Scented Essentials: How to Make Soap

| October/November 1995

For the main article, Scented Essentials, click here.

Allow yourself an uninterrupted period of about 11/2 hours to make your first batch of soap. Choose a well-ventilated work area near a sink, and lay newspapers down on the surface. Have all equipment and ingredients at hand.

Handle lye with great care. It is extremely caustic in dry or wet form and will burn skin and blind eyes as well as remove paints and other finishes. It has little effect on enamel, stainless steel, glass, copper, plastic, rubber, or wood, but it can ruin almost anything else. In the event of skin contact, flush with cool running water, then douse with vinegar immediately. In the event of a spill, put on your rubber gloves and mop the spill with towels or rags, which you should then rinse and discard. Keep the lye out of reach of children and pets. Read the label on the lye container carefully and follow all recommended precautions.

When lye is added to water, it will heat the water and release fumes for about 30 seconds. Turn your face away to avoid inhaling the harsh and unpleasant fumes.


• Plastic food-storage container with a lid, shoebox size or a bit larger, to use as a mold
• Rubber gloves
• Safety glasses
• Scale
• 2 widemouth glass containers, one of at least 2-quart capacity
• 2 slotted wooden spoons (reserved exclusively for soapmaking)
• 1-gallon or larger stainless-steel or enamel kettle (don’t use aluminum)
• 2-cup plastic or glass measuring cup
• Small stainless-steel wire whisk
• Accurate thermometer that measures between 80° and 110°F (Thermometers from photographic supply stores work well, as do the thermometers used to take human body temperatures, available in any drugstore.)
• Towels or rags
• Blankets


• Grease the sides and bottom of your soap mold with shortening and set it aside.

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