Making Soap with Beeswax
There are basically 4 processes to making soap:
- Cold-Process (traditional saponification involving a chemical reaction between an acid (fats) and a base
- Hand-milling (grated cold-process)
- Melt & Pour (melted glycerin)
- The ‘cooking’ method. Becky Tipton, my mentor, has been working on a Hot-Process soap production. I’ll have more on that process at a later date.
The process I use in my out-line below is the traditional cold-process method.
For safety: use common sense and follow safety precautions. Write down ingredients/measurements for reference as if you are keeping a recipe. Never taste and be careful touching.
Beeswax unlike pollen, propolis and honey is not collected from or derived from plants. It is manufactured by honey bees. Sugars found in collected nectar are converted by the honey bees into beeswax. This natural product is not produced by man. Beeswax has a long history of use in everyday products.
The single largest consumer of beeswax in the United States is the cosmetics industry. Many products such as facial creams, ointments, lotions and lipsticks use beeswax as an ingredient. The candle industry is another large user of raw beeswax to mold and shape into decorative candles. Beeswax can be found in the pharmaceutical and dental industries, floor and furniture polish, crayons, candy, chewing gum, ski wax, and in many other well-known products.
Beeswax is used for candles, lubricant, wood and metal polishes, cosmetics, salves, medicines, wax figures, comb foundation, dentistry, dreadlocks, and even foods and candies and many other uses too numerous to mention. Did you know that beeswax is used in some common candies ? Check out (HARIBO Gummi Bears).
A valuable side-line to beekeeping.
Why Beeswax Soap?
- Availability. What a great way for beekeepers to add value to our beeswax rendering. We have the wax. Why not.
- Unique qualities. There are properties from making it yourself that you don’t get from grocery store detergent/soap bars.
- Quantity. It’s easy to make enough for yourself, family, friends, and to sell with other products from the bee hive.
- Cost. It only takes a few hours of time. Common household ingredients make it inexpensive.
- Character. There are qualities to home-made beeswax soap that you just don not get with store-bought soap.
- Long-lasting. Actually, you may end up using soap more often and find it may not last as long as you thought it would.
**It’s been noted that new want-to-be-soap-makers are having a difficult time find sodium-hydroxide (100%) from either grocery or hard-ware stores. Check around. It may take some creativity on finding available sources.
Qualities of beeswax
Beeswax is good for the skin. It will make your soap a little harder and will also help to reach trace quicker.
Prepare Molds – plastic wrap/wax paper/grease w/ Crisco or Vaseline Keep a bottle of white vinegar handy for safety measure. I use plastic wrap in my home-made wooden bar molds. Sometimes, I’ll use Vaseline in my specialty soap molds for easier release but sometimes I don’t use it at all.
Measure all ingredients by weight. It is important to be accurate in weight as the correct rations can make or break the final out-come of the product.
Melt Fats/oils/beeswax over low heat to a liquid. Remove from heat after melting.
Mix cool water/lye solution: Pouring water into heavy glass or plastic bowl or pitcher; add the lye to the water-not the other way around. Stir and dissolve. Be sure to read the soap books on the cautions of handling sodium-hydroxide and any type of lye solution.
Temperature is key: Using a candy thermometer, monitor the temperature of each container: Oils & Water solution. When both solutions have reached the desired temperatures within 5-10 degrees of each other, slowly pour the lye into the melted oils. I prefer to combine when the temperature range is between 110 and 125 degrees. Any cooler and the oils will begin to solidify.
Stir until the mixture reaches “trace” (the mixture has thickened to the point where you can trickle some soap off the back of a spoon and it will leave a trace line on the surface). This should take about 20 minutes but some recipes could take longer. The ensuing chemical reactions) will also cause the temperature to rise slowly again before cooling down.
Add the secondary ingredients, if desired; stir well to distribute evenly. Pour into chosen molds. Be sure to cover the soap with plastic wrap to prevent soda ash. Can wrap with a towel or blanket to insulate during the initial cooling during the next couple of days.
If using pop-out molds, after 24 –48 hours, place the soap molds in the freezer for 1-2 hours before un-molding. Remove from the freezer and pop the soap from the molds. Place soap pieces on a covered surface and lightly cover with a towel for drying. The soap should be allowed to dry and cure for 3-4 weeks before using or selling. A longer is better.
Use breathable materials. I like to store my curing soaps in small card-board boxes. I prefer to package my soaps in tissue and place home-made labels, listing all ingredients.
Beeswax Soap (cold processed)
Safe to use: glass, hard plastic, stainless steel, ovenproof stoneware or enamel.
Do not use tin, aluminum, Teflon, zinc, copper or iron with lye.
Basic Vegetable Soap (measured by weight)
(For my Basic Recipe click here)
- Oil base ingredients (melted together)
- Coconut oil (lathering)
- Olive Oil (moisturizing)
- Soy Bean Oil – Crisco/vegetable oil (contributes bulk, mildness, lather)
- Beeswax -added to oils so they heat and melt together. (Stabilizes and thickens soap product. Contributes to hardness and faint “honey” smell)
2 Lye/Water solution (mixed by adding Lye to cool water and stirring)
- Distilled water
- Lye (100% Sodium Hydroxide in solid crystal or bead form)
Optional Moisturizers: Added to soap before pouring into molds
- Milk (slightly warmed, skin softener)
- Honey (added at trace to keep soap not so soft)
Optional Exfoliants: Added to soap before pouring into molds
(could use alone or a couple in combination)
- Finely grated lemon or lime or grapefruit or orange peel
- Cornmeal (yellow or white)
- Oatmeal (whole or ground)
- Almonds (ground)
- Tapioca pearls
- Poppy seeds
1-3 TBL per batch. You might even mix and match a couple, depending on the desired affect. I have found that I haven’t had to use coloring as using essential oils effects the coloring of the soap, depending on which oil(s) that I might use.
GloryBee Foods, Inc. Eugene, OR Toll-Free 800-456-7923
Majestic Mountain Sage Logan, UT 84321 435-755-2108
Making Soaps & Scents By Katherine Bardey (my personal favorite)
The Soapmaker’s Companion By Susan Miller Cavtch (excellent ideas)
Super Formulas Arts & Crafts Written by Elaine C. White