Essential Materials for Soap Making

Handcrafted, homemade bars of soap

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If you want to try making some of your own soap at home, you'll find that a lot of the tools and equipment are probably already in your kitchen. If not, check your nearby thrift store, dollar store or discount retailer. Once you get hooked on soap making (and you probably will) you can invest in some good equipment, but to get started, just find the cheapest available.

Materials You Will Need

  • An accurate scale, ideally one that measures to 1/10th of an ounce. The scale is for measuring everything including the oils, lye, fragrance, additives and even your water. Accurate measurement is key to successful soap making.
  • Safety goggles and rubber gloves to protect your eyes and hands from the lye solution and the caustic raw soap. Do not skimp or skip here; you absolutely must have good safety equipment to make soap.
  • A 2-3 quart heat-resistant plastic or stainless steel pitcher with lid: for mixing up your lye solution (try clear plastic), clearly labeled "danger lye."
  • A large stainless steel or plastic spoon for stirring the lye solution.
  • Large Pyrex pitcher or stainless steel pot: If you're making small batches (2-3 lbs) of soap, you can start with a large Pyrex pitcher to mix everything in. If you want to make bigger batches, you'll need an 8-12 quart stainless steel pot (Your "Soap Pot") with lid for melting your oils and blending the soap.
  • Another 2-3 quart glass: A plastic bowl or pitcher (large Pyrex pitchers work great), or a large bowl for measuring and holding your liquid oils before you add them to the soap pot.
  • An accurate, quick-reading thermometer for monitoring the temperature of the lye solution and the melted oils.
  • Stainless steel measuring spoons to measure the fragrance or essential oils, colorants and/or additives.
  • A few small beakers, ramekins or measuring cups to hold the fragrance/essential oils, colorants, separated soap, and/or additives before you add them to the soap pot.
  • A few miscellaneous spoons or small whisks to blend colorants or fragrance oils with melted oil before you add them to the soap.
  • A large stainless steel or plastic ladle to ladle out a bit of the raw soap to blend colorants.
  • A Stick blender to blend the oils with the lye mixture and start the saponification process.
  • A soap mold to pour your raw soap into a mold (many different options here, from a commercial soap mold to yogurt cups, a shoe box, or Tupperware container), or any leak-proof container made of plastic, glass or stainless steel. Wood or cardboard molds can be used too if they are first lined with freezer paper.
  • A couple of rubber spatulas to scrape any last bits of soap out of the pot.
  • Paper towels or dishcloths to wipe up the inevitable spills.

As you make more batches of soap, you'll tailor your tools to fit your particular soap making style, but this is a good basic setup that should accommodate most soap projects.