Hello and Welcome!
Thank you again for your patience.
It’s time to learn about the equipment you will need to make your own soap.
In this post I am going to show you what I use and give you ideas of other things that could be used. Your equipment won’t necessarily look exactly like mine. The good news is you don’t have to go out and spend a lot of money on special equipment as you will likely have many of the things you need on hand.
Since we are working with lye, which is a caustic and corrosive substance, we must pay attention to what materials the lye comes in contact with. Things to avoid are anything made with aluminum, iron, steel and most other metals. Stainless steel or enamel are good choices as are heat resistant glass, heat resistant plastic and even wood.
While working with lye you will want to protect your skin from coming into contact with it. You should have glasses, safety glasses or goggles, rubber, latex or vinyl gloves, an apron or old shirt, long pants and some type of footwear.
It may go without saying but the kitchen is the best place for making soap because you will want to have running water and will need the stove for heating your oils. I also like to use some newspaper to cover my work area.
Assuming you have read this post about how to clean up or neutralize a lye spill you know you should have paper towel or rags on hand as well as a broom and mop for cleaning up potential spills.
Scale – A scale is probably the most important piece of equipment in soapmaking and the one where I cannot think of a good alternative. All of the ingredients will be measured by weight and having accurate measurements is a key to making a good soap.
Containers that will sit on the scale for measuring your ingredients into. (Remember to avoid metal except for stainless steel or enamel.)
I usually use the tray for measuring solid fats like coconut oil, lard or tallow. I use the cup or similar containers when measuring liquids, liquid oils like olive oil and for measuring the lye. As long as the container is large enough to hold the amount you need to measure you’re good. You will need to remember the set the scale to 0 after placing the container on the scale and before putting your ingredient in the container.
Thermometer(s) – You will need at least one kitchen thermometer, but since you will be tracking the temperatures of the oils and the lye water separately before combining, using two different thermometers is better.
Glass candy thermometers will also work.
Containers for mixing – You will need two separate containers: one for mixing lye and water the other for mixing and melting oils and fats. Later you will be adding the lye water to the oils, so it is best to melt your oils in the biggest container or at least one large enough to hold the entire batch of soap.
I use the glass measuring cup on the left for mixing lye with water and the stainless-steel pan for melting my oils. The containers I use are quite large because I usually make at least a four lb. (1814.36948 gram) batch of soap; sometimes I make 8 lbs. (3628.73896 grams).
Below are some other ideas for mixing containers that may be used for smaller batches.
Mixing Utensils – You will need a utensil (spoon) for mixing your lye and water together and a second for mixing your oils together. Heat resistant plastic or stainless steel are good choices and what I use, but wooden spoons could also be used.
Emersion Blender – Also known as a stick blender is optional but makes the process go very quickly. When I made my first batch of soap I didn’t have an emersion blender and decided I would just hand stir the mixture. After more than an hour of stirring the mixture finally came to a trace (the point where it is ready to go into the mold). After that I decided to buy an emersion blender. It now usually takes less than 10 minutes of mixing.
Soap Molds – There are many commercially made soap molds on the market. You can buy plastic molds, silicone molds and even wooden molds, but unless you want to make soaps that are a specific size and/or shape it is not necessary to purchase soap molds.
Below are some examples of things that you might have on hand that could be used as soap molds. If you decide to use a cardboard box like the one in the photo it will be necessary to line it with plastic wrap or butcher paper so that the soap does not soak into the cardboard.
Plastic wrap or butcher paper is something you should have on hand anyway for covering the soap after you pour it into the mold. You will also need a towel or two to wrap the soap in after it is in the mold.
Now while you go hunting around for equipment you can use to make your soap, I will put together Part III of this series – “Ingredients and a Soap Recipe”. If you have any questions about equipment please leave them in the comments section below.
Thanks for reading.