Even if making soap is a pretty basic process, there are many supplies you can use to make the soap of your dreams. Here are some of the choices available to you :
- Oils : Oil is the basis of you soap : if you don’t choose well, you won’t get nice soap. Fortunately, there are many good soap recipes available online to help you choose. You can use both animal and vegetable oils to make your soap. I usually make soap with vegetables oils : olive oil is nice for bulk, along with other oils like palm and coconut oils.
- Lye : Nothing to choose here, just make sure that what is you get is 100% lye if you buy it from the hardware store. A little lye will go a long way if you only make small batches, so don’t buy too much. This should be clearly labelled and stored in a safe and dry places so children and pets won’t find it.
- Scents : The two main ways to scent your soap are with essential oils and with fragrance oils. Essential oils are made for the real plants, while fragrance oils mimic the scent of real thing with chemicals. Fragrance oil are available in a lot more scents though and the price is the same for all of them, while the price of essential oils varies depending on the ingredients used.
- Colors : Colors can be added to soap with many additives : micas, clays, oxides and cosmetics colourants. Every other ingredient you add to your soap will also affect the final color, so you may be just fine with the natural color of the soap. Also, you should be careful when you use herbs and plant extracts since most of them turn will brown over time once they are mixed with the lye.
- Other additives : There are many other things you can add like milk power, herbs, flowers, coffee grounds and pumice sand. Each of them will add their own little thing to your soap.
Pink and green clays
From top left, going clockwise : goat milk powder, lavender flowers and pumice sand
A good soapmaking store will have those supplies available. I buy my oils locally since those can be expensive to ship and order my scents, colors and additives online from the Voyageur Soap & Candle Company in Canada.
In any case, you don’t need to add all those things make a great soap. One of my favourite soap is a simple 100% olive oil soap with clay : it hardens nicely and is wonderfully soft and mild on the skin. In the next post, I’ll teach you how to calculate the olive oil and lye you need, and give you the recipe.