Top 25 secret tips on how to make soap at home

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I’ve learned the hard way over the years by making many mistakes along the way. But I believe the mistakes help me learn how to deal with the failures. So during the years that I’ve been making soap, mistakes and successes, I’ve picked up some tips that I’d love to share with you.

25 Secrets for Great Homemade Soap

  • Add a small amount of sunflower oil instead of Vitamin E. Sunflower oil is naturally high in Vitamin E and has other nutrients that are good for your skin.
  • Grease your molds before you start. I’ve had some batches that trace long before they should and I don’t have the molds prepared yet. Save time and effort by greasing them ahead of time. (Silicone molds don’t require greasing.)
  • Measure all your ingredients ahead of time. Not only does it speed up the process, it will also allow you to see if you’re missing something and need to run out and get it.
  • Mix powdered pigments with oil. There will be less lumps than if you use water. Mix powdered goat’s milk and other ingredients with oil as well for the same reason.
  • Don’t allow your supplies to run out. If you make a lot of soap (like I do!), pick up extra oils or oatmeal when you do your weekly shopping. It makes it much less of a chance for running out.
  • Add a small amount of beeswax to prevent soda ash, or use plastic wrap on top of the new soap before you close it for the first rest period. The plastic wrap must be touching the soap for the soda ash to be eliminated.
  • Or – use the soda ash for a decorative effect, such as foam on the waves of beach soap.
  • Mix your lye ahead of time and let it cool. Just be sure to label it!! I’ve made several batches now with cold lye. If the lye is 75° then compensate temperature by making your oils 125°. One will balance the other and end up about 100° which is exactly where you want it.
  • Buy ingredients in bulk. If you make a lot of soap, it will pay in the long run.
  • Get a cutting board just for cutting soap. Then there will be no chance of getting soap remains on your chicken, or vice versa, getting onions on your soap.
  • Draw lines on this cutting board to aid in cutting your soap. No guesswork on straight lines.
  • Buy wholesale. In addition to buying bulk, get a wholesale tax number so that you can buy from sources that only sell to businesses. Even for a small business, it can make a big difference in expenses.
  • Warm up honey before adding to soap. Cold honey will congeal and possibly stay in clumps.
  • Mix Vitamin E oil (or sunflower oil!) with dried herbs to help preserve the color. Eventually most all herbs will turn brown, but this helps to slow the process.
  • Prepare your extra additions ahead of time. As with the molds, sometimes the soap traces quickly and you need to add your additives sooner than expected.
  • Use a lye calculator. Many websites have lye calculators to help you figure out how much lye you need to make certain oils into soap. (See one here.)
  • Pour vinegar on clean rags or baby wipes for convenience. No matter how careful I am, sometimes I get a few beads of lye on me. Vinegar will help to neutralize the lye. You can even make your own baby wipes using this recipe.
  • Wait 3-5 days to clean your soap-making equipment. If you try to clean them right away, you’ll just have a greasy mess and you’ll get raw lye on your hands. If you wait, the grease and lye will turn to soap. After a few days, just soak everything in hot water. I usually don’t even have to scrub!
  • Donate imperfect bars to a homeless shelter or food bank. We have a local organization that helps people after a fire. They are always in need of personal care items. I donate my imperfect bars to local organizations and give people a chance to use good soap.
  • Shop thrift stores for blankets for cleanup and covering soap. Thrift stores always have old flannel cotton baby blankets that are stained and no one seems to want them. I don’t care about stains, as I’ll likely be adding more. They are cheap and very absorbent.
  • Save up all your soap making towels and blankets for one laundry load. No need to use detergent – they already have soap on them. Use hot water and turn you washer off after it agitates a bit. Let them soak until cool and then finish the cycle. I don’t use softener either. The natural glycerin in soap acts as a fabric softener.
  • Use silicone molds. (This one makes a nice bar shape.) Soap is easily removed from them. No freezing or chipping out with a knife.
  • Sniff some coffee before checking the scent in your soap a final time. Coffee will clear your nose and give you a true sense of the scent. After you get the scent exactly where you want it, add a bit more. Lye tends to “eat” some of the scent leaving some bars too faint.
  • Don’t stint on the first stirring. It’s essential to get all of the lye in contact with all of the oil, so you should stir by hand for at least the first 5 minutes. After that, a stick blender can be used.
  • Have fun! Don’t get caught up in making the perfect bar. You might miss out on something good.
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