How to make soap in a few easy steps

This is a guest post and entry in our non-fiction writing contest  by Bam Bam

pic of Soap Making Equipment

Soap Making Equipment

It is really easy to make soap at home. And the homemade product is by far superior to anything you could buy in the box stores. It is better for your skin and gives you something with which to barter. Everyone loves a nicely scented homemade bar of soap.

In this post, I want to walk you through the cold process method of making homemade soap. It’s easier than you might think. Soap is made from three basic ingredients: lye, water and fat (oil). Adding lye water to fat results in a chemical reaction called saponification, the end result of which is soap.

About the ingredients: make sure your lye is 100 percent sodium hydroxide. (You don’t want any additives.) Next use either rainwater or bottled water. There are all kinds of oils that are used to make soap, and some of them are very expensive. The ones that I have used so far include olive oil, palm oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, caster oil, vegetable shortening and lard. It’s good to use a combination of oils because different oils add different characteristics to the fished soap. For instance, caster oil is added for lather and olive oil is added to make a nice hard bar of soap. (More on this later.)

Here is the quick and dirty explanation of soap making. Measure out the water and the lye, and then add the lye to the water. Cool until lye mixture reaches 100 degrees. Then heat the oils to 100 degrees. When the lye water and the oils are both 100 degrees, add the lye water to the oils. Stir until the mixture reaches “trace”. Then pour into your mold and leave unmolested overnight. Remove the soap from the mold and cut into bars. Let cure for six to eight weeks. (I will give a detailed explanation later.)

Equipment and Supplies

Now that you have a basic understanding of the ingredients and the process of soap making, let’s get into the details. There are a few items that you will need. Let’s start with safety first.

Safety Items:

  • Latex gloves
  • N95 mask
  • Safety goggles

Keep in mind that lye is a chemical and it has some dangerous properties. It can burn your skin and its fumes can irritate your nose and throat. If lye water is splashed into your eyes, it can cause blindness. This is why it is advisable to wear gloves, a mask and safety goggles. If handled properly, lye is no different than any of the other chemicals you handled in high school chemistry class. Do not fear lye; just be careful.

Kitchen Items:

  • Digital scale
  • Stick blender
  • 2 cup (liquid) measuring cup
  • 1 cup (liquid) measuring cup
  • Half gallon pitcher with secure lid
  • Thermometer
  • Dish pan (not pictured)
  • Enamel or stainless steel pan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Spatula

Note: Once these kitchen items have come into contact with lye, they cannot be used for food preparation. Lye is a poison.

When making soap, ingredients are measured by weight and not by volume. Therefore you will need a good scale. I ordered this one from for $18.95.

Whatever scale you purchase, make sure it has a tare function. You want to be able to put the (empty) pitcher on the scale, hit the tare button and return the scale to zero. That will allow you to weigh the water without having to subtract the weight of the pitcher.

You will use the one-cup liquid measuring cup to weigh the lye. A liquid measuring cup has a lip to help pour out the liquid or in our case, the excess lye. The pour spout on the liquid measure will come in handy when you have poured too much lye into the measuring cup and need to put some back into the bottle.

You will use the two-cup liquid measuring cup to weigh the oils. Again, put the empty measuring cup on the scale and hit the tare button to return the scale to zero. Then measure each oil one at a time. Measure out one oil and then pour it into the pan. Measure the next oil and pour it into the pan. And so forth. You don’t want to measure all the oils together because if you pour too much, you will have to pour oil back into the jar.

You will need a thermometer that reads between 80 degrees and 120. Both the oil mixture and the lye water need to be 100 degrees when you pour the lye mixture into the oil. You will use the dishpan filled with ice water as a water bath to cool down the pitcher containing the lye water. You may also need it to cool down the oil mixture.

Although not essential for soap making, a stick blender makes things a lot easier After you add the lye water to the oil, you need to stir the mixture until it reaches “trace”. (The notion of trace will be explained below.) You can stir for a few minutes with a stick blender or 25 minutes by hand. A stick blender is a good idea.

Selecting Oils

There are many oils suitable for making soap. Your budget and what you want from your soap will help determine which oils you use. Here is a list of common oils.

Lard is rendered pig fat. The good thing about lard is that it is cheap. One pound of lard is just over $2. Lard makes a reasonably hard, mild soap. The problem is that soap made exclusively from lard does not lather well and it tends to be brittle. (That is why you want a mixture of oils—because no one oil will have every quality you are bound to want in your soap.)

Palm oil derived from the fruit of the oil palm. It comes in a number of colors including white, orange and red. Palm oil tends to make a soft soap. So if you use palm oil, you will want to use oil (such as olive) that makes a very hard bar of soap.

Coconut oil is oil derived from the flesh of the coconut. Coconut oil makes a fairly hard bar of soap that lathers well. The problem with coconut oil is that it dries out the skin.

Olive oil is the fat obtained from the olive. To make soap, get the cheapest olive oil you can find. There is no need to use extra virgin olive oil. There are many good features of soap made from olive oil (castile soap). Soap made from olive oil is very hard and mild on the skin. The soap lathers very well and is long-lasting. If you were going to make soap from a single oil, the best choice would be olive oil. But it’s good we don’t have to limit ourselves to one type of oil, as the one drawback of castile soap is that it tends to be brittle.

Caster oil is derived from the caster bean, which really isn’t a bean; it’s a seed. Caster oil makes soap with a very fine lather. Caster oil is added in very small amounts.

Jojoba oil is not really an oil; it is a wax found in the seed of the jojoba plant. Jojoba oil is the most expensive oil on this list. It is used sparingly in soap making, not just because of the expense but also because using more than 10 percent in a recipe makes for a very soft soap. Jojoba oil is used because it is an exceptional moisturizer. Jojoba oil is added in very small amounts.

Soap Making Recipes

There are all kinds of soap making recipes floating around the Internet. Before using them, I recommend that you run them through a lye calculator such as the one that can be found at Bramble Berry. Even if you find a recipe in a book that you want to try, run it through a lye calculator just to double check the figures.

A lye calculator will let you tweak a recipe or even invent your own recipe. You just enter how many ounces of each oil you wish to use and press “calculate” and the calculator spits back the amount of lye and the amount of water you will need. It will also calculate the total yield of the batch.

My soap molds hold 40 ounces of soap. So the recipes I have made all make approximately 40 ounces.

Here are the recipes I have made so far.

Lavender Soap

Lye Water Solution

  • 3.81 oz. Lye
  • 8.91 oz. Water

Oil Mixture

  • 11 oz. Olive oil
  • 6 oz. Coconut oil
  • 6 oz. Palm oil
  • 2 oz. Jojoba oil
  • 2 oz. Caster oil

Essential Oil

  • .5 oz. Lavender essential oil

To make the ylang-ylang soap, use ylang-ylang essential oil instead of lavender oil.

Rose Soap

Lye Water Solution

  • 4.02 oz. Lye
  • 9.24 oz. Rosewater

Oil Mixture

  • 16 oz. Olive oil
  • 5 oz. Palm oil
  • 5 oz. Coconut oil
  • 2 oz. Caster 0il

Essential Oil

  • .5 oz. Rose Essential Oil

Old Fashioned Peppermint Soap

Lye Water Solution

  • 3.86 oz. Lye
  • 8.91 oz. Water

Oil Mixture

  • 16 oz. Lard
  • 6 oz. Olive oil
  • 1 oz. Caster oil

Essential Oil

  • .5 oz. Peppermint essential oil

Now that I’ve introduced you to the recipes, let me walk you through soap making step-by-step. We will make the Old Fashioned Peppermint Soap.

Step 1: Set Up

You will want to get out all your equipment and ingredients. Make sure you have enough of each ingredient on hand. If you are short even one ingredient and want to use another, make sure you run the recipe through the lye calculator.

  • Fill up your sink with soapy dishwater.
  • Cover your work area with newspaper.
  • Set out a dishpan with cold water and lots of ice cubes. You will use this as a water bath to cool down the lye water.
  • Line your soap mold with either saran wrap or freezer paper.
  • Put on goggles, safety mask and gloves.

Step 2: Lye Water

Grab the half-gallon pitcher and measure out 8.91 oz. bottled water. Set aside. Take the one-cup measuring cup and measure out 3.86 oz. of lye. Slowly pour the lye into the water. Stir with wooden spoon until lye is dissolved. A minute is plenty of time. Put top on pitcher. Place pitcher in water bath and let it cool. Put the measuring cup that contained the lye and the wooden spoon in the soapy water.

Step 3: Mix the Oils

Measure out 16 oz. of lard. Cut into smaller chunks and put into pan. Measure out 6 oz. olive oil and 1 oz. caster oil. Pour into pan. Turn on burner and heat on low until lard has melted. Turn off burner.

Step 4: Temperature Regulation

  • Check the temperature of the lye water. You want the temperature of the lye water to go down to 100 degrees. When the lye water reaches 105 degrees take it out of the water bath. Clean thermometer.
  • Next, check the temperature of the oil mixture. Place pot in water bath until oil mixture reaches approximately 100 degrees. Then take pot out of water bath. Clean thermometer.
  • Double check to make sure lye mixture and oil mixture are within five degrees of each other, cleaning thermometer after each use.

Step 5: Combine Lye Water and Oil

Insert your stick blender into oil mixture. Slowly pour the lye water into the oil. Be careful not to splash the lye water. Blend with stick blender until soap traces. Soap reaches trace when it thickens sufficiently that you can turn off the blender and see ripples across the top of the soap, that is, if you drizzle some of the soap on the surface of the mixture, you can notice a “trace” or a ripple effect.

Step 6: Essential Oil

Add the peppermint essential oil. Pour the soap into the mold you have selected, using the spatula to get all the soap off the sides of the pot. Cover with towels or old blankets and set aside where it will be undisturbed until the following day.

Step 7: Cut and Dry Soap

The following morning take your soap out of the molds. The soap will shrink slightly overnight so it’s really easy to plop the soap log out of the mold. Remove saran wrap or freezer paper. Cut into one-inch bars of soap. Let cure in a cool, dry place for six to eight weeks before using. You will need to flip over your bars of soap every few days so they can dry evenly. Store them on white freezer paper. If you store them on a colored surface, they may pick up the color of that surface.

Soap Molds

Just about anything can work as a soap mold. If you just want to make one batch to see if soap making is for you, use an old shoebox. I bartered to have a friend build soap molds from wood. I knew that I wanted a standard bar of soap, which is 2.5 x 3.5 x 1 inch. I knew that I wanted to make relatively small batches. So I opted to make 10 bars at a time. I then calculated the interior dimensions of the molds: 2.5 x 3.5 x 10 inches. I gave this figure to my friend and just had him add on the thickness of the wood.

If you use a wood mold make sure you line the mold with either saran wrap or freezer paper. You could also use plastic containers. If you use plastic containers, make sure you spray the containers with cooking spray.

That’s it. Easy peasy.

Let me list one more recipe. This recipe is for plain soap—no essential oils added. For a mold I used the box from a dozen pint Ball Jars lined with freezer paper.

Unscented Soap (Large Batch)

Lye Water Solution

  • 12.18 oz. Lye
  • 27.39 oz. Water

Oil Mixture

  • 30 oz. Olive oil
  • 20 oz. Coconut oil
  • 15 oz. Crisco
  • 14 oz. Palm Oil
  • 4 oz. Caster Oil

That’s it!

pic of homemade soap

The Finished Product

I made this plain batch so I can hand-mill it in a couple of weeks. I want to experiment with adding things like rose petals from my garden, oatmeal, and fragrance oils. To hand-mill the soap, grate it with a cheese grater and put it in a double boiler with some water. Let it melt. Then add the additional ingredients. Such ingredients cannot be added until the lye has set. So I plan to let my unscented soap dry for two weeks, grate it with a cheese grater, melt it and then add interesting stuff. I want to try a concoction of canned coconut milk, honey and vanilla. I need to do more research here. I don’t know if I should add vanilla fragrance oil or vanilla extract.

This has been my adventure into soap making. I have had a lot of fun and learned a lot. I am hoping some of the more experienced soap makers will share some of their recipes below.

Helpful Resources:

This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest where you could win:

First Prize) Winner will receive a Wise Essentials Kit courtesy of LPC Survival and an EcoZoom’s Versa Stove courtesy of EcoZoom stoves.. A value of over $300.

Second Prize) Winner will receive a Stealth Body Armor Level II vest courtesy of SafeGuard ARMOR™ LLC and a $150 gift certificate for Wolf Ammo courtesy of A total prize value of over $600.

Third Prize) Winner will receive copies of both of my books “31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness” and “Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat: One Man’s Solution” and a Katadyn Siphon Water Filter courtesy of Mayflower Trading Company. A total prize value of $107.

Contest ends on June 5 2012.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. d2 prep says:

    Thanks Bam Bam, this is great info.

  2. JP in MT says:

    Bam Bam:
    You did it again.
    Making soap is a skill on our list (just not high enough yet to get us moving), this may help!


    • Bam Bam says:


      What all is on your “to learn” skills list?

      • JP in MT says:

        Still need to start canning.

        Need to learn more about solar and get something running other than my camper.

        Can’t sew (except buttons) or darn.

        I want to start gardening, but it will have to be in containers on the glassed in porch for now.

        That should do for a start 😉

        • Bam Bam says:


          I am thinking of writing post, a list mostly, on the skills that would be necessary to rebuild survival group. It would be interesting to come up with an exhaustive list of skills we might need to rebuild society.

          • JP in MT says:

            You would have to determine the cause of the breakdown. EMP would be different than Pandemic. Nuclear attack vs. Peak Oil. Economic vs. Terrorist. But there are several areas that would be the same if you start with loss of government (local thru federal) services (ie, transportation (especially fuel delivery), water, electric, sewer, LE)

            It would definitely be exhaustive. Might start with each room of the house, them move outside (looking for those things you will have to do without, make yourself – like your soap – or develop alternatives for). Right now my brain is going into overload.

  3. Bam Bam,

    LOVE this article! I will print to add to my prep binder. Also will give this a try. You make this sound easy and my last try wasn’t all that great so this info should really help me!

    Thanks for the wonderful and easy to read steps for soap making.

  4. Excellent treatise and spot on the subject. I believe this information will help a good many people with this subject. Even though I was what I thought intimately acquainted with the art of soap making having had to help my mother many times when I was a child, I did not know all of the ramifications as you have explained them thoroughly. The one big difference is in the ingredients. As a child, we furnished all of our ingredients and there were no digital scales available back then for such precise measurements. As we leached our own lye from wood ashes and different ashes give different strengths of lye, my mother used a piece of wheat or oat straw to check the lye strength by how quickly the straw was discolored. She then measured the amount of lye according to the strength. Lewis Lye was not available for sale during the war years. She reboiled the lard from our own butcherings and then filtered it several times with progressivly different weaves of material. She put all items in the witches kettle in the yard and we built up the fire as she stirred until the mixture saponified. We did not know that term back then but she just simply called it gelling which meant the same thing I guess. For laundry soap she used different methods than for body soap. She strained the lye several times for body soap and added essence made from the wild and cultivated flowers around our place and she added some washing soda to control the irritation of the skin the lye soap caused. I wish we would have known back then all the various items that could be added as she only used peppermint oil and vanilla extract to perfume the body soap.

    • Bam Bam says:


      Soap making back in your mother’s day was a real art. They didn’t have standardized lye. Folks back then really had to know a lot. And there were many failed batches. Soap making is much easier today, especially with a digital scale and a stick blender. Folks back then had to stir the huge pot of soap for three days to get it to thicken–all the while not knowing for sure if the soap would turn out okay. It took me about 45 minutes to make the peppermint soap and most of that time was spent waiting for the lye and the oils to cool down to 100 degrees.

      • Mom’s batches were a lot smaller and I seem to remember starting the soap after breakfast and having it fell several hours later. My brother and I then stirred it until it got too thick to stir with the wooden paddle, around four or five more hours I think. It was always finished and poured into the box mold and she would cut it into bars the next morning and we would wrap it and put it in the smokehouse. That was around 1952 when she last made soap so for me I was thirteen then. I can remember her pouring the lye solution back into some more wood ashes when it wasn’t strong enough. We were able to buy Lewis Lye around 1948 I think. I remember war time rationing went out at the end of 1947 as my youngest brother was born in November of that year and received a ration book, and the neighbors little girl was born in February of 1948 and did not receive one. Once the rationing went off, there were a lot of things you could get that you were not able to find during the war years. We stayed on rationing that long because America was feeding not only the winners of the war but the losers also.

      • I am having a hard time getting enthused about soap making. I am a down home girl and willing to do most anything. It seems that there is a lot of effort and time put in to something that may or may not turn out. I have been using coupons at the store to buy soap and have almost 3 years supply and have only spent around 10.00 total. I do realize that eventually my soap reserve will run out and at that point I will wish that I had this skill. I will copy the recipe and keep on reserve. I just feel that my limited funds would better service me in other preps. I am so glad that all of you folks are taking the time to experiment and put it out there for all of us. I think that I will continue to purchase mine with coupons for the time being. Thank you pack for all the information you share. Much appreciated!!!

        • That’s OK Ammie, different talents lie within different folks and I bet you have something of value to share or barter with. I happen to be a soaper and cheese maker with emphasis on the soap more than the cheese since I make so much of it (sort of a way to make a bit of money) and cheese out of necessity since I am sometimes glutted with milk because I raise dairy goats. You, no doubt, have or will have a talent that will meet others needs as well as your own.

          • It is good to know how to do it in case the SHTF and you eventually run out of stored soap products. I would much rather work one day making soap for several months than to go dirty for that amount of time. Harold

        • Ammie…I still buy soap when it is on special… right now, for me, my time is better served doing other high priority tasks…remember..prep for your individual/family needs –

          this prep stuff is not a one-size fits all.

          However, I have all the items necessary – just as I do with sewing notions, leather repair, tools and assorted items etc…

          Tried soap making once…turned out okay..still using some of it…and stuff to make more is stored – just in case.

          then tried chutney – okay as well – gave most of it away, as too much for my little family – recipe stored for when needed -just in case.

          Marmalade – same – friends loved it. Etc.

          and remember, when the time comes to use some/all of our prep items…we will need a few different things, depending on the seasons, geography, family size etc…

          there are too many variables – so, just do/learn/make/practice what you can – for whatever you think may be necessary – and always keep learning –

          I’m booked into a welding course (2 days only), and then I will be doing the small engine maintenance course, again 2 days (with the same mob).

          I want to be able to repair my whipper/snipper, mower, chainsaw, motorbike etc, or put a lawnmower engine on a bicycle – never know, may come in handy one day. Each course is $90…bargain.

          However, have not been to the Archery Club for months…nor have I managed to get out to the Rifle club with a friend who has offered to let me practice with his guns…

          I also have a female friend who drives her own bulldozer – I kid you not…(thought her husband was bringing it over – instead it was my friend)…now that would be a hoot to learn to drive – and if I ever need to block off a dirt road…or bring down some big trees…and that is why I buy old lengths of chain at garage sales – now stored and covered with recycled engine oil…you get the picture.

          There is a huge knowledge base on this blog…everything went into overdrive for me when I found this site…too much to take in and do all at once, so prioritize and keep it fun…and don’t go broke.

          hope this helps…cheers.

          • Thanks for your comment. You are rite, I need to prep for my family and our needs. You sound like you are a very rounded person with many skills. You also sound like you have a very interesting friend! I do have skills that would make me a very valued person to have around. I can can just about anything, I know how to fish, learning to hunt, some sewing, I can even run a chain saw!!
            I also have common sence and that in and of itself is invaluable. I so look forward to new ideas and comments. I have learned so very much from this site and am so glad that I found the pack. So maybe soap making isn’t for me, but the knowledge is wonderful.Keep on Preppin!

          • Chloe, when my three daughters were in their teens, I built a small bulldozer from a three wheel mail scooter the girls had been driving around our property and some fabricated tracks and sprockets from Struck corp. They were quite upset that I had destroyed their toy so the quickly learned how to use this small bulldozer. It was always out of gas when I wanted to use it but there were never any tumble weeds on the property, the driveway was always smoothly graded and any other things that could be done with it were done. I took the two oldest girls 18 and 16 with me one day when I was cleaning and grading a lot out in the desert for a new home. They done most of the work and the next week, I found they had ordered business cards through the office supply store my wife managed, offering to grade and clean lots. Their biggest job was over in the mountains where they graded and filled a wide driveway up to the building site and graded out a building pad. Took them a week to do it. Youngest daughter at thirteen had a birthday business going with a couple of ponies and a little stagecoach I had made. She gave rides, done pictures of birthday celebrations and kids on a saddle pony and in the stagecoach. Just when I thought I had it made the two oldest girls got married and the youngest stayed home until she was 28 before she got married. She too could use any of the equipment, weld, cut metal, do carpentry work, etc. Sure wish the grandkids were like that but maybe I expect too much.

  5. You mentioned you should use rainwater or bottled water. What about water from a dehumidifier?

    • Bam Bam says:


      I don’t know anything about dehumidifiers. The main thing is that you don’t want to take a chance with very hard water, rust in the water or chemicals in the water.

  6. Prudent says:

    OhuuRah! This posting has been more helpful than any dozen on this gun or that blade or what kinda bucket to store your rice in. I have ‘searched’ the web for many a posting on soap. Yours comes to me as sort of a …. something my Sisters would hand down or myhap even Granny Clampet..(one p or two?) I’ve been to “Bramble Berry” and a number like it but as an adjunct to your post …. Well it takes on a different helpful nudge.

    Question: Is that pot your only ‘cooker.. melter…”?

    Thank You Bam Bam!

    • Bam Bam says:


      No, I bought the pot just for soap making. I got it at Walmart for I think $11.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Yeah, that latest whiz-bang gun won’t do you any good when you get sores or an illness because you don’t have any soap.
      I recently did the unthinkable (for me) ….. let you folks teach me how to make biscuits from scratch. I reckon I will learn how to make soap. I figured that if I clean the utensils enough I can use the kitchen utensils but because of your warning Mrs. SurvivorDan says I have to get separate utensils. Where do I get the essential oils? I mean to say can I get them in a brick and mortar store in the Phoenix area?

      • Bam Bam says:

        Survival Dan,

        You crack me up. You can get a three piece set of wooden spoons aut Walmart for .88 cents. I think I picked up two spatulas for less than a dollar.

  7. Hunker-Down says:

    Bam Bam,

    I ordered a soap making kit, maybe, 1975-ish. I saw the box last month on some honey-do job. I think there is a book with the kit. I didn’t follow through back then, after I found out that several people were already selling home made soap.

    Times are different. We all need to get prepared to be self sufficient for the dual opportunities of either; no way to buy soap, or having a skill to make a barter item (and to keep clean), or both.

    But…. I’m still dorking around with the dish washing and laundry soap making skills. We have the ingredients, but lack the energy to ‘just do it’. I’m 72 and all our decrepid energy is going toward the vegetable garden. Today we received 3 apple and 2 pear trees that need planted and we will be pooped by the time that task is done.

    BUT, I am highly anxious to jump into bath soap making and have a couple (maybe 6) questions.
    What was your approximate cost of equipment, excluding the box?
    What was your approximate cost of ingredients for the peppermint recipe?
    Can we use any vendors bottled water, or does it have to be distilled water?
    You said; “Once these kitchen items have come into contact with lye, they cannot be used for food preparation. Lye is a poison.” I’m stingy, does that include the blender attachments, enameled pot and the thermometer?
    Did the fumes from the process irritate your pet snake or dog, such that I better do it out-doors or the DW will accuse me of killing her canary?

    • TomFish says:

      Ha-Ha….you’re cracking me up, Hunker Down!

      Have fun planting!

    • Lantana says:

      H-D, my big question for Bam Bam is, does this soap clean tanks?

      Seriously, Bam, very informative article–thanks for letting us glean from your experience.

      • Bam Bam says:


        No, my dh cleans my tank. LOL

        • Hunker-Down says:

          Oh no!
          Don’t clean the barrel of the tank with soap!
          Can you just see a loud klanky tank blowing bubbles just to clear the breach before firing a shot?
          After seeing a few bubbles, one would think that the projectile, if it could even fire one, would be made of licorice.

          • Lantana says:

            But H-D, don’t you think that would be good for opsec?

            ‘Oh no, officer, this isn’t a tank; it’s an industrial-size licorice launcher. See the pretty, peppermint-y bubbles?’

            With her Southern accent, Bam could totally sell that–wouldn’t even have to employ a single eye-bat.

            • Hunker-Down says:


              Yes, with a few bubbles, her OPSEC would be impeccable.

              Perhaps she will develop a licorice soap recipe for the Wolf Pack.

              Our military experts can tell us how much an 80 MM licorice shell would weigh.

            • Bam Bam says:

              My tank shoots bath bombs.

    • Bam Bam says:


      Let’s see, I paid $11 for the pan, $18 for the scale, and $22 for the stick blender. The measuring cups and utensils were less than $1 a piece. The thermometer was $8, if I recall correctly.

      My dh picked up 2 lbs. lye at Lowes for $12. I would check at Ace Hardware to see if they have a 1 lb. bottle. I picked up the lard for $2 and a 4 oz. bottle of caster oil at Walmart for like $3. You probably already have the olive oil on hand.

      I didn’t pay for the molds. I taught a friend how to make laundry soap and gave him the ingredients for 3 gallons and he made them for me out of scrap wood. You could use an old shoebox lined with saran wrap instead. The most costly item is the peppermint essential oil. A .5 oz. bottle can run you about $6 to $8.

      • Hey All,
        I do not use special pots and pans or utensils for my soapmaking. The very pan that makes soap also makes spaghetti and cheese and yogurt. My stick blender however does not share the chores. You just never know if a tidbit of soap got left in a tiny crevice and that can taste nasty.
        Just remember to use stainless steel, plastic or ceramics that can take the heat. Anything else will have a bad reaction with the lye.

    • Bam Bam says:


      In 1975 I was in Kindergarten. LOL The only soap I cared about back then was Mr. Bubbles.

    • Bam Bam says:


      That kit from 1975 probably isn’t good any more. The oils have most certainly gone rancid and I wouldn’t trust the lye.

      Fumes: I mixed the lye with my hood vent thingie on my stove on high. I didn’t notice any fumes.

      You can use any kind brand of bottled water. When I buy bottled water, I get whatever is on sale.

    • Oops, I answered this further down the list but just to tell you, I don’t use specially set aside equipment for my soapmaking except for the hand blender and that’s just my preference. Lye is poison if you eat it, but seriously, who’s going to cook in a pot without washing it first?

    • alikaat says:

      Hey HD –
      The NaOH that is the active ingredient in lye is used in several processes around my lab to remove some stubborn bacterial traces called endotoxin (that can make people really sick if it is in something that gets injected). Anyway… it can definitely be removed from surfaces by copious rinses with water, or we wouldn’t be able to use the equipment treated with it for growing the (good) bacteria that produce the medicinal ingredients. But that only will work with non-porous materials like glass, seam-free plastic, or stainless steel. Doesn’t work with wood, polyethylene (a kind of brittle plastic), or rubber, and it absolutely destroys teflon and coated pans after a few exposures. BTW… stainless steel can be damaged by lye, so if any of you have stainless appliances, try not to splash any on them. This can result in ugly brown stains that will not come out, no matter what you clean with (my lab counter tops used to be stainless steel. Aagh!)
      Nasty stuff. Also, NaOH burns holes in cotton, and if some gets on a pair of pants, you won’t realize you have a hole in your clothes until your leg begins to burn. If this happens, don’t panic… just wash, wash, wash with water. A bit of baking soda might help neutralize the alkaline, but I didn’t think of that at the time. Please don’t ask me to tell that particular story. Not. Amusing. At. All.
      (Actually is… use your imagination. You won’t be far off.)
      Good luck, all. I am launching into my soapy experiment tomorrow afternoon (Saturday).
      Thank you, BamBam for the excellent post!

      • alikaat says:

        Grr… polyethylene is one of the good plastics. Meant to say polystyrene.

      • Wait…NAOH or sodium hydroxide is alkaline and baking soda is alkaline, how does baking soda neutralize NAOH? I keep vinegar around for that.

        • alikaat says:

          Baking soda is only mildly alkaline, and will bring the pH of whatever it comes in contact with down to a safe level. It also absorbs the liquid, keeping it from spreading further and exposing any more skin to the lye. Vinegar will work, too but since most people keep a can of baking soda near their stove tops to put out grease fires, it is often right on hand in the kitchen.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Good point. Is this an outdoor job?
      I kill the ferrets and Mrs. S.D. will have my hide.

  8. James Nelson says:

    I’ve been making soap for a long time and this is pretty good information. I use cheaper ingredients and still come out with good soap. Vegetable shortening, cheap vegetable oils, used and strained peanut oil from my deep fryer, bacon grease from the pan and other salvaged oils can be used as part of your recipe. I always use 20% coconut oil as a base for good soap. You can find it online in bulk pretty cheap, and some big box stores have low priced varieties. I stay away from the expensive virgin organic stuff, it costs too much.
    Use a good lye calculator, of which there are several on line. I always super fat 5% which insures that your soap isn’t harsh. Using the cold process and 5% super fat, I have never had to cure my soap for more than a day or 2 before use.
    Soap molds are as easy as a cardboard box lined with freezer paper, We go through a lot of cream and use the quart cartons with the top cut off for molds.
    Try to get fresh lye, there are several places to get lye on line. If you are buying drain cleaner at the hardware or big box store be careful, make sure that it is pure sodium hydroxide. I have seen a number of different blends of various substances and they won’t make good soap. Stale lye tends to be all clumpy making it harder to measure accurately, I had my only failure using some old lye.

    • In addition to my previous remarks, your post made me think of another item that we done. Leaves from a peach tree when rubbed in the wooden box leave a kind of waxy surface that enables the soap to break free cleanly. We used to use them when we built new beehives to get the bees started using the hives sooner. During the war years we could not get paraffin wax at all to use for that purpose. Vegetable oils were in very short supply also since they had just started making oleomargarine to supplant the butter supply since it too was rationed. The margarine used to come in a white one pound block with a packet of coloring you had to mix in with a fork to make it yellow.

      • Bam Bam says:


        I wish people would write history books from the perspective of people who experienced the history. There is so much knowledge out there that is in danger of being lost. I found out by chance that margerine was called oleo back in the day, and that it was invented to take the place of butter due to wartime rationing.

    • My m-i-l saves all of her fats and grease to make soap for the laundry, it turns out great and it works.
      I get my sodium hydroxide from ACE Hardware. They don’t carry it on the shelves, its in their on-line catalog. You go to your nearest ACE and they will order it for you. I bought an entire case for around 50.00. It has produced great soap.
      But, like you said, fresh is best. Don’t expect to be able to buy sh for a two year stint on a shelf and then make soap, it’s more like six months. Good thing I make 20 pound batches twice a month.

      • When the grandchildren were going to high school, they had a special awards program that gave extra recognition to descendants of the original pioneers of this county. When one grandson told me about it and he wished he could have taken part in it, I told him he could since he was a descendant of an original pioneer. I had to write a short essay for him about how my grandfather who was born during the Civil War in Kentucky came here to Illinois as a young man just as Abe Lincoln had done years earlier. Travel back then was done on the rivers and streams. He crossed the Ohio river from what is now Ohio county in Kentucky but I believe he was originally from Eads county which no longer exists. He came up the Wabash river which divides Illinois from Indiana and entered the Embarass river where Lawrenceville Illinois is located now. He came up the Embarass to just North of Charleston and then went up the little Embarass as far as practical ending up in East Oakland township at a little town called Isobel which was a railroad watering point on the old original Illinois Midland railroad and went to work for a farmer there. He arrived in 1874, married my grandmother who was one of twelve children, seven girls and five boys who all got married except one boy and stayed in the local area giving me a huge bunch of cousins around Oakland Illinois. They were married on the 22nd of August 1882 and eventually had fourteen children of which only four survived to their late twenties. Dad was born in May of 1897 so the grandson who would have been a great grandson of an original pioneer of the county was able to take part in the program. I had written, in the essay, a number of the skills that had been passed down through the years and would have liked to pass them on to my grandchildren but unfortunately, video games, computers, drugs and other things took precedence over what I had to offer. I am still enumerating those skills and writing a short description of them as I remember and getting it ready to tabulate and when finished, if the school still wants it I will give them a copy. Hopefully that way some of the skills even though not being displayed in a hands on manner like a youtube video, at least the written descriptions will be there. I am a hundred percent in favor of the videos even the ones that are phony to me since they show how not to do it along with the good ones that show you how. A shame that such information will not be available after the crash, only the written (if we are lucky) information will survive. Harold

        • Bam Bam says:


          I sure wish you would submit your writings to the blog. Lots of folks here find this stuff really interesting.

      • Sodium hydroxide is also available from the plumbing supply stores as it is an ingredient they use to clean septic tanks that are all scummed up. They sell it as “caustic soda”/

        • Bam Bam says:

          Yes, and if you buy your lye at Lowes you have to go to the plumbing isle and not the isle that has all the drain cleaners.

    • Lee (tx) says:

      James, sorry for being dense, but what do you mean by ” super fat 5%” ?

      • Bam Bam says:


        To superfat a batch of soap is to put in more fat than the lye can react with. The fat that doesn’t bind moisturizes your skin.

        • Lee (tx) says:

          so if the reciept calls for say 10% fat, instead add15%?

          • Bam Bam says:


            Go to the soap making calculator and select a percentage to superfat–usually about 5 percent. If you go to the Bramble Berry link in the article, go all the way to the bottom where it says, “Superfat”.

          • Its safest to follow the recipe first since the lye and fats have been tabulated to react with each other just so. Basically the water (or milk if its a milk soap) and fat have to bind and the lye causes this to happen with enough stirring and the right temperature. You know they’ve done this by the trace or thickening after enough mixing. After this stage is when you add the scents, humectants, conditioners and extra fats for “superfat”.

  9. This is wonderful!

    It reminded me of a recipe from my Mennonite cookbook, written circa 1966 (but the recipe is no doubt from earlier).

    It’s for Granulated Soap which I’m guessing would be used for laundry? But it’s not the common laundry detergent recipe we see around.

    Granulated Soap

    1 can lye
    3 qts tallow or lard (a mixture is best)
    1/4 cup borax
    1/8 tsp citronella
    3 qts water

    Heat water and grease until slightly warm. Add remaining ingredients and mix together. This will be granulated. Keep stirring and if it gets so you can’t stir, use your hands. Keep working with it every day a little for about a week. (It will come out nice and granulated. It really is a mild soap and may be worked with your hands or a rubber glove.)

    I hadn’t seen one like this before and thought you or others might be interested. I don’t think I’d be working it with my hands right away though! 😉

    • I love this recipe!! So nice and aged, you know it works. I think I would be too chicken to put my bare hand in it.

  10. cosmolined says:

    Great Job Bam Bam!
    I am simply amazed at your writing skill…. I am printing this out and putting it in my hard binder of things to know. (I’ll try myself at a later date.) Well Done. God Bless, Cos

  11. A few discrepancies I noticed:
    Safety-wise, if you’re already going to be very careful, the only thing you need is rubber kitchen gloves and to remember to NOT SPLATTER the fresh liquidy soap. The other safety rules I have made for myself is to never have children around to disrupt or be in the same room as the soaping project and to wear closed-toe shoes. I also always have a jug of vinegar nearby in case something happens anyway. Vinegar is an acid while sodium hydroxide is an alkaloid. Imagine spilling liquid soap on your leg and it goes through your clothes. Removing your clothes at this point is not an option, it’ll just spread. Pour some vinegar on the site to neutralize it first.
    Technically lye does not burn (it only feels like it), it dissolves your skin much like bleach does. That slippery feeling when you get some on you is actually your skin cells dissolved.
    Lard (from pigs) makes a soft soap not hard and is generally used in laundry soap recipes. Tallow (from cattle or sheep or goats) is a more brittle fat and produces a harder bar. The reason this is important is because harder bars last longer under moist conditions such as the shower. Coconut oil mimics tallow as a substitute. Shortening is also useful as a tallow substitute but it is difficult to find one that isn’t full of junky chemical preservatives.
    Castor oil is not usually used as a main oil but as an additive in small amounts at the end of the process to superfat the soap and it helps homogenize the scent and colorant.
    An easier way to remember what trace means is that you lift up the spoon or stick blender to check for trace and the stream running off the tool can be used to “write” your name on the surface and it sort of sits there for a few seconds or longer. The soap at this point reminds me of pudding before you stick it in the fridge to chill.
    I use commercial soap molds which come in hundreds of pretty shapes and pictures and get them all on-line but I still love the rustic, plain cut bars from the slab of soap.
    FYI, never use flavoring as a scent, the sodium hydroxide just eats it up.
    When you have poured your soap into molds, cover with some saran wrap first before covering with blankets or towels. Make sure the weight of the blanket is not resting on the still soft soap. My recipe that I use most does not require covering the soap.
    If the soap seems to not want to come out of the mold pop it in the freezer for about 40 minutes to freeze the outside of the soap. It may pop out beautifully after that or you may have to run the back of the mold in some hot water for a few seconds much like you would a jello mold. This only works with smaller molds.
    I have often begun using soaps as early as three weeks and generally never wait past five weeks to begin using the soap. You can test a soap’s readiness by using a small bit and if it doesn’t bite you (small stings in little cuts you didn’t know you had), its tame.
    LOVE the coconut milk and honey idea. Since I make soap 20+ pounds at a time I can’t really guide you on the amounts, I just know it can be done. My specialty is the milk soaps. I don’t even use water, just milk, but there are certain precautions to take for this method.
    Enjoy those soaps that you made. There’s nothing like being able to make something so useful for yourself and make it better and save a lot of money.

    • Bam Bam says:


      I would love to hear more about the milk soaps. I haven’t tried this yet.

      • Hi, BamBam,
        Nearly any recipe for cold processed soap that uses water can use milk instead. The difference is in how you mix them together. Any pasteurized milk from the store will work. When you bring the milk home from the store pop it into the freezer and freeze solid (24 hrs.) then bring it out of the freezer and defrost it (24-48 hrs). This does something to the milk molecules that aids in the soaping process but I don’t remember the particulars.
        Pour the required amount of very cold (a bit icey is OK) milk into a stainless steel pan, deep and narrow works better than short and wide. Place the pan into a plugged sink or other deep tub and surround with ice cubes up to the height of the milk. Add some cold water to fill in the gaps between the cubes. Stir the milk for a couple of minutes so the ice can chill it a little more if needed. Clip your thermometer to the side of your pan and in the milk. Take your measured amount of sodium hydroxide and start sprinkling it into the milk while stirring constantly. This sprinkling/stirring process should take 15 minutes, so it’s pretty slow. The key is to keep the temperature above 85 degrees and below 125 degrees. I have had the best soap turn out at 110 degrees. The milk will turn dayglow yellow, about the color of your kitchen gloves and that’s OK. Turning orange is NOT ok, that means you’ve burnt it and there is no saving it, it has to be thrown out.
        Once you stirred in the last of the sh and the temp is where you want it and the oils match you’re good to go and finish the soap as you know how.
        Milk soaps do not turn nice and white and depending on what you scent them with can be antique white to cocoa brown.
        (Oh yes, I’ve made chocolate soap, mmmmmm.)
        Now, if we were off in the wild somewhere using our rations or supplies and didn’t have fresh milk, reconstituted milk will work -OR- you can add a few spoonfuls of the powdered milk at trace along with your superfats and scent.

        • alikaat says:

          Hi Donna-
          Interesting. You find that using a stainless steel pan works well for your process. Wonder if the concentration of NaOH in the commercially-available lye solutions is lower than what I use in my lab. I’ll have to look into that. I use 1N NaOH in my cleaning methods, or about 1/10th of the concentration of a saturated solution. Fully saturated NaOH is ~10N. I don’t handle that stuff happily, ever, though I have to to make the dilute cleaning solution. I’ve never noticed any staining or discoloring when this much more dilute stuff drips on something. But since lye is used to clean out drains and is known to be destructive if used too frequently, I though it was closer to the saturated stuff.
          Guess I’ll find out when I head over to the hardware store tomorrow.
          Nite All,

          • Bam Bam says:


            You are such a geek. LOL If we lived in the same town we would definitely pal around. We could get into a lot of trouble.

            • alikaat says:

              Thank you, BamBam. I wear the badge of Geekdom with honor. Suspect we get in plenty of trouble via this blog, anyway! However, it’s not outside of the realm of possibility that we get the chance to meet in RL. My dearest friend lives in Ga, and I plan on heading down there with my boys sometime this summer for a isif. There is bound to be a Denny’s or diner somewhere along the way that might work for a cup of coffee or a bite to eat. She lives in the far south end… I suspect I can make a case for whatever path I want through the state to get there.

            • Bam Bam says:


              My folks live in the very southeast corner of Georgia by the nuke base.

          • I’ve been using the same pot for a dozen years and it still looks new but for a few ripples from slight denting.

    • I will have to disagree with you on the use of flavorings for scent. Maybe a modern synthetic will die but my mother sure used peppermint oil and vanilla extract to perfume bars along with her homemade rose, lavender and honeysuckle essences.

    • I think if you had a failure using flavorings for scent purposes, you added it too soon while the lye was still effective. Immediately after gelling is when my mother added it and it had to be quickly stirred into the mixture before it got too stiff to stir. I do know that any of the flavorings made with keotone or sugar alcohol bases will be ruined by heat either in the chemical process of the lye changing the lard to glycerine or if you bake it in the oven as a sweetener in a pie or cake.

  12. Thanks so much for the instructions and recipes! I’d like to mention that for Android phone users there is a very good soap app from Brambleberry.

    It’s one app I make sure I keep on my phone for a grid-down situation. We can charge our phones using using our solar/crank radio.

  13. Bam Bam
    Thank you so much for this information. I’ll be making soap just as soon as I get all the tools and supplies. Anything we can do to make ourselves more independant is a blessing. And you have done all the hard work for the rest of us. Again thank you!
    Keep the Faith

  14. Mother Earth says:

    Bam Bam, love this post! Soap making and cheese making are my top two new things to learn. I just received a soap making book today. After reading your post, I realize I need to purchase separate tools. This will be my project for next week.

    • Bam Bam says:

      Mother Earth,

      I tried cheese making and the first batch was not successful. I tried to make mozzarella and it turns out like a rock hard plop. I haven’t had the confidence to try again.

      • Cheesemaking needs to be done in baby steps or you can blow your confidence out of the water.
        Start with a simple soft cheese that doesn’t require rennet then complicate it with extra steps for personalization then move on to another soft cheese that requires rennet and do the same thing.
        Mozz is very tempermental and more on the advanced level.

        Queso Blanco
        1 gallon milk
        1/4 cup lemon juice or lime juice
        Stainless steel pot and spoon (must be very clean)
        Another pot that is larger than the steel one
        Thermometer that can register below 100 degrees
        Place some water in the larger pot and place on high heat.
        Place the milk in the steel pot and place inside the larger pot similar to a double boiler. Add more water if necessary to bring the water level to the milk inside. Place on lid to steel pot. When milk begins to steam, check temperature. When it reaches 180 degrees remove from heat and slowly drizzle in the lemon juice while stirring constantly. You may have to stir for a few minutes more and should begin to see coagulation flecks.
        Next, line a large collander with cheese cloth ( I use the skirting of old sheets, washed a few times) and place the collander in a bowl preferably where the rim holds the collander up. Slowly pour in the curds and whey, they are very hot and you don’t want to get splashed. Let sit there a few minutes to let some of the whey drain, sometimes there’s no need to wait and it quickly runs right through then gather the 4 corners of the cloth and bring them together and tie with some string and hang from a cupboard handle with the bowl underneath. Leave it this way for 10 minutes to an hour, depending on how dry and crumbly you would like your cheese. After that, take it out of the cheesecloth and place in a smaller clean bowl and add a little salt (1/4 tsp for starts) and mix in thoroughly. At this point you can complicate the recipe by adding other things to personalize the cheese. My favorite is a little garlic salt and dry ranch dressing mix, folks think I made feta. This kind of cheese is great on salads. You can also add a little sour cream and you have dip.
        If this were being made under more rustic conditions, you can use 1/8 cup vinegar instead.
        Some rules of thumb:
        Never use aluminum when dealing with milk.
        Cleanliness is a must.

        • This is almost exactly the way I remember my mother making our own cottage cheese in the 1940’s except she hung the cheese bags on the clothesline to drain and the cats, dogs and a couple of runt hogs ate the whey dripping from the bags. She later made her own creamy sauce to cream the cottage cheese with out of buttermilk, sour cream and added cream of tartar to it along with some finely chopped, green onions, parsley, celery, and radish to make a spring cheese with. One time in 1949 she got hold of some old cheese hoops after she started working as a milk tester at the local cheese factory and started pressing some of her own homemade cheese if there was any left over. Tasted just as good later on after being stored in the root cellar.

      • alikaat says:

        Don’t let a first cheese-making attempt throw you. The first time I tried to make cheese was the week after my grandmother’s funeral. I wanted to do something that I remembered her doing when I was a little girl with some of the tools she gave me. Anyway… I’d love to tell you it came out perfectly, just like my grandmother was working through my hands… but it was an absolute, dismal failure. I had to throw it all out and cried for hours. I tried again a few years later, when I was a first-time mom on food stamps, receiving excessive amounts of milk from WIC, and I didn’t want to waste it all, going bad because I could only drink so much, and the baby was nursing! The cheese wasn’t absolutely horrible… and it went into a vegetable lasagna. It tasted kinda pasty and did not curd, a ricotta. I got better at it over time, so that now (about 15 years later), I can put together a batch of fresh cheese on a Sunday afternoon using whatever milk my boys didn’t drink from the previous week’s shopping, and it keeps well in a tupperware in the fridge for at least 5 or 6 days. I use it during the week for grilled cheese sandwiches (love these with sliced tomatoes and basil) or sliced thin on homemade pizza on Fridays, if there is still any in the fridge by then. Making cheese isn’t hard to do… but it takes practice, and maybe a bit of hunger to get the first few batches down. As fast as you’ve mastered soap making, I can’t imagine cheese keeping you down for long!
        Good luck, and again… thank you for this really well-written post.

        • Mother Earth says:

          Thanks Donna and Alikaat, I will allow for some failures and keep at it. When I first started making bread many years ago, I had failures, but now I’m very competent. It’s the patience that’s my problem.

        • Bam Bam says:


          Thanks for the vote of confidence. I will try another batch.

  15. Beautiful post, you are an inspiration! I’ve got a week of vaca coming up this month and I hope to master soap making. Thank you for sharing.

  16. Bam Bam says:

    Hey guys, I tested out my soap on my arm to see if the lye had completely set. No irritation. So I bathed with some of the soaps. The ylang-ylang turned out perfectly, a really nice lather. The peppermint soap was a joy to shower with–it made me feel tingly all over. I had to take two showers today so I could try two different soaps. LOL My dh loves the peppermint soap. I love the smell of homemade soap. Tomorrow I try the rose soap.

    • WOOT!! Doing the soap dance!!

    • Fantastic, for what it is worth, oil of wintergreen will leave you felling tingly for a longer period of time and I prefer it’s aroma over peppermint. For some reason, it was more readily available during the war years than either spearmint or peppermint and it was used as an ingredient for some of the early plastic explosives like nitro starch and RDX I have been told.

      • Bam Bam says:


        I have never heard of oil of wintergreen but I will keep an eye out. I want to try some.

        • Google it, its very interesting. Back in the day, my favorite gum was flavored with wintergreen and you can’t find that anymore because wintergreen is related to asperin and is considered dangerous to consume. 1 oz of liquid wintergreen is equal to 171 adult asperin tablets and can be absorbed through the skin.

          • Bam Bam says:


            Wow. That’s good to know. I imagine that oil of wintergreen soap would have some medicinal value when SHTF.

            • Kills poison ivy rash outbreaks very well. Check the ingredients on poison ivy soap, you may or may not find oil of wintergreen there.

  17. Hunker-Down says:

    Bam Bam,

    OK, the peppermint recipe goes to the top of the list; haven’t felt “tingly” for years.

  18. Lee (tx) says:

    Bam BAm, or others., can I use the Lard from WallyWorld? it is NOT 100% lard, it has additives and it does not have to be refrigerated. I do not know what effect the additives wil cause.

    • Bam Bam says:


      I used the lard from Publix and that doesn’t have to be refrigerated. I just checked the label and there are a lot of ingredients in print too fine for me to read. (Yep. I am reaching the age where the print beings to shrink.) I used it on my peppermint soap and the soap turned out great.

  19. Don Dorey says:

    An easier way is to find someone making bio diesel. The by product from production is glycerin and has usually been processed with Potassium Hydroxide which makes a good bar soap or a liquid soap. Usually one or two in any large town, usually willing to give it away and 5 gallons would make quite a bit of soap. Make it, use it, love it, my grandkids make it too.

  20. 3rd attempt to post…

    Bam Bam…excellent article…you know, thousands of people are going to see your post – and start making soap…

    you are providing a great service by sharing your experience and knowledge…thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to put it all together for everyone…

    this info is going to help many people

    and the article is so well written, I could just visualize the process you described… Well done. cheers.

    • Bam Bam says:

      Thanks Chloe. I have been thinking about writing a book. I just have a million ideas to choose from. I want to write a book about Socrates getting thrown into a jail cell outside of time, where he is visited by lots of famous thinkers like Martin Luther King Jr., Immanuel Kant and Jesus Christ. It would be a sort of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure in Socratic dialogue format.

      • …Bam Bam…ROTFL…too funny…and that is definitely a book I’d buy…studied Kant in Jurisprudence classes.

        I have saved your soap making instructions – the best no-nonsense directions so far…and I still have a healthy respect for chemicals that can go bang – so, it is more store bought soap for me. cheers..

  21. I recently received many gallons of biodiesel glycerine from a biodiesel maker in town. Turns out he uses the potatssium hydroxide method for his biodiesel which means that the only soap that can be made with it is a liquid soap by potassium hydroxide method. It will not make bar soap and will not work with lye. i have the potassium hydroxide crystals now and will be going to look for old lab equipment at the university surplus store soon (open one day a week at the U). My significant other minored in chem so I have his brain for any questions or issues.

  22. I used to make soap often. In fact, I used to teach soap making classes. I will make one suggestion if making this outdoors (which is a really good idea) that if it is over 90 degrees, soap does not always set up well.

    I found that I could purchase soap much more cheaply than I could make it. Making soap is fun, don’t get me wrong, but it can be expensive to gather all of the supplies, some of those oils need to be purchased at specialty stores.

    Your steps are very clear, and your article is well written. You have done a great job in writing up how to make homemade soap.

    • Bam Bam says:

      Copy Kat,

      Wow. That’s your website? My mom turned me on to your website years ago when I wanted to make a dish from Carrabbas. It is an incredible talent to be able to recreate these dishes.

  23. Bam Bam says:

    I have come up with two more bath products: citrus eucalyptus foot scrub and oatmeal peppermint foot soak.

    Oatmeal Peppermint Foot Soak


    1 bar peppermint soap, finely grated (see soap post for that recipe)
    1 cup oatmeal (blended to a powder)
    1/2 cup borax
    1/3 cup washing soda
    1 small box baking soda
    1/4 cup citric acid

    Mix all together and put in jar. (I use Johnson’s foot soap and I wanted a similar recipe I could make at home.)

    Eucalyptus Citrus Foot Scrub

    1 orange, sliced
    1 lemon, sliced
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1/4 cup Vitamin E oil
    1 cup coarse sea salt
    Eucalyptus essential oil

    Mix all ingredients in blender except essential oil. Blend until consistent. Add essential oil. If too runny, add more salt. If too dry, add more olive oil. (I approximated this recipe.) This could easily be made as peppermint-lemon foot scrub. (If I had peppermint essential oil on hand, I would have made that.) I have chronically dry feet. So far, this really moisturizes my feet.

    VI, if these were placed in nice jars, they could be readily sold at the flea market.

  24. I would be interested in knowing how to make soap with animal fat, that I kill out in the wild when the stores are closed and all the bottled oils are sold out. What if I shoot a deer and boil the fat, a squirrel, a duck or a wild turkey. How then do I make soap?

    Are you following my thoughts on this my friend?

    • Bam Bam says:


      I have read up on this. You would render the fat and then mix that with homemade lye water (water dripped through wood ashes). That’s how they made soap back in the day.

    • Deer tallow is nice and hard like bovine tallow and would work equally in its place (subbing for shortening or coconut oils as well). Keep the fat on the squirrel, you’ll need it for moisture and taste. Duck and turkey fat may be rendered and used in place of lard (pig fat) which is a softer fat and excellent for cleaning things other than the body such as laundry.

Before commenting, please read my Comments Policy - thanks!