Before you begin soap making, there are simple supplies that are essential and then there are some supplies that will just make your life so much easier.
First off, you will need some kind of mold. I use all different types of molds depending on what I want my soap to look like in the end. When I first started soap making, I began with a basic mold like this one to make individual round bars. There was no cutting required. I was so impressed by my perfect shiny bars. I will admit that using individual molds makes a prettier soap as a beginner, however, the downside is that you get less of it. If you decide on a square wood mold, you will need a soap bar cutter before you begin making soap. Here is the large wooded mold that I now use. Soap will need cut 24-48 hours after it is made.
After you consider the type of soap you want to make, there are basic soap making ingredients you will want to gather. You will need at least two pourable containers. For your first batch, you can get away with only using one, but as you grow and want to do colors and additives, it is helpful to have multiple laying around. I personally use one five cup glass measuring cup and one 6 cup pourable mixing bowl.
The next thing you will need is a lye proof mixing container. I highly recommend using a heat proof plastic and something that you don’t mind disposing of. This container eventually just gets lye residue on it after a lot of use. I typically use them a dozen times and replace them. I do not use glass for this purpose because as the lye heats the mixture, it could break the glass. Things get pretty hot pretty fast once the lye is added and I do whatever I can to prevent a lye disaster. This one is pourable and works well for safe lye use.
After you have all of the bowls you need in order, you will need a few small appliances that are essential. You will absolutely need a stick blender. I use my stick blender for every recipe I have ever made. It is how you mix you soap to trace. Completely essential if you do not want to be mixing for hours. This one is affordable and would work perfectly.The next thing you will need is a thermometer of some sort. Soap making companies always suggest an infrared thermometer like this one but I use a candy thermometer. There is no reason I chose this, it is just what I had at the time. Just be sure that whatever thermometer you use is not made of aluminum or any metal that will react with lye. You will use the thermometer to keep track of the temperature of the lye so you know when it is time to mix the lye and the oils. The last small appliance you will need is a scale. You will need the scale to have precise measurements of your lye and oils. This scale on amazon is only $13 and would be perfect for the job.
The next smaller items you need but are essential are a rubber spatula of some sort and two spoons. I always end up using spoons to double check the trace, mix the oils after I melted my hard oils and more. The more spoons I have clean laying around the better. Once you start the mixing process it is difficult to stop and go find something you need so it is a good idea to have everything you need at the ready.
The only other important thing you will need is a place to melt the hard oils. I use a microwave out of convenience but a hot plate, stove, or any heat source would work fine. You will want to melt your oils slowly because the hotter you make your oils. The more time it will take for them to cool off to be ready to mix with your lye mixture.
Now that we went over the types of equipment you need, it is important to understand oil and oil compositions. I am going to provide a very basic recipe for you to try. I will tell you why I chose the oils and what they do to that bar of soap.
Next week, we will go over my recipe, what the components mean and the types of oils that are great for soap making.
Have any questions about the process so far? Let me know and I can answer them in next week’s post.