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...
RICK WAGNER’S NO FAIL SOAP
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
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
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
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...)
OK, NOW WHAT ABOUT GOOFS?
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
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
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
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
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.
NOW HERE’S THE REAL KICKER!
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..
DO’S AND DONTS
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
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..