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Beginner Soapmaking Tips

When starting a new craft, we all prefer to avoid costly pitfalls and mistakes, so we’d like to pass along some of the things we’ve learned over the years.

  • Only use fragrances that are bath & body safe.
    (Elements Bath and Body fragrances all clearly state in their description if they are safe for soap or cosmetics, or intended for use in candles only.)
     
  • Never use aluminum pots, bowls or cookie sheets when making Cold Process soap.
    (Aluminum is not compatible with the alkalinity of CP soap and will react with lye to produce hydrogen gas.)
     
  • Weigh out harder oils and butters first & melt then add your liquid oils after to help cool everything down.
     
  • The smaller the batch, the more precise with measurements you must be.
    (If you’re off by just a little bit in a 16 oz batch, it can have a much more noticeable effect than if it was a 5 or a 10 lb batch.)
     
  • Resist the compulsion to clean up pots & utensils immediately. Simply wipe with a cloth or paper towel and leave to saponify overnight. Clean up in the morning is a breeze AND it won’t clog your drain.
    (It’s still a good idea to clean off your stick blender right away with hot water and a good degreasing dish soap because if you let the soapy residue harden, it’s more difficult to get off the blades and the thickness of it tends to mean a longer soaking if you leave that until the next day.)
     
  • Write down the empty weight of your soap making containers to help you out if you think you may have missed a step.
    (This way if you think you forgot an oil or butter when making the soap, you can just weigh your pot with ingredients then simply subtract the weight of your pot and you’ll know exactly how much oil and butters you have weighed out.)
     
  • Add your fragrance to your oils before you add the lye.
    (Adding the fragrance this way ensure it mixes in thoroughly and evenly.)
     
  • When making your lye water, use ice as a third of the measured volume of water.
    (Ice weighs the same as water so you won’t have a problem with measuring, and cooldown is much quicker. Just add the lye slowly and stir, stir, stir, or you could end up with clumps of hardened lye at the bottom of your container.)