10 Tips every soap making beginner needs to know before getting started

Have you ever thought about how people used to get their own soap before they were readily available at stores? Or how would one wash their goods? What was soap made of? If you have never thought about that, you might be taking this marvelous modern product for granted. What about contemporary soaps, do you know what they are made of?

That’s an important question to ask yourself, since the skin is the greatest organ in the human body, and it is a very absorbent one. Everything you smear on your skin will go to your blood flow and enter your body! That means you shouldn’t choose your soap only based on its price. The cheaper they are, the more bad chemicals that may compromise not only your skin, but also your health. 

Making your own soap will provide you with the opportunity to choose what you want your soap to be made of, so if you’re big into health or if you just want to be creative and have fun, here are ten things you need to know to make your own soap:


1. Study

Like any craft (be it pottery, jewelry making or even baking), you will need to do some studying before diving in and start making soaps, and the best way to do it is through internet researching. You might consider going to your local library, or even buying some books online. Joining forums is a great way to earn and share knowledge, and talking to other people, both newbies and veteran soap makers. You can promote your products, share some kindness and gather a lot of knowledge!

Hit the books, search engines, the forums. It will save you a lot of time and frustration. Videos are a great way to learn, too. Try to watch videos that goes into details, or even take some classes online, it’s up to you.


2. Pick one recipe

Just one! Not two, and not three recipes. Start with one recipe and use it. You want it as basic and versatile as it can get, to make sure you can mix and match, get creative without changing too many elements. Look for a simple recipe that allows the scents to stay true and get them as right as you can, get used to fragrance oils and developing your own sense. Even if you get to a thick trace, the soap will still be good if you get a simple recipe. 


3. Buy your ingredients

This might sound like a no-brainer, but it can be tricky to know what ingredients to buy and where to find them. The recipe that is advised for starters uses castor oil, coconut and olive oils, if you can’t get the castor oil you can always change it for sweet almond oil. Coconut oil is available in most grocery stores, but you want to go for a wholesale deal and get yourself an 8-pounder bucket to make it worth your while. The oils are not that expensive, and you can get them in nearly any big retail store. 

Castor oil and sweet almond are a little harder to come by, but they are not rarities. If you don’t find it right away at your wholesale supplier, dig a bit around and you’ll find it for sure. Get a pound or two to start, maybe buy from an online wholesaler and reach their minimum order to get free shipping. 

You can also look for beginner soap making kits, they are available in a lot of places. Limit yourself to 3 or 4 oils and use a very simple recipe, and you’re good.


4. Sodium hydroxide

Sodium hydroxide is the hardest ingredient to find. A bit tricky, but definitely possible. You can find it online of course, or at wholesale suppliers. There are shops that are specialized in soap making products but sometimes it’s hard to understand all the technical names. You also probably won’t have all the specific utensils yet, so have patience and let things flow smoothly. 

A digital scale and a stick blender however, are both required. If you try to get away without them, there will be a few tragedies and sooner or later you will understand that they are paramount for the quality of your outcome. 

They aren’t expensive, actually you will save money because if you don’t get a scale, you will waste a lot of material. You can get one as cheap as 20 bucks, and that is ok even for a hobby to make soap for family and friends.

If you intend to make a lot of soap, especially for sales purposes, get a better one. They last longer, are more precise and can hold more weight at once.


5. Tools and protections

You will need protective gloves, protective eyewear, bowls and a mold. Just watch a one-on-one video about making the first soaps and you will find the full list.


6. The extra stuff

Essential oils, fragrances, botanicals and colorants are not necessary to soap making, yet they make it much more fun. You can have a clean, neutral bar with regular oils and lye water solution. You can use extra stuff to create your own recipes. Try to find a reliable supplier, even better if they have positive reviews.

Get yourself easy fragrance oils for cold processes, avoid things that need to rise, accelerate, separate or things like that. A good example is black raspberry vanilla or other common beginner fragrances.


7. Be prepared to fail

On your first batch, you will probably fail. It will take a little while to get it right, maybe three batches, or even more. Don’t get discouraged, it is a difficult task and all you need to do is to stay positive and keep making batch after batch until you get it right.

Look around and think about what you could have done better. Take some pictures to study later and understand what went wrong.  You can post the pic online and ask for advice.


8. Take care when cutting it

The first time you’ll cut your soap, make sure you apply even pressure to the knife you’re using to cut the soap. You will probably not have a soap cutter yet, so take care while handling the knife. Put it on the top of the soap and apply even pressure on both sides and make straight lines, not curvy ones. Pay attention to your recipe. Most of them will tell you when the soap should be cut!


9. Have fun!

Soap making is about having fun and creating a luxurious product that you and your family members, or even potential customers, can enjoy.


10. Make a budget

And the last advice is to make a budget. It is very easy to go over the top and spend too much on supplies. You can get everything for under than $200. Online deals are often the best ones. You will notice that along the years, you will be accumulating molds, colorings and fragrance oils. That’s very normal.

Just try to start as small as possible, to make things run naturally and while you’re at it, enjoy the journey.

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