Soapmaking 101

Last year, I started a soap company called Purely Delta. I wanted to learn how to make moisturizing soap that smelled great and was good for sensitive skin, but didn’t know where to start. After doing some digging, I found this article that explained the different types of soap and how they’re made:

I decided to start with hot process soap due to its shorter curing time (~2 weeks as opposed to 6 weeks for cold process) and found plenty of resources related to that. This basic recipe was one of the most helpful in the beginning:

Melt and pour soap isn’t really homemade soap. You’re melting down a glycerin base and pouring it into a mold. It’s good for kids and people who are very new to soapmaking, so your main options when doing something like I did are hot process and cold process. Hot process is a little messier, but the cure time is much shorter than cold process, so if you’re trying to get a batch ready to use and sell quickly, that’s your best bet. Hot process batter is thicker and lumpier than cold process batter, which results in a rougher look on the top of the soap. It’s all about preference and how much time you have.

As I got more comfortable with handling lye and making soap, I branched out and learned more about what I could do in the future. There are tons of online resources for this and a lot of people who make their own soap go to forums to troubleshoot and talk about it with others. Some websites that gave me ideas or helped me in other ways:

If you’re going to make your own soap recipe (i.e. choose which oils you’ll be using) you’ll need to use a lye calculator. The lye and the oils undergo a chemical reaction called saponification; that’s how it becomes soap that firms and then lathers. If you use the wrong amount of lye your recipe will fail. Here’s the lye calculator I use:

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