mix lye solution

weigh sodium hydroxide
weigh sodium hydroxide
add sodium hydroxide to water
add sodium hydroxide to water

Important - read the safety instructions for handling sodium hydroxide (also known as caustic soda, lye or NaOH) before mixing.

When measuring the ingredients into the jugs be sure to remember to tare or zero the scales. Taking accurate weight measurements is a safety issue and its importance cannot be overstated.

1. Weigh the water into the first jug.

2. Weigh the sodium hydroxide into the second jug and set aside.

3. Carefully pour the sodium hydroxide into the water (not the water to the sodium hydroxide) in a well ventilated area and stir gently until completely dissolved. Cover and set aside to cool (this may take several hours).

measure

Accurately weigh the oils, place in the soapmaking pot or jug (don't ever use aluminium as it will react with the lye).

mix

weigh sodium hydroxide
add lye solution

Carefully pour the lye solution into the soapmaking oil in a steady stream and stir gently. Start mixing with your stick blender in short bursts (don't overdo it or you will burn out the motor). It's ok to leave it for a few minutes at a time between bursts. The mixture will thicken and become opaque.

stick blender makes stirring easy!
stick blender makes stirring easy!

stir

Keep mixing until you can drizzle some of the mixture from the spoon back onto the surface leaving a pattern. This is known as "tracing" and it looks a bit like a thick custard or pudding mix.

heavy trace
heavy trace

trace

Once tracing occurs keep mixing till the soap has reached the consistency of thick (but not stiff) custard, and then add any additives (nutrient oils, colouring, vegetable solids, etc.) and stir thoroughly to combine.

add essential oil
add essential oil

add essential oil

Add any essential oils and only stir just enough to combine the essential oil with the soap mixture. Over stirring at this stage may cause seizing.