Thursday, January 2, 2014

Homemade hand soap

If you're like me, you're concerned about both the cost and the ingredients of some personal and household cleaning products. The ingredient list on shampoos, make-up and lotions are way long with odd sounding, harmful chemicals. Not good.

The thought that everything that I put on my skin is actually absorbed into my body makes me a bit nervous. Same thing with the products we use to clean our homes. My eyes water at the mention of Pine Sol. My mother-in-law uses it to clean. I think her ratio is a gallon of Pine Sol to two tablespoons of water. ONE WHIFF and I get a horrific, hours-long headache. I'm not exaggerating. I dropped by on one of her cleaning-day Thursdays, caught a whiff, immediately left but still spent the rest of the day in bed with my head pounding. Ugh.

I've discovered you can make your own personal and household cleaning products that work just as well  as what you purchase in stores. The cost savings are huge- often pennies on the dollar. When you factor in the safety, going the DIY route makes perfect sense.

I've made my own laundry detergent for a couple of years but I'm saving that for another post. Today we're discussing liquid hand soap- the kind you keep on the bathroom sink. It seemed like I was constantly buying the stuff. Well, no more. 

Start here:

Begin with a bar of soap. I don't like the perfumes and dyes used in most soap, so I use Ivory. You can always add a few drops of essential oil at the end if you prefer a scent. A castile soap can also be used. Some of those are already scented. Grate the soap. I used the side of grater with the large slicers. If you don't have a grater, use a knife with a large/sharp enough blade for a thin chop. The soap has to melt and the thinner the slice, the quicker that part of the job. NOTE: This is the grater I use when making laundry detergent. You'll need a separate one for cooking.
This is what you'll end up with:
Add four cups of water to a large pot and bring it to a low boil. Reduce the heat and slowly stir in the grated soap. Stir regularly for about five or six minutes. It'll look like nothing at all is happening. Try not to fall asleep.
As soon as all the soap flakes are dissolved, remove the pan from the stove. It won't look like soap at all. It actually looks like the cloudy dishwater after a load of dishes, just without the bits of food you didn't scrape off the plate. There may or may not be a bubble or two trying to form. You'll actually read over this post thinking you've skipped a step. You haven't. This is now mine looked:

Remove the pan from the heat. I covered mine, reminded the kids not to toss it out, and distracted myself with the half million other things I had going on at the moment.
Half an hour later, it was a bit more cloudy but still thin. I checked it occasionally; seemed nothing was happening. I wondered if I'd need to throw this out and begin again. I watched part of a movie then went to bed. This is what I found the next day: 
It was thick, white and gel-like, but couldn't be poured into a soap dispenser. I put the pan back on the stove with minimal heat--I used the #2 setting.
I slowly poured in water- about half a cup, while stirring the glob. One minute in, I got this:
The consistency was right, but there were still lumps. Another quarter cup or so of water and more stirring. It was breaking down nicely. Notice that I've removed it from the heat at this point.
Bubbles!  More stirring, a bit more water before the lumps were gone and it could be poured.
I got my funnel and jars.
I poured some in my bathroom decanter and the rest into an empty plastic bottle that I'll keep in the cabinet for refill. This is where you'll add scent if desired. I stirred in two drops of castile soap before I starting pouring. This stuff is natural and has a nice smell. It's also potent- a little will do a lot. Use your own judgement when it comes to essential oils but remember a little goes a long way.
That old orange juice bottle holds 56 ounces, the decanter holds 8. For less than $1 (the Ivory soap came in a bundle of three and cost $1.99), I have half a gallon of hand soap.
 On my bathroom cleaning days when I straightening out the cabinet, I make sure to give the big bottle a shake.
Two things: There's a chance the soap wouldn't have gotten thick/lumpy had I not gone to bed before pouring. It could also mean that I should add a more water in the beginning.  I'll try both the next time. Still, I'm satisfied with my first attempt. It's been three days and it still works like a charm.

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