The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Making Natural Soaps

November 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Body and Bath, Books, Cleaners, Eco-Friendly, Front Page, Personal Care, Slideshow

A step-by-step guide to making homemade natural soaps

Soap: Laundry soap, dish soap, hand soap, body soap, shampoo. Until I thought about it, I never realized how much soap I bought and used on a regular basis.

What if I started making all these different types of soap at home? With The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Making Natural Soaps by Sally W. Trew and Zonella B. Gould, I not only learned how to make the household product, but how to do it in an environmentally conscious way.

Homemade natural soaps have tons of benefits compared to commercial soaps: Commercial soaps can contain synthetic lathering ingredients, artificial colors, and triclosan, which is a toxic chemical linked to cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption, and other problems.

The soap recipes in this book also contain larger amounts of glycerin, a key moisturizing ingredient. With homemade natural soaps, your skin won’t feel dry and itchy after lathering up.

After learning that natural soap is better for my skin and the planet, I had to know how to make it at home. The book dissected the complicated process into easy-to-understand chapters. The first chapter starts with the four basic ingredients of soap (oils/butters, lye, distilled water, and borax). The middle of the book seamlessly leads soap-makers from the most basic aspect of the process to the most complicated. And the last section teaches readers how to make swirl, marbleized, and plaid designs; soap cutouts; and soap confetti.

I was hoping to create my own soap bars; but I live in a small, two-bedroom apartment in a crowded complex with sparse windows, and the process has some safety precautions. When lye is added to water and stirred to dissolve, it produces a vapor that is dangerous to inhale; so, when making soap, you need to be in a well-ventilated area. It’s also very possible to sear your skin, so the book recommends always wearing safety glasses or a face shield, gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, and shoes. I can’t safely make soap in my apartment, but when I live in a house one day, I am going to become a soap-maker.

The book includes recipes for so many different types of soap that, if I were properly equipped for making them, I wouldn’t know where to start. There are DIY instructions for making baby soap, shampoo soap, face soap, goat milk soap, liquid soap, laundry soap — and the list goes on.

A chapter explaining the benefits of adding in different essential oils tells readers that lemon is antibacterial and antiviral, jasmine is an antidepressant and aphrodisiac, lavender helps burns and headaches, and peppermint is a decongestant.

Essential oils, which are extracted from plant matter, are more useful than simply adding scent. They’re also safer, given that scents are often linked to health problems, such as cancer.

With more and more antibiotic-resistant bacteria, mutating viruses, disease-causing parasites, and infectious fungi in the news each day, it can be comforting to know we have essential oils to rely on because, although the mutating bacteria in viruses can become resistant to Western medicines, they never become resistant to essential oils. When essential oils were tested by diffusing, the report was that the essential oils killed 100 percent of bacteria and viruses in the room. A study in France showed the antiseptic qualities of 34 essential oils. Among them, thyme, origanum, sweet orange, lemongrass, Chinese cinnamon, and rose were so antiseptic that one part of these rendered 1,000 parts of raw sewage free of all living organisms (pg. 29).

I recommend The Complete Idiots Guide to Making Natural Soaps to anyone who is concerned about synthetic add-ins to commercial products. It’s easy to find and, for $14.95, it gives readers a complete overview of every aspect of the process. Instead of buying different books for the basics, the recipes, and ways to get creative, it’s all included in one handy guidebook.

Brigette Fanning

Contributing Writer

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

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8 Responses to “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Making Natural Soaps”

  1. Brigette Fanning, Contributing Writer | Blue Planet Green Living on November 15th, 2010 12:22 pm

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  3. Karen on November 15th, 2010 12:41 pm

    Is there anything wrong with just starting with plain glycerin and adding a little essential oil? Is it possible to buy pure glycerin that doesn’t have a bunch of other bad stuff in it?

  4. Julia Wasson on November 21st, 2010 7:20 pm

    That’s a very good question, Karen. I don’t know whether it’s covered in the book, but you might google it to find out. You can buy glycerin in small quantities at Hobby Lobby, I believe. I’m not sure whether it has additives, though.


  5. Dr Claude Windenberger on November 19th, 2010 7:12 pm

    I purchased a whole batch of homemade soap from a lady in Fairfield Iowa, intending to sell them for a profit. I ended up using most of it myself; it was much better than commercial soaps. But I have never tried to make soap myself. I should try it sometime. Thanks for mentioned the guide

  6. Julia Wasson on November 21st, 2010 7:14 pm

    Hi Claude. I’d love to have the name of the woman who sold you the homemade soaps. Perhaps we should feature her on BPGL. Do you sell other holistic products in your office?


  7. Complete Guide To Natural Soap on November 22nd, 2010 6:57 am

    […] The Complete Idiot's Guide to Making Natural Soaps | Blue Planet … Learn the basics of making natural soaps at home with this handy guide It contains recipes, directions, & tips for creating a variety of soaps in your kitchen. […]

  8. on November 27th, 2010 10:00 pm

    The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Making Natural Beauty Products…

    A natural treasure for every body. Whether it’s about saving money, living greener, or treating sensitive skin, The Complete Idiot’s Guide(r) to Making Natural Beauty Products has everything the hobbyist will need to create organic, natural beauty …..