I cannot remember where I first got this recipe from since it's been in my files for at least 2 years. But, this is the recipe I used when I made my first bar of soap.
1/2 cup cold water
2 tsp. Lye
1 cup vegtable oil or tallow
Heat the oil - an enamel or glass pot like Visions is good. In a heat-resistant glass bowl, slowly add the lye to water and mix with a wooden spoon. Once the oil and the lye/water mix are just hot to touch on the outsides of their respective containers, slowly pour the lye/water mix into the oil and mix - again using a wooden spoon. At trace (when mix starts to just barely thicken), add the fragrance oils (I recommend only essential oils since fragrance oils are chemical synthetics and not really that good for the skin - plus more and more people are developing allergies to chemicals and could become seriously ill using soaps or other products with fragrance oils), essential oils, or other additives such as dried herbs or oatmeal, at this point (add your milk now if you are making milk soap). Some fragrance oils may cause your soap to thicken up quickly, so you want to be ready to get this mix poured in the mold as soon as you can after you've blended your fragrance in well. Don't use any fragrance that might contain alcohol, as this can ruin your soap. Essential oils (plant oils) usually don't accelerate trace as much as fragrance oils (synthetic blends) do. Pour this finished mix into a mold of your choice that has been treated with something that will allow the soap to be easily released - such as some of the oil or tallow you used to make the soap. This should sit for around 24 hours to allow it for firm up and, once firm, you can release the soap from the mold and then let it sit and cure - at least 2 weeks.
I like this recipe because, like many people today, I suffer from a chronic lack of money and space for larger recipes, AND it also allows for experimenting with diffeerent combinations of oils and herbs without messing up a large batch.
Grate some glycerin soap base or a bar of castile soap (see note under Melt&Pour for the difference between glycerin and castile base) into a large bowl or use melt & pour noodles or beads. Firmly pack the grated soap or beads into a measuring cup until you have exactly 1 cup. Bring 3 cups of water almost to a boil and add the soap. Turn off the heat. Whip with a wooden whisk (or metal if you don't have a wooden one) until soap is completely melted. Let sit until cool and add 50-60 drops of your choice of either a single type or a blend of your empowered oils. The amount varies depending on the oils, but you should know when the soap is scented enough to please you. Pour the soap into a jar or bottle, cap and shake well to blend in the oils. Make sure to label this - and I would date it, too, especially if you make several different kinds that you may use. This way you will know just how long it takes to use the soap and perhaps another time you can make a half a batch of each kind of soap you want.
Prepare the soap in the same was as above, but before adding the soap to the almost boiling water right away, add 5-6 tablespoons of dried, ground and empowered herbs to the water when it's almost boiling. Take the pan off the heat and let the herbs steep for about 10-15 minutes. Slowly reheat the water and add the 1 cup of soap shavings and follow the rest of the above procedure. The herb scents change considerably when you add the soap in the second method. If you use this method and don't like the end result, just add a few drops of an oil - either of one of the herbs you had in the recipe, or even a complementary oil.
Melt and Pour soap can be exciting too. There are tons of things you can do with it! Including using your herbs. Basically, you melt the base and add any oils, colours, herbs or combinations you want and then pour into molds.
Actually, Melt&Pour soap is the glycerin that is removed from commercial soaps. Castile, which is lye soap without colours or scents, is a more pure soap and really the recommended base for magickal soaps.
First off, use a double boiler and melt your glycerine with a plate covering the top over low heat.When it is melted take off the heat and add your scent, herbs, whatever and pour slowly into the mold to avoid splashing. Let sit on your counter until a skin forms on the top and carefully put into the freezer or fridge.
Boil the water and let the glycerine soap melt in it. Remove from heat and add fragrance oil. It thinkens as it cools, so don't be discouraged if it looks watery at first. It will appear really watery - even for a day or so. DO NOT ADD MORE WATER!!! Let it sit for at least 24-48 hours.
When adding lavender to soap - how do you retain the purple color? Mine just turned (rather quickly) greenish-brown color. I added purple and pink flower petals and they turned almost white. Any suggestions?
You can keep the color of any botanical by not adding it to first process soap, but by rebatching that soap and adding the herbs/flowers then. Any botanical is going to be pretty much demolished by exposure to lye in raw soap. When you rebatch soap, you've sped up the saponification, so the lye won't touch the botanicals.
I just remembered one other m&p success. I just called it "Camping Soap". I sold out of it, and I used m&p and a combination of herbs that repel insects. This was really popular and pretty. The herbs sank to the bottom of the mold (which became the top of the soap) and I scented it with just a tad of citronella, eucalyptus, lavender and rosemary eo. It smelled very "outdoorsey". (my word-not Websters).
Did you know that most of the herbs you use in soapmaking lose their benefits by the time the lye gets through with them? To account for this, I make a very strong infusion of the herb. There are different ways to make an infusion:
1. Deduct some of the weight of your water that you will be mixing the lye with. Mix your lye with the remaining water and after your herbs are ready you can make up for the missing water with the lye/herb water mix. To make the infusion, boil the water that you took away before mixing the lye in, and pour over herbs in bowl. Let sit overnight. Strain and weigh to add the amount needed to complete the lye/water.Add powdered herb to the batch at trace to increase the herbal benefits and if available, the herb in essential form.
2. Heat the main oil you are using for your recipe, for example olive oil, add the washed and dried herbs and remove from heat. This spoils quickly so only let sit at room temperature for a day or so. Strain and finish adding oils following recipe.
Here is a very cool idea that anyone can do at home. You can use almost any herb with healing properties.
Pick your herbs mid-morning, approximately 2 cups. Wash in cold water and place in blender with 1/4 cup liquid glycerine and add 2 tablespoons of water (I use distilled or rain water). Blend together until well mashed. Strain through cheese cloth or coffee filters, saving only the liquid. You will need:
2 cups of glycerine soap base (melt and pour)
1 teaspoon of essential oil (optional) - for example:lavender (with lavender flowers as your herb)
Melt the soap base in microwave. Stir in reserved liquid and oil if using. Pour into molds and let harden. Wrap and store in dark place and they will retain their benefits for up to a year.