Fun, frugal, and infinitely practical, soap making is an art form where the potential ingredient combinations are practically endless.

Using naturally skin-nourishing components, handcrafted soaps are enriched with vitamins, minerals, and beneficial oils that won’t’ dry out your epidermis like store-bought soaps have a tendency to do. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at making soap, read on!

At its core, soapmaking involves combining vegetable or animal fats with a strong alkaline, typically lye. The process, called saponification, is the chemical reaction between these two elements.

For the novice soapmaker, the “melt and pour” process is the easiest place to begin. Using a premade soap base, all you need to do is melt it down on the stove or in the microwave, then stir in fragrances, color, minerals, herbs, and whatever other ingredients your heart desires. Pour it into molds and let it cool for a few hours. Once it has hardened fully, it’s ready to be used.

More advanced soapmaking involves the traditional “cold process”. It requires the mixing of oils with a base solution, such as lye. Since lye is caustic and will burn your skin on contact, it’s important to follow these safety procedures before you begin. The upside of cold processed soap is you have more control over the ingredients you use and the soap will last much longer than melt and pour soaps. For the firmest bars, you’ll need to wait 4 to 6 weeks to allow the soap to fully cure.

Things You’ll Need:

Depending on the soapmaking process you choose, you should have these basic ingredients and tools on hand:

  • Kitchen scale for accurate measurements
  • Stainless steel mixing bowls, dedicated for soapmaking only
  • Stainless steel measuring spoons
  • Silicone molds
  • Additives like essential oils, dried herbs, vegetable oils, and natural colorants like these.
  • Soap base for the “melt and pour” method – goat’s milk, shea butter, or glycerin.
  • Alkaline for “cold process” – lye or wood ash.
  • Quick read thermometer

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