I decided to make beeswax soap for Christmas gifts last year. It has been on my list of things I should probably know how to do and when my stepfather, who keeps bees, brought me seven pounds of beeswax from his hives, I thought the time was right.
I started my soap-making adventure with a recipe for beeswax soap from the book, “Beeswax Alchemy”. This book contains directions for making candles, balms and bars, salves, cream and scrubs, soap, and even beeswax art.
You can either acquire your beeswax from a beekeeper, which I was fortunate enough to be related to, or you can buy it online and it comes in handy little balls that are easy to measure and melt. The wax I had was in giant hunks which I sawed off with a bread knife. I do not recommend this method. It’s maddening. Since then I have learned another method which would have saved me a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.
First, beeswax becomes brittle when frozen and is much easier to cut. Secondly, and I think I will go this route next time, the wax can be melted and poured onto a large cookie sheet lined with freezer paper. Once hardened, the wax can be broken off into small chunks without sawing at it like a crazed butcher.
You can make soap without beeswax, however, I wanted to use the beeswax I had on hand because the scent is wonderful and it has conditioning properties that I wanted to in my soap. There is a very basic non-beeswax soap recipe found here.
Without lye, there is no soap. Lye, or sodium hydroxide, is required to make the chemical reaction that makes soap. Period. I had seen lye in the hardware store for cleaning out drains and thought that there must be a softer, gentler lye available for making soap. To my surprise, the lye I made soap with to give my loved ones was made with the same highly caustic chemical that will burn the eyes out of your head. Since lye is so dangerous, I want to give you some tips:
Yield – eight 4 ounce bars
SIDE NOTE: Those new to digital scales, this is for you. When measuring ingredients, first select the TARE WEIGHT and then set the container that will hold what you are measuring (ex. plastic cup, bowl, etc.) This will analyze the weight of the container so that weight is NOT included in the weight of the ingredients. Then, once the TARE WEIGHT is selected, the scale should read 0.0 (give or take some zeroes) and then you can add the ingredients to be weighed. If you are not using a digital scale you will have to weigh the container then add the ingredients and subtract the weight of the container to get actual weight of ingredients.
For those that are more adventurous than myself, this is probably the best article describing how to make your own lye.
Like anything else, there are pros and cons, here they are:
Making soap is a good skill to have under your belt. One day you may not be able to drive to your local Walmart and pick up a bar of Ivory soap.
They make wonderful gifts!
It is natural and uses a bi-product produced by our dear friend, the honeybee.
This soap is the best if you have sensitive skin, eczema, or other skin conditions. It will leave you clean without the drying effects of the cheaper commercial soaps.
The next time I make it, the cost will be significantly less, but it will definitely cost more than cheap drugstore soap. You can always stock up on the cheap stuff in the event of an emergency and you can shower yourself clean with the best of them. Personally, I like the idea of having a chemical-free, all natural way to clean up.
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