Circle Device



Making Soap

Imperial Leather Citrus Twist

After being unable to find Imperial Leather Citrus Twist soap in my local supermarket I enquired and received this reply:

Date: Thu, 27 Sep 2007 13:54:43 +0100
From: UK Logistics Imperial Leather
To: "Ben Green" @ Lancaster
Subject: RE: Enquiry from website

Hi-thanks for your email
We've discontined the Citrus Twist soap now,
sorry to disappoint you
Joanna Hardiman

Well, after that my only thought was crap! now I will have to make soap for myself, and so begins my new adventure in very basic chemistry.
More Background

Making Soap

Making soap is a relatively simple process but can cause certain problems if not performed carefully and with proper knowledge of what is going to happen. Here, over the next few months I will detail how I am making my soap.

Step 1

Acquiring all necessary ingredients is usually overlooked by most when telling you how to do something, as I live in the UK and as it happens quite close to Runcorn I know exactly where I will be getting my chemicals from. if you had not guessed... I will be getting them from Runcorn

Required ChemicalsSupplier
Sodium HydroxideReAgent - SOHY-1547-44
Citric AcidReAgent - CIAC-1513-44
Olive Oil (not virgin)Sainsbury's/ASDA
Cold WaterI wonder?

The total cost of these materials is not too much, approximately 40 GBP, and will make quite a lot of soap.

Next is the required apparatus, cold process soap should not need too much you would not expect.

  • 1 heat proof glass bowl
  • 1 plastic bowl
  • 1 large spoon (wooden, plastic or steel)
  • rubber gloves
  • shallow cardboard box
  • plastic bag (to line the cardboard box with)

Step 2

Wait for the delivery of all your stuff :-)

Step 3

Once you have all these things you must heat the fat to add to the sodium hydroxide solution. Heat the fat in any random clean pan until it is all liquid.

The next thing to do is make some sodium hydroxide solution. This is simple but you should take care as when sodium hydroxide is added to water it causes a reaction and becomes hot. Also, sodium hydroxide reacts with aluminium so I would recommend that you use the glass bowl for this. When I performed this I was looking to use 250g of fat, now for that amount of fat I would need 31.8g of sodium hydroxide and enough water to cover the powder or pellets, enough to make solution basically. It is advised that when making this solution you use chilled water (this does not mean vodka, lemonade and just above frozen water, like in the strange dream I had the other day) this will stop the solution getting too hot.

Alright, now that is done you have to add the fat, simply pour it into the sodium hydroxide solution and mix.

Partial Saponification

This is a picture of the sodium hydroxide container, partially saponified palm oil and an empty bottle of Red Palm and Canola oil. I did not put enough sodium hydroxide in to make proper soap and so I must add more.

At this stage you can choose what to do next, if you are impatient like me you can put the glass bowl on the hob unit and keep the heat on whilst stirring, it will take a while but eventually you will get the solution to get very cloudy and eventually stiffen. When I did this the solution was still quite liquid and I became slightly bored so I left it overnight and resumed in the morning. Once saponification has occurred you will most likely be left with is a mass of soap, sodium hydroxide and glycerine. The soap and glycerine is of course fine (if a little undesired) but as we already know sodium hydroxide is corrosive and possibly not a good thing to have in your soap.

The soap will probably be fine to use in a day or so (after the last of the saponification process has had chance to finish). Put the soap in a nice warm place for the next few days after that you can shape it, add parfum, essential oils or perhaps colour. Well done! soap done.

Step 4 (optional)

If your soap still contains sodium hydroxide (you can tell if you put a little on your tongue) or maybe it has impurities that you want to remove (if you used a wooden spoon you might have some wood in it). There is a process, that is not too difficult, allowing you to remove the sodium hydroxide, glycerine and other stuff that dissolves in water completely, this process is called Precipitation.

The first step is to dissolve all the soap in water, the same glass bowl you used earlier will be fine. Once all the solids have gone you can perform a process known as precipitation, in this case we are using salt to push all the soap out of solution to be used. Another common term for this is Salting it out. The solution will then separate, at this point remove the precipitate, and perhaps run cold water quickly over it through a fine sieve, what you have now is soap that you can heat up and make into bars for use whenever you like.

I have performed this process successfully myself and as soon as I can I will put some pictures here.

Last updated by Ben 17 October 2007 23.02

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