How to Make Soap: The Soap Making Process

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1. Choose Your Soap Making Method

The soap making process does not consist of only one method to make soap but it consists of four basic methods. These four basic methods involve different soap making process that’s why you need to decide first which among the four methods you want to apply in order to start the right process.

How to Make Soap: The Soap Making Process
By Kawitsara / shutterstock.com
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a.) The Cold Process of Soap Making.

This refers to the process of soap making wherein you really have to start from scratch. You’ll have to make your own base.
This is one of the most common soap making processes.

The best thing about the cold process is the fact that you are starting from scratch which means that you have control over the process. How the soap will smell and will look are all under your control. You will also have control over the ingredients used. However, this process is a bit complicated especially for beginners, more expensive and more time-consuming.
You really have to take time to be really learned of the process before you start.

The Cold Process of Soap Making is first done by making a lye solution. Next, measure the oils you are going to use. Then, blend these oils and after these oils are well-blended, add the lye solution on it. Blend the lye and oil mixture and add some extras or additives that you wish to add like colors, fragrances, essential oils, etc.
After that, you can pour the mixture on a mold. Let the soap mixture cool and harden. When it cools and hardens; you can start cutting it to your preferred sizes.

b.) The Melt and Pour Process of Soap Making.

This refers to the process of soap making wherein you no longer have to make your own soap base but instead you are going to use a soap base and simply melt it so you can add your own additives.

The best thing about this process is because it is very easy to make and very quick since you only have to use soap base and not make your own. It is also inexpensive since you use lesser ingredients than that of the cold process. Since there is no need to deal with lye, it is also safer. However, this process is not as rewarding as the cold process because it is not something you made from scratch. You are only using soap as your base and all you are doing is add your own additives. It’s like you are only editing the soap and not actually making it.

The Melt and Pour process is first done by cutting the soap base you have and melting it by using the microwave or any heating source that can melt it. Next, you can measure and pour in your extras on another container. Then, after the soap base has melted, pour in your extras and additives on that melted soap base.
It is up to you to add coloring on your soap as long as they are skin-friendly. Stir the mixture well but be careful not to stir the mixture and create bubbles. After that, pour the soap mixture into a mold. You can use small molds so you don’t have to cut the soap into tiny pieces. Let the soap cool and harden inside the fridge. Usually, it takes only a few hours to harden.

c.) The Re-batch Process of Soap Making.

This refers to the process of soap making that’s actually similar to the melt and pour and the only difference is that in this process, the soap base you are using is the soap that you have already made on your own through cold process or melt and pour.

The best thing about this process is that it can correct the first soap mistake you made which is why this process is also known as a process used for fixing mistakes. This is also no longer hard to make because there is a soap base already.
However, this process is a bit complex since it would take time to melt the base
and so it needs extra work.

The Rebatching process is first done by grating the soap base so that it would be easier for it to melt. After grating, you can start melting it with water or milk if you wish to. Mix in the additives that you want to add or the extras you forgot to put when you first made the soap. Then, bend it well or mix it using a spatula. Finally, start putting the rebatch soap into a mold and let it harden.

d.) The Hot Process of Soap Making.

This refers to the process of soap making that is really similar to the cold process and it is only called hot process since it uses heat and cooking. The best thing about this process is that it is also a process that starts from scratch; therefore it will also give you a sort of satisfaction since you are really having control over your ingredients and the process. But just like the cold process, this can be very complex as this requires extra work since you still need to cook the soap. Plus, it requires more safety precautions as dealing with lye can be dangerous.

The Hot Process is first done by creating a lye solution just like in the cold process. Next, measure your oils once again and mix them well. If you are using hard oils, melt them first before you mix them with the liquid oils. Add other additives on the oils and then add the lye solution too. Blend the mixture and after that, start cooking the mixture on a boiler or a casserole, etc. Cooking usually takes time since you’ll have to wait for the soap to rise, to thicken and to be oily.

While cooking, you can add colors and fragrances if you wish. The soap is cooked if it already fluffy like mashed potatoes and you can already place it onto a mold and let harden before cutting them into pieces.

Knowing all about these methods will now help you decide what you think is best for you as a beginner. But as a tip, if you are a beginner, choose the easiest first just for the sake of experience. Choose also the cheapest if you still do not have enough budget. But most of all, you can choose the most rewarding process as long as you have made sure you are prepared with the knowledge of the process and safety precautions when making soap already.

2. Prepare Your Soap Making Ingredients

The ingredients for soap making are the most important things to consider in the process. These will be your foundation in making soap. So, as a beginner, it is important to know the basic ingredients needed for soap making before you start the process.

Lye. This ingredient is commonly known as sodium hydroxide and it is an alkaline substance that is considered the most basic ingredient for soap making. This is because of the fact that it has the ability to stabilize and make firm soap mixtures so when it comes to making hard soap, lye should never be missing. However, even if lye is very important, remember that lye is a corrosive substance. It has the ability to lead to skin irritations, especially if too much of it is used as well as it can also cause other negative chemical reactions on the skin and other parts of the body. Lye is the basic foundation of soap making but it should be handled with care and should be mixed with the right amount.

Oils. This refers to either animal-based oil or plant-based oils. Oils give the soap the moisturizing effects which is why these ingredients should never be absent during soap making as well. But nowadays, plant-based oils are recommended in the soap making process. This is because plant-based oils are known to be milder and skin-friendlier. Some of the plant-based oils that you can use for soap making are olive oil and coconut oil, etc.

Additives and Extras. This refers to other extra ingredients that you wish to mix into the soap for the soap making process. These ingredients are essential for the soap making process because they contribute a lot to giving the soap a very good appearance, boosted and improved effects, as well as a boosted fragrance. In other words, they are essential extras because they make the soap more beneficial than what a simple lye and oil mixture can give.

One sample of additive and extra you can put on the soap is glycerin. This ingredient gives a boost to the soap when it comes to its moisturizing ability.
Benzalkonium chloride is also an additive with a great purpose if you are making a germ-fighting soap as it has the ability to fight fungi and bacteria.

Fragrances such as essential oils can boost the fragrance of the soap. You can choose any essential oils and fragrances like lavender, mint, vanilla, and other fragrance-enhancing ingredients.

Additives and extras can also refer to colorings or dyes as well as sprinkles that could enhance the appearance of the soap and change its color. It is up to you to use whatever additives and extras you prefer your soap to have.

Soap Base. This mostly refers to either a transparent soap base or colored soap base. This is a more specific ingredient as this is not really required if you are going to do the cold process. This ingredient is mainly required for those who are planning to do the melt and pour process. The soap base is going to be the foundation instead of the lye solution as this is going to be melted so that you can start adding in your other ingredients.

However, remember that the different soap making processes mean different ingredients to use. Just as mentioned, while the melt and pour process may require the soap base as ingredient, the cold process may not. This is why, when it comes to preparing your soap making ingredients, make sure that it goes along with the exact soap making process you are planning to apply.

How to Make Soap: The Soap Making Process
By Kawitsara / shutterstock.com

3. Prepare Your Soap Making Tools and Venue

This refers to the place where you are going to do the soap making process, whether at home, anywhere else, in your kitchen, backyard, etc. This also refers to the supplies you need to use n order to make soap-making possible. However, just like the soap making ingredients, when it comes to preparing the supplies, it may also depend on the method or the process of soap making you apply as supplies differ depending on the process. But regardless of what process to apply, here is some of the basic soap making supplies you’ll need before you start.

Heat Sources like microwave and boiler – these heat sources will be used to melt hard ingredients like soap base and hard oils like lard.

Soap molds – This refers to any size and shape of molds that you prefer the soap to be. This will give the soap shape and appearance when it hardens.

Spoons – This can either be wooden spoons or metal spoons. Spoons will be used for stirring the soap and oil mixture.

Rubber gloves and goggles – These supplies will be used for safety purposes. The gloves will protect your hands from getting burned or accidentally burned by lye and the goggles will protect your eyes from chemical accidents.

Heat resistant containers – This refers to non-aluminum containers as long as they are heat resistant or can withstand the heat of the melted soap mixture because these containers will be used to contain these hot and melted mixtures.

Blender – This will be used for blending oils and additives together. Stick blender is the preferred type of blender as it thoroughly mixes and blends the mixture.

Soap cutter – This will be used to cut the hardened soap. You can use a knife as long as it is really sharp enough to cut the soap smoothly.

Towels and washcloths – these will be used for cleanup and for accidental spills.

Now, when it comes to the place where you are going to perform the soap making process, these things need to be considered:

  • Choose a spacious place so that it would be easy for you to move around and there will be enough space for all the items and supplies to be placed.
  •  Make sure the place cannot easily be accessed by children while you are making soap. This is to ensure that they wouldn’t meet accidents.
  •  Choose a safe place for you. It should be a place free from hanging items that could fall on you and items that could react to lye spills, etc. and cause accidents.