I get this questions a lot! How can I get started in soapmaking with spending the least amount of money? And I want to do it tomorrow! Yeah…I’m one of those people too! I get it in my head to try something and I want to do it tomorrow.
Here is the minimum that you will need.
A digital scale that measure ounces and grams – You simply can’t get away with measuring by volume (cups, tablespoons…etc.). You’ll need a digital scale. Check out Ebay, Craigslist or ask your friends. Post on Facebook! Somebody is bound to have one! Here is the scale I use in classes. http://www.amazon.com/Ozeri-Digital-Multifunction-Kitchen-Elegant/dp/B004164SRA/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1349729615&sr=8-18&keywords=digital+scale
Something to stir with. To save time we now use stick blenders, but you can do it “old school” and use a stainless steel spoon or a silicone spatula. You can find good silicone spatulas at the dollar store. You can find a decent stick blender from Walmart for about $25 bucks.
Containers for mixing lye solution (get two). 1 quart paint mixing containers work well. I like using these from Home Depot (most home improvement/paint stores have them). http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-25ecodZ5yc1v/R-202264024/h_d2/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10053&langId=-1&keyword=bucket&storeId=10051
Containers for mixing soap. Since you’ll be doing 2 pound batches starting out (that’s what I recommend) get a couple of the 2.5 quart containers (same as above…just bigger). http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-25ecodZ5yc1v/R-202264029/h_d2/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10053&langId=-1&keyword=bucket&storeId=10051
A mold. You probably already have something on hand to use. The easiest beginner mold to use is a plastic food storage container. Or maybe even easier than that is an empty milk carton (the square cardboard kind).
Goggles and gloves for safety! You can find these at hardware stores. Do not make soap without the proper safety gear.
You’ll need lye. Locally we can still get lye at Ace Hardware. But depending on where you live…it might be hard to find locally. Chemical suppliers sell it but you might have to buy and 50 lb bag and I don’t recommend messing with a 50 lb bag when just starting out. If you can’t find it locally…you’ll simply have to order it from a supplier such as www.brambleberry.com, www.essentialdepot.com, www.thelyeguy.com…or anywhere else that sells soapmaking supplies.
Then you’ll need some oils to soap. I would start with a very bare bones basic recipe using oils that you can find at the grocery store. If you are not opposed to using lard you can find lard, coconut oil (Lou Ana) and olive oil (regular Bertoli is what I use) at Walmart. Or you can get soapmaking oils from a supplier…but again this tutorial is for those that want to get started over the weekend. You will definitely save money buying oils in bulk from a supplier but there’s nothing wrong with buying oils from Walmart to knock a batch out and make sure this is something that you want to delve into.
Oh and last but not least…its best to use distilled water. That’s easy to find.
For your very first batch of soap…I recommend not using fragrance or color. You want to get the very basics down and not have to worry about anything else. And believe me…fragrances can be tricky if you don’t know what you are using.
So here are a couple of recipes that you can try using oils from Walmart or locally.
Coconut oil – 8 oz
Lard – 16 oz
Olive oil – 8 oz
Lye – 4.5 oz
Water – 9 oz
Coconut oil – 8 oz
Lard – 8 oz
Olive oil – 16 oz
Lye – 4.46 oz
Water – 9 oz
Coconut oil – 18 oz
Olive oil – 18 oz
Lye – 5.4 oz
Water – 9 oz
So how much is it gonna cost to get started?
Scale – $16.00
Mixing utensils (2) – $2.00
Lye containers (2) – $2.40
Soap containers (2) – $3.96
Gloves & Goggles – $4.00
Lye (32 oz) – $4.00
Coconut oil (Lou Ana) (31.5 oz) – $5.98
Bertoli Regular Olive oil (51 oz) – $13.98
Lard (64 oz) – $5.88
So you are looking at about $58.20 to get started. $75.00 if you add a stick blender to that.
There are some fantastic beginner soapmaking videos and tutorials out there. Don’t get hung up on the fancy molds, the fragrances, the nice colors…adding oatmeal, goat’s milk or poppy seeds. Remember…for your first batch…you are just learning the basic process.