Making soap is a great opportunity to get creative.
Many of us delight in that squeaky-clean feeling that soap gives us, and it’s fair to say that soap feels fairly harmless when we use it on our skin.
Soap making can be very simple or you can make it as complicated as you like.
The beauty of making your own is that you can customise it and make it with any ingredients that you choose and fragrances that you like. And once you get more confident, you can make a number of adjustments that aren’t complicated but may initially take some practice.
However, it is important to note that soap is highly corrosive when it is going through the chemical process of being made, the components have to go through some very active caustic stages before the soap becomes gentle enough to use.
Below are some of my recommendations on the safety equipment to use and materials to avoid, when making soap and this article on homemade soap will get you started on your creative journey.
Equipment for making soap
When learning how to make soap, remember it is really important to use equipment that will not be used for cooking. While you could clean everything really well, it’s best not to take a chance because lye can be dangerous and toxic if ingested.
- Wear protective clothing, including gloves and goggles.
- Avoid using cast-iron pots as these will discolour your soap.
- Plastic becomes very weak and inflexible, and wood can become soft and splintered and is difficult to clean. Ideally, you want to use rubber or silicone spatulas, which will last longer.
- Cold process soap making only loses its caustic properties after weeks of curing. For this reason, your soap making supplies must be able to hold varying concentrations of lye. Do not use anything made of aluminum, iron, tin, or Teflon, because lye eats through these materials
- When making soap, lye can give you a nasty burn if you are not careful; this is why you have to follow safe practices when handling it. Ensure you store your sodium hydroxide in a clearly marked, air-tight container, with “poison” written on it.
- When mixing lye, try to do it outside and always wear a dust mask.
- Always add your lye to the water, never the other way around, as it can bubble and splash causing a burn.
- Keep some vinegar handy, as this will help to neutralise the lye if you accidentally spill it on yourself.
- Before you start making soap, mix with a blender and always make sure the stick blender is well immersed in the lye, otherwise, it could splash up.
- After using lye, wipe the area and the bucket with paper towels, then put them in a separate dustbin liner. Never put it directly into the bin; you never know who might come into contact with it.
Making soap does mean that you have to be extra vigilant when it comes to hygiene, so try to keep everything free from contamination.
This is a fascinating article on perfecting the best soap recipe, after many years of formulating soap recipes for soap companies, they found a specific list of characteristics to use that does not involve using supplies.