Your introduction to the world of handmade soap
Grab your rubber ducky and prepare to take a soak in the soothing and sometimes addictive world of soap making. This article is intended to be a starting point for all of your soap making needs. Soap making can be somewhat complicated, so we recommend ordering a beginner's kit before you jump right in.
Soap Making Kits
Soap making kits are the perfect way for beginners and kids to safely try the craft of soap making. Soap making kits are typically available in melt and pour styles - with pre-fragranced glycerin bars, microwaveable cups, cutting tools, molds, decorations and instructions all included! Soap making supplies are cheap to order online, and the final products can provide elegant bathroom decorations, cute baby shower tokens and much more.
Some soap making kits are sold with a specific them. For elegant bathroom decor, dive into a kit which includes fragrant glycerin bars in 'ocean fresh', foam seahorses, sea shells or plastic fish. Teach your little scientists a thing or two about chemistry as they watch how glycerin takes new shape.
For a little princess birthday party, choose a soap kit with pretty pink glycerin bars. Melt and pour them into flower molds and drop in plastic flowers or plastic gemstones. Top them off with a touch of glitter. Place one 'princess soap' in each partygoer's gift bag.
For a bridal shower, choose a soap kit with colors that match your bride's maid dresses. Add soothing oils, plastic gemstone rings, glitter hearts or laminated pictures of the bride and groom as tokens of your appreciation. You can also use these as gifts for guests attending your wedding.
Soap is made by following a very basic formula: fatty acid (oil) + base (lye) = soap. A batch of soap can be made in about an hour, depending on the recipe you use. For those who wish to make soap without the assistance of a special kit, there are several different methods that can be used. They include:
- Cold Process Method. This is old-fashioned soap making and it's the preferred method of most home-based soap makers. The method involves combining lye (sodium hydroxide) and water and then mixing the solution with fatty acids in a reaction called 'saponifaction.'
- Hot Processed Method. This originated in the dark ages, when soap was boiled in vats over an open fire. After 'tracing' is compete, saponification is accelerated when heat is applied using a double boiler, microwave or crock pot.
- Rebatching Method. This is also called the hand-milling method. It involves making old soap new by grating and re-melting it. Colorant and essential oils are often added during rebatching to sustain the scent. Rebatching is useful when a soap recipe fails and you want to repair it or when you have a large collection of old soap leftovers.
- Melt & Pour Method. This method involves making soap from soap by purchasing clear glycerin bars, then melting them down, coloring them, adding fragrance and remolding (or 're-casting') them. This method is very easy to do, but more expensive then cold process soap making. It makes a great craft for kids.
Always remember to wear eye protection and rubber gloves when working with lye.