Just like any craft or skill a soap maker needs equipment for making soap… Soap making equipment can be elaborate or simple depending on the soap maker.
Keep It Simple
As a new soap maker, you could spend a lot of money buying equipment for soap making, or you can use what you have and only get what you absolutely need. If I knew then what I know now, I could have saved myself a ton of money, instead I spent thousands on professional equipment that I really did not need.
So my advice is to start with what you have…
We won’t be including personal protection equipment in this post, but I want to mention it because when considering equipment for soap making, personal protection should be at the top of the list. To find out what equipment you will need to protect yourself check out Making Handmade Soap – Safety.
Equipment Soap Makers Need To Make Soap
- Container with a Lid for Mixing Soap
- Utensil for Stirring Soap & Scooping Fats
- Cooking Pot for Melting Oils
- Container for Measuring Lye & Water
- Digital Scale
- Immersion Blender
- Container for Molding Soap
The Soap Bucket
A soap bucket is just a container with a lid that you mix soap in. But not just any container will do you need to take two things into consideration when choosing a container.
When lye is mixed into a liquid solution it becomes very hot and can melt some plastics, you would need to make sure that any plastics that you use are heat-resistant or your soap bucket could melt or bend and cause a spill.
Lye is a corrosive and will corrode and dissolve some metals, so if you choose a metal container it needs to be non-reactive to lye. Stainless steel is the best metal to use it does not react to lye, never use an aluminum container because aluminum is reactive to lye the lye will eat a hole through aluminum causing a lye spill.
Glass could be another consideration because it does not react to lye but because lye gets very hot it could cause a glass container to break glass would not be a good choice.
A ceramic pot designed for cooking would be both heat resistant and non-reactive, it would make a suitable choice for soap making, but ceramic can be heavy, possibly making it awkward to move.
My Soap Bucket
The kind of container that I use to make soap in depends on the kind of soap I am making. When I make hot process and liquid soaps I use a large stainless steel pot with a lid.
For cold process soap, I use a heavy duty white plastic bucket, plastic in my opinion is the best choice, it is non-reactive, if heat resistant will not melt, and is light weight making moving easier. I have never had a white plastic bucket melt, but you should test any plastic container with boiling water to make sure it can withstand the heat before using it with hot lye.
Heat Resistant Spoon or Spatula
When choosing what to stir your soap batter with just like the soap bucket the spoon or spatula needs to be heat resistant and non-reactive. I like to use a heavy duty plastic spoon or a silicone rubber spatula that is rated to withstand 400 degrees heat.
Always Weigh Soap Making Ingredients
One very important point to remember in soap making is we always weight ingredients. Most soap making recipes are formulated by weight unless the recipe specifically states something else you always weigh ingredients.
Because we weigh our ingredients, a digital scale is a necessity you must have before you can make soap. Be sure to find one that can measure in increments of less than an ounce, it will help with small batches and the accuracy of the soap recipe. While there are some scales that are called soap making scales all you need is an inexpensive postal scale.
Mixing The Soap Batter
Once the soap ingredients are weighed, melted and added to the lye water, the next step is to stir the soap, you stir it till the oils and lye combine and start to become soap.
When I made my very first batch of soap I stirred by hand, and I stirred it seemed to take forever to reach trace. After this first batch I took the advice of experienced soap makers and purchased my second most important piece of soap making equipment an immersion blender, or stick blender as we used to call it.
The stick blender takes the load off, and speeds up the stirring process, I now make soap that traces if just a few minutes. I would never make soap again without an immersion blender, and I recommend that you splurge and get yourself one too. My first immersion blender was purchased from Wal-Mart for under 20 bucks, some have found working ones from second-hand stores.
Molding The Soap
After you soap batter has reached trace you will need to mold it. When it comes to choosing a mold for soap the choices are probably unlimited.
Some things to think about, if you use plastic it will be easier to remove from the mold, but needs to be heat resistant, I like rubber maid containers, but today there are many silicone molds one can get.. Wood is also a choice.
Next to being heat resistant you need to make sure that it is large enough to hold the soap batter, it needs to be the right size. When you are rushing to get the soap batter in the mold, you don’t want to find out that the mold it too small.
To Test: Measure the fluid ounces of your recipe in water and fill the mold to see if it will all fit. Your recipe will be in “weighed ounces” not fluid but some lye calculators will give the total fluid ounces too. If not add a 1/3 more ounces than the weighed ounces to test.
For the beginner, I would suggest using a heat resistant plastic food storage container (test it with boiling water, is it still rigid), something you already have around the house, a container that you don’t need to use again.
In some cases, you will need to line your mold when I use a wood mold I always have to line it and I usually line straight plastic molds too, but they are pliable and soap can easily be removed even if you don’t line them.
A Tip for removing stuck soap from a mold is to freeze it, and then let it set out for 5 minutes then try again the soap should slide out easily…
Label & Separate Soap Making Equipment
For your safety and the taste of the food never use a container, utensil or piece of equipment that you use in soap making to make food with. What I mean are the containers, utensils or equipment that have direct contact with soap batter in cooking (including the immersion blender).
Once you have made soap with them label them for soap making and keep them separate. Keep this in mind when choosing what to use, don’t use your best stuff. If you need something be sure to check out the dollar or second-hand stores some have found great equipment in those places.
Making Handmade Soap Post Series
If you would like to learn to make handmade soap, follow me for the next few months as I show you step by step how to make natural non-toxic soaps from scratch. This tutorial will cover everything you need to know to make your own handmade cold process bar soap, hot process bar soap, and liquid soap.
Posts In The Series
- Making Handmade Soap – Soap What Is It?
- Making Handmade Soap – How To Make Toxic Soap
- Making Handmade Soap – Terms & Definitions
- Making Handmade Soap – Safety
- Making Handmade Soap – Equipment
- Making Handmade Soap – Supplies
- Making Handmade Soap – Recipes
- Making Handmade Soap – Cold Process
- Making Handmade Soap – Liquid Soap
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Bar Soap Making