Newbie Soapers Part 1

SO I am a member of a bunch of Facebook groups for soaping, bath & body products, etc. There are a few things that have become abundantly clear to me from watching newbies asking questions so I thought I would devote a bit of time to provide a little guidance.

If you decide to join soap groups you will find there are a lot of EGOS involved in some groups. There are certain people that believe they have the ONLY correct answers and if you disagree or do not readily agree with their comments, they will become quite snarky. IGNORE THEM! Do not ever take the word of ONE person no matter how knowledgeable they may sound. Always research and verify information. The reason I say this is because soap making is ever changing and what may have been true at one time may no longer be so. In that light I want to start with a few rules that NEVER change and a list to get you started.

Asking for a recipe in those same groups will get you some of the same very snarky answers! Some consider it very rude to ask and get quite offended. Others share freely whatever is asked. I fall somewhere in the middle. I am happy to share my early recipes with you but I have put considerable time and effort into perfecting my base recipe and I am not sharing that one. Even though giving the exact same recipe to two different soapers will give you different results I feel like my journey is not your journey and my recipe will not suit you. Perfecting a recipe is part of the journey of a soaper. I am happy to get you started and help you troubleshoot if you have issues but if you want your perfection you are going to need to invest some time into it.

 RULES! These rules NEVER change.

Safety First! I consider safety rules the only hard rules that NEVER EVER change! There are a ton of soapers that ignore this rule. WEAR GLOVES-this is one rule that I break because I am allergic to gloves and I have not found one that I can wear longer than a few minutes that does not break me out or if I can wear them I can't afford them so it is a no go! I wear gloves to dissolve my lye and then I take them off. I do not advocate this and I would wear them if I could so WEAR GLOVES!

Wear eye protection! You need safety glasses that are safe in chemical applications. Your eyes are precious and you need to protect them!

Use a mask or dissolve your lye under your exhaust fan or dissolve your lye outside. It will get super hot, like over 200 degrees hot, and produce a vapor that will make you sick if you inhale it. It is not recommended that you use glass to dissolve your lye. The lye will etch the glass and it will get brittle and may break during use which is dangerous. Stainless steel or HDPE plastic is recommended. NEVER EVER EVER USE ALUMINUM!!!!!!!

Cover your arms! Soap batter can splash and splatter and your arms above your gloves are a prime target for these mishaps. Some advocate wearing a full apron and it is fine but I don't and will leave that decision to the individual. Know this: LYE CAN BE DANGEROUS IF NOT HANDLED PROPERLY! IT WILL SOAK THROUGH FABRIC AND BURN YOUR SKIN!!!!

In the event of a lye mishap, FLUSH WITH LOTS OF WATER!!!! You will see information saying to use vinegar to neutralize the lye BUT if you read the MSDS for your lye it will tell you to flush with water as it is the safest and preferred method. Vinegar will neutralize lye but it heats up when it does which can cause additional burns! Be smart and listen to the manufacturer! Use water!!!!

Equipment

Now what I am about to tell you is controversial.

When you are starting out you do NOT need dedicated utensils! That's right! I said it!

You will have people tell you that once lye has touched it they will never use if for food. I say BS! If you are first starting and you do not even KNOW that you LIKE making soap then WHY spend a ton of money on items you can never use again? Silly and wasteful in my opinion. Now once you fall in love (and you will) you need dedicated utensils! WHY? Because over time lye will etch your bowls, crock, etc. A few batches will not matter but more than that you need to make an investment.

Also, lye is used in FOOD! That's right! Those noodles and soft pretzels you love so much are made with LYE! It is the reason there is FOOD GRADE LYE! Once you make your soap, leave your utensils sitting overnight and guess what? All that left over batter will become SOAP just like the batter you poured into your mold. Unless you made an error and your soap is lye heavy then there is NO LYE LEFT IN THE POT! Run some hot water in there and it is a great way to test your soap before you cut it! I would be more worried about residue from eo or fo left in the pot. Wash it really really well if you are going to use it for food. Thrift stores and yard sales are a great place to find items on the cheap to use for soaping.

You will need the following:

SAFETY GEAR! (see above)

A good scale that measures to at least .00 (Sorry there is no getting around this one, if you are measuring ingredients you need a good scale!)

Bowl or crock pot (depending on your method CP-bowl or HP-crock)

Spatula

Stainless steel whisk or a stickblender

Mold (see note below)*

Sodium Hydroxide (lye) (see note below)**

Distilled water

Oils

EO/FO if desired

*A word about molds. You can use just about ANYTHING for a mold! I used a drawer organizer lined with freezer paper for my first mold. You can use a cardboard box. Anything that will hold your batter. Just line it with freezer paper and pour in your batter! DO NOT USE WAX PAPER! The wax on wax paper can stick to your soap and make it hard to remove! Also do not use anything ALUMINUM! Aluminum reacts with lye! Stainless steel only!

**Lye and where to get it! Lye is a hazardous material and shipping is EXPENSIVE! Your local mom and pop hardware store may carry 100% lye drain cleaner. You can use it as long as it is 100% sodium hydroxide and NOTHING ELSE! There should not be any other ingredient listed! There are many vendors online that sell sodium hydroxide. I like Duda Diesel personally but where you live makes a huge difference in shipping! Shop around to find the best deal for your area.

This is a good start but you should always do lots of research!

Peace out!

Wendy