There are several reasons why a person would prefer to make their own soap rather than to purchase it from those commercially and heavily-processed products you usually see everywhere these days. It will not be a surprise then that you have now decided to dive further into the soapmaking process as you’ve come to realize that it is safer, cost-effective, sustainable and most of all, you can personally choose the ingredients and scents based on your own preferences.
However, you’re unsure where to find the best soapmaking suppliers. You may have read a few blogs, watched a handful of videos online and tried endless recipes already, yet you still haven't found what you’ve been looking for. Does the perfect recipe even exist?
Well, you’re in luck. We, at N-Essentials are fully dedicated to helping you find the soapmaking supplies and ingredients you’ll need to make the best soap that is as unique as you are.
But before we jump forward to that, you must first prepare and ready yourself with the necessary equipment to make the soap.
SOAPMAKING EQUIPMENT NEEDED TO MAKE SOAP
1. Scale: In soapmaking, all oils, liquids, and lye should be weighed instead of measuring by volume. Your soap can become too oily or, worse, too lye-heavy when you measure your oils or lye with a measuring cup instead of a scale that can result in having an unsafe product.
2. Cooking Thermometer: You will need an accurate thermometer to help you keep track of the temperature of your lye solution and oils.
3. Styrene Plastic or Silicone Spoon and Spatulas: These will be used to stir the soap batter as needed and also, the lye into the water or other liquid.
4. Stick Blender: A stick blender will be used to cut the mixing time down to a matter of minutes instead of manually stirring the soap by hand which can be time-consuming.
5. Wear protective gear such as gloves and goggles: These are an absolute must. Always use a pair of safety glasses/goggles to protect your eyes from chemicals. Also, use disposable latex or nitrile gloves to protect your hands.
6. Containers to measure and mix the Lye and the Soap Batter: You can use a small container made of enamel or stainless steel, or a disposable cup when measuring and mixing the lye. Though, avoid using a glass container when mixing the lye and water because the lye solution can shoot up to over 93°C (200°F) after it is being heated, and so, the glass container is prone to breakage.
Once the lye solution has cooled down, that’s the time you can use a thick/heavy-duty glass.
7. Soap Moulds: This is used to mould your soap. An alternative is to use a silicone loaf pan.
8. Soap Cutter: This is used to cut your soap. You can use a steel wire soap cutter for perfectly sized bars.
As you may well know, soap is characterized as a mixture of fat or oil with sodium hydroxide, a caustic alkali. The alkali is a chemical called lye, while the oil comes from either an animal or vegetable/plant.
Soap is then made by combining oil and lye and heating them together. This chemical reaction is called saponification. Saponification is impossible without lye, so lye is needed to make soap. Some people may have expressed their concern about using lye due to its highly corrosive substance, especially in its raw form. But do not fret— none will remain in the finished product because the lye will be all used up during the saponification. If done properly, it is entirely safe to use.
Nonetheless, it is important to practice caution at all times. As mentioned, lye is caustic not only when it touches the skin, but the fumes it generates when mixed with water are caustic as well.Aside from using proper protective gear such as masks and heat-resistant gloves, you’ll need to work in a well-ventilated area.
Also, make sure to use 100% lye (sodium hydroxide) or lye in crystal form. Do not use substitute liquid lye or drain cleaners since it contains bits of metal. Avoid using such.
Note: Using aluminium, tin containers and plastic can be unsafe when used for lye. Make sure as well to slowly add lye to water instead of water to lye as it may cause an exothermic reaction if done otherwise.
FATS AND OILS
Soap is usually mixed with animal fat, however, vegetable/plant oils are widely used nowadays. Animal fats typically create a harder bar of soap while vegetable/plant oils produce soap that is softer and gentler to the skin.Needless to say, each oil has different properties when used in soapmaking including hardness, lather, creaminess, conditioning, etc.
Choosing what oil or butter to use would then be the most important aspects of any soapmaking recipe.
Below are the fats and oils that are best and commonly used in soap making due to their valuable properties:
● Apricot Kernel Oil: It has a stable creamy lather and it absorbs well into the skin. It is highly conditioning and moisturising.
● Cocoa Butter: One of the most stable fats there is. It is an excellent emollient as it conditions and moisturises the skin well. It adds hardness to the soap and has a stable rich lather.
● Coconut Oil: One of the primary oils used in soapmaking. It adds hardness to the soap, has high lather and stable bubbles.
● Grapeseed Oil: It is lightweight with a thin texture. It is highly conditioning and has a creamy, stable lather.
● Jojoba Oil: It contributes a strong stable lather and has remarkable conditioning and moisturising properties.
● Macadamia Nuts: It is lightweight and has a creamy lather. It conditions the skin and adds hardness to the soap.
● Mango Butter: It is conditioning and moisturising. It adds hardness to the soap and has a creamy lather.
● Palm Oil: It contributes to soap hardness, though it is mild. It has a stable lather and silky-feel quicker trace.
● Shea Butter: Adds hardness to soap and is often combined with other fats to substitute cocoa butter.
● Sunflower: Though it has a slower absorption rate, it produces a rich, creamy lather that moisturises and conditions the skin.
● Sweet Almond Oil: It is lightweight and absorbs well into the skin. It produces stable medium lather as it is not a very hard oil soap.
ESSENTIAL OILS AND SKIN-SAFE FRAGRANCE OILS
Essential oil, as the name suggests, is a compound extracted from plants that are generally considered "natural" and have captured the essence of the plant's scent or flavour.It comes from the roots, branches, flowers, seeds, and other parts of the plant.
It is stirred into your soap after it thickens to a light to medium trace. This is when you’ve added the lye-water and oils together as you’ve begun mixing.
Essential oils are split into 3 notes—top, middle and base.
Top notes are fresh, lighter and brighter scents. It is the first thing you smell in a blend, though it evaporates faster.
Middle notes are heavier and tend to hang around a little bit longer compared to top notes. It creates a balance within blends.
Base notes have long-lasting scents.It has the deepest and earthiest tones in a fragrance. It is a great stabiliser in a blend and it works very well when combined with the lighter notes due to their heaviness.
If you prefer a more natural scent, essential oils are a great choice since it comes in a fairly extensive range. You can also try to create blends by combining at least 2 to 4 essential oils together. It can make a huge difference to your overall scent. Don’t hesitate to experiment, in fact, that is encouraged.
Fragrance oil on the other hand is synthesized. It is made artificially from aromatic chemical compounds that have been mixed in order to produce a distinct scent. There are numerous varieties of compounds that each have their own scent that when blended together create a fragrance oil. Some fragrance oils contain essential oils as part of the natural components or constituents, while some don’t. Some also contain synthetically made constituents of essential oils.
It can be formulated to create a certain earthy fragrance such as lavender, strawberries, etc. or made to invent a concept like a summer, rain, spring, and youth
Fragrance oils are classified to be skin-safe or non-skin safe. Non-skin safe fragrances can be used in products like air fresheners and candles, as well as other non-skin applications. Skin-safe is intended for use in cosmetics and other products that can come into contact with the skin (such as soaps, fabric softener, etc). To ensure their safety, they have undergone comprehensive testing.
Below are the common fragrance oils best used in soapmaking:
Although adding colour is simply an aesthetic feature of soap, it adds appeal and variety, as well as allowing you to express your craftsmanship.
There are several options that you can opt for when choosing the colour for your soap. You can either use powder or oils. However, we highly recommend using colourants instead that are not just safe but have been neutralised already for cosmetic use.
Below are the most commonly used colourants:
● Ultramarines or iron oxides: Oxides may have been made synthetically, however, they are "nature identical" meaning they still have the same molecular makeup as the earth's once-mined pigment. With bold, matte colours, these are great for colouring cold process soaps or melt and pour soaps.
● Mica pigments: These pigments have a multi-colour shimmery, metallic and pearlaceous effect that works best in clear melt and pour soaps.
● Fluorescent pigments: These pigments provide bright, vibrant colours that can be added to the soap batter at trace when making cold process soap.
● Natural Colours: If you wish to keep your ingredients as natural as possible, using natural colours might be the best alternative for you. The colours come from dried botanicals, fruits, vegetables, or powders. It may not be as vibrant as synthetic colours, natural colourants can be just as aesthetically pleasing with their deep muted, pastel tones that nature intended.Dried calendula flowers,activated charcoal ordried lavender flowers are some of the many natural colourants you can opt for.
Making your own soap is a skill that requires a lot of patience and dedication. It might seem overwhelming especially with all this information and options laid out for you, but rest assured, once you’ve started the process, it is actually easy and fun. Though of course, if you want your soap to reach that level of sophistication, you need to keep in mind that it will take a lot of practice and experiments.
If you’re all set to learn more, you may head over to our blog section where you can find and read more of N-Essentials articles, recipes and tips.
WHERE TO BUY SOAPMAKING SUPPLIES ONLINE NEAR ME
N-essentials has years of experience in the personal care and body care industry. With that said, we can provide the highest quality soapmaking supplies from the most reliable suppliers that are suitable for a variety of applications. We understand that any product used on the skin should be safe and so when you buy from us, you'll get only the best for your needs.
If you have any questions, clarifications, or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re always available to assist you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.