On My Soap Box
Why should I pay for a soap making course when there are so many free resources online?
There are so many free soap making resources on line it would be easy to think paying for a course is a waste of money.
Don't get me wrong, I like a freebie as much as the next person and I'm also guilty of falling down the Google rabbit hole on many an occasion when wanting to learn something new but I firmly believe there are some subjects where this is a false economy and soap making is one of them.
I had this discussion with my teenage son just last week, he was adamant he could hop on Wikihow, look up how to make soap and all would become clear. I told him to go ahead and do it. Half way through the first article he realised it was how to make melt and pour soap (not the same thing, melt and pour is pretty much melting soap someone else has made, adding some fragrance and then putting it in your own mould), the second article told him he could use a glass jug for mixing his lye, every seasoned soap maker will know this is a big no no as the extreme heat generated very quickly can cause even a pyrex jug to shatter. This article also quoted a figure of nearly 8% essential oils which is absolutely horrifying, the limit in the EU is a maximum is 3% and many essential oils have a much lower limit than that depending on the allergens they contain. I could go on but you get my point, the internet can be a dangerous place.
Whilst I spent my fair share of time on Google when I started learning to make my own soap (I do recognise that there are some excellent resources out there as well as the appalling ones) I invested in an online video course because I found wading through the conflicting information on the internet overwhelming and time consuming and I needed a one source provides all approach. It is fair to say that each soap maker has their own method and approach to making handmade soap and none of them are necessarily wrong however when you are first starting out it is so much easier to have a one set of directions to set you on your way. Whilst that video course was not the best I've ever seen it did give me enough information to be able to make my first soap safely and successfully and a good understanding of the basics that I needed to know.
With all the above in mind these are 5 good reasons why you should pay for that soap making course.
1 Most importantly, because you will receive all the information you need to make your first batch of soap safely. So many free resources online demonstrate the process to you but do not cover any of the safety aspects, I have covered the glass jug scenario but are you aware that you cannot just alter your recipe, even by a small amount without running it through a soap calculator again to make sure you have the correct amount of sodium hydroxide to convert your ingredients to soap. I imagine not - and it would be an easy mistake to make, after all, when baking who has has used an extra bit of milk when they've not had large eggs? Yes I am guilty of that. It is not the best analogy but surely 50g of shea butter instead of cocoa butter can't make that much difference. Unfortunately yes it can, not only can it upset the whole balance of your soap bar but the amount of sodium hydroxide needed would change.
2 Because you will get safe recipes that have already been tested to use.The recipe I provide in my workshops and in my online resources has been used multiple times and I know they will make a lovely safe bar of soap. so often I read of new soap makers who pick random recipes from the internet with little knowledge or the ability to check this recipe and their first batch of soap is unusable or even worse dangerous, if you use the wrong amount of sodium hydroxide in your soap you can end up with a bar which is potentially caustic and cause you harm therefore you really need to know that the source you are getting your information from has the necessary experience to advise you. It is for this reason that I always tell my students to run a new recipe through a soap calculator before using it, mistakes and misprints occur all too easily. (If you need a demonstration on how to use a soap calculator I have one on You Tube here
3 Because (if you take my courses) you will get support from me and the ability to ask any questions after you have been on or purchased your course. I have a private facebook group which is open to all students where you can hop in, ask questions and I also love it when you share your soap making wins. You can also rest assured that I have the experience, knowledge and skills needed to get you to that milestone of your first loaf of handmade soap.
Learning in a workshop environment means everything you need is to hand for your first batch of soap.
4 If you're in the UK and take a course with me or any other good soap maker you will get information that is relevant to the legislation in this country. The majority of soap making resources on the internet originate from the US where they have very different regulations to us, and it even varies from state to state over there. I would absolutely use US resources for learning how to create amazing patterns and swirls, they have some true artists in this field, but for the initial learning process it really is better to stick with someone who has knowledge of the EU/UK regulations if you are on this side of the pond.
5. Because very often if we have paid for the course or for information we are more likely to use it. We are all guilty of this, me included, how many times have you downloaded free information or downloads and then not even opened the email to read the content. By paying for a course you are investing in yourself and in learning a fantastic new skill which is also a practical product that we are always going to need.
BONUS POINT. You will save yourself months trying to work it all out for yourself.
What should you look out for when looking for your soap making teacher?
Certainly experienced and ideally within the country that you live. There are no official qualifications when it comes to soap making. Many resources will claim to issue certification however this is not of any formal value other than your personal achievement.
If your teacher already has a soap making business or has had a soap making business in the past and and moved on purely to to become a full-time teacher this will be a really good start but it's not just about the knowledge and experience, it is also about genuinely wanting you to succeed, helping you along the way and answering any questions even after you have purchased your course.
That's not to say you can can expect your teacher to go beyond the realms of normal expectations, for example if you were looking to start your own business it may be that an additional course is required to provide you with sufficient in-depth information for you to make that next step but they may well be happy to point you in the right direction.
An established teacher will almost certainly have reviews from previous students you can read through, or even have featured in blogs. For example, Amanda from www.lovemyfootprints.co.uk attended one of my workshops this year and wrote this lovely blog about her experience. It also gives you a really good insight of what to expect.
That is just a short guide, I am sure there are many other positives when it comes to investing in some expert tuition but above all it is also fun. When the stress and overwhelm are taken out of learning the process you can relax and just be creative, forget your worries for a couple of hours and produce a beautiful batch of soap too at the same time.