Clean doesn't have a smell!!!

I started making my own soap because I was digusted with the amount of stench I had to put up with from my laundry detergent, my shampoo, my hand soap, my bar soap, and am too cheap to use Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soap all the time. So I said, "I can do better!"

Soapmaking is easier done than said.

You'll need:

  • Cheap fat -- We're making soap here; save the good oils for cooking. I use lard. It's 1.50 USD for a pound. Dirty fat can be cleaned by boiling it with water until clean (add a shot of vinegar if it's rancid).
  • Alkali of decent purity. Either sodium hydroxide (NaOH) or potassium hydroxide (KOH). It can be had at most hardware stores -- just make sure it's pure lye -- nothing else. KOH can be leeched from wood ashes.
  • Water. Tapwater is probably fine -- if it's really hard, you may want to consider another source.
  • A scale of decent accuracy
  • Stainless steel pot
  • Stirring thing -- metal spoons work fine for me.
  • Mold. You can use anything here.
  • A word on lye: When mixing lye with water, it gets hot. Sometimes it'll boil. Mix it outside. Wear safety glasses. Gloves are good but not essential -- this stuff usually won't burn if washed off quickly. Don't mix lye with aluminium. Acid neutralizes alkali. So, if you drink some lye, drink lemon juice, vinegar, orange juice, and so on, if possible.

    You need to decide how much excess fat you want in your soap. (Zero percent is a little harsh, five about normal. Anything above eight percent is most likely too much.) Then take the SAP value for your fat and free-fat desired, and multiply by the mass of the fat. If you're using KOH (if you don't know, you aren't), multiply the mass of lye by 1.4.

    The SAP values for lard, based on free fat desired:

    • 0% - .139
    • 2% - .136
    • 4% - .133
    • 6% - .130
    • 8% - .128
    • 10% - .125

    The mass of water needed is .38 times the mass of fat used.

    So, a simple recipe might be:

    • 1 pound lard
    • 2.2 oz lye
    • 6.1 oz water


    • Carefully add the measured lye to the water. It may take a while to dissolve.
    • Heat the lard to about 45 C or 110 Fahrenheight. Wait for it all to melt.
    • When the lye is completely dissolved and cooled to almost room temperature, slowly pour the lye-water into the fat, stirring.
    • The more it is stirred, the quicker it will saponify. Stir it at least every fifteen minutes.
    • The saponification is done when a spoonfull of mix poured on the surface leaves a trace for a few seconds. This stage usually takes me about two hours with occasional stirring and re-heating.
    • Pour the traced soap into molds; cover with a towel to retain heat (optional). Remove when good and hard (a day).
    • Congratulations! You have soap!
    • It's best to let the soap age a couple weeks -- it dries up a bit and becomes milder.

    Use your soap to clean just about anything! I use mine to wash my hair, face, body, clothes, dishes, and anything else that's dirty. It'll clean your stuff and your stuff won't smell like anything! You'll smell what clean really is; not a bunch of filth covered up with synthetic fragrence. A bar of my soap costs me about fifty cents, and I get about five loads of laundry cleaned with it. I just toss it in, let the machine "wash" the soap for a couple minutes, then take it out and put in my clean clothes. Most commercial laundry detergents are at least twice that price per load. AND THEY STINK!

    "Lye to Fat Ratio Table". <>