When it comes to the question how to make soap at home, you can be recommended one of the 3 basic methods, depending on the type of soapmaker you ask…

 

Only one of the methods describes how to make soap from scratch  – this means from the most basic ingredients by a reaction called saponification (explained in my previous post).

 

I believe each soapmaker has tried – or will try – at least two of the three methods on how to make soap, but generally prefers one of them.

How to make soap

 

  • for the record, I am the method 2 and a bit of method 3 soapmaker
  • funny fact – the type 2 soapmakers often do not consider type 1 or type 3 as real soapmakers… (unless they make their soap bases on their own…)
  • funny fact 2 – despite that all type 2 soapmakers are sometimes forced to use the method 3 – it is the best way how to save a batch of soap that went wrong…

 

1. USING MELT&POUR SOAP BASE

 

In this methid you work with a meltable soap base, purchased from suppliers of hobby materials.

This soapmaking method is called “melt & mold” or “melt & pour (M & P) and consists of:

  • melting the transparent or opaque soap base – often in a microwave, but can be on stove
  • adding colorants, fragrances, or other ingredients of choice (oils, herbs, rubber toys for children, other decorative ornaments) 
  • pouring the final mix into a mold (molds) – the pouring can be done in very creative fashion, often layers of different colors are produced

Advantages: 
+ Easy 
+ No use of potentially hazardous materials such as NaOH (method 2)
+ Also for children
+ Worthy to make one soap bar
 

Disadvantages:
No influence of the soap base composition
Dependency on a specialized supplier
More expensive for large batches
The soap base contains emulsifiers and often not very natural ingredients like propylene glycol etc… in order to make it meltable without adding water (the real soap is not easily melted)

 

What type of soap can be made:

1) Bar soap – opaque or transparent
2) Liquid soap
3) Whipped soap
4) Milk soap

…maybe some others, but I am not aware of these.

2. SERIOUSLY FROM SCRATCH

 

In  this method you make soap from the very raw materials, by the process called saponification.
Saponification is a chemical reaction of lye (sodium or potassium hydroxide + water) and natural oils/fats (vegetable or animal).
These two compounds when mixed together create soap + glycerin. I explained this briefly in THIS POST and will go more in detail in one of the future posts.
There are different techniques that permit to make any type of soap, which I will explain in detail in a future post dedicated to from scratch soapmaking.
All techniques, share these basic steps:
  • mixing lye – dissolving pellets of pure NaOH in distilled water (can be other liquid, like milk, herbal infusion…etc)
  • preparation of fats and oils (melting fats – if any – and mixing with oils)
  • pouring lye into fats/oils and stirring until emulsion takes place (like when you make mayonnaise)
  • adding colorants, fragrances, or other ingredients of choice (herbs, …)
  • pouring the final mix into a mold (molds) – the pouring can be done in very creative fashion, layers of different colors can be produced

Advantages: 
+ Influencing the composition of the soap itself
+ Production of a wide range of different types of soap – see list below
+ Very advantageous for large batches

Disadvantages: 

– May take more time than M&P (depends on the soap type)
– Handling the caustic soda/potash
– Have to make larger batches (not really designed for “one soap bar” production, although it is possible)

What type of soap can be made:

  • Solid soap bar (transparent or opaque or a combination of the two)
  • Liquid soap (transparent or opaque)
  • Cream soap (like a liquid, but denser consistency, as what is used for shaving)
  • Whipped soap – floats on the water!
  • Milk soap (actually a subtype of a solid soap bar) 
  • Meltable soap base for melt & pour method

 

3. REBATCHING

 

This method lies somewhere between the two categories described above.

The main ingredient is an already finished soap, preferably fresh (or stored right after being made so that it does not loose much water and can be easily melted in water).

Basic steps:

  • grating the soap (often made from scratch in advance)
  • dissolving grated soap in small amount of water or other liquid (often milk) by heating and occasional stirring
  • Finally, when soap is soft enough – adding colorants, fragrances, or other ingredients of choice
  • blending to a homogenous consistency
  • pouring to molds

 

Advantages:

+ an unscented soap can be prepared in advance from scratch and therefore we can control the ingredients

+ we do not have to handle lye

+ sensitive fragrances and essential oils that would not survive alkaline conditions in the process from scratch can be added without problem, therefore less fragrance is needed

+ sensitive soap colors can survive better

+ is the easiest way how to add milk!

+ we do not have to worry about problems with sensitivity of other ingredients to strongly alkaline conditions

+ can be done with children

 

Disadvantages

– soap is less liquid, therefore more subtle swirl patterns are difficult to make

– usually, a preparation of soap by method from scratch must be done – but you can also buy grated soap

 

Which methods do you prefer? I will happily read your opinion, just write me a comment below.

Long live your bar of soap!

 

Evik