Soap Making 2009

Level II Health Academy students will be designing independent investigations throughout the year that correspond to the Level I students’ topics.

For example: Level I students will begin learning about the Integumentary system, so the Level II students are doing independent inquiry on soap making to discuss how soaps effect skin, particularly as people age and their oil gland production in the skin decreases.

This is a project inspired in two parts by an Inquiry Action Project the teacher is doing through coursework at Miami (of Ohio) University's project Dragonfly and again by the STEM workshop held at the Voinovich Leadership School at Ohio University, Ohio.

Homemade soap recipes can be found online from a variety of websites. We chose to use those recipes calling for the cold press method. This method does not require cooking of the ingredients over an open fire. One of the main ingredients in homemade soap is Lye. (Remember Granny Clampett and her Lye Soap) Traditionally potash was used, but this is another step that we chose not to do.

Comparative Questions:

original -
  1. Which soap will moisturize the skin better, goat milk soap or soap made without goat milk?
  2. Will oatmeal soap moisturize better than soap made without oatmeal?
  3. Which soap smells better, soap with lye or commercial soap?
  4. Which soap oatmeal or cinnamon makes the skin softer?
  5. Which soap scented or unscented will make the hands have dry skin?
modified -
  1. Which soap will moisturize the skin better, goat milk soap made with lard or goat milk soap made with vegetable shortening?
  2. Which soap will produce a better product (foam, clean, moisture), lye soap made with lard and recycled oil or lye soap made with crisco and non-recycled oil?
  3. Which moisturizes the best, shea butter or cocoa butter?
  4. Which has a better cost analysis and carbon footprint, soaps made with vegetable oils or soaps made with olive, coconut, and palm oil?


  1. Students will research cold process recipes for soap making that uses traditional lye (sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide).
  2. Students will create comparative questions to test their soap.
  3. Students will follow proper safety protocol.
  4. Students will make two different soaps with the least amount of variables as possible.
  5. Students will test soap according to their research plan.
  6. Students will share their results in a powerpoint/poster format.


Recently we started a collaborative project with a group of students from Trinidad.
Our students will trade recipes, stories, videos, and written correspondences with chemistry students from St. Joseph's Convent located in the capital of Trinidad..... Port of Spain.


  • research recipes
  • acquire materials
  • beginning making hard soap


  • students will research more about the steps of soap making
  • students will create their testing protocol for their soap
  • students will determine the cost analysis (making homemade soap)
  • students will storyboard and create their video project
  • students will mail soap to students in Trinidad


  • use Google Earth to create a mileage calculator to find out how many miles are involved in obtaining the ingredients needed to make the soap
  • Videoconference with students in Trinidad and share soap stories.

stirring in the fat
A little honey?
More fat
Be careful with the lye, Wear your safety glasses
pretty shapes