Image of environmentally friendly soap

Cooking Green Herbal Soap

Mar 20, 2014

As spring arrives with its blossoming gardens and blooming orchards, it’s prime time for people to rekindle their care for nature through new, innovative activities. Over the past few weeks, a couple of tree-hugging Richard Montgomery rockets gathered to puzzle together and test-out a recipe for green herbal soap–an anti-bacterial, eco-friendly, hand-cleaning agent that generates 0% pollution.

Not only is this fun-sized, fragrant specimen a plus for keeping our waters clean, its making offers the perfect pastime for friends to convene and deepen their bonds.

 

How to Make Soap?

The idea of “cooking” soap has been around for a couple centuries, probably most concretely portrayed in one scene from Gone With the Wind when Scarlett O’Hara stirred a pot of seaming oil under a burnt barn. Indeed, that is the base ingredient for an eco-friendly soap: cooking oil!

By mixing oil (vegetable, corn, olive, etc), lye, and water together under the right temperature and proportions, anyone can churn out a bar of usable soap. More interestingly, if one adds certain herbal and fruit extracts, the soap can even become anti-bacterial and pleasing to the nose.

 

Preparation:

Before starting the soap-making process, you need to take safety precautions. Lye is a caustic soda. The use of lye should not be taken lightly and parental supervision is recommended for using lye in the soap-making process.

  • As a caustic soda, lye can be very dangerous if it gets on your skin, in your eyes, inhaled or ingested. Wear long sleeves, goggles, gloves and face mask for protection.
  • Make the soap in a well-ventilated room.
  • Always add lye to water.  The lye should be added slowly and into a container that can handle heat.  The mixture of lye and water causes a chemical reaction that produces heat.
  • Afterwards, do not use any of the equipment used to make the soap for food preparation.
  • Learn more about safety precautions when making soap.

 

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make this charming soap:

  1. Measure one cup of corn and one cup of kernel oil, pour into pot, set the pot on a heater and turn the heater to 40-50 degrees Celsius
  2. Measure ¼ cup of tap water
  3. Add five teaspoons of 1x lye (ALWAYS ADD LYE TO WATER), gently mix the two together by stirring for five to ten minutes.  Follow safety precautions.
  4. Gently add it into a pot of oil after removing the pot from the hotplate.
  5. Add extra ingredients to your liking. For anti-bacterial additives, consider Yarrow and Calendula herbs, for fragrance, consider lemon and grapefruit extracts.
  6. Start stirring the grand mixture until the material became viscous. A ‘trace’ should appear, during which white foams begin to form around the mixture.
  7. Pour the mixture into different sized containers to cool for 24 hours, during which time the soap solidifies. Cover the product with plastic wrap.   One may consider pouring the mixture into containers of different shapes to create fun-sized soaps (such as star, crescent-moon, or a heart-shaped container)
  8. Afterwards, 4-6 weeks are needed for the soap to ‘cure,’ or for the water to be evaporated. Long cure-periods result in finer soaps.

 

There we have it! A 100% natural-ingredient, handy cleaning tool and a creative present for friends.  View another simple soap-making recipe.

 

Benefits of using home-made soap:

  • It’s cost-effective!
  • Making soap is an engaging, fun chemistry and biology lesson for kids
  • The art of soap-carving always has its charms
  • It can help wildlife. Studies have shown that Triclosan, a chief component of commercialized hand-soaps, can now be found in streams and aquatic habitats. (It gets into aquatic habitats through our drain system). Triclosan can pose a risk to wildlife, particularly their hormone function.  Crafting and using our own soap bars can reduce Triclosan-pollution and hazards down the chain.

 

So why wait? All ingredients are available at Home Depot and a little time on a Sunday afternoon can yield a month-need of soap for an entire household.

At Richard Montgomery High School, a couple green-agents have already made a batch of our green herbal-soap and we’re currently exploring possibilities of replacing the commercial foam-soaps in student bathrooms with our invention. This is a small, yet sound step to conserve our environment.

Environmentalism and entertainment are intertwined. There are streams of freshwater to be saved and barrels of fun to be harvested through crafting a soap-bar.

 

Guest Article by Jessica Li, student, Richard Montgomery High School

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