Although it’s easy to buy soap at any pharmacy or even body care store, there’s nothing quite like making your own — whether it’s for yourself or for someone else as gift.
Not only is it a heartfelt gift to give, it’s incredibly affordable. Fancy soap stores will force you to shell out a huge amount for their soaps. Why not make your own at the fraction of the price? For the price of one bar of soap at a specialty shop, you can make 10 (or more!) bars of your own.
At the very basic level, soap-making is the combination of fats (either vegetable or animal) with a strong alkaline, most commonly: lye. Saponification, or the chemical reaction between these two elements, is the official name of this process.
Beginners usually start with the “melt and pour” method, as this is the easiest way to start. You should start with a prepackaged base, which you melt in the microwave or stovetop, and then add the rest: color, flavor, minerals, herbs, or whatever you want. Then, pour the mixture into a mold and let it cool for several hours. The soap can then be used once it has completely hardened.
The more traditional and advanced way of making soap involves the “cold process” method. This process involves mixing oils with lye or other base solutions. Lye is dangerous to work with as it is caustic and burns skins, so it is important to work with the proper safety measures. The benefits of using this process include having more control over ingredients and also creating much longer lasting soap. On the other hand, these soaps take about 4 to 6 weeks to cure fully, so you’ll need some patience!