In the previous article in this post series, “Making Handmade Soap”, we learned about the Equipment needed for making handmade soap. In this post, we will show you the Supplies and Ingredients that you will need to make soap from scratch.
The Basics For Making Soap
There are four main Supplies or Ingredients that are needed to make soap, they are water, lye, fats and vinegar. In addition to those basic things you will need a few things that will support the soap making process, for the best outcome gather all the things listed below before starting to make soap.
- Paper Towels
- Plastic Wrap or Freezer Paper
- Petroleum Jelly
- Distilled Water
- Lye (sodium or potassium hydroxide)
- Fats, Oils & Butters
Do not make soap without vinegar, vinegar is used to neutralize lye. If you spill the lye water or the soap batter, vinegar will stop the chemical process. A gallon of the cheapest vinegar will work just as good as the most expensive.
The reason we use paper towels for cleaning up is that we can throw them away when we are done. They are used to clean up lye spills, clean soap batter off equipment, and to wipe down the inside of the soap bucket after the soap has been molded. We never put raw soap batter down the drain, if enough soap batter gets down the drain when the soap sets up your drain will be sealed, or plugged up.
Plastic Wrap Or Freezer Paper
Plastic Wrap or Freezer Paper is used to line the soap mold. Depending on the type of mold you use one would work better than the other… I use plastic wrap to line plastic molds, but freezer paper for lining wood molds.
Petroleum Jelly is used as an adhesive for attaching the liner to the soap mold, it keeps the liner stuck in place so that your liner does not slip down inside the mold. It does not take a lot just enough to butter the inside of the mold.
When choosing a type of water for making soap distilled water is the best choice, water that has not been distilled will have particulates and minerals that can change your soap. I get distilled water by the gallon from any grocery store.
Depending on the type of soap you are making you will need one of two kinds of lye, either Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) or Potassium hydroxide (KOH), check your recipe to make sure you get the right form. Potassium hydroxide is used for making soft and liquid soaps, and Sodium hydroxide is for solid soaps.
Sodium Hydroxide comes in several grades in soap making we are only concerned with two either technical or food grade. I started using technical grade, many soap makers use technical grade, but after years of making soap I prefer to use food grade if given a choice.
Fats, Oils & Butters
The best soaps come from a combination of Fats, Oils & Butters… Each type of fat adds qualities to finished soap that you need to consider before choosing which you will use. For example some are more moisturizing, some make big fluffy bubble and some make small long lasting bubbles, some fats make a bar of soap harder and some make a liquid soap clear where some make them cloudy.
Olive oil is the exception, you may have heard of Castile Olive Oil soap, it is made from a single oil, but unlike soap made with a combination of fats, it will be softer and take longer to harden. Olive oil soap is delicious, it makes a mild soap that when suds up has small bubbles. Olive Oil is a great addition to a combination soap recipe with fats that harden, and fats make fluffy bubbles.
Coconut Oil is wonderful for creating big fluffy bubbles in soap, the drawback is that too much coconut oil in a soap recipe can make the soap drying to the skin, but is great for other types of cleaning. The trick to making soap for skin use is to use enough to get the bubbles you want without making the soap drying. Coconut oil also adds hardness to bar of soap.
Palm, Shea, Cocoa Butter, Tallow Or Lard
Palm Oil, Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Tallow, and Lard can all be used to make a bar soap harder. The funny thing is after many years of making soap I have grouped them together and use them interchangeably with adjustments to lye calculations. Of course each fat has its own unique qualities, but I have learned that if you include one of them in a bar soap recipe it will give you the hardness that a bar soap needs, for a look at individual oil qualities click here.
Castor Oil is often used in soap making along with small amounts of coconut to increase bubbles. It is great used in making liquid soap along with coconut to make a clear soap.
The best way to start making soap is to use a recipe from an experienced soap maker who knows that the combination of Fats, Oils and Butters work together. The next post in this series will be Recipes. In the Recipe post will give you 4 recipes, two for making bar soap, and 2 two for making Liquid soap, keep on the lookout.
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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