Are we almost ready?
Much of what you need to make soap can be found in your kitchen already, and many items used in soapmaking can be washed and re-used for food. However, if you feel uncomfortable with that, you can always pick up extras at second-hand stores. Nothing you need for making soap is expensive.
For pots, use enameled or stainless steel. I will be using an old crock pot for my soapmaking. (Do not use materials such as aluminum, tin, or copper as they react with lye.)
Other tools and utensils can be enameled or stainless steel, oven-safe glass, or heat-safe plastic. You’ll need typical kitchenware such as bowls, spoons, spatula, and measuring cups.
Other things you’ll need include:
*A good kitchen scale. Digital is best. (You can get a great digital scale for $20 from Brambleberry.
*A thermometer, preferably digital. (A candy thermometer will do just fine and can be washed up and used again for candy.)
*Stick blender. There are different methods of making soap, but both of the soapmaking methods I’m going to demonstrate (one cold process, one hot process) will use a stick blender.
I have this $13 stick blender.
*Soap mold. You can use anything you want, but remember not to use aluminum, tin, or copper. I will be using milk cartons.
Don’t use the ones lined with a silvery material–that is aluminum. Use the ones with a waxy lining inside. Just clean them out and dry them for soap use. Quart-size makes the best molds. (I buy a lot of quart-size half-and-half and heavy cream for cheesemaking. If you don’t make cheese, just buy a couple quarts of your regular milk in paper cartons instead of your usual gallon-size plastic jugs so you can save them for soapmaking.) Isn’t that handy?
Just pour the soap right in. The waxy liner will make it release easily and you’ll have nice, square bars.
*Goggles and gloves. Many experienced soapmakers will tell you they dispense with some of these safety measures. If you are new to making soap, dispense with nothing. Follow recommended safety guidelines until you are experienced enough to make your own decisions about what is comfortable for you. The first rule is to follow the rules before you break them.
*pH strips. Test your finished soap with pH strips or a digital pH meter. Meters are expensive, but the strips are pretty cheap.
You can get a pack of 50 pH strips for $8 here. Again, I suspect many experienced soapmakers feel no need for pH strips. Testing your soap with pH strips is recommended by experts. The kind of pH strips sold for pool supplies don’t test in the right range, so this is probably something you’ll need to order online. (pH strips are also used in cheesemaking for some cheeses, and soap strips test in the same range needed for cheese, so if you also make cheese, it’s a two-in-one purchase.)
*The ingredients! Use a recipe from a book, make your own recipe (if you’re a beginner, consult an experienced soapmaker and also use a soap calculator), or make soap with me with my recipe. You’ll need lye, distilled water, vanilla, sugar, lard, and olive oil. Remember that the lye should be in crystal form and specify that it is 100% lye (sodium hydroxide).
*An expert guide. Please do not rely on any internet resource, INCLUDING ME, for all your soapmaking information. Obtain expert information. I recommend Smart Soapmaking by Anne L. Watson, but there are many, many books available. GET ONE. (By the way, I just figured out that Watson also has a book about making soap with milk and I’m gonna get that!
Because someday….. Oh, yes, someday! We’re going to be able to make goat milk soap. Aren’t we, Clover?
Yes, we are! Yes, we are!
That goat just LOVES ME.
Getting Ready to Make Soap: Part 1
Getting Ready to Make Soap: Part 2
I’m giving away one of these stick blenders today.
For a chance to win: Leave a comment on this post and let me know you want it. You can just put (stick blender) at the end of your comment or otherwise note that you want to be in the draw. One winner will be drawn by random comment number to receive the stick blender. Eligible entry cut-off is midnight Eastern (U.S.) time tonight (March 10). This post will be updated with the winner by 9 a.m. Eastern (U.S.) time tomorrow (March 11). Return to this post to see if you won.
UPDATE 03/11/10: The winning comment number is #67, Alice Christopher. Email me with your shipping address at CITRgiveaways(at)aol.com!