Learning How to Make Your Own Soap is Easier Than You Think

If you love the idea of making your own bars of soap by hand at home, then this is the perfect guide for you. Get started and learn everything you need to know, including some great scents and ingredient combinations.

As Australians become more conscious of the ingredients they use in their everyday skincare products, small batch and handmade soaps have become more and more popular. If you’re yet to jump on the bandwagon, making your own soap or using a small-batch local supplier will help you know exactly what’s on your skin. You’ll also help cut down our usage of palm oil.

If you’re new to the craft, it may seem like a complicated process, but we’ve created this simple guide to show you how to make your own soap from scratch with ease.

Feature Image by silviarita from Pixabay

Different Soap Making Methods

There are three main techniques when it comes to making soap, with some suited for more advanced soap makers. The hot process and cold process soap making methods involve using a lye solution. 

Lye, which often comes in pellet or powder form, is what gives soap its cleansing properties, but can be dangerous to work with. It’s important to always wear safety goggles, long-sleeved clothing and gloves when working with the material. You’ll need to head to a hardware store to buy lye. 

Whichever method you choose, ensure you’re prepared before you get started, including having all your ingredients and moulds ready to go. Also ensure you’re in a well-ventilated area.

1. Hot Process Soap Making Method

The hot process of making soap involves bringing the ingredients to a gel phase before adding it to the mould. As this process uses chemicals, novice soap-makers may want to practice with more beginner friendly techniques before attempting this process.

The hot process is quite versatile and allows the user to cook the soap on the stove, in the oven or even in a slow cooker.

What you’ll need:

  • Distilled water.
  • Lye.
  • Solid and liquid oils or fats.
  • Essential oils or desired added scents.

How to make soap using the hot process soap method:

  1. Measure out all ingredients.
  2. Prepare the lye solution by slowly pouring the lye into the water. Stir until the lye crystals are dissolved.
  3. Slowly melt any solid oils in a separate pot and slowly mix in any liquid oils.
  4. Slowly pour the lye solution into the oil mixture, and whisk until incorporated and thickened, creating a medium trace. You may use a stick blender.
  5. Cook the soap on a low heat until it forms a gel-like texture. Keep an eye on it during the cooking time.
  6. Remove from heat and add any oils, colourings or other additives.
  7. Pour into moulds, cover and allow to cool for 48 to 72 hours.
  8. Remove from mould once cool and cut into bars. Bars can be used immediately or cured by leaving in a cool place for several weeks to produce a milder soap.

2. Cold Process Soap Making Method

The cold process is similar to the hot process and will use the same basic ingredients, but does not require an external heat source after incorporating all ingredients. This process takes longer than the hot process.

What you’ll need:

  • Distilled water.
  • Lye.
  • Solid and liquid oils or fats.
  • Essential oils or desired added scents.

How to make soap using the cold process soap method:

  1. Before starting, measure out each ingredient. 
  2. To prepare the lye solution, slowly pouring the lye into a container of distilled water.
  3. Stir until the lye crystals have dissolved and allow to cool.
  4. Slowly melt any solid oils in a separate pot and slowly mix in any liquid oils and let cool.
  5. Carefully add the lye solution to the oils and using a stick blender or whisk, mixing until fully combined, but stop before the mixture splits.
  6. Pour into a mould and allow to set completely.

3. Melt & Pour Soap Making Method

The melt and pour soap making method is one of the easiest, so it’s perfect for the novice soap maker. This technique involves melting soap solids and adding your own fragrances in before adding to a mould.

What you will need:

  • A soap base such as a clear or what soap melt.
  • Desired oils, fragrances and other additives.

How to make soap using the melt and pour soap method:

  1. Cut your soap base into small, uniform cubes.
  2. In a pot, slowly melt the soap over a low heat, stirring regularly. You can also do this in a microwave in short bursts, stirring thoroughly between each round.
  3. Once melted, add desired ingredients and scents.
  4. Slowly pour into a pre-prepared mould and leave to cool and set.
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Why You Should Learn How to Make Soap

1. It’ll save you a tonne of money in the long term.

At first glance, purchasing the supplies needed to make your own soap may seem pricey. You need to buy moulds, ingredients and oils to get started, but soon you’ll find you’re making large batches of good-quality soap, which will save you in the long run.For those looking to start this new hobby on a budget, you can search local op shops for second-hand baking moulds, or even try your hand at growing your own herbs or other produce and use as scents in the soap.

2. Soap makes the perfect gift.

Do you know anyone who wouldn’t love a deliciously fragrant-smelling soup you’ve lovingly handcrafted to their favourite scents? Soap is the perfect gift for birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s Day, or just because.

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3. You know what ingredients you’re putting on your skin.

Especially for those with sensitive skin, it’s important to know exactly what we’re putting on our skin. Even better, you can tailor your soap recipe to add specific ingredients to help nourish or exfoliate your skin, so you’re silky smooth and smelling lush.

4. Reduce your use of packaging

Reducing the amount of plastic packing we consume when buying food and other products is something we should all strive towards. If you plan to sell your soap at markets or give as a gift, you can wrap your bars of soap in paper packaging, tie a ribbon around them, or just leave them naked.

What ingredients and scents should you use in soap?

There is no limit to what types of scents and ingredients you use in your soap. You may wish to keep it simple or build layer upon layer of scents. You can easily tailor your recipe to include whatever fragrance and ingredients you want, as well as add colouring.

Classic scents such as lavender or citrus are always a crowd pleaser. Or, try experimenting with blending some of your favourite combinations, like strawberries and vanilla or coconut and lime. Alternatively, you could opt for something a bit different like coffee or chocolate.

Ingredients for stress-relieving soap:

  • Lavender.
  • Chamomile.
  • Spearmint.

Ingredients for exfoliating soap:

  • Oatmeal.
  • Coffee.
  • Sugar.

Ingredients for moisturising soap:

  • Shea butter.
  • Cocoa butter.
  • Almond oil.

Ingredients for anti-inflammation soap:

  • Alchemilla oil.
  • Chamomile.
  • Coffee.

Ingredients for anti-bacterial soap:

  • Eucalyptus.
  • Thyme.
  • Honey .

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      Brit McDowell

      Lifestyle Specialist & Subject Matter Expert

      Brit McDowell is a Subject Matter Expert at Localsearch with a background in marketing, business and tourism management. Aside from her specialisation in technical processes, Brit is known for her green thumb and growing succulent collection, love of dogs (especially Dalmatians), eye for home interior and fervour for travel. Brit is also a Lifestyle Specialist on the Localsearch Blog and enjoys sharing her research and knowledge in home and gardening services, food, beauty and general lifestyle tips and tricks.