How to Make Natural Soap in a Crock Pot (An Easy Hot Process Soap Recipe & Tutorial)
I remember back to the times before I made our own soap and how much I admired those who were able to make their own (I still do admire them). I used to go to the Farmers markets and fairs and spend tons of time smelling and looking at those beautiful soaps. I wanted to make my own SO bad!
I started out making Melt & Pour, because I was afraid of using lye. Finally I took the leap into honest-to-goodness handmade lye soap! At first, I did the cold process method, just like most soap makers out there these days. BUT! The wait time! I hated waiting six whole weeks to use my beautiful soaps! Then I learned there is a faster way to make real, handmade soap: The hot process method. I'm lovin' it! Here I'll share a tutorial on how to make your own hot process soap! In a crock pot! :-) Fast, easy, healthy, and immediately useful.
Related articles, in case you are interested: Make Your Own Soap! My Favorite Hot Process Recipe, Spearmint-Frankincense Soap You Can't Live Without, How to Make Chamomile Infused Soap....and lots more on the website and in my eBook, How to Make & Customize Hot Process Soap.
Note: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I'll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you SO much for helping support Healing Harvest Homestead--Heidi
How to Make Hot Process Soap
But First, Why Would You Make Your Own, Anyway?
1) It's highly moisturizing!
Making your own soap means it retains the natural glycerin, which is a by-product of the saponification (oil turning to soap) process. Glycerin is highly moisturizing and amazing for your skin. The soaps you find in the stores usually have stripped the glycerin out to use for other purposes.
2) You'll know your soap is pure and natural.
Weird ingredients? Not with your own soap, at least not unless you choose to add them, that is. You will not have dangerous cancer-causing or estrogen affecting chemicals in your own natural soaps. You'll know exactly what is in it, and that's a peaceful feeling, my friends!
3) It's satisfying and fun.
You get to create something useful and beautiful that is exactly what you want! You choose the textures, colors, and the scent! How cool is that?
Some Quick Info to Know Before You Start:
Hot Process Soap Appearance:
It is not as smooth and polished as cold process soap. It looks a bit rustic, as a matter of fact. But I personally think that just adds to its beauty!
A Note About Lye:
Lye (sodium hydroxide) is a caustic, alkaline chemical that reacts with the oils you use. You need three things to make "true" soap: Lye+Oil+Liquid. According to the FDA, you can't call a bar of soap, "SOAP" unless it is made with lye, oils, and a liquid.
Try this: Take a look at commercial bars of "soap" in the stores, you won't find many labeled as "soap." They are now called "cleansing bars" or "beauty bars" or another tricky name. They are filled with junk chemicals that are often toxic, and are not "true" soap.
Using lye to make soap can be dangerous, and you'll need to do some things to stay safe. You need safety goggles or glasses, plastic gloves, and I like to even wear a long sleeve shirt. Always put your hair back too---it's just better to have it out of the way. You can get these safety items at any good hardware store!
Another safety note: Keep your children and pets out of your soap making area for obvious reasons.
How Long Does Hot Process Soap Take to Cook?
The cook time for your hot process soap will vary a little bit between different recipes, the time of the year, and how hot your oils and lye solution are when you start. Generally, most hot process cook times range from 45 minutes to an hour and a half, max. So your total time investment will be around two to three hours, between preparation and the actual cooking of the soap.
Ingredients for My Hot Process Recipe---
**This will make three pounds of soap. Also, when measuring, you'll need to use a digital scale to weigh everything exactly. We are talking "weight" measurements, not "liquid" measurements.
** 7.2 ounces of lye (I use food grade, but you don't have to).
** 15 ounces of distilled water
** 15 ounces of Coconut Oil (Costco has good prices!)
** 15 ounces of Olive Oil (I like to use organic oils as much as possible, and I have found that Costco has the best price overall for good organic olive oil)
** 12 ounces of Sweet Almond Oil
** 6 ounces of Shea Butter
** 1.5 ounces of Castor Oil
Be sure to use a kitchen scale to measure out your ingredients, because they have to be as exact as possible. In fact, the closer you get to the exact amounts, the better your soap will be. I usually try to be within hundredths of an ounce.
Tools You Will Need to Make Hot Process Soap:
**A quick note about tools: Do not use aluminum, teflon, or non-heat-resistant plastic for soap making. Stick with stainless steel, glass, wood, ceramic, or heat resistant plastic. The lye can react with metals.
1. A large crockpot
3. Safety glasses and plastic gloves
4. Heat proof containers--I like Pyrex
6. A soap mold
Directions for Making Hot Process Soap:
Step 1) Set your crock pot on LOW.
Step 2) Measure your oils with the kitchen scale, and place them in the crock pot. A quick tip: I like to add my solid oils (shea butter and coconut oil) to the crock pot first to let them start melting.
THIS IS IMPORTANT! ALWAYS MEASURE OUT THE WATER FIRST. THEN THE LYE. ADD THE LYE TO THE WATER! You never want to add the water to the lye because you may end up with a volcano---and this can be dangerous! LYE CAN BLIND YOU OR BURN YOU! So please please remember: ADD LYE TO WATER, never the other way around.
Pour the lye slowly into the water, stirring carefully as you pour. I like to stop pouring periodically and stir until the lye that's already in the solution is dissolved. The chemical reaction between the water and lye will be HOT, so take care. Be sure you do this part outside (or at least by an open window, as there will be fumes) and away from pets and children.
You'll also want to use a heat proof container. I use a large Pyrex glass pitcher.
Step 6) Cook your soap.
Now put your lid on and "cook" the mixture. It will not take long, usually about 45 minutes to an hour. You may have to stir it down one or two times in the process.
Be sure to watch your soap as it cooks, at least the first few times until you get used to what it will do. There have been times I've walked away for a few minutes, only to return to an overflowing caustic mess.
If your soap starts cooking fast, and boiling up the sides and top, just stir it on down.
In the beginning stages of the cook, you should see the mixture rising up the sides of the crockpot. This is fine---just STIR, STIR, STIR, and your cooking soap will calm right down. Then continue cooking. As long as you see any opaque areas at all, then your soap is NOT ready.
Eventually, you will see it turn translucent with a gel like consistency. At this point, it is most likely finished. If in doubt, cook a little longer.
Here's another picture of the "cook" a little while later:
Step 7) Test your soap
You can get all fancy and use pH strips to test for normal pH levels, but I've tried this, and honestly, I'm not really a fan. I've found that testing a waxy substance like your cooked hot process soap is kind of hard.
What do I do instead? I use the "ZAP" test.
Take a little blob of your soap. First off, it should feel "waxy," and be malleable. When the little blob is cool enough, just touch it to the tip of your tongue. There should be no reaction whatsoever, and all you'll taste is good old soap.
You'll know if something is not right because your blob of soap will "ZAP" you, if it's either not ready or if you mixed something incorrectly.
Step 8) Here's where you can add scent, if you want.
I only use essential oils in my soap because fragrance oils have chemicals. Even the word, "natural" in fragrance oils means nothing.
Turn off your crock pot. Let it cool for a minute or two, then you add your essential oils. My favorite ratio of essential oils to soap is 1/2 ounce to 1 ounce per pound of soap. I like a heavily scented bar of soap, though, so just play around with scent until you get yours how you like it.
Step 9) Put the soap into your mold
You'll need a spoon for this part, as hot process soap should not be "pourable." Glop it into your mold, press it into the corners with your wooden spoon, and if you want, lift the mold and gently drop it onto the counter to be sure all the air pockets are out.
Step 10) Let sit to cool, then remove it from the mold
After it is completely cooled, several hours or even overnight, you can remove the soap block from the mold and cut it!
***I actually don't cut my hot process soap right away. I have found that the longer I leave it uncut, the longer my scent lasts too!
You can use it right away! Enjoy!
A little extra note about using it right away: It's fine to use as soon as it's all cooled. I often use my hot process soap the same day I make it. However, by letting it sit for a few days, any leftover liquid will evaporate, giving your soap even more hardness.
That's IT! You have beautiful, moisturizing, natural soap! Now, when you see those beautiful, handmade soaps at the farmers market and fairs, you'll feel great knowing you can make your own too!
Do you make your own soap? Which is your favorite kind? Leave comments for me--any questions, observations, etc. I'd really appreciate!
Hugs & Self-Reliance,
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Disclaimer: I am not responsible for your use of instruction or any errors made on your part. Soap making can be dangerous. Please follow all directions, and it's a good idea to research more about making soap. Always use common sense when working with chemicals.