How To Make

How To Make Soap For Beginners

This post is a guide for beginners to take the first steps on how to make soap in different ways. It summarizes all soap making tutorials posted in this blog. You are also invited to check out the How To Make category

Soap can be produced in many different ways. The good news is that some of these ways, the handmade, less industrial ones, allow you to make your own soap at home! You don’t need expensive industrial-grade equipment or inaccessible, hard-to-purchase chemicals.

Everything you need is at your own kitchen, ingredients included!

I am presenting in this article a summary of the different methods to make soap bars and liquid soap with different production methods. So you can start making your own soap, at home.

Soap Bar by Cold Process

In Cold Process, you make soap at temperatures slightly higher than room temperature, with no heat source during the production phase. The base ingredients are lye, water, and fat (vegetable oils or animal fat).

You can also add fragrances and dyes to make your soap more complete. Fragrances and dyes, as well as most ingredients used in cold process soap recipes in this blog, are all natural, or closest to natural as possible.

Here are the posts you need to read by order to be able to learn how to make soap bars by cold process:

  1. How To Make Soap From Scratch – this post lists soap making main ingredients and equipment to use in cold process, as well as important safety instructions, to learn how to deal with the dreaded lye
  2. How To Make Soap by Cold Process Step-by-Step – post with comprehensive and detailed step-by-step instructions to use the cold process method to make natural, handmade soap bars. It includes tips and safety instructions along the way.
  3. How To Make Soap Using SoapCalc – SoapCalc is one of the best well known soap calculators among soap makers. This post teaches how to use the soap calculator to costumize soap recipes, and even start to create your own! This is a post for more advanced soap makers. Soap maker beginners should stick to the easy recipes to gain understanding of the process before costumizing soap recipes.
  4. How to Safely Clean Your Soap Equipment –  After the fun of making soap, comes the “nightmare” of cleaning up your equipment and counter. Not only this post teaches you how to safely clean soap batter – because it has lye in it! -, it also provides tips on how to efficiently clean up all equipment and your workstation (aka, kitchen counter).
  5. How To Cure and Store Handmade Soap – This post shows you how to unmold, cut and cure soap bars, taking you to the end of the soap making process. 

And that’s it!! You may now enjoy your soap bars in your bath or shower!

Some tips to use natural soap bars in the bathroom: 

  1. Use a soap dish with good ventilation below, and water drain. The last thing you want is your natural soap over a pool of water: it will dissolve and turn into a mush
  2. Ideally, keep your bathroom as dry as possible. In alternative, if you can, keep your soap dish near a window, to dry your soap.

Liquid Soap Using a Soap Bar

Most people tend to prefer to use liquid soap to a soap bar. Maybe because it’s easier to use. The commercial liquid soap you have access to might be very complicated to make, but you can do your own (cheap!) liquid soap at home just using a soap bar and water. This is a recipe hack, not really making soap from scratch, but it’s a good way for anyone, even people with no experience in soap making, or those who don’t like to deal with lye, to make some liquid soap at home.

This is the toturial post that teaches you how to make liquid soap by using a soap bar:

  1. How To Make Liquid Soap With a Soap Bar 

This recipe may raise a lot of questions, so I am leaving here some tips already:

  1. I only used new, natural soap bars to make this recipe. So, there is no need to add glycerin or any other sort of humectant, since the soap bar already has natural glycerin.
  2. My experience with remnants of used soap to make this liquid soap was a disaster. I’ve only managed to get a watery mess, even after a couple of attempts… Maybe you can use soap remains and be sucessful, but I do not advise it.
  3. I never used commercial soap for this liquid soap. There is no reason not to work with commercial soap, but I’ve read it that you need to add some glycerin to make the soap milder, more conditioning to your hands.
  4. The resulting soap is not a perfectly “behaved” substance like the commercial liquid soaps. It doesn’t have any chemicals to adjust its viscosity, so it’s natural that your soap will create “endless strings” while using it, or clog a little bit your soap dispenser. Well, nothing is perfect…
  5. It’s adviseable to use this liquid soap in a soap dispenser, away from the contact with dirty hands and air. Because this soap has water content, and no perservatives are added, it will last roughly one month if used this way. And why someone would prefer to use liquid soap in any other way…? In any case, throw it away if you notice any change in smell or color
  6. You can add some fragrance or essential oil to add a nice scent to it. You can also add a colorant (I never did it). But it’s not mandatory. And if you want to keep it cheap, it’s better if you don’t.

Cheap Soap!

In more dificult times, where saving in every way you can is important, you can make some cheap soap bars at home, while still having a natural, healthy washing product. Here are some tips:

  1. You don’t need to use essential oils for scent. In fact, you don’t need to put any scent in your soap at all. Scent addition is only because we are used to fragrant washing products, and a nice scent is always pleasant. Essential oils are expensive and without surprise is the most expensive ingredient used in natural soaps. There are some ingredients that add a natural fragrance to soap, like honey or beeswax. Natural unscented soap also has a very slight but “clean” scent, that I find pleasant as well. 
  2. You don’t need to use organic oils to make your soap. Conventional oils will still create a great bar of soap. Just remember that the quality of your soap depends on the quality of the oils. Fresh, pure, cold pressed oils, for example, are almost perfect oils for soap making.
  3. You don’t have to purchase colorants for your soap. In alternative, there are a lot of kitchen ingredients that work as natural colorants, like herbs, spices, or some vegetables. They are cheaper and will make your soap more interesting and natural. You can also leave your soap with its natural color provided by the oils used. Most likely it will just turn white or very light cream after cure. It’s not that bad, is it?
  4. Make 1-oil soap. See the Starting Soap Recipes category in this blog. They all use just one type of oil. Instead of having to purchase 4 or 5 different (and sometimes expensive) oils, purchase one oil in bulk (around 1 Kg, or 2 lb, will make 12 bars of soap). 100% olive oil soap, known as castile soap, is one of the mildest soaps you can use, so it’s even adviseable for people with sensitive skin or skin conditions, children and babies. You will be saving money AND providing your family with a bathing product fit for everyone!
  5. Make liquid soap. For some reason, liquid soap is very cost-effective. Maybe it’s because is mostly made of water. You can make liquid soap from a soap bar, see the chapter above. This way, you will better protect your product from dirty hands and germs, and use less soap each time you wash your hands.
  6. Source your ingredients locally. Maybe you are lucky enough to live in a farm, or near a local market. In this case, use the cheapest fat you can have acess to, be it olive oil, palm oil, lard, tallow, or coconut oil, to give some examples, and use it in your soap. These are all oils you can use 100% in your soap, as well as mixed with others. You may also be a beekeeper, have a garden or own a few dairy animals.  Well, use those ingredients you get very cheap to enrich your soap: honey, beeswax, goat milk, herbs, spices, flowers, they are all ingredients you can use in soap making and that will improve your soap properties and looks. You will have great natural handmade soap, made with ingredients you have easy access to.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Feel free to leave a comment or pose a question using the comments field below.

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