The good news is, my fears were way out of proportion. Yes, lye is a dangerous chemical. Yes, you need proper ratios to make the process work correctly. Yes, a good recipe is worth it, and safety is key. My first soap making experience was a hilarious sight. My hair was piled atop my head before being covered with a hideous green bandana. Long sleeves were covered with the thickest apron I could find (the one I butcher in). This was nothing..rubber gloves (purple), goggles (borrowed from my hubby), every window open..table lined with newsprint..I had the bases covered.
Joy comes at every memory of that..and the knowledge the camera was completely hidden from my family to avoid images of this resurfacing (at the time they didn't have phones). Oils blended with lye and water to trace as I burned out the first of three stick blenders. Early batches cooled in cake pans because I didn't have molds..don't ever do that.. they will never be the same. Yet, that first batch was a successful step in the right direction which gave me the confidence to press on and make some more.
These days no wacky wear is needed. I don't shun my family or even cover the table. Soaps come together at a steady pace with creamy delight and are molded in boxes or plastic. No longer do I measure and mix with fear or burn up the blender..and experimentation is flowing more freely. For those of you interested in a super simple small starter recipe, I would love to share the very first recipe I used for a basic cold processed soap. I did make it plain..no fragrance or colorants of any kind.
Super Simple Small Batch Soap
12 oz canola oil
8 oz coconut oil
8 oz olive oil
8.5 oz water
4 oz lye
Using a scale, measure the oils and pour them into a plastic tub (I used a 'dishpan' style tub). In a separate container, add lye to water very slowly stirring as you go until the lye is dissolved and the mixture is no longer cloudy. Do this in a well ventilated area and do not inhale the fumes. If lye contacts skin, pour vinegar on it to neutralize the lye and stop the burn.
Gently pour the lye mixture into the oils, stirring as you go. Using an immersion blender, alternate between stirring the mixture and blending the mixture (this prevents burning up the blender). Continue until the mixture comes to trace. This means the liquids take on the consistency of pudding. It will coat a spoon. Pour into a prepared mold (I line mine with parchment), cover with plastic wrap, and leave undisturbed 24 hours.
Once the soap has 'set', or cooled and seems firm, remove it from the mold. The soap will still be soft, so handle gently as you cut into bars. Allow them to cure four weeks. (Mine set on a cake rack on a shelf).
**if you desire fragrance, 1.6 oz of fragrance or essential oil may be added at trace. Soap colorants, oatmeal, honey, and such may be added once the liquid comes to trace.
I have no idea where this recipe came from. It was written in my notebook along with several other notes about soap making.