I want to make this instructable as complete and comprehensible as I possibly can. When I first began making soap I wish I could have found some good information on how to do it safely. I read all I could, but there was no one around I could ask the many questions that I had, so some of it was trial and error, and some of those errors are why I am adamant about using safety materials when making soap. I can attest that even a tiny little granule of lye can inflict some really bad pain!THE BAREFOOT BOHEMIAN'S GOLDEN RULES OF SOAP MAKING!
Safety equipment is NOT OPTIONAL it is a MUST HAVE!
Measure, measure and measure. Exact measurements are very important. From something simple as the soap not setting up right to it being caustic and unseeable. You don't want something to literally clean the skin off the user.
EQUIPMENT MUST BE NON-REACTIVE. NO ALUMINUM OR GALVANIZED METALS. I use an enameled pot that I must check before every use to make certain there are no chips or cracks in the enamel s this would make the pot unusable. I never use non-stick coated pans although I am not certain if they are safe to use. I am not going to take the chance just to find out,
HAVE FUN WITH YOUR SOAP MAKING!!! There are literally thousands of various combinations of oils you can use and just ad mny resulting soap properties as there are mixtures. There are hundreds or essential oils and fragrances to whose from and even is and match. Keep a log of each batch of soap you make, the ingredients used, any special additives and how the soap performs after its cured. Do you like the lather? Hw does ir leave you skin feeling? Did you like the scent and did it linger on your skin, This way you can repeat a batch that you particularly like or see if there are parts of the press's you want to change.
Get all of your materials together (as a chef would say- mis en place- I just like saying that, about the only French I know :)
Make sure you have plenty of room for a work surface.
Fill a pan or bucket with some lukewarm water and about 1 cup baking soda to 1 gallon water. Mix this well. It will come in handy to neutralize utensils and to pour over spills in case of accidents.
During nice weather, I will make my lye combinations outdoors. This keeps the fumes dispersed and when the weather is cooler it helps the solution cool back down to proper temperature faster. However since I lived in a very windy area of the country I tend to measure my lye indoors.
**Lye and soap calculators can be found online to help you develop your own recipes. They take all the math our of calculating saponification values and make life much easier for the every day soap maker.
I measure all my soap making ingredients on a digital scale - after all this is chemistry and not roll the dice and hope for the best.
Using a good quality scale, carefully measure out 4 ounces Sodium Hydroxide into a non-reactive container using a non-reactive utensil.