There are a couple of ways that you can go about making homemade soap. These are cold process and melt and pour. While both soaps can be of great quality, cold press soaps tend to have ingredients and fragrances that are more skin-healthy and natural.
It all depends on how you make the soap, however!
Let's have a look at some soap making kits that make a great option if you're just learning the hobby.
Cold process soap is the more complicated of the two methods, as you’ll be working with lye and adding a lot more ingredients, pretty much making the soap from scratch. Specifically, cold process soap is made with a combination of lye, and oil.
This causes a natural reaction called saponification, which causes the soap to harden. Not only that, but it neutralizes the lye over time, leaving only its antibacterial properties and rendering it gentler.
To make cold process soap, you’ll need lye, water, and various types of moisturizing and nourishing oil. The best oils to comprise the majority of your soap are olive oil and coconut oil. Other excellent additions are shea butter, palm oil, almond oil, safflower oil, avocado oil, and beeswax!
First, make up your lye (lye combined with water, as directed on the container). Then, melt your oil at no more than 120-130 F. Let the oil cool a bit, and the lye cool to within 10 degrees of the same temperature (110-140). At this point, they’re ready to be mixed together!
Once your lye and oils are combined, you’ll want to be prompt about adding fragrance and color. The soap will thicken as it begins to cool. Once you’re done, pour the soap into the mold or molds, and allow it to harden and cool. Cold-press soap will need to cure for 2-4 weeks, roughly.
Compared to cold process soap, melt and pour soap is much simpler. Whereas you need to gather and purchase ingredients separately with cold process, melt and pour soap comes in a ready-to-go block. This is typically composed of glycerin or shea butter.
With melt and pour soap, all that you need are a mold, some soap-safe fragrances, and some dyes or powders. Melt the soap, color it, add your scent, and pour. Unlike cold process soap, melt and pour soap does not need to cure and can be used as soon as it’s been allowed to cool (overnight).
A soap-making kit is a package containing the most important supplies that you need to make soap. This means a base, fragrances, and molds. Some also come with dyes or powders and a handy pitcher. They can make the sometimes-complicated process of soap-making much easier.
All of the ingredients you need will be in one place, without the need to rummage them up or purchase them separately. It’s a cost-effective and convenient option, and perfect if you’re short on time or funds but want to make some really nice soap to gift, sell, and enjoy yourself.
Of course, not all soap-making kits are going to be the same quality. Some will cut corners, using fragrances containing chemicals, etc. So, what should you look for in a soap-making kit?
The most important part of your soap is the base. You can have the loveliest fragrances in the world, but a poor base will spoil its texture and lather. Many soap-making kits have a glycerin base, which can make an average to good-quality soap. To make truly great soap, you’ll want to go with a soap base made from something super skin-healthy and moisturizing, like shea butter.
If you’re making cold process soap, you can look for kits that contain only the molds, fragrance, and color. Either way, you’ll have a much simpler task!
While a base is the most important, you still wouldn’t want to degrade it with a low-quality dye or powder. These can have harsh chemicals, which will irritate the skin. Some may not even be non-comedogenic, meaning that they will clog your pores (causing breakouts).
Instead, look for gentle, soap-safe dyes and powders. Any soap-making kit worth its salt should have decent-quality dyes and powders. Look at its reviews to double-check!
Have you ever smelled a soap that was just a bit unpleasant? Maybe the chemical smell was too strong, the floral scent pungent and unnatural. Or worse, has soap caused your skin to itch or dry out?
No one wants soap that smells funky, or that will irritate their skin, so it’s important that the fragrances in the kit you choose are all-natural. They should be made up not of chemicals, but of essential oils, plant resins, etc.
These will be much more refreshing scents, and they rarely cause skin irritation (some individuals may still experience allergies, so use care).
Next, you’ll need a large mold or several small molds for your sudsy brew. There are molds in just about every shape imaginable, but to start, you might want to begin with your classic cut-block bar. Basically, you make one very long soap block, from which you cut eat individual bar. Whatever suits your fancy, however!
Before you can get your melted soap into the molds, you’ll need a pitcher. This will allow you to pour with precision, ensuring that no hot soap spills out of the container. It’s important for both safety and convenience to have a proper pitcher that’s nice and heat-proof.