About a year and a half ago, I decided to try making my own soap. After reading lots of books about it, I finally gathered all of the supplies and jumped in. And you know what? It was fun and surprisingly easy! To date, I have made four batches of soap. I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but it adds up to about 36 bars, and you can only use a bar of soap up so quickly! I know a lot of people think it sounds scary, but as long as you use common sense and proper safety precautions, making your own soap is amazing!
Now that I'm a seasoned soap-maker (har har), here are some of my tips:
- Read, read, read up on making soap before you try it. You can probably find recipes on the internet, but I prefer books for stuff like that (you know, dangerous stuff and what-not). Two books I highly recommend are The Soapmaker's Companion by Susan Miller Cavitch and The Everything Soapmaking Book by Alicia Grosso. There are a lot of others, but these are two that are particularly helpful if you're just getting started.
- The books will tell you and I will too: keep a journal! You don't have to get philosophical or anything, just write down the date, what base recipe you used, what additives you threw in and how much of each, what kind of container you poured your soap into, how many bars it yielded, etc. Because you will not remember it on your own, and it helps to know what you liked and what you didn't.
- Have everything in place before you start, and maybe even do a dry run to double check. When you are making soap, timing is everything, and the last thing you need is to realize you left a key piece of equipment in the garage when you're in the middle of a step.
- Be safe: wear the dorky lab goggles; wear serious rubber gloves; wear old clothes that don't matter too much; wear close-toed shoes; pull your hair back.
- Keep your kids and pets and husbands safe. I have kids, and you know what? I don't make soap when they're around. I either do it when they are sleeping or when my husband has taken them out for a few hours. And we all survive.
- Don't buy an expensive, hand-carved soap mold on ebay, especially before you've even made your first batch of soap (does it sound like I'm speaking from experience here, because I am). They are very pretty, it is true, but a shoe box works just as well and doesn't cost anything.
- Just do it! It really isn't scary, and it really isn't hard. After I made my first batch, I said to my husband, "That wasn't any harder than making a batch of cookies." And it really isn't.