Simplicity can be a beautiful thing.
And when it comes to soap making, all you really need is simplicity.
Making soap can be an involved process, but trust me...an outstanding, superior product of the highest quality can be obtained with the most humblest of ingredients and supplies that won't go anywhere near breaking the bank.
In this article, we talked about 12 benefits of making and using natural handcrafted soap for the betterment of your skin, your lifestyle, and your wallet. You were even given a cost estimate to figure out how much of an investment you would want to make getting started with soap making.
With the following list of the most crucial items needed to make soap at your fingertips, you can get started and build your soap making arsenal as you go.
1. Safety Equipment
First thing's first. We must always focus on safety in soap making (and in just about everything we do).
I'm lumping together 4 of the most crucial items you'll need to safely make soap effectively:
The purpose of these items is probably self-explanatory. Just know that they should always be used in tandem whenever you are working with the alkali in its raw form, the lye solution (or an alkali dissolved in a liquid), and freshly mixed soap.
2. An Alkali
In Cold-Process soap making, Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) is the required alkali to saponify the oils, fats, and lye solution.
Always always always take care and pay attention when working with any type of alkali.
The sole reason for the necessity of the safety equipment listed above is due to the potential harm or injury getting exposed to alkali can cause.
3. A Liquid
Soap makers get creative when it comes to deciding the liquid to use in any given soap formula.
Examples of liquids that can be employed to create the lye solution for a soap batch include:
*Plain distilled water
*Herbal water infusion
*Milks, like goat milk, coconut milk, and nut milk
*Pureed fruits and vegetables
4. An Oil or Fat
Oils and fats are the work horses, the backbones of soap making. You don't have soap without incorporating some type of fat or oil.
Olive, coconut and palm oils are considered the traditional oil trifecta in soap making, but there are sooooo many different types of oils, butters, and fats, both from vegetable and animal origin that can be beautifully used in soap making.
This article describes many Brazilian oils and butters that are wonderful in natural body care products and handcrafted soap.
High-quality handcrafted soap can even be made with a singular oil or fat.
Castile soap is traditionally made with extra virgin olive oil as the only oil in the formula. The result of this soap is a hard bar with rich, thick, silky lather.
5. Soap Mixing Containers
You will need a vessel, typically a stainless steel pot, in which to melt the oils and butters, incorporate nutrient ingredients (like oats and other additives), and mix with the lye solution to bring the soap batch to trace (the point in which the soap mixture is thick enough to pour into a mold). Stainless steel stock pots are the mainstays of soap making.
The pot should be large enough to hold all of your ingredients and of an efficient size to allow you to easily pour the soap batch into your molds.
Dissolve the alkali in a heavy duty, heat-proof pitcher make the lye solution (plastic, silicone, or stainless steel, funnel pitchers).*Soap pot to melt oils and butters, and mix with lye solution to trace
*Container to mix alkali and liquid to make the lye solution
6. Digital Scale
A must have to ensure ingredients are weighed accurately and success is achieved in the soap mold. A postal scale that has a tare function (to weigh an empty container and reset scale to zero) is ideal.
Having a couple of quick-read meat thermometers, one for the melting oils, another for the lye solution, is HIGHLY recommended.
8. Whisk or Spoon
You will need something to stir your soap batch with after you mix your ingredients.
You will find having both a spoon and whisk useful, but to fully incorporate your ingredients, I prefer to start with a whisk.
A whisk aerates the soap batch which allows ground ingredients like clays and powdered herbs to get completely immersed in thick soap batches.
9. A Mold
You will need a container of some sort to pour in your soap batch after it comes to trace.
The list of items that can be used as a mold is endless. Just a few examples are plastic or silicone containers, wood or heavy cardboard boxes, and waxed paper cartons.
And of course, you can always purchase molds specifically made for soap. Just make sure you line porous containers like wooden boxes with parchment paper.
10. A Hand or "Stick" Blender
Some soap making purists may argue that a hand blender is not an absolutely must-have item for soap making, but I say you can't go wrong with having one around.
Some soap formulas, particularly those with oils high in oleic acid like extra virgin olive oil, may take forever to get to trace with just a whisk or spoon. Who has time to do all of that stirring?
Nobody, that's who.
A "stick" blender saves the day, literally, for these types of batches.
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Medical Advice Disclaimer:
The information in this blog article has not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration. The information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases or conditions of any kind. This article provides the reader with practical information regarding handcrafted soap making, on the premises of basic soap making science and ancient anecdotal practices of health and beauty. In no way should the contents of this article be regarded as medical advice. It is recommended that the reader perform a patch test before using any formula described. The author and all invested parties will not be held responsible for any allergic or adverse reactions, contraindications, or ill effects from the manufacture or use of any products described in this article.