Soap Making – Time To Get Cleaned Up!

Soap Making is the perfect hobby for those that really care about the proper cleaning of their skin. If this describes you or if you are the type of person that loves to give handmade gifts then this is something for you to try. Best of all, it is simple to get started. Recipes are plentiful and the process easy to follow.

(Scroll Down For Videos!)

Soap is basically the product of a chemical process called “saponification”. When animal or vegetable fats are mixed with lye (Sodium Hydroxide) a crude soap called glycerol is produced. During the saponification process all of the lye is consumed in a chemical reaction with the oils and fats. There is no lye left in the finished soap provided you follow the recipe. To this crude soap you can add emollients such as jojoba oil or shea butter to give your soap that super luxurious feel. Add some scented oils and the feel and smell good qualities are complete.

There are three processes for making homemade soap. These include Melt and Pour, Cold Process and Hot Process. Each of these is different and has advantages and disadvantages.

The melt and pour process involves purchasing crude soap, in other words, soap that has already gone through the saponification process. The crude soap is melted, emollients, colors and scents added and then it is poured into molds. The advantage of this process is simplicity, soap is ready to use right away and no need to work with lye. Disadvantages include limitations on soap makeup and the cost of buying crude melt and pour soap.

Cold process soap making begins by mixing all of the raw ingredients - oils, fats, lye, water, emollients, scents, colors, etc. You must follow a recipe very closely to make sure that the fats, water and lye are all mixed in the right proportions. The components are mixed at prescribed temperatures until the mixture begins to thicken, a stage called "Trace". The soap is poured into molds and let set for 24 to 48 hours. After this period it can be cut into bars and then must be left to cure for three to four weeks. The advantages of this process include low cost and complete freedom to add ingredients, as long as you follow the saponification tables which dictate the amount of lye used for any mixture of oils or fats. Disadvantages include working with lye and the curing time.

Hot process soap making involves completing most of the cold process to the point of being ready to pour into molds. Instead of pouring into molds you heat the soap for an extended time to force the fast completion of the saponification process. When this has been done you pour into molds, cool, cut into bars and they are ready to use. Advantages include low cost, ability to change ingredients and ready to use quickly. Disadvantages are the long cooking time and the working with lye.

As a beginner to soap making you may want to start with a soap making kit that can be found through one of the resources links below. These kits are usually of the melt and pour type which means the saponification process has already been done. Save you from having to work with lye which can be hazardous in the wrong hands. Start by cutting the glycerin base into cubes that can be melted in a water bath boiler setup, an old crock pot or in a glass bowl in your microwave. Do not overheat the liquid. Once melted, add coloring and fragrance. Stir the mixture and pour into the mold of your choice. These can be purchased or use your imagination. Place the molds in your freezer for about an hour. Take them out and the bars should pop right out of the molds, ready for use!

For your first soap making kit based project, here are some of the items you will need:

Melt and pour base


Fragrance and dye

Cutting knife

Cutting Board

Kitchen scale

Large glass measuring cup

Double boiler

Measuring spoons

Mixing whisk

Plastic wrap

Part 1 of Videos:

Part 2 of Videos:

Here is a simple recipe for making some wonderful Goats Milk Soap!

Cold Process Goats Milk Soap

This recipe will make eight pounds of finished soap.

16 oz. Goat milk

16 oz. Distilled water

13 oz. Lye

16 oz. Palm oil

32 oz. Coconut oil

32 oz. Olive oil

2 oz. Grapefruit seed extract

5 oz. Ginger essential oil

Mix the goat milk and distilled water in a container. After reading the safety information below, add the lye to the water/milk mixture and watch as it turns tan in color. Let this mixture stand for all of 10 minutes. Pour the oils into another container and slowly mix in the milk/water/lye mixture. Stir with a stick. Next add the grapefruit seed extract as a preservative. Finally, add the ginger oil to give your soap the wonderful ginger smell. You can substitute any number of fragrant oils for the ginger if you want a different scent. Pour the mixture into molds and let set for 24 hours. Cure the bars for about four weeks.

Goats milk gives your soap a creamy smooth texture and is super nourishing for your skin!

Some Soap Making Safety Tips To Keep In Mind:

Lye has the ability to give you some pretty bad burns, both from heat and chemical reaction with your skin. These can be serious. Use these precautions and you should be safe.

Always wear safety goggles, rubber gloves, a long sleeved shirt, long pants, shoes and socks. Should any of the liquids get splashed on you these items will give you time to wash them off before your skin is burned.

Never melt beeswax in a microwave! It will spark and sound like it is going to blow up. It has a low flash point and can ignite causing a fire. In fact, melting any oil in a microwave is not a good idea as you just can't control the temperature very well.

Organize all of your ingredients, tools and containers before you start mixing. This will reduce the chance of making a mistake.

Make sure you work in a well ventilated area.

Keep a bottle of vinegar handy as it can be used to neutralize any lye that gets on your skin. Water is also good.

Keep all your kids out of the area when you are using lye. Lye can be fatal if swallowed.

Use good quality containers such as stainless steel, plastic or glass that don't leak.

Money Making Hobby Potential

This is one of the hobbies that has a great potential for making you some money. Handmade soaps are selling on-line and at neighborhood natural goods stores for $4 to $7 per four ounce bar. The cost to make all natural soap is less than a dollar a bar even after including packaging and selling costs. You can sell your handmade soap on-line at ETSY, ebay or even start your own website. You can even consider starting your own home based buisness with this hobby, it is that good! Good luck and have fun!

Additional Resources

Herbal How to Guide SAP Chart for Soap Making! - This is a pretty comprehensive listing of fixed oil SAP values that soap makers need to make soap.

Return From Soap Making to Crafts Part 2 Page

Return to Hobbies-and-Pastimes Homepage