He researched his subject online and made a crucial decision early on. Sure, it is absolutely possible to make soap from scratch culling ashes from an oak wood fire and making your own lye, but it is safer and easier on your lungs to purchase 100% lye at your local Lowe's or Home Depot or your hometown hardware store. He told me it is not on the same aisle as your home drain cleaners but in the back of the store.
I can't see myself making soap this year due to schedule conflicts, there is only so much time in the day, so I will stock some of this product toward a TEOTWAWKI situation.
Still, I encourage anyone to gain a skill. Learn to make something as mundane as soap and you will be the savior of the village when the stores are bare!
Safety first in any project, please! Pour the lye into the heated oil you have chosen for your soap. Do not breathe in the vapors when hot and wearing a mask or respirator would be best.
Also, good to know, the expensive black truffle oil or walnut oil available at the grocer's is mostly extract in olive oil. Olive oil makes a hard soap when cured so, if you want those exotic fragrances, add some of the extracts we made from earlier posts. Look for Extracts for Cooking and Gift Giving in the label, make it yourself.
One last tip. Lye soap must cure for a month before using or it is still caustic. Make it well ahead of needing it.
Adding extracts for scent, chlorophyll for deodorizing, food coloring for color, oatmeal to exfoliate, different oils for moisturizing the skin, or aloe for repair is just icing on the cake. And...you can make your soap in the shape of cake if you want!
If you are making soap for gift giving, head out to the Dollar Tree or your local anything for a dollar store. Buy one or two novelty ice cube trays to use to mold your soap.
The above web link takes you to Frugally Sustainable. It has great links for beginners, and more ideas for using the soap.
Recipe for soap: 4.4 ounces of lye crystals added to 7 ounces of water, mix to dissolve; do this in a quart jar. it is going to get really really hot
heat up 2 pounds of fat; use lard or whatever
when the fat is at 95 degrees and lye mix is at 85 degrees, pour lye mix into fat, keep stirring until it is thick, sometimes up to an hour of stirring. pour into a mold. (This mold is a loaf pan)
after a couple of days, flip it out of the mold, slice into bars and let it cure for 4-6 weeks before trying to use
any time you make soap, always wear gloves and use eye protection, try to do it outside or have windows open. make sure there are no kids or animals around that can knock things over. keep vinegar on hand to neutralize the lye in case of spills.
I highly recommend this site for the beginner. It will want you to subscribe to soapmaking news letter, but carry on and learn a lot in a short time.