Making soap is not a scary process, however, it can be tricky. With a bit of luck and keeping in mind some basic tips can turn any soapmaking venture into a thrilling and rewarding hobby.
Rule 1: Always start with a clutter free workspace. Make sure you have plenty of counter room if you are working in your kitchen, or if you are working in another part of the house or in the basement set up a large sturdy table or workbench for your soap craft. Make sure there is sufficient light in the work space. Protect all surfaces with plastic sheeting or layers of newspapers.
Rule2: Gather all the equipment you need before you start. Since you will be working with potentially dangerous chemicals, and since soap making is tricky, it is unlikely to be a good idea to leave the process half way to look for bowls, stirrers or other essential equipment. You will likely need the following things: 1. A weighing scale to measure ingredients. 2. A candy thermometer 3. A large plastic measuring cup 4. Rubber gloves and safety googles. 5. An apron or long sleeved shirt. 6. Lye 7. A plastic pitcher to mix the lye and water in if using lye crystals. 7. Oils and fats 8. A large plastic or stainless steel bowl in which to melt the oils and fats. 9. Large plastic spatulas to stir the soap and/or a stick blender 10. A plastic funnel 11. Prepared soap moulds 12. Paper towels for clean ups 13. A container of vinegar on hand in case of accidents 14. A source of heat such as a hot plate or stove to melt and heat the oils and fats. 15. Essential oils, colours and additives.
Rule 3: When mixing lye and water always add the LYE to the WATER and never the other way around. Use a plastic or paper funnel to prevent splashes and add the lye in small quantities. Remember that dissolving lye gives off a lot of heat so the resulting solution will get very hot!
Rule 4; The fat you are using and the lye should be at the same temperature – approximately 100-110F (38C) when you mix the two together to optimize the saponification.
Rule 5: Add the lye solution to the oils a little at a time and not the other way around.
Rule 6: Do not use glass or metal containers other than stainless steel to make soap. Lye reacts with many metals including aluminium and tin to produce large amounts of hydrogen gas. Not only will the container be pitted and will the lye seep through, hydrogen gas is highly explosive! Since the lye and water get quite hot glass containers may crack from the sudden heating and cooling. Plastic containers rated for high heat and stainless steel are the best for soap making