Soap making can be as creative as your imagination allows. Gathering the proper equipments is the first step in making your own. This is because your safety depends on it. A number of items that you will need, are readily available in your kitchen. Such items include bowls, a scale, pots and pans, a thermometer, a stick blender, apron, and spatulas and spoons. Other items such as thermometer, safety equipment, lye, soap molds can be found at your local craft store or online.
Making soap at home can be hazardous, that’s why safety is always first. The basic safety gears that you will need are:
- Eye protection: these days you can find a variety of eye protection at your local hardware store or on the internet or with your soap making supply companies. You can get this cheap one from Amazon if you are on a budget. If you fell like splurging, here is another option. Never take chances with the health safety of your eyes. The eye protection wear will protect your eyes from any accidental splashes that may occur when pouring or mixing.
- Gloves: preferably use rubber kitchen gloves with textured fingers as they provide the best protection for your hands and lower arms. Textured fingers will allow you to have a firm grip on your equipment. Also be sure to protect your arms above the glove with an old long-sleeved shirt. Lye can bleach fabric, you wouldn’t want to damage your new shirt.
- Safety mask: while making soap, caustic fume will rise when you combine lye with water. Taking extra precaution of wearing a safety mask, will prevent the aspiration of the fume. If you can’t afford a mask or you choose not to wear one, be sure to work in an open area, stand back in order to not breathe in the fume.
The safety measures are not meant to scare you; rather, it is of the utmost importance to put safety first before anything else.
- Scale: the best way to measure ingredients for making soap is by weight. That’s why it is important to get a good digital scale. You will need accuracy, ease of use and the ability to handle the amount of the ingredients in the desired batch size. Make sure to get a scale with a “tare” button that resets to zero as you add ingredients. Look for a scale that measures in grams as well as ounces to at least one digit after the decimal point.
- Hand Mixer or stick blender: also known as immersion blender, is an indispensable equipment in soap making. Although a hand mixer will work well, a stick blender will speed up the stirring time to bring about trace. Any inexpensive blender will work just fine.
- Pots and pans: Lye reacts with metals like aluminum and iron, therefore stainless steel is the way to go. Stainless steel pots can be found at restaurant supply stores, and thrift stores at reasonable prices.
- Utensils: There are a variety of these that you can choose from, whether stainless steel, silicone and woods. However your preference is with utensils, be sure to keep them separate from the ones you use for food, especially the wooden ones. Wood absorbs easily the caustics and finished soaps. The dollar store offers a variety of robber spatula that can be purchased at a lower cost. Just make sure to choose one-piece model so that you will never lose the scrapper part in your batch of soap.
- Measuring equipments: I prefer using heatproof plastic mixing containers in a variety sizes. Plastic cools down faster than glass.
- Thermometer: A thermometer is essential for checking the ideal temperatures for the oils and lye water (within 10 degrees of one another). Although a good glass thermometer can be used, I prefer using a good digital thermometer.
- Soap molds: You can either make your own molds or buy commercially available ones. If you choose the later, the options are endless. There are a variety of soap molds that can be purchased at your local craft stores, soap making supply companies or online. If you choose the later, you will have the option between wooden, silicone, or polymer clay molds. If working on budget, shoeboxes, tupperware containers or cardboard mold can work just fine as long as you line them up with freezer paper.
- Cutting tools: the simplest cutter is a stainless steel kitchen knife. There are now a variety of soap cutters on the market and online. Even a hire cheese cutter can be used if making soap on a smaller scale for personal use, friends, or family.