Rick Wagner's NO FAIL SOAP Recipe

Ok, real simple I’ll pass it on to you.. This is the class I used to give at my old brick & mortar store... I’ll also put a copy of it up on here since it’s time overdue.. I used to love giving these classes on weekends.. The most fun was when I started talking about soaps, and surfactants and breaking the surface tension of water to remove dirt. I used to fill a bowl of water then sprinkle pepper on it.. Then I has someone in the class add one drop of dish detergent and listened to the crowd ohhhh and ahhhhh as the pepper suddenly fell to the bottom of the bowl. The class was amazed to learn how soap really works...


Items needed:
Rubber Gloves
Wooden spoon
Large 8 cup glass container
Large stainless steel pot (not aluminum or porcelain)
Protective eye glasses (home depot)
Red Devil Lye drain opener (Sodium Hydroxide) found in just about all grocery stores..
Weight Scale (like weight watchers capable of measuring ounces)
Cardboard box to use as a mold (about the size of the boxes used to hold a case of beer cans or soda pop)
2 Plastic Garbage bags
No-stick baking spray oil like PAM
Colored non-toxic tempra paint (not acrilic.. TEMPRA is made from organic pumice stone)

2 – 3lbs can of crisco or any kind of other shortening
12 ounces of Red Devil Lye drain opener (measured by weight)
2 cups of water

---Trace Time AddIns---
1 TBSP Caster Oil
3 TBSP Honey
1 TBSP Glycerin (optional)
2-3 TBSP fragrance or essential oil (about 1 to 1-1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup of ground oatmeal

#1 Place water in glass container.. Add Lye (warning do not add water to lye or it will explode... Add the lye to the water then use wooden sthingy to mix) the mixture will have a chemical reaction that will get to about 250+ degrees make sure you’re wearing rubbber gloves.

#2 Place the shortening in the large pan and warm until it looks like small icebergs floating then turn off heat.. The remainder will continue to melt without making the oil too hot..

Chop up the oatmeal a bit more using a blender or maybe a coffee grinder.. But don’t pulverize it into a powder.. Just small chunks which will help to exfoliate.. If you want to use natural herbs you can do the same..

Place the box mold in a trash bag and spray the bag portion that sits on the inside of the box with some PAM.. This will make getting the soap out easier..

#3 Using your gloves place your hands on the outside of the pot.. Do the same with the lye mixture.. When the temperature has lowered to the point where you can touch it without having to pull away quickly you’re ready to begin sopanifing... Slowly add the lye mixture to the oil as you continually stir.. Years ago I used to use just a wodden sthingy to stir but now I use a stainless steel Braun mixer instead.... Slowly add the lye and continue to stir you’ll notice the chemical reaction begin again and the base will get very hot .. It will go up to almost 300 degrees on it’s own.. Just keep stiring and be patient.. You’ll notice in time that it will begin to get thicker...

Next, we’ll talk about trace time... Trace time is when the sopanification causes the base liquid to begin to get so thick that when you run the sthingy through it or drizzle some of the stuff from the sthingy, it leaves a trail (aka TRACE time..) at this time you have to work very fast... Add things in this order, Add the caster oil, honey and optional glycerine to the oil... Add oatmeal, then tempra color..and finally add the essential oil or fragrance you’re using.. If you add these things prior to trace, the violent heat and Lye chemistry will attack and destroy your essential oils and organics.

#4 Quickly pour the gooop into the trash bag covered box.. Acting very fast as the trace time continues and the stuff begins to harden.. Get as much out of the pot as you can an don’t worry about how it fits in the box...

Next, take the second trash bag and place it on the top of the goop and press down on it all to make it as level as you can.. Use an old cookie sheet to help you press down to get it all flat.. Then let the goop sit and go about cleaning up the kitchen..

In most cases, the soap will get completely hard in about 3 hours... Many times I use an electric hotplate outside and do this so I don’t have to go nuts cleaning up the kitchen after but my mom prefers to do hers in the kitchen.. My grandma used a wood fire in her back yard with a cauldron and a thing that looked like a boat paddle. She had all the family members saving bacon grease, fats, and pan dripings for her 35 years ago when I was a little kid. It wasn't until I was older that I understood what she was doing.

Once the soap is hard all you need to do is flip the box over on a cookie sheet and remove the box.. The two plastic bags will remain and you can carefully lift the top bag to expose the soap block (I would recommend you do this with your gloves on incase the lye is still active..)

Ok, now the chemistry test.... The chemistry will continue to work for anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks.. You can go out and spend a fortune on PH testing strips at the pool store or you can do this... Wet your pointer finger with your tongue.. Then gently rub the finger on the soap block, then touch the finger tip back to your tongue.. If your tongue tingles, the chemistry is still working.. (and no, silly don’t swallow it..) If there’ s no tingle then you’re good to go..

The chemistry test is the easiest way to tell when the soap can be used without irritating the skin. Even if the block isn’t ready, you can still get a knife and begin cutting it into bars, if you store them on end, they’ll cure even faster with the air contact.. I have a goofy wire shelf on wheels that I’ve used for years to hold the processed soap bars..

In most cases, you will get about 18 to 21 bars of soap out of this batch.. And the shelf life is about 18 months so if you give them out as gifts to relatives you need to make sure they don’t leave them in a pile or don’t use them because they’re too “pretty” etc.. The oils will eventually get rancid and they’ll have to be thrown out. Why? Because all of the ingridents you used are organic and there’s no preservatives. (and yeah, I could add more chemicals to prevent this, or I could go down to the health food store and get some BHT butylated hydroxytoluene and add on capsule per quart of the oil but I've got enough work to do...)

Sometimes when you use herbs and essential oils, the chemical reaction can go crazy... Most importantly don’t panic.. Things that can happen.. The soap seperates with a hard crusty stuff on the bottom of the box and a wierd liquid stuff on the top.. Don’t throw the whole batch out..

Put on your gloves, and focus on saving the hard stuff.. Use a knife and chop it up into chunks and throw it back into the pan.. The liquid will contain a large amount of active lye and you can dump it down the sink for a little liquid plummer action. Next get a container of plain old water and put the pan on the stove on high heat and add the water... Continue to stir and mash the gook like you’re making mashed potatoes.. (the French have done this for years with old milled/grated soap and then they rebatch it into molds aka. French Milled Rebatch)

There is no such thing as a failed batch.. And you’ll learn in time that certain elements react differently but never panic or get frustrated..

Always focus on safety first.. One spash in the eye with the active lye mixture will result in instant blindness and all the water rinsing in the world won’t help.. Since the batch can excel in temperatures at high as 300 degrease you don’t want to use things that will fall apart from the stress.. Never ever ever ever use aluminum utensils... (unless of course you want to see them become pittted, rotted, or melted.. ) Extreme positive or negative PH destroys aluminum. And if you’re using a porcelain coated steel, when the porcelain flakes off into your soap like crushed glass, I don’t think you’ll enjoy your shower as much. So SAFETY FIRST..

Another tip: that liquid that you poured off in that batch that separated? Did you know that the same liquid is known as Bio-Diesel and can be used to run a diesel engine? Bio-Diesel is made from organic oils saved by fast food restaurants and later soapanified with lye. The hard stuff is Glycerin, that is later separated off. A dear friend of mine is heavily involved in trying to get more recognition for it at: http://www.biodiesel.com/ he even runs his Volkswagen Jetta with it.

Based on ordinary prices not counting your time and work spent...

Total batch = about 18 bars 3 x 4 inches each
Batch Weight = 124.60 ounces or 7.79lbs
Approx Cost of goods - .08 to .10 per ounce
Each bar will weigh about 3 ounces.

The biggest expense here if your time! Think of the wonderful Christmas / Yule / Holiday gifts you can make by putting a few bars in a basket for family and friends! So let’s see, about .30 cents per bar, about 5 bars per basket, baskets you got used from the local thrift store... Hjummmmm in these tough economic times you can have lots of fun for pennies..

You can make a cool liquid soap by grinding up a bunch of the soap and melting it down into a high concentration of water... I’m sure you’ve seen Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile soap which is similar and made from olive oil except it’s not from a grated bar but instead a smaller amount of “potassium hydroxide” instead of “sodium hydroxide” and it doesn't harden.

Don’t use your soap for your laundry. Your whites will become gray and murky colored over time... (this is what caused the cleaningindustry to invent “Blueing” laundry detergent 50 years ago before synthetics came out that we use today) Gee, the color blue to whiten clothes? Hummm... And the color blue to whiten and brighten old gray hair? Hummm... (ok, so I have a sense of humor too..)

You can make multiple plain batches with no scent or herbs.. then you can cut it into chunks and grate it up with your handy dandy Kitchen-Aid mixer with the grater attachment.. Store the grated soap in a trash bag and put aside in a safe place. Then you can put a bunch in a pot, add a little water, melt it all down.. add your herbs and goodies and make your first "French Milled" batch.. Heck you can even pour it into fancy heart shaped molds from the craft store.. You can get real creative with French Milled batches using exotic colors, and other things.. the milled bars will always have a speckled look similar to granite when you add dark colorant..