Thinking About Learning How to Make Soap?
When my interest in soap making first peaked years ago, it quickly fizzled out when I was given a book about beginner soap making. One would think that would have the opposite effect, but instead of inspiring me and giving me the confidence to start soap making it did the opposite.
I was completely deflated after reading how I need to buy a few hundred dollars of equipment and find a large space to dry/cure my homemade soap bars for weeks.
And all the safety guidelines about making soap with lye scared the wits out of me!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed after all your research on how to make soap, let me tell you there is another way. A much easier way to make homemade soap without lye worries or expensive soap making supplies and equipment.
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Can You Really Make Soap without Lye?
Not exactly, here’s the thing-
I know a lot of people search for ways on how to make soap without lye from scratch. And after you’ve read the safety concerns for lye and soap making, as I did it would seem like the best solution.
First, let me point out that lye is not a bad soap ingredient. I know when you are striving to make a healthier home and lead a healthier, low-tox life you’ve come accustomed to avoiding the bad stuff like parabens and petroleum.
But, lye isn’t a soap ingredient to be avoided.
It’s actually the harsh detergents such as sodium lauryl sulfate in commercial soaps that has replaced the moisturizing benefits of glycerin that make store-bought soap much harsher on your skin.
Lye, on the other hand, is one of the main ingredients necessary to make soap. In the past, lye was made from wood ash, and water. Then combined with tallow (beef fat) or lard (pork fat) to create soap.
Nowadays, lye is combined with a selected oil to start the saponification process. The reaction between the two converts into glycerin creating a soap. All soap regardless of the kind you buy or make goes through the process of saponification. Basically, you can’t have soap without lye.
HOWEVER, you can make soap at home without dealing with active lye. It all starts with a soap base that has already undergone the process of saponification.
How to Make Soap with Soap Base?
Learning how to make soap with a soap base takes away the confusion and overwhelm often felt when beginning the art of soap making. In fact, it can be a project made right in your own kitchen when you’re no longer working with active lye!
Often called melt and pour soap, the result is still homemade soap – you can still control the soap ingredients including what’s in the soap base. If you are just getting started, you’ll love that it’s a less expensive route to soap making, because you only need a single digit of melt and pour soap making supplies.
Choose a melt and pour soap base from our printable soap making guides in the Simple Living Library to create your very own customized soap.
How to Make Soap with Only 5 Basic Beginner Soap Making Supplies
Here’s a look at the only beginner soap making supplies you need to make soap with a base. Yes, it’s that easy!
1. Beginner Soap Making Equipment:
Soap Knife – This set of soap knives includes a wavy and straight option to cut soap bases into workable amounts. It works for slicing finished soap loaves too.
4 Cup Glass Measuring Cup – You’ll need a large glass measuring cup like this one that’s microwave safe, with easy-to-read graphics, and cleans up quickly.
Heat Resistant Silicone Spatula – To blend in your soap ingredients a heat-resistant silicone spatula is best. I’ve found this set of 4 BPA-free spatulas to be super handy for making all my skincare recipes.
Isopropyl Alcohol – Isopropyl alcohol is also handy to have when making melt and pour soap. I keep some in a small glass spray bottle exclusively for soap making.
2. Soap Bases:
There is quite a variety of soap bases available. I always select a scent-free, fragrance-free all-natural melt and pour soap base to make homemade soap. Don’t buy a soap base unless you can read all the ingredients! Look to the list below on where to buy soap base types that are all-natural.
When it comes to choosing your melt and pour soap base, consider if you want the soap to be opaque or clear. An opaque soap base will give soap a solid appearance and often be white or off-white. I like adding oatmeal, coffee grounds, coarse salt, or lavender to opaque melt and pour soap bases. A great example of a solid soap bar is my soap recipe for honey and goat milk soap. It’s so creamy and has an excellent lather!
These are the solid soap bases I love making soap with:
- goat milk soap base: 5 lbs / 2 lbs
- Shea butter soap base: 5 lbs / 2 lbs
- cocoa butter soap base: 2 lbs
- oatmeal soap base: 2 lbs
- white coconut soap base: 2 lbs / 5 lbs
As for clear melt and pour soap bases these give your soaps a translucent appearance. They can create some very unique looking soaps as you will be able to see any added items. My natural soap recipe for jasmine aloe vera soap tarts is a great example.
Here are three clear soap bases I recommend and use:
Related To: Soy Candle Making: Beginners Guide
Related To: Pink Grapefruit Exfoliating Soap
3. Soap Scent:
While I don’t mind using parabens and phthalate-free all-natural fragrance oils composed of aromatic isolates from nature and essential oils for candle making. I prefer to only use hydrosols and essential oils for anything scented that goes on the skin.
The best way to get started with essential oils is to purchase a starter kit so you can try several at a big discount. To make your own hydrosols see my quick tutorial here. Or order one already made for you:
- Chamomile Hydrosol: Large 16 oz / Small 4 oz
- Lavender Hydrosol: Large 16 oz / Small 4 oz
- Peppermint Hydrosol: Large 16 oz / Small 4 oz
- Rose Hydrosol: Large 16 oz / Small 4 oz
- Tea Tree Hydrosol: Large 16 oz / Small 4 oz
4. Botanicals & Whole Spices for Soap Making:
While these are optional when it comes to learning how to make soap as a beginner they are really the fun part! Check out my popular list of 20 natural soap making ingredients, so you’ll never run out of ideas for your natural soap recipes!! You can also grow a garden for skincare and soap making, raid your kitchen pantry, or pick a handful of botanicals and whole spices online for soap making, like these listed below:
5. Soap Molds:
These are another creative part of learning how to make soap. But, unlike the botanicals and whole spices above they are not optional. You’ve got to have something to pour the soap into to form a soap bar. While I have used metal tins to make soap, I find using silicone molds is the easiest and best beginner soap making supply you can invest in! These are the soap molds I use and love:
- square silicone mold: single or a 3 pack to make 18 bars
- citrus wedge silicone mold
- mini pod silicone mold
- honey bee silicone mold
- rectangle silicone mold: 2 pack to make 12 bars
- honeycomb silicone mold
- round silicone mold
Ready to Make Soap Now?? Here are a Few Favorite Natural Soap Recipes to Get You Started!
This homemade soap recipe came from my love of grapefruits’ fresh, sweet, citrus aroma. Make pink grapefruit exfoliating DIY soap, a winning combination of grapefruit and pink Himalayan salt. Use it to remove dead skin cells and replenish skin.
Bees aren’t the only creatures drawn to sweet fragrances, make clear aloe vera soap with one of the most fragrant flowers in the world – jasmine! Adding dried jasmine flowers to natural soap creates a rich pleasant floral aroma I know your love it too.
This is one of the simplest melt and pour soap recipes I’ve made. Not only does it make easy handmade gifts for friends and family, but the rich lather and sweet scent make them irresistible not to keep one for yourself. Make this simple honey and goat milk natural soap recipe today.
If you ever had the pleasure of visiting the south, then you may have encounter incredibly sweet but soooo refreshing key lime pie. It’s as classic as a mint julep in southern territory. Both of which I highly recommend! And with this melt and pour soap recipe for key lime DIY sugar scrub soap, you can experience a slice of the south no matter where you live!
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Have you been dying to learn how to make soap? I know this beginner soap making guide and melt and pour soap making supplies will really help get you started! I wish I had read something like first when my interest in soap making began.
Tag #lifenreflection on Instagram to share your soap making with us and don’t forget to Pin this handy beginner guide to come back to anytime!
Do you have a body butter recipe you can share?
Absolutely Roni, I have 3 recipes I make for body butter depending on the season. For winter I love making whipped lavender body butter. You can find my recipe here – https://www.lifenreflection.com/whipped-body-butter/