How I like to make things as complicated as possible.

I’ve wanted to try soapmaking for nearly two years now. You might be familiar with my salt bombs: small salt-studded soaps encased in a huge bath bomb. Those soaps are strictly handmade, though. I made them using a melt-and-pour glycerin soap base, the kind of thing you’ll find in a craft store near the candles. I was still adding my own color and fragrance blends, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t really mine. I knew I wanted to make my own real, handcrafted, cold-process soap.

So I researched. A lot. I mean, a lot. I spent over a year watching tutorials, reading books, scrolling through forum after forum for tips and tricks, memorizing possible troubleshooting issues and techniques. I also learn that the kind of soap I wanted to make, with its high sea salt content and difficult fragrance, is a highly advanced soap to make. I slowly gathered ingredients and equipment, but over and over I kept putting it off.

Then, as I mentioned in my previous post, I took the salt bombs off my website (read about why here). I decided to take the opportunity to finally make soap. I won’t bore you with the details, but I finally did it! They’re not perfect, but they came out pretty darn well for a first-timer if I do say so myself:

As you can see, there are a few duds in there, but all in all, I’ve very pleased. I’ve made several more batches since, and I’ve learned so much. I’m very happy that i spent so long researching. I have a terrible tendency to just jump into things, but I know I’ve saved myself a lot of money and a lot of grief by obsessively consuming all things soapmaking before trying it myself. That is my #1 tip: learn for at least a year before attempting cold- or hot-process soap.

My #2 tip: don’t make the soap I did. First of all, I wouldn’t suggest making as many scents and colors as I did, but because I have three different salt bombs that I’m trying to get back into my store, I made three all at once. But don’t do that. Learn to make one really well, then move on to another. And definitely don’t make salt bars. They really aren’t beginner-friendly. Start with a nice liquidy recipe.

I am quite obviously not an expert on the subject. There are lots and lots of great soapmakers out there who can teach you, though. Watch them all. YouTube is the greatest source of my education, hands down.

Do you make soap? Any tips for a soaping newbie like me? Leave them in the comments!

~M

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2 thoughts on “Soapmaking: A Beginner’s Experience

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