Is it hard to make soap?


Making soap at home is a practical and satisfying skill to learn. But most people tend to think that it’s hard or even expensive – when all you need are some basic ingredients.

It’s not hard to make soap at all. You only need two main ingredients to make a basic soap. It’s, however, recommended to start with the easiest method, such as cold or hot process soap. 

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Soap making is an ancient art that has been around for thousands of years. It can easily be made with just two ingredients – lye (sodium hydroxide) and oil. 

The soap-making process is very straightforward, but there are a few things to keep in mind before starting out on your first soap batch.

Is it worth it to make your own soap?

Range of different soaps on a white background.

The internet is filled with all sorts of soap-making information, but the question on everyone’s minds remains: Is it worth making your own?

Let’s see below if it’s worth jumping into this hobby or not. 

  1. You’ll be able to choose the ingredients.

Choosing your ingredients can be an excellent way to prevent the problems you usually encounter when using commercial products. You will know that your soap is perfectly safe to use on your skin as it won’t contain any harmful chemical that can lead to irritation, or in worse cases, burning.

  1. It is more beneficial for your skin.

Some ingredients used in the soap-making process will not saponify as certain oils. Therefore, they will add beneficial substances to your skin, which contain vitamins and other agents that will help you maintain it with a juvenile look.

  1. It’s a better option for people with sensitive skin.

Homemade soap is helpful for people with psoriasis. However, there is no real evidence to back this up (mainly because all the research focuses on industrial soaps). However, what is for certain is that homemade soap is richer in glycerin, a natural moisturizer.

  1. It’s easy to make!

The last reason why making soap is totally worth it is because it’s easy and anyone can make it. Most people don’t start with this hobby because it seems intimidating, but the truth is that once you start doing it, each step is straightforward. 

Is it hard to make soap?

Soap is not hard to make at all. As mentioned in the previous section, one of the many reasons people start in the soap-making world requires minimal effort. However, it does require some practice but also patience. Sometimes, you may have to wait a few weeks to be able to use your soap batch as it needs to cure. But overall, making soap is straightforward. 

How long does it take to make soap from scratch?

Each process takes a different time to complete, but you should be able to finish the raw soap within an hour. It doesn’t matter the soap type you’re making.

But as mentioned previously, you still need to wait for your soap to cure, and this part can take up to 2-4 weeks for your soap to be ready for use. Some soaps get better the longer you wait, such as castile soap

What are the raw materials needed for making soap?

Generally speaking, you will only need two main raw materials to make homemade soap: fat and alkali. 

Today, most soap artisans and enthusiasts (if not all) use sodium hydroxide as alkali, but there are other options like potassium hydroxide. Using the latter option will give you a softer soap, which is more appropriate for other products, like shaving cream.

As for the fat, fatty acids are the most utilized options, but other vegetable fats, like coconut or olive oil, are prominently used. Like it happens with potassium hydroxide, using certain fats will give you a softer soap.

This is only for basic soap. You can add fragrances and, in some cases, fresh or cooked plant material. Some culinary herbs are dry enough to be added fresh such as rosemary, lavender leaves, and thyme.

What equipment do you need to make soap?

Each soap artisan prefers using certain items over others, but here we include a general list of utensils you’ll need to complete a successful soap batch.

  1. A scale (link to Amazon)

One essential rule in soap-making is that all the materials utilized are weighed. You will not use volume measurements as they are not synonymous with weight. Not weighing your ingredients and using a measuring cup instead will lead you to have an unsuccessful batch that’s not safe to use due to the high levels of lye, for example.

  1. Thermometer

Temperatures are essential when it comes to soap-making. Therefore, keeping a candy-making thermometer around will help you with that. You can also use an infrared laser thermometer if you really want to be accurate, but a candy-making thermometer should also do fine when you start out.

  1. Immersion blender

If you don’t want to spend too much time stirring your soap (which can be really tiring), then an immersion blender is a must item to have. It will make this process shorter as it will take you only a few minutes.

  1. Lye Containers (link to Amazon)

Lye is an important ingredient in soap making. When not measured or managed correctly, it may lead to an unbalanced batch and most likely uncomplete saponification – which means that you will have useless materials.

The best containers for your bath bomb are stainless steel or heavy-duty plastic with the number 5 on them. You shouldn’t use glass because lye can break it, and you’ll need to stop whatever else you were doing in order to fix any damage done, but these two materials will ensure that nothing breaks during the production of the product.

  1. Soap mixing Containers (link to Amazon)

You’ll need a few containers where you can mix your soap batter. In case you wish to use a glass version, you are not at the risk of breaking it as the lye has already mixed. Therefore, you can use pretty much any resistant container you find at the local store.

However, please note that not every material found is suitable for the soap batter. Please avoid aluminum, Teflon, and any other non-stick container as they will react with the soap negatively.

  1. Soap molds (link to Amazon)

Most people utilize wooden loaf molds, but those can be quite expensive. You can also use silicone molds or baking pans along with waxed or parchment paper.

  1. Silicone spoons and spatulas (link to Amazon)

You will need these utensils to stir the soap batter and the lye. You can choose plenty of options out there, but the most appropriate options include silicone and heavy-duty plastic. Again, please avoid utilizing aluminum utensils to negatively affect the soap batter.

  1. Safety accessories

Last but not least, you’ll need a respirator or mask, goggles, and soap-making safety gloves. Remember that raw lye is a dangerous material, and the hot soap batter can also cause accidents at any time. Therefore, please invest a few bucks in these safety accessories.

You can use dishwashing gloves o nitrile gloves. As for the safety goggles, please go for options that were made specifically for chemicals.

Where to buy soap-making supplies?

There isn’t anything complicated about finding these items – you can look around the internet and have them shipped, an excellent place to start would be Amazon, or maybe you can choose to search through the local stores until you find what you need.

You will likely end up buying your supplies from different places. Some supplies can be found at affordable prices locally, while you can find better deals around the internet if you know where to look.

There is also the easy option to buy a soap-making kit, which will basically cost you a little more but will make it much easier to gather all the materials, especially if you are starting with this hobby.

Are all types of soap easy to make?

All types of soap have their process and their difficulty. However, we can say that the most known soap types for beginners are hot process and cold process soap. 

Hot process soap is typically ready to use after one day, but it’s recommended to wait at least one week if you’d like to have a harder soap bar. Contrary to this, the cold process needs 4-6 weeks to harden. 

Why do my candles sink in the middl...
Why do my candles sink in the middle?

Patience will become one of your virtues if you step into the soap-making world.

Is soap-making safe?

When you make soap at home, you will always be at the risk of an accident with sodium hydroxide (lye). This material is hazardous when you handle it without care. It is especially harmful to the skin and eyes. Therefore, you need to use it carefully not to “splash” it by accident.

Therefore, it is recommended to use protective gear such as a respirator or mask, goggles, and soap-making safety gloves when making soap, especially if you are not used to the process. Furthermore, inhaling or swallowing lye can be fatal. Therefore, it is always necessary for you to use the appropriate safety measurements to ensure that you will be safe during the soap-making process.

How do you make soap? – Easy Cold process soap guide for beginners

Once you’ve got all the necessary ingredients, you will be ready to start making soap. Follow the process below to get started and get your soap finished quickly.

Ingredients

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe.

As for the utensils, you will need all the equipment mentioned above. Don’t forget to use safety goggles and gloves when handling the lye.

Process

We’ll be making cold process soap in this recipe. 

  1. Mix the lye

Equip yourself with the necessary safety equipment, and make sure you make soap in a ventilated area. 

Use a measuring cup or any other disposable cup and weigh 201 grams of lye on your scale. Then, weigh 19 oz of distilled water in the container you’ll utilize for mixing lye. Then, pour the lye into the same container and stir it until it has dissolved completely.

At first, you’ll notice that the water will turn hot and that fumes will start coming out of it. Try to hold your breath (in case you have a mask, you’re safe to breathe normally) as you stir, as the fumes can be dangerous. 

You now have to wait until the lye cools down to 100ºF or less. It should take about half an hour or 90 minutes. Use your infrared thermometer in case you have one to measure the temperature accurately.

  1. Measure out the fragrance and prepare your molds.

First, you’ll need to line the soap mold with parchment paper or any other resource that serves the same purpose. Trust me. This will help you take the soap out of the mold easily. In case you’re using silicone molds, you most likely don’t need to do this part.

Now, let’s measure the fragrance oil you’ll use. You can combine scents as long as you keep the quantity to 7 teaspoons.

  1. Melt the oils and mix.

Some oils, such as coconut oil, need to be melted before adding them to the lye solution as they’re solid. Please note that the oils need to be at 80-100ºF. You can determine their temperature by using the thermometer.

When your oils are in optimal condition, it is a time mix. Remember to weigh them again if you’re not sure about the correct measurement.

Stir all the oils together.

  1. Blend and pour the soap.

Again, remember that your ingredients should be at 80-100ºF for you to be able to blend them. The mixture will react as you start blending it with the immersion blender, which will cause it to be cloudy. Use the immersion blender for about 5 minutes. Don’t add the fragrance oil yet.

Now, you will know that your soap batter has achieved the right consistency once it feels like a runny pudding. You can also lift the immersion blender and see if the drips leave a pattern or “trace.” If that’s the case, then the soap batter is ready.

At this point, now it is safe to stir in the fragrance oil. Do it until it has fully blended with the soap batter. Once done, pour the result into the soap mold and cover it with plastic wrap or lid.

Leave the mold in a safe place, wrapped in a towel. Try to leave it in a place with enough ventilation for about 24 hours.

  1. Cure the soap.

The soap should be ready to unmold after 24 hours. If not, you may have to wait a little longer. Don’t try to rush this part of the process.

Once you unmold them, use the right utensil to cut the soap into different bars. You can use a butcher’s knife or guitar strings, for instance.

Once your soap has been finished, you need to wait 4-6 weeks for it to cure. You can leave the soap in the same place as before. You can store them in a paper bag, for instance.

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