Handcrafted Goodness to Pamper Your Skin and Soul
A lot of people that started to have an interest in soap making get afraid. Though of course the MAIN thing they are afraid of is using lye aka sodium hydroxide. But let me tell you, even the little things like gathering the right ingredients, supplies, and equipment can be daunting to a beginner. FEAR NOT! This post is here to help.
First off, I must talk about lye. The danger in using lye, which is a caustic soda, IS VERY REAL. It's not to be fooled around with. You can burn your skin. You can go blind. But like a lot of dangerous things, it can be done with confidence as long as you take the right safety precautions. As long as you take it seriously. Take deep frying some drenched marinated pork in a hot, bubbling frying pan filled with oil for example. It's DANGEROUS if you don't know what to do. You got to pay careful attention to it, stand back, and maybe use a cover for that pan, don't you? Another example is playing football. Would you really go out on the field for a game without helmets, mouthguards, and shoulder pads? I didn't think so. SAME WITH USING LYE. Cover up for safety and that means using goggles, gloves, masks, long-sleeved shirts, closed toed shoes, heck, you may have to even tie back your hair! Goggles are the most important though. You do not want lye in your eyes. Some splashes of lye on your skin can cause irritation like redness, itchiness, and a bit of pain. If lye gets on your skin and in your eyes, rinse it with plently of water, seriously like for 15 minutes, and contact your doctor immediately. Remember guys, as long as you cover up and use the proper precautions, you will do just fine!!!
Now let's talk about that excitement or fear of gathering supplies. Yes, it happens! What if I get the WRONG kind of olive oil? What if I forget what type of plastic to use? Can I use metal containers? I'd advise to keep it easy. For your oils, use oils that are 100% so it's easy to calculate in the soap calculator (before you start, I would hope you had learned how to use one already from YouTube or somewhere else). As a beginner, buying a bottle of a mix of sunflower and olive oil is going to be a HEADACHE and add to the pain of starting out. In your recipe, go ahead and start with 2-3 simple oils and/or butters that you can find easily enough in a store near home, such as olive, coconut, lard, canola, cocoa butter, etc. These make GREAT soap already. Do not get all fancy yet...trust me there will be a time for that. Let's keep it simple and use the argan oil, rosehip oil, kokum butter,etc. in your later batches. Also, trust me, ANY olive oil is great for soap!
As for your equipment, remember this: NO aluminum!! Instead use stainless steel, hard plastic (with a no. 5 in a triangle at the bottom of said container), or silicone instead. Aluminum is out of the question. Once it contacts with lye, a chemical reaction will occur and also may mini explosions. Who wants that for a first batch?....or ever??? Using softer plastic with lye will melt said plastic as lye is hot and caustic. Shouldn't use wooden utensils either because the wood will chip from lye over time. Hot lye solution can also etch glass over a period of time, so don't use that either. At this point you must be thinking...Dang it! What can I use then, Poi? In a nutshell I have made a chart below that could help, however, keep in mind it's my recommendation only and that you should be researching from various sources.
So hopefully I haven't scared you even more. I wanted to equip beginners with knowledge before you start. Don't let these fears and mistakes that are totally avoidable hold you back so much that you keep putting off trying your first batch. Soap making is a joy and brings happiness along with learning experiences. With the right precautions, you can do it! So, why wait? Let's jump in and make that awesome first batch of soap!!