Soap makes a unique and personal gift, especially when it is home made. You can also sell your soap at a farmer's market or just use it yourself. And it's a great way to get rid of old grease and fat that would otherwise find it's way to sewers or landfills.
The process uses caustic chemicals, so it is slightly dangerous. But if you follow general safety guidelines and keep your wits you should be fine. You might make a mess, but it should be easy to clean up because most of the spills will be made of soap!
I got most of my info from this page and this lye table
I was inspired by this instructable:
Note: I would've gotten better pictures, but it's hard to use a camera with eye goggles and rubber gloves.
Step 1: Supplies
1. A lot of animal fat or vegetable oil.
2. I added some olive oil to my recipe to make it milder.
3. Lye (NaOH) crystals. You can get this at the hardware store next to drain openers.
4. Distilled water. You can use tap water, but I wanted to make sure there were no dissolved minerals that could ruin the soap.
5. Essential oils for a scent. This is optional, but I think it helps. I use tea tree oil and jasmine oil. You can find these at a natural foods or drug store.
Tools you will need:
1. Safety equipment: Rubber gloves, goggles, and an OPEN bottle of vinegar withing easy reach, in case you need to neutralize any spilled lye. Lye (NaOH) is very basic and caustic, and it WILL burn your skin, or any part of your body for that matter. If you've ever seen Fight Club than you know what I mean.
2. A large glass or ceramic bowl to mix everything in. Anything that touches lye must be glass, because lye can react with plastic, wood, and especially metal. I was lucky enough to find a big Pyrex bowl in my attic that an old roommate left behind.
3. An accurate scale. It doesn't matter whether you measure in grams or ounces, but you must be accurate. I have a digital scale that works in grams or ounces.
4. Something to stir with. You can always just use a big spoon, but it will take a long time and you will get tired quickly. I got a stick blender at Goodwill for a couple dollars that worked well until the motor burned out. So for my second batch I just pulled it apart and mounted the business end to a power drill. Make sure that whatever you use for mixing, you wash it very well before using it on food. I have dedicated equipment that I use for mixing soap and nothing else.
5. Some kind of mold to pour the finished soap into. Besides a casserole pan or plastic bin, you can also use lengths of PVC, or paper cups to mold the soap into round shapes (see the main photo).
6. Notepad and pen along with a calculator to make conversions.
7. You will also need a few more tools like bowls and scrapers etc.
Lay down some newspaper on a big table or counterspace. You will need plenty of room to make soap.