My best soap making tips, tricks and hacks.
We all love a good hack, short cut or trouble shooting tip so here is a quick round up of what I have learnt along the way that you can put to good use to make your soap making just that little bit easier. Some you may know, some may be new and if you have any of your own do let me in on the secret ! 😄
1. The most important in my eyes. There is no definitive right or wrong way to make soap. You may watch 10 videos and they all tell you something different about recipes, equipment, temperatures etc. They may all be correct (or may not depending on your source) but when you are first starting out this is where it becomes overwhelming. These are my top tips gleaned from years of trial and error and learning from multiple different sources.
2. Temperature is important but not as important as you may think. Oils and lye solution do not have to be within 10 degrees of each other as you may have read and certainly not the same. Indeed many people will soap with room temperature lye and counteract that with warmer oils. That is absolutely fine. More important is the end result you are trying to achieve. Do you want a thin batter for patterns and swirls? Soap cooler. Thick batter? Soap warmer. Using fruit purees or honey Ie sugar soap cooler.
3. Essential oils can be added in at any time, I add mine in after trace as that is my preference but if you have a tendancy to forget, add them into you melted oils.
4. Mix colourants such as clays, cocoa powder etc in to a runny paste with a little of your olive (or other liquid oils) Do not use melted coconut oil. It will set before you have chance to use it. If you forget then use a little water or vegetable glycerine. This will help it mix into your batter more easily.
5. You do not have to buy bottled or distilled water (at least not in the UK) Many soap makers use tap water, Filter it if you prefer. Save the planet from more plastic bottles and save some money.
6. A soap recipe does not have to be complicated to be lovely. 3 or 4 butters and oils will make a lovely bar.
7. Instagram is full of beautiful soaps created and curated by what I can only describe as the artists of the soap world. Do not let this put you off. Your bar of soap will be as lovely and cleansing as theirs and it will take much less time to make. Just because a potato is wonky does not make it taste different #justsaying ! If it helps I will never even try and make a bar of soap that looks like half of those I see on IG 😄
8. Washing up - the devils work. I used to leave my dishes for 2 days to turn to soap and then wash up. I have since changed my mind on this. I now scrape them out as much as I can, wipe with blue roll, then with a dry microfibre cloth or rags so they are virtually clean. Then wash in soapy water. It is much easier in the long run. Pop the cloths you use in the washing machine with a normal wash load.
9. Remember to burp your blender and try not incorporate air bubbles into your soap batter. And then tap your mould on the work top when full to eliminate as many air bubbles as you can.
10. When cutting your soap try not to use a serrated knife as that will leave drag lines. Also if you have use botanicals on top rest your soap on it's side or upside down when cutting as you will drag the botanicals through the soap otherwise.
11. Do not cure your cold process soap on metal trays - the soap may react with the metal as it is curing.
12. UK readers and coconut oil! Coconut oil will lull you in to a false sense of security and make you think it is a hard oil. It melts at 76 degrees c. In the summer it will melt all over your kitchen if not properly contained!
13. Do not try and mix dried flower petals in to your soap batter. They will go brown. Lavender buds end up looking like mouse droppings. Not a good look! The only exception to this is the yellow calendula (marigold) petals. Sadly not the orange ones - they also go brown. I tried!
14. The best way to reduce soda ash is to reduce water content. But wait until you get a couple of batches under your belt first as less water will give you less time to work with your soap batter. Run your soap recipe through soap calc and bring the water % down to around 26/27%. If you have a very high olive or liquid oil recipe you can do this any way. See how to use soap calc in this video.
15. Natural colours such as clays are always more subtle than micas etc. To make the most of natural colours try and ensure your soap gels right through. Soap at a slightly higher temperature initially - around 120f is good and wrap in a towel after moulding. If the air temperature is warm you may want to skip the towel as if it is too hot your soap will over heat and crack and split down the middle.
There are so many more of these I could probably come up with but for now these are all a great start.
And don't forget to share yours with me. Always learning in this job!
Still overwhelmed by soap making in general? You can purchase the Beginner Soap Making Video Coursetoday and join my student facebook support group for a quick way to learn everything you need to get started on that first batch and get that little bit of extra help if you need it. Step by step videos sent via a link directly into your email box explaining exactly what to do and more importantly why. Professionally recorded and accompanied by my Soap Making Made Easy E Book. The next best option to a hands on course.
If you fancy a sneak peek of the video course first check out the video below.