Well, making your own soap is wonderful combination of those too plus some chemistry, cooking, artistic input and frugal living. Once you understand the basics of how to make soap, you can get started right away. This primer, and the Soap Making pages here on About, will teach you basic techniques of how to make your own homemade soap, guide you step-by-step through some interesting soap projects, and give you the knowledge and resources to start developing your own soapy creations.
But Why Make My Own Soap?One of the pioneers of today’s natural hand made soap making community, Ann Bramson, in her book “Soap”, says, “Where the hard pastel-colored bars sold at the drugstore are anonymous and indifferent, homemade soap has character. It charms…it smells good…feels good…is comforting in ways which manufactured soap can never be.” She is so right! If you’ve never tried a bar of real natural hand made soap, you’re in for a real treat. If you have tried one, and know just how wonderful it is, you’ll be surprised that making your own fantastic soaps is not as difficult as you think.
Making Soap is a Basic Chemical ReactionSoap is the result of a basic chemical reaction between fats or oils and lye. That’s it. The difference between Grandma’s harsh, greasy, “lye soap,” and your luxurious hand made soap, is the choice of ingredients. Think of it this way: With just some flour and water, you can make primitive bread. Not very exciting or tasty, but still bread. But when your recipe is made with your favorite whole-grain flour, fresh eggs, sea salt, yeast, and honey, simple bread becomes a remarkable home made delight.
It’s the same with soap.
By carefully choosing a combination of quality oils, adding your favorite fragrance or essential oils, and swirling in a lively colorant, your soap suddenly takes on that charming “character” that commercially manufactured soap can’t even begin to compete with.
Four Methods of Making SoapThere are four basic methods for making soap at home:
- Melt and Pour - melt pre-made blocks of soap and add your own fragrance
- Cold Process - the most common - making soap from scratch with oils and lye
- Hot Process - a variation of cold process where the soap is actually cooked in a crock pot or oven
- Rebatching - grinding up bars of soap, adding milk or water, and re-blending them
Each method has pros, and cons, and variations.
To start with, we’ll discuss the two most popular methods of soap making, Melt and Pour and Cold Process Soap Making.