Homemade Laundry Soap
HOMEMADE LAUNDRY SOAP
Hi everyone. Today, we’re making a simple homemade laundry soap … it cleans well and it can be used in greywater recycling. Check out the video, and read the step-by-step guide below.
If you haven’t made soap before:
Watch The Video:
Here’s a short video on how I made my soap at home:
Homemade Laundry Soap – Step-by-Step Guide:
Making your own laundry soap at home is very easy… it’s just 2 processes:
You first make up a lye solution, and then you add it to melted fats and/or oils, and thoroughly mix the 2 together. For today’s soap, you need only 3 ingredients, and they can be found in a regular supermarket: coconut oil, sodium hydroxide (also known as caustic soda) and pure water or filtered water.
In making soap, you are working with a highly corrosive alkali with the lye solution, and then the raw soap batter. It can burn, just like a strong acid. You need a clear, stable work area, with no trip hazards and no distractions… and that includes children or pets (they need to be secured outside of the immediate area).
It’s important to be organized and familiar with the procedure… read through the instructions closely, so as to have a clear understanding of the process, and of the proper handling techniques for working with lye.
- Sodium Hydroxide is hydroscopic, meaning it readily absorbs water vapour from the air, and needs to be stored in a sturdy, airtight, unbreakable container, clearly labelled, and stored in a cool, dry place, out of the reach of children or pets.
- Good ventilation is essential… when NaOH is added to water, heat is produced by the dissolution process, and the rising steam carries NaOH dust with it, so you need to avoid inhaling the steam…there is no chemical reaction, and so no fumes as such are given off, but that steam is irritating. I often choose to make the lye solution out-of-doors and to work upwind of my pot.
- PPE is also essential. Wear protective goggles and gloves… dishwashing gloves are OK but finer latex ones are easier to work in… and long sleeves… an old windcheater/sweat-shirt is fine… and sturdy shoes.
Water to be at hand for immediate access in case of splashes at all times. If a splash does occur, wash the area continuously for 15-20 minutes… use lots of water, rather than attempting to neutralize it with vinegar.
Homemade Laundry Soap – Ingredients:
- Coconut oil 1000g
- Sodium Hydroxide (Caustic Soda) 180g
- Filtered or distilled water 380g
Homemade Laundry Soap – Equipment:
- Digital scales – if using your regular kitchen scales, it’s recommended to place them inside a plastic bag when measuring the caustic, unless you have a set used exclusively for soap making.
- Heat resistant and corrosive resistant large jugs or bowls – Pyrex, ceramic, stainless steel or heavy-duty plastic. NO NOT USE ALUMINIUM as the lye reacts with Al creating H2 and a potential explosion. Make sure your soap pot is large enough to easily hold all of the ingredients with a good safety margin to avoid splashes and spills when blending.
- Assortment of spoons, stirrers, whisks and spatulas… again no aluminium
- Immersion blender or manual blender/beater – stainless steel or plastic
- Sturdy containers for finished product – I shall use a silicon soap mould, but plastic is fine… a cardboard box lined with plastic is also good
Measuring the ingredients:
- Accuracy is crucial when making soap…essential to ensure a quality product that is safe and lathers and cleans well.
- Place scales in a plastic bag.
- Weigh all ingredients, including the water, and be sure to measure in grams, not mls.
Making Lye Solution:
- Carefully and slowly add the Sodium Hydroxide flakes to the water, stirring continuously till fully dissolved. This creates a reaction that produces heat, so the solution will become quite hot. It will be cloudy initially but will clear…keep stirring until the caustic is fully dissolved to avoid any settling in clumps on the bottom of your container. Stand clear, and stir at arms-length to avoid inhaling any steam. Allow to cool to about 60°C. Do not leave unattended.
Melting the fats/oils:
- Take care when melting fats/oils because they are flammable. If using a stove top or microwave oven, use the lowest setting. As it’s a warm day, I just put the coconut oil jars in the sun for a while to melt.
Making the soap:
- When the lye solution and the oil are both approximately 60°C, slowly and carefully add the lye to the oil, stirring continuously all the while.
- Then use a whisk or stick blender on low, pulsing intermittently, to thoroughly combine the oil/lye mixture, stirring until its fully emulsified. It can thicken quite quickly and form what is known as ‘trace’ where a thin trail or drips persist on the surface before for a brief period.
- It is now time to pour the batter into the mould… add fragrance if desired before doing so, and stir quickly to distribute it…eucalyptus is nice
- A spatula is most effective to scrape out the last traces so as not waste any of your precious soap batter.
- Give the mould a little shake or bump to help settle the batter into the mould and to level the surface
- Now cover to insulate and slow cooling of the batter… leave overnight
- Next morning, unmould your soap, and cut into bars
- These will now need to be stored in an dry, airy place, preferably out of direct sunlight, for 4 – 6 weeks to fully cure, and then you soap is ready for use.
I do not recommend using this soap for personal use, as it is rather drying, because it was designed for household cleaning.
There are more appropriate, moisturizing recipes for personal soap and will share my favourite in another video.