Monday, 8 January 2018

Some tips for new soapmakers

Judging by the comments on my last post about the Aloe and Cucumber Soap there seem to be a few readers who are interested in making their first batch of soap this year. I have been thinking about ways to do that frugally in case it turns out that those beginners didn't enjoy the process so here are a few tips so that you don't have too much expenditure.



Something you really do need is a set of digital scales that will weigh oils, lye etc. accurately. When I started making soap I bought mine from Big W and you can see some here which seem to be half price at the moment. There are a lot of sales on at the moment here in Australia and it is probably the same overseas so keep an eye out for good discounts. 




The next item you could buy is a thermometer. In Rhonda's instructions she mentioned a candy thermometer and I went all over town at the time trying to find one without success. Then I had a closer look at the one she had in a photo on her blog and realised it was the same as what was being sold for making coffee. These are readily available and aren't expensive so I bought one. However, I was thinking the other day that there is no need to buy one if you want to start off your soapmaking using the room temperature method. One of the young girls from our Simple Living Group uses this method all the time as it is the way she was taught and she sells her soap so it does work out okay. You can read about her workshop here.

I bought an old stainless steel saucepan from an Op Shop to mix my soap in so there is no need to buy something expensive.

Another essential item is a stick blender. There is one at Target for $15. Using one of these rather than mixing by hand etc. will save hours of time.

I buy my lye from Bunnings and because I make a lot of soap I buy the 2kg bottle of Diggers Caustic Soda but I am not sure if they are stocking it at the moment as they only seem to have the smaller containers 500g containers of different brands online at present but it should be available at another  hardware store. Coles has the Mechanix brand for $4.84 in the cleaning aisle. 



 

Then there are the oils. Since Rhonda mentioned on her blog Down to Earth a few years ago that she was using Copha instead of coconut oil I then switched over as it is much cheaper and haven't had any problems using it in a recipe. I am not sure what the equivalent is in the Northern Hemisphere though.

I keep an eye out for specials on the oils in the supermarket.  However I do buy my Castor Oil from N-essentials as it much cheaper to buy it from there than from the chemist. You probably wouldn't want or need to start off using Castor Oil though.
 
My first soap was based on the one in Rhonda's book 'Down to Earth' which I have mentioned before and the oils used were Olive Oil, Coconut Oil and Rice Bran Oil. I think it is similar to this one on her blog.



  I used her recipe a number of times until I was confident and then started experimenting with different recipes and eventually branched out into using scents and colours. I am not very adventurous though. LOL!




The soap moulds don't have to be expensive either. One of The Homemaker's Forum members was saying that KMart have some silicone moulds. I bought some of mine from The Reject Shop but they haven't stocked any for a while I believe. Here are some more ideas for using cartons etc. as soap moulds. As I have mentioned before I have also used an old Easiyo yoghurt container from the Op Shop lined with bubble wrap to get a honeycomb effect. It probably cost me 50c or so.

So there you go. I hope that gives you food for thought and I would love to hear from you about your first batch. Just ask any questions you have in the comments section and I will try to answer them and some of my other readers might be able to help as well. 

Happy soaping! 




13 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for the tips Nanna Chel.

    I have saved them to help me along with soap making.

    xTania

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    1. I can't wait to see what you make, Tania.

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  2. Great tips, I have everything I need. Just need to stop stalling!! Meg:)

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    1. Meg, just do it! :-) I printed out the instructions and worked carefully through each step when making my first few batches.

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  3. Chel I picked up a silicon mould from the reject shop last Friday. It is a gingerbread man mould. I have this put away to make some cinnamon soap for next Christmas for the little people. I have one proper soap mould and the rest came from Big W, Kmart and op shops.I have been using the room temp method for a while and am reasonably happy with the results. I am now experimenting to see if I can get a soap that doesnt go gloopy when wet. I do like playing around with the process.
    A bit of advice for those new to soap making from me, dont make soap with little people or fur babies around.

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    1. Jane I haven't been into the Reject Shop lately but I did see some silicone moulds in KMart today for $5. I make sure my soap isn't sitting water otherwise it goes gluggy. I have it on a wire rack in the shower.

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  4. Thank you! will give this a go next month. :-)

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  5. Can't wait to see what you come up with, Jenny.

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  6. Chel, thank you so much for this post. I have bought everything needed to make simple soaps but didn't do anything yet. I'm going to try the room temperature method. :)

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    1. Nil, just let us know on the forum how you go and if you have any problems as I am sure someone will be able to help.

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  7. I made another batch of soap for us last week and I will make another couple of batches soon. I use milk containers as moulds, and slice the soaps thickly so the bar of soap fits into our hands easily. For our own use I've been scenting it with eucalyptus oil and I love the fragrance in the shower and for washing our hair. The next batch will be for gifting so it will be sliced more neatly and scented with a lovely blend of essential oils. The only part of soap making that I don't enjoy is the endless beating and how long it takes to get to trace. Do you have any advice on why it seems to take ages? My stick blender gets so hot after a few minutes so I alternate with using a whisk while giving the blender a rest to cool down. Perhaps I need to buy a new one.

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    1. Sally, it only takes me a couple of minutes to get to trace so perhaps your stick blender is on the blink. My problem is trying to stop mine going to a thick trace too quickly if I am going to add colours and scent. I know it takes forever to get to trace when stirring by hand but it is a different story when using a stick blender.

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  8. There are so many helpful soap making tips here Chel, so I am saving this to pinterest for future reference when it is cooler and I have a go at this very useful activity. Thanks again, Pauline

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