Soap is widely used, and with the recent effects of the pandemic, the amount of liquid and bar soaps being sold are at an all-time high. However, in recent years, many people have started to make eco friendly soap at home. But why in the world would someone call this soap “eco friendly”? Is the soap that I buy from the store not biodegradable? After all, it does break down and wash away harmlessly in the water, right?
Turns out the soaps we use at home aren’t exactly environmentally safe. That’s not because the soap isn’t biodegradable (it certainly is), but rather the problem lies in the residue that most of these soaps leave in the water. That “fresh” lavender smell and the thick lather isn’t made from magic but from chemicals such as sulfates that, when washed away, cause marine life to suffer.
Granted, not all soaps are hazardous, but knowing that your ordinary soap may potentially harm the environment is a major concern. It gets even worse for liquid soaps since they are usually packed in containers made of Type 1 plastic (To know more about different plastic types, check out the dummies guide to plastic recycling numbers)
Thankfully, making eco friendly soap at home is easier and more fun than you think. All it requires is a few natural ingredients and a mold for shaping the soap. Here is a simple step by step guide on how to make eco friendly soap at home.
Step 1 – Know your base
No matter what soap you are making, you need to create a base that is going to build the foundation of your product. Traditionally, the base of soaps is created using an ingredient called lye. Lye is a caustic agent that is collected by leaching wood ashes or by breaking down various salts chemically, hence you wouldn’t really term the ingredient environmentally-friendly (not to mention being corrosive if used in high amounts, making it very dangerous). There are several alternatives that can be used as a base in place of lye while you make eco friendly soap at home.
Some good alternatives to lye include:
- Aloe Vera
- Cocoa butter
- Shea butter
Each of these base alternatives is much more environmentally friendly and are not dangerous to handle even in larger amounts. No matter which base you are going to use for your eco friendly soap, always make sure to purchase a little extra, so you can have some backup ready in case your first batch doesn’t go as planned.
Step 2 – Shopping list
You can’t make soap without any ingredients! Take out your shopping list and add the following items. We’re going to try and keep all items in our checklist as environmentally friendly as possible:
- Pyrex bowl
- Steel pot
- Essential oils (your choice of flavors)
- Silicon mould or loaf pan
- Parchment paper (in case you have a loaf pan)
Step 3 – Protection
Regardless of the bass and the technique you are using to make your eco friendly soap, always wear proper protection before starting the procedure. Make sure you are well equipped with the following before proceeding:
- Gloves (To prevent getting burned from the hot ingredients)
- Goggles (Protecting the eyes from any fumes)
- Apron (To make sure you don’t ruin that pretty blouse)
Once you have all these on, let’s move on to the next step of the procedure
Step 4 – Melting, mixing, and moulding
Now that we have everything ready, let’s start making our eco friendly soap!
- Add water to the pot and simmer over medium heat.
- Add about 1 pound of your base of choice to the pyrex bowl and place it over the pot. Increase the heat gradually so the base starts to melt. DO NOT directly place the bowl over the flame or the base will burn.
- To ensure the base has melted properly, use a whisk and check its consistency. It shouldn’t be too thick that you have to add excessive effort to move the whisk around, but should rather be able to glide the whisk with fair ease.
- Next, add in about 30-40 drops of essential oils of your choice and create a combination that suits your taste, or you may want to just use a single essential oil, it’s totally up to you. Make sure you are moving that whisk along while adding the essential oils to distribute the scent evenly and keep the base from solidifying on the sides.
- Turn off the heat and pour your mixture into the silicone mould. If you’re using a loaf pan make sure to line it with parchment paper before pouring the mixture in.
- Let the soap cool for several hours, preferably overnight.
- Once cooled, take your freshly made soap out of the mould. Remove any excess soap on the sides using a knife, and cut into smaller pieces if you need to do so.
And that’s it, you have successfully made eco friendly soap at home! Aromatic, safe to use, and completely environmentally friendly, this two-ingredient soap is perfect for your daily use. You can always try different essential oils to make more fun combinations. To store the extra soap, you may use any container such as a reusable jar, or give it to your friends to try out! Soaps have a very long shelf life, so as long as they’re in a cool, dry place, they’ll be just fine.