By David Fisher
Soap makers get started making soap for a variety of reasons...and in a variety of ways. For some, it's a book that inspires. For others, a desire to make your own soap, from scratch, by hand. If you're a soap maker, or aspiring soap maker, or if you have a soap maker on your holiday gift list, here are some great ingredients, kits and tools to help propel your soap making well into the new year.
One of the cool things to experiment in your soap making along with scent blending and creating your own recipes is color. But there are so many different natural and synthetic colorants to choose from. Which ones work best...how much to use...how will the ph of the soap affect them? Soapmaker Lori Nova has put together her "top 10 soapmaking colorants" for the folks at Bramble Berry that covers the pros and cons of colors used for soapmaking like pigments (oxides, ultramarines), dyes (LabColors, Soapalooza, Gel Tones), lakes, neons, pop micas, and last but not least, the naturals (clays, herbs & spices). Her tests include cold process, hot process and melt and pour soaps. In no time, you'll be a soap colorant pro!
Goat's milk is one of the most popular soap making additives - and goat's milk soap can be made in a number of ways. One of the easiest ways I've found is to use a high quality goat's milk powder. Instead of having to slowly mix it into your lye solution, you just add it into the soap mixture right before trace. There's very little discoloration, and it's easy!
Bramble Berry adoringly calls this "The Best Soap Mold in the World!" This 18 bar mold is made out of top grade Russian Birch Plywood and Mahogany and holds approximately 6 lbs of soap. The key to this mold is the dividers. The dividers make the extra work of lining the mold with freezer paper worth it. You get 18 perfectly shaped bars. And swirling in the mold is super easy too! There are 9-bar and 36-bar versions too. This really is a gorgeous soap mold that will make gorgeous soap.
Continuing in the "experiment with color" theme - here is a sampler pack of a variety of ultramarines and oxides - colors that are widely considered to be "natural" - since they originally were mined from natural sources. They're created artifically in laboratories now.) These colorants will act differently than dyes or other natural colorants - and are wonderful to swirl with!