Are you looking for an addictive and fun hobby? Soap-making might be a good choice! But, as with all hobbies, the number one question before jumping into one is, how expensive is it?
Is soap-making an expensive hobby? It is only expensive if you make it so. You can quickly start with the essential tools and make basic soap with no extra additives. However, once you start adding additives such as fragrance or preservatives, it might become expensive.
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Is soap-making an expensive hobby?
As with any hobby, it can be expensive, but it can be cheap. When you start with a hobby, you would want to start with the basics first and work your way up once you get the hang of it, the same thing with soap making.
That is unless you buy yourself fancy pieces of equipment and go overboard with fragrances. So it’s entirely up to you how much you wish to spend when starting making soap.
What do you need to start making soap?
Like most of us, with a new hobby, you probably would want to start with less expensive tools, and I personally would suggest the same. To start, try making a very basic soap to see if the process is something you like to do.
Soap making needs patience, and it is understandable for beginners to have a hard time waiting to use the soap they made for the first time. And if you see it’s a fit, you can start adding fragrances and additives.
So if you are just starting out, here are the things you must have to make soap:
- Safety Gear:
Safety should always be your number one concern. Without proper safety tools, one should not start making soap. There are two items you must have before starting, the first one is safety gloves, and the second is safety goggles. Since you’ll be working with sodium hydroxide lye, which is a caustic chemical, if you are not protected, it will cause your skin or eye to irritate if it comes in direct contact.
- Sodium Hydroxide Lye:
As discussed earlier, sodium hydroxide lye is used when making cold-pressed soap. This is because, without oils (or fats) and lye water mixed with, you cannot have soap. This process is called saponification. A quick note, it is highly recommended only to use lye that is intended for soap making.
If you try using those you can buy from the hardware store, you may end up with unpredictable results because they may contain other ingredients that affect this outcome.
- Stick Blender:
Buying a stick blender will probably the best thing will do. And only those who know the pain of working without will know what I am talking about. Without a blender, you’d need to stir oils and lye together for hours to get to soap. So, unless you feel like you want to go back in time and really experience how it was back then to stir for hours, I would buy a blender.
A stick blender is, in this case, the best kind because it can emulsify oil and lye in a matter of seconds.
- Easy Pour Containers:
Every soap maker needs containers; without them, you’d end up with a big mess but might have trouble pouring. Having multiple easy pour containers with different colors (or you can label them) helps a lot, so you’d know which one is which easily. The best type is one with a long pour spout, which helps with precise pouring and is very handy when it comes to swirls.
- Infrared Thermometer:
Cold process soap is heavily impacted by temperature in many ways. What I mean is, if your soap is too cold, your final product may end up with soap ash (which looks like white powder on the surface of your soap). If it’s too hot, your soap may crack, so a thermometer is crucial to have if you want to succeed at making a beautiful final product on a constant basis.
There are many types of thermometers out there; you can choose whichever you want. But you’d want one that’s practical, like an infrared thermometer that does not need to be cleaned. But you could also go for cheaper types such as a candy thermometer, whichever you prefer.
- Silicon spatulas & Whisks:
Wisk and silicone spatulas can be found in most kitchens, but if you are going to use them for soap making, I would suggest buying an extra set. In case they are not cleaned off properly, or you forgot to clean them and want to use them to remove chocolate mouse from a bowl, it can become dangerous.
You can buy any type of whisk, but when it comes to spatulas, I would recommend using the silicon type. They are really the best, in my opinion. Make sure to buy one with a distinguished color so you’d know which one is for soap and which is for cooking.
- Silicone and wood molds
There is no point in starting to make soap if you have no mold to pour your soap into. Although I have added this item to the list, this is something you might be able to skip. Instead of buying one, how about making a mold out of recycled stuff?
Yes, silicon molds will be much easier to use that’s true, but if you just started a new hobby and want to push the costs down as much as possible, then making the first batch of soap in a mold made out of thick paper (or milk carton) is totally fine.
How can you avoid having too many costs in the beginning?
The best way to avoid making costs, especially with a hobby you recently started is to avoid buying things that are not necessary for the beginning. You could, for example, not buy the extra spatulas and whisks and simply use the ones from your kitchen.
Or you can make soap without any additives such as colorants or fragrances. Fragrances can be costly; in fact, they are the most expensive part of the soap. I know what you are probably thinking right now, what’s the point in making soap if it doesn’t smell nice?
Well, the point of soap is actually to clean not to smell good. But of course, its simply better if it smells good at the same time, so why not, right? Since you are just starting out with soap making, you might end up with a final product that is not what you expected, and you can imagine if this happens a few times, you might end up throwing a lot of money in the bin because of it.
Start with cheap ingredients:
Another way to push the price down is to use less expensive ingredients such as oils. some oils will always cost more than others so if you just started I would advise using cheap oils in the beginning. Just one thing I want to add to this is in case you wish to use just one type of oil, you can but just don’t forget that the final result might not be pleasant as some oils like coconut oil need mixture because they tend to make your soap that dries your skin.
Start with small batches:
Sounds logic right? Well yeah, if you can start with smaller batches it would help learn to process and learn from the mistakes you might make with your first batches. believe me, you do not want to make big batches and end up with an end product that you need to throw away.
Using tested ingredients:
This is something that I read a lot online, I see people who just started with their new hobby in making soap and start off with adding ingredients I would not even imagine putting in soap. The result? Well, yeah that is the question exactly…I have no idea and it’s totally random!
This is why you need to use tested ingredients because you know that these ingredients actually work in soap. If you wish to use something you have not seen anyone using, ask a professional before taking any steps, this way you avoid taking risks.
Saving your failed batch of soap:
Every time you fail, you learn how to make better the next time. This is true with almost anything in life. If in case you have a failed batch in your hands, don’t get discouraged, just restart, and you’ll do it better next time. But what happens with the batch you just made?
Well, there might be a way to save it still, but this highly depends on the type of soap you made, of course, and the cause of the failure. You can do a quick search online, and in almost all cases, you’ll find a way to save your soap.
Buy your ingredients in bulk:
I know after saying buy simple ingredients and make simple soaps without any additives buying in bulk sounds so wrong. But I have a good reason to add this to the list. If you are familiar with soap making and want to make some for friends and family, or maybe you have some clients lined up who are interested in buying from you.
Buying in bulk will 100% help you save you a lot of money in the long run; this is how the big manufacturers are doing, so why not you? To give you an example, if you plan on buying Bramble Berry fixed oils, you will find them in 1 pound, 7 pounds, and finally 35 pounds option.
Obviously, buying them in larger amounts will be cheaper, just make sure you know what you are doing and have a system set up, so you prevent from ending up with a whole lot still on hand. Also, the downside of buying in bulk is that you need to use the product before it goes rancid, oils have a shelf life just like any ingredients actually, so make sure to check it before making any purchase.
It depends on what you wish to do with your soap.
Firstly, as I mentioned earlier if you start adding additives like colorants or fragrances, the costs will go up. And the more you add, the higher your costs will be. I know many who try putting natural products in their soaps. I understand the need to go all-natural, I really do. But many of them end up with soap that has DOS or even worse, mold!
This happens because you are using fresh ingredients. Everythign has an expiry date, and fresh ingredients happen to have a very short shelf life. You can use preservatives to prevent that, but this means that your soap will cost even more. So, bare in mind what you are making.
If you know you will use your soap the moment it’s ready to be used; then you can use fresh ingredients, not a problem. If you think it needs more time, you can either not use fresh ingredients or add preservatives.
Secondly, there is a big difference between having a hobby where you make soap for your own use and selling it obviously. So, if the plan is to sell, this hobby will be very cheap, in fact, I would say it would be even profitable.
Starting a hobby should always be to have fun or feel relaxed. It is just a big plus if this hobby is something that’s making you money at the same time. Start with the basic soaps in the beginning and work your way up if you feel comfortable.
Seeking aid from professionals or forums where more experienced people could give you advice is also something I would suggest to do, this will save you a lot of time, frustration and above all, money!
Buy only the must-have tools to make your first batches of soap there is no need to go all out at the start, in fact, this is in most cases too much for many and is the reason the quit very early.
Make small batches in the beginning; this is probably the best advice one can give. Not only will it allow you to do some tests and see what works and whatnot, but in case you fail, your loss will be much more acceptable. This is, of course, there is no way to save the soap.
All I can say is, soap making as a hobby is addictive, and it’s fun, and if you are good at it, you can most definitely make money with it.