Making soap at home is nothing new, but it’s recently started making a comeback in a huge way as we become more aware of what we are purchasing, how they are made and what they are made of.
The homemade soaps of today are a far cry from what they were 100 years ago. The process has been seriously improved with more efficient measurements,ingredients and essential oils.
Why Make Your Own Soap?
Making your own soap has many interesting benefits and the potential for even more. It’s important to note there are a few different methods used to make soap at home. For the sake of clarity, we’ll be referring to the cold process method throughout this post. This is considered “making it from scratch” and it gives you complete control over all ingredients used in the making of the soap.
One of the main reasons why people choose to create their own soap at home is safety. In today’s market, most bars of soap sold at stores come off the assembly line in the thousands. They are manufactured quickly, cheaply, and with little oversight. Furthermore, a variety of different chemicals are used in the process. By making the soap yourself you assume complete creative control over the ingredients, which means you can stick to safe, all-natural ingredients.
There’s also the matter of price. Aside from the initial investment for equipment, which isn’t much, making your own soap is considerably cheaper than buying it from the store. You can often make an entire batch of soap for less than the price of a pack of three bars from a name brand supplier.
Finally, there’s a potential for profit. This comes from combining the two advantages above: creative control and low price. There’s a growing market for safe, natural soaps and you could fill that demand. You could potentially start taking custom orders online or sell at local craft markets. Making soap isn’t difficult or expensive, which makes it a really great business opportunity for those who want to earn some extra income.
Now that you understand why it is you’re making it, let’s look at how to make soap right the first time. We won’t cover the exact process or specific recipes here because these are already available for free in many places. Instead, we’ll outline some need-to-know concepts you should keep in mind when you start making your first batch of cold process soap bars. The more you know about how to make soap, the better you can become.
Learn About Lye And Saponification.
Learning how to make soap is a relatively simple process, but there is one area of danger you should fully understand before ever attempting to make your own. That is sodium hydroxide, otherwise known as lye. Lye is the primary ingredient of DIY soap making and it’s also a very caustic substance.
By itself, lye has the potential of burning and damaging the skin. It might seem odd to use something so potentially dangerous in a bar of soap that you plan on rubbing against your body, but that’s where science comes into play.
The magic occurs when the lye is combined with fat or oil. When these two chemicals are mixed in correct proportions a reaction known as saponification takes place.
This is a reaction between an acid and a base, much like the reaction used to create salt. The lye is the base and the fatty acids in the oils are the acid. In this case, instead of making salt, the acid and base neutralize each other to make soap.
Stay Safe When Making Soap.
The end result is a completely new chemical substance. No lye remains in the soap after the bar is completely cured. On that same note, there is no making cold process soap without lye.
It might be safe once it is cured, but while making the soap you must take all of the necessary steps to protect yourself. Always work in a well-ventilated room. Wear long sleeve shirts, pants, goggles, and rubber gloves that come up to the elbow. Wearing a rubber apron can add an extra layer of protection. If lye does get on the skin, then you should immediately apply vinegar to the area as a neutralizing agent.
Getting The Measurements Right.
The one big factor that separates the homemade soap of today from that of a century ago is the ability to get precise measurements at home. Homemade soap made in the early 1900’s was known to be fairly harsh because makers could rarely get the right ratio of lye-to-fat in their mixtures. Nor could they get truly precise measurements for other additives.
It only takes one incorrect measurement to ruin an otherwise beautiful and great-smelling bar of soap. That is why should invest in precise measuring equipment, such as high quality digital scales and thermometers.
This is even more important if you plan on starting a business with your soaps because no one is going to want to buy a gross smelling or ruined bar of soap. To make matters worse, you can’t stick to one-size-fits-all measurements because different oils will require different amounts of lye to complete the saponification process.
Make Your Soap Unique.
Whether it’s for yourself or for your new business, making your own soap means you have control over everything. It’s a great opportunity to experiment with different oils, additives, herbs, colors, and shapes. If you want to create and sell soap that stands out from the competition, then you’ll need to experiment and find that signature recipe that really makes your soap unique.
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