Sew Is Life

Sew is Life is written by E. It is a little space of blogging bliss inspired by art, design, craft, fashion, beauty and wellness. Based in Perth, Western Australia. Read about the daily ramblings of me being a mother of three and wife to an amazing creative man. The second me makes fresh skincare at SELF Organics. These are my stories sewn together with love.


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One windy Summery night, when the kids were fast asleep, I started work on my first DIY soap. To be quite honest I bought the ingredients the end of last year and spent most of my time reading up on how to make soap than actually DOING it!

Here are some of the videos and guides I came across on the internet on how to make your own Cold Process (CP) Soap:

How to make organic soap

Soap Making Fun

Teach Soap

Tip: It’s important to read instructions carefully and follow the precautions to avoid any chemical burns. Aside from the steps here, please go on and read up more on CP soap making before you attempt it.

That was one of the reason why it took me so long to make soaps because I was afraid of it going catastrophically wrong! I admit at one point I was so scared I would eventually end up going to hospital if I got it wrong. Maybe reading other people’s directions scared the pants outta me! I hope my steps won’t do the same..it really isn’t that scary ;)

I will just go through the general steps of soap making. You may wish to look up a recipe that you would like to try out different soap scents. So here we go…

Step 1. Organise your safety gear, ingredients and utensils

- Wear safety googles, gloves, a long sleeved shirt, face mask and long pants. Covered shoes wouldn’t hurt either, so you can cover up any skin that may get in contact with lye (also known as sodium hydroxide or caustic soda). 

Utensils to have ready:

digital scales

measuring spoons

measuring jug

soap mould

2 x pots (only used for soap making)

2 x Glass thermometers

an electric hand blender

Photo: Here are some of the things I used in the process. Working from the laundry seemed like the best place, you could even work from your kitchen. My laundry is kinda tiny!

Step 2. Measure out the ingredients

Measure the lye in a separate container 

- Measure the butters/oils in an another container

- Measure the water in a pyrex jug (or glass measuring jar)

Photo: Me measuring the lye

Photo: Measuring the water

Photo: Me looking like some kind of dorky super hero. All covered up from head to toe getting ready to make a chemical reaction happen. It was like being in a sauna because it was a Perth’s SUMMER night.

Photo: adding the lye slowly…don’t DUMP it straight in!

Step 3. Add the lye to the water

Add the lye to the water (NEVER the water to the lye, otherwise you will get a volcanic reaction). Make sure you do this in a well ventilated room or outside, as the fumes are toxic.

Stir with a metal spoon until all the lye is dissolved.

Stick the glass thermometer in the jug to keep an eye on the temperature. It will get HOT very quickly! Mine reached around 80+ degrees celcius. But you want that to cool right down, when you combine it with the butter/oil mix later.

Step 4. Melt the butter and oils

Over a stove in a separate pot, melt the butters and oils until they are all in liquid form. Take it off the heat.

Then take the other termometer and place it in the pot to keep an eye on the temperature.

Check that both butter/oil & lye show a temperature within 10 degrees of each other at around the 40 degree celcius mark.

Photo: Oils and lye sitting together in the pot

Step 5. Pour the lye mixture in with the butter/oil mixture and blend

Pour the lye straight into the oil mix in the pot. Then place your stick blender in the middle, keeping it in contact with the bottom of the pot. Start with the low setting and pulse it.

Photo: Almost there! Starting to thicken up

Then increase the speed. Keep mixing until the mixture reaches ‘trace’ a light custard consistency. Make sure not to splash the mix onto yourself as it is still  caustic.

Test the consistency by lifting up the stick blender to see if the mixture drops back and sits lightly on the top of the surface.

Photo: Lovvvvvveelllyyyy trace

This is what ‘trace’ looks like, a ‘shiny light custard’.

Step 6. Add your essential oils, clays etc.

Photo: I should have just taken the dropper off the essential oil because it took so long to get the stuff out! I needed the whole bottle by the way. I was shaking like a mad woman!

Then add your colours, essential oils, clays etc and simply mix in with a metal spoon

Photo: Freshly poured soap

Step 7. Pour the mixture in to your moulds

Pour your mix straight into the moulds and cover with cling wrap. At this stage, I use my fingers to smoothe over the tops. 

Photo: My brand new silicon soap mould finally in use

Photo: Wrapping up those babies, time to set nicely!

Wrap an old towel around the soap mould to keep it warm and insulated. This is important, because if the soap sets too fast or if the temperature drops too quickly you can end up with soda ash on the surface of the soap (looks like light coloured ash) or it may go into ‘gel phase’ (doesn’t set properly, has a ‘translucent’ look). If this happens the soap can still be used, but it just doesn’t look as fancy.

Step 8. Let the soap set

Allow the soap to set for at least 24 to 48 hours. Then you can take them out of the moulds and let them cure. The curing process is important to extend the life of your soap.

The longer you allow them to cure the longer they last! To cure them, just place them in an area where they will not collect dust but have air circulating around them.

Photo: Beautiful smelling, organic soap…sooooo good for the skin

This is the final product! Organic natural soap made with coconut oil, cocoa butter and olive oil with bergamot and mandarin oils. My first batch has some slight bubbles in it because I blended it too much and the ‘trace’ mixture became too thick and trapped air bubbles. Still turned out better than I expected.

This is the logo for my organic skincare business that my hubby designed for us. He is a free lance graphic designer, but I get a lot of freebies from him cuz of this whole ‘marriage’ deal. The stamp looks completely different to the actual logo, but it is close enough. 

I am still developing my range but it should be ready for sale sometime towards the middle of the year. I still have my website to get up and running, and make some creative decisions on the packaging and other boring misc business stuff. Just getting nervous yet excited about the whole experience of making my very own skincare!

Have you tried making your own soaps? What particular blends & smells do you like?

E x

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