minor if you take these precautions.

    Finally got some molds to work for me. All these years I've been using two liter milk cartons and cutting up the bars from a huge loaf.

    Loving to see the responses and that others enjoy soapmaking too.

  • solarnoon.aspen
    solarnoon.aspen Posts: 219 ✭✭✭


    Did you make soap on the weekend? I did and am really happy with the batches this year. I had lots of frozen tallow from neighbours' goats, deer and cows, all of which make a nice hard soap which lasts longer than some of the other tallow fats.

    Hope yours turned out well.

  • solarnoon.aspen
    solarnoon.aspen Posts: 219 ✭✭✭


    Were you referring to making lye with your wood ashes? I have never tried it as I think you would have to know ratios in order to get a consistent result, however, I have heard lots of women do it. When I first started soap making, I read about the first people to discover saponification - by mistake. Ashes from the sacrificial fires mixed with fat from the burned animals and then it rained and created - soap.

    Boy, when think that they got soap by mistake and then here I am weighing all my ingredients so carefully, I just wonder ......

  • karen
    karen Posts: 80 ✭✭

    I am just starting to be interested in making soap and attempting to source materials needed. Here in Ecuador, coconut oil is $80-$100 a gallon. I use if for my skin and in cooking but doubt I will use it to make soap. Olive oil is somewhat cheaper, about $15 a litre. i am starting to run out of a gallon container of liquid Castille soap which was expensive to import. I wanted to make some but KOH is a restricted product. I love the recipe I have for body wash so I am resigned to making bar soap -either NaOH from a chemical place or a lye that is 98% NaOH - and finding out how to infuse with honey.

  • Dennis Bries
    Dennis Bries Posts: 12 ✭✭✭

    My mother and grandmothers made lye soap. Tried it once myself but didn't have all the right stuff. Made glycerine soap for a few years and gave that up. However, current soaps have so many chemicals etc. in that they're more scary than the thought of eating lye soap. Will need to look up some of the old recipes and try a hand at it again -- Few stores carry any of the simple non-sented soaps anymore.

  • nksunshine27
    nksunshine27 Posts: 343 ✭✭✭

    ive been making castile soaps and other soaps for several years now and make our own liquid soap, we make our laundry soap from the castile soap and other ingredients also

  • solarnoon.aspen
    solarnoon.aspen Posts: 219 ✭✭✭


    Wow those oils are really expensive. Is that US$ ?

    I wonder if you can find beef fat and render it for tallow. It makes a pretty nice soap. The people who came to Canada from Europe made lye soap with fat from their cattle. They didn't have olive oil, coconut oil or any other oils for that matter. Maybe that would cut some costs...... Here I can get free fat even from butchers, which I render, although I am sure in many countries, it would be more valued than here.

  • karolstiegman
    karolstiegman Posts: 7 ✭✭✭

    I have been wanting to try my hand at making my own soap. And now I am inspired to do so! I'll have to let ya'll know how it goes!

  • DebiB
    DebiB Posts: 92 ✭✭✭

    There are some great soap making tutorials on YouTube for beginners , look at the Soaping 101 and the Brambleberry channels they are very good at the “how to” of soap making.

  • solarnoon.aspen
    solarnoon.aspen Posts: 219 ✭✭✭

    Yes, YouTube is OK and I get tons of info on lots of things that way. However, my BEST references ever are the books I bought when I began to make soap in the 1970's - Ya, that really dates me! They are: 1. SOAP Making it and Enjoying it by Ann Bramson. ( I found a site where you can see it for free:

    and 2. The Art of Soapmaking by Marilyn Mohr

    Neither book has glossies, but provide all you need to know to get going.

  • OhiohillsLouise
    OhiohillsLouise Posts: 120 ✭✭✭

    I have been making my own soap for at least 30 years. Homemade soap is all I can use. I also started a small business that allowed me to be creative with different oils. A note to @kquinnhobbs a small amount of honey can be put into soap but it will accelerate trace so work at a lower temperature or be ready sooner to pour into the mold.

  • soeasytocraft
    soeasytocraft Posts: 237 ✭✭✭

    Soap making was on my winter to do list! But had an injury that set me back! I've made one batch previously using calendula oil. Made wonderful gifts and they requested more. And finally my hubby has stopped buying zest!! This topic has inspired me to get making more! Thanks!

    I rendered some pork fat, will that work in soap?

  • Megan Venturella
    Megan Venturella Posts: 678 ✭✭✭✭

    Can anyone recommend the best book with directions for making goat milk soap? Or website, but usually books are better. Thank you!

  • OhiohillsLouise
    OhiohillsLouise Posts: 120 ✭✭✭

    @soeasytocraft growing up my grandmother made soap with whatever fat was available. But pork fat makes a soft bar. I’ve never tried lard alone I mix with tallow or you can use palm oil to make a harder bar.

  • solarnoon.aspen
    solarnoon.aspen Posts: 219 ✭✭✭


    Yes, lard is fine, although I've never used it. Lard makes a nice hard bar, but doesn't lather well. If you mixed part Coconut oil, which does lather well, you would have a nice bar I think.

  • burekcrew86
    burekcrew86 Posts: 248 ✭✭✭

    @Megan Venturella There are some excellent You Tube videos online for making goat milk soap. It’s a great place to start. I’ve been making goat milk soap for years. It’s hands down my favorite soap to make and it’s all my family uses. Once you make soap you’ll be hooked.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 2,095 ✭✭✭✭✭

    solarnoon.aspen Could you share information on using deer fat to make soap. I have been eager to try making soap and have access to moose fat. Thinking that might work as well, but have never known how. Have never actually made soap yet, but have been reading and watching videos. Many I've found called for tallow or a tallow mix which I do not have access to. I have to make time this summer to actually start making my own.