Learn 25 excellent tips for making soap from expert soap maker Deb Maslowski. Her advice will help you avoid pitfalls and make great soap!
By now you all know I’m a soap maker.
Any free time I have I spend making, unmolding, wrapping, or researching how to make soap at home. Ok, so I do spend time in my herb garden, but then the herbs are dried to put into the soap.
Along the way, I’ve found many things that either work or don’t. A few months ago I shared some of my best tips with you (see them here), but then I realized that I had left some out. So here are 25 MORE tips to make your soap making life easier!
25 More Soap Making Tips
- Pay attention to your stick blender (aka immersion blender). If the noise changes drastically (some change is normal, but a screeching or grinding noise is not!), or if it heats up considerably, stop. Either let it cool down or switch to using another one.
- If you’ll be doing a lot of soap making, get another stick blender so you can switch as mentioned above. (Look for them at thrift stores.)
- When you’re blending your soap, keep going until all of the graininess is gone. I used to stop as soon as it was thick enough, fearing it becoming too thick to handle. And sometimes my soap was crumbly. I discovered not too long ago that if you keep going until your soap is creamy and not at all grainy, it will turn out nice and smooth nearly every time.
- Infuse natural color into your oil with turmeric, cocoa, or cinnamon. Use this oil as a base oil, not as an additive for more color punch.
- Use herbs that are in season for the freshest scents and best value.
- Turmeric is also an antioxidant, stalling rancidity in soap.
- Cover your scale with plastic wrap to keep oil from getting inside and store it inside a zippered plastic bag.
- Don’t worry so much about temperatures. I used to agonize about getting everything just right. Now I prepare the lye ahead of time and warm the oils just enough to melt them. It works just fine.
- Do you have a really cool mold that just won’t sit flat on the table? Take a kitty litter pan (unused) and fill it half full with sand. Make indentations where the lower parts of the mold are and settle them down inside. (This works great for candle molds too.)
- Laminate your soap recipes so that you can wipe off any spills.
- Use dry erase markers to make changes to your laminated recipe until you can print out a new one.
- Take an old towel and cut it into washcloth-sized pieces. Keep them handy for spills.
- Be sure to soak all of your soap making equipment before you put any of it in the dishwasher. Just a bit of excess soap will lead to tons of suds!
- Label everything! I always think I’ll remember what type of soaps I’ve made, but sometimes I don’t.
- Mix up 3-4 batches of oils at a time. Weigh out all of one batch so you know how much you’ll need. Then when you go to make soap the next time, just pour out what you need.
- Place a clear tablecloth from the dollar store on top of your work surface. Clean up is a snap!
- Have some soap that works great but is just blah? Wrap a few pieces in colored paper (be sure it’s non-toxic!) and place them in a zippered plastic bag for a few days. You’ll get some interesting patterns.
- If you’re experimenting with additives, try a batch of melt and pour soap to see how you like the new additives. Or try a half-batch of cold process so too many ingredients don’t get wasted if you don’t like it.
- Never add water to lye, always add lye to water. Adding water to the lye can cause a massive heat build-up and can lead to an explosion.
- Measure the weights of all of your containers and write them on the bottom. If you forget where you are, you can weigh the whole thing and subtract the container to see what’s left.
- Label all of your equipment for soap making so it doesn’t get mixed up with your cooking utensils. I used to think that if I cleaned it enough it would be ok. It’s soap, right? Not true. Lye can etch glass and weaken it and plastics can carry the smell and color forever.
- To get easy swirls, treat your soap base like a cake mix. Pull out about 1/3, add color and plop it back onto the top of the rest of the soap. Take a knife or a spatula and make swirls, making sure to hit the bottom as well as the top.
- Carrot seed oil and rosemary extract will also act as preservatives.
- Take a bit of color and dab it onto a flannel cloth. Rub the top of the soap with it like rubbing furniture. This works great with mica.
- If you’re working with well water, use a bit more lye. If you don’t, lye will eat the minerals first and there may not be enough to make the oil into soap, and your soap may come out greasy and soft. Or just use distilled or rainwater.
Have you come across any good soap making tips?
If so, share with us in the comments section!