I asked in our Facebook Group for soap makers to share their soap making tips and tricks! I had no idea how fun and informative the thread would be. We had responses from experienced soap makers and from soapers just starting out who had learned some quick lessons.
Here are some of my tips and tricks for soap makers.
- I always weigh hard oils/butters first and melt. Then I add my liquid oils. This helps everything to cool down faster instead of adding all of your base oils to the pot and then melting. Everything gets too darn hot.
- I put all of my supplies to the left of my scale. As I add an ingredient, I move it to the right. That way I know for sure that I’ve added everything.
- I add my EO or FO to my oils before adding my lye solution and mixing. This helps to dilute troublesome scents and also ensures that you won’t forget it!
- Don’t be afraid to break rules and experiment! Us bloggers have things that we recommend as far as what oils to put together or how much of a certain additive to use, or how much water to use, but don’t be afraid to experiment. We have to recommend a starting point for new soap makers, so we do, but once you’re comfortable with certain techniques or formulations, break some rules! Nothing will teach you more than experimenting and walking off the beaten path.
- Record the empty weight of your soap making containers. That way if you think you are off when making soap, you can easily weigh your pot with ingredients, subtract the weight of your pot and know exactly how much oil you have weighed out.
Here are some of the tips and tricks shared by soap makers of all experience levels!
You can CPOP in an acrylic mold, just place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. – Joanne Watkins
OK, here’s my tip for this week: I made soaps for Christmas using a gingerbread house mold and needed to make piping for the “frosting” part. I made a tiny batch of castile soap (switching the soap calc to grams for accuracy) with a deep water discount, slightly more water than lye (1.2 parts water to 1 part lye.) I was delighted to discover that not only did the tiny batch of soap thicken up to a perfect consistency for piping, but it also stayed at that same consistency for about 2 hours – plenty of time to get all that piping done without having to rush through it. I just waited long enough for the lye water to turn clear, I used it HOT. Making the tiny batch only took minutes to make, no melting oils or waiting for lye water to cool. – Kathy White
If your soap seizes or rices let it! Then let it go to a full gel right in the soap pot. When it’s in full gel, stir well, then glop into your mold. Putting a seized soap in a mold could cause fragrance pockets or lye pockets. – Irena Marchu
I put my stainless pitcher outside on the chest freezer in winter and I’m good to go in app. 30 minutes!!! Yea for cold weather!!! – Debby Richard
Wait 24 hours to wash soap dishes…or 2 weeks…or just plain forget about them till you need them again. – Stephenie Bryant Simmonds
I always add my fragrance to my oils before adding the lye water. This way I blend it in well and I don’t forget to add it! – Trisha Magistro
In winter, to be sure my soap goes through gel phase I set it in my oven on ‘warm’ and put the molds on a rack. Turn off the oven, and let your oven be an ‘incubator’ for your soap over night. – Kathy Howard
I use cut up old t shirts to wipe my soap pots out with, l then let the rags sit for 24/36 hours then toss them in the washing machine. Saves a lot of paper towels. Don’t add extra laundry detergent. – Wendy Bishop
Be Patient! Wait till your soap is hard enough before unmolding. – Ischelle Marquez
This one may seem weird but…. when I’m planning on hitting Soaping hard, I turn on my oval crockpot, add water, add my big coconut jug and the Brambleberry bags in. Put any butters also in zip locks and add. Then it’s easy to grab the premelted oil and use what you need to! I can’t master batch my oils because…… I use like 11 recipes and have die hard followers of each! – Wendy Fuhrmann Brandt
I set my measured cup of fragrance inside my mold while I mix my soap. Can’t forget to add it! – Laurie Hicks
Weighing everything out before starting helps minimize mess, stress and mistakes. – Annie Neal
I keep titanium dioxide premixed in a squeeze bottle in the fridge then squeeze what I need through a strainer into my batter. It’s all but eliminated those dreaded white dots in my soap. – Phyllis Jones
Never soap when your angry, in a rush or haven’t thought out your recipe, it leaves room for error and a possible encounter with a lye burn. Don’t ask me how I know this. – Suzzannemarie Dunne
I learned that it’s risky to mix your lye water solution in a glass/Pyrex container and will be switching to plastic on my very next batch. – Kim Bonner
My second tip is always wear gloves no matter how long you have been soaping (glasses too). – Suzzannemarie Dunne
It is possible to soap with young kids around. Take precautions, have everything measured out & ready to go. Soaping at room temp even makes this easier, especially if you have to leave your lye (in another room/garage) until you get a calm minute. I know it’s frowned upon among some, but sometimes it’s the only thing we can do. And do not feel bad for utilizing a favorite movie or iPad to keep them occupied for 15 minutes. – Kali Maxted Brothers
Have a glass of wine AFTER!! Not before or during! – Kerri Fay
My #1 tip (that I still struggle with)
Be patient! – Michele Nolfo Coker
Keep a jug of warm/hot water to rest used stick blender and whizz after each use, makes cleaning easier and less transfer of colours. – Zabeena Gulnaaz
There are no mistakes- they’re lessons (& most can be fixed). – Bcp Tobin
You can avoid lye fumes in the house if you start with ice water before adding the lye. – Carol J. Isler
Eat before making anything. It sucks when you get hungry in the middle and are distracted by your stomach trying to acquaint itself with your spine. You start to forget things! – Andee Howard
Learn to make a 1:1 solution for your lye and then add any other ‘wet’ ingredients at emulsion or a thin trace. It can especially help with milk, or any ingredient that contains a lot of sugars that might burn/scorch. – Jeanette Haygood
(Check out our milk-in-oil tutorial doing exactly what Jeanette suggests.)
Patience. Be patient with yourself and the techniques you are trying to master. It will work but will require patience to get there. – Jo Haslauer
Less water means less glycerin rivers and less soda ash. – Missy Gentry Robinson
Being a relative newbie I foolishly tried using a flavor oil as fragrance- I figured it was suitable to use on skin as it was for scenting lip balm but- you guessed it- it seized almost immediately and I had to cut the stickblender free by hacking at it with a knife. So I had read about ‘hot process hero’ and figured i would give it a try. It worked brilliantly- I microwaved it about 2-3 mins- the soap liquified and I was able to blend it smooth. It didn’t end up looking quite how I’d planned but it actually turned out reasonably nice- certainly better than tossing it out or trying to re-batch later on. – Goldfields Furniture
My best tip is always have your mold ready before you start soaping!!!! – Najmah Dorsey
Love all the info! I’m too new to offer much advice but one thing I do when I’m premeasuring my add-ons: is I set them on the counter in the order to be added. So I’m just ready to dump in at the various points in the cook. (I do HP) – Denise Reynolds
I have all my ingredients lined up on the counter. After I use each one, I turn the box or label to the back. That way I know I didn’t miss one. – Irena Marchu
The more soap i make the mire i realize “there is no such thing as ugly soap”- that it my tip. – Martha Maria McDermott
Be proud of even a simple, rustic soap. – Nina Thompson
I have learned that you dont really need to stick blend if you are making goat milk soap or I think any other milk soap for that matter. A whisk is enough and will not even take long to get trace. – Carol Alfonso
I use styrofoam to cover my molds works very good instead of a towel to keep heat, try to recycle as much as possible. – Dunia M Alpizar
Set aside two hours a day to go through Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram to look at what beautiful soaps are being created. Oh, and prepare to dream tonight about un-molding the soap you made today. – Debbie High
Always print your recipes and write notes on the page about how the soap behaves, cures, feels. Keep these pages in a binder for future reference.
Be bold, be crazy, don’t listen to the naysayers and have fun! – Kimmie Pie
Discolouring fragrance, and you want to play with colours? Only scent the darker colours, or an uncolour portion you’re happy going brown. Vanilla and mint blend? Measure the two scents separately and add the vanilla do the darker colours, and the mint to the lighter. The discolouration may bleed a small amount after significant time but the lighter colours will remain light. – Robi-Bird Thomson
Silicone baking sheets make great liners for wooden molds. As does Glad Press and Seal wrap. – Caroline Lawson
I’m fairly new to soap making so like to laminate my favorite recipes and hang them up while making soap. I mark off ingredients with a dry erase and make notes for my files as I go. – Brandi Jones
Learn from others mistakes… I’m always researching and reading what others are doing. Always stay positive / polite if you post. – Diane Slater Keller
For a more fluid batter, add your fragrance to the oils before adding lye, soap at room temp, and stick blend only to emulsification. Breathe when making soap. If it sucks, it’s not the end of the world. Try different things- don’t rely solely on what someone tells you no matter how long they’ve been soaping. – Windy Jamerson Autry
In a budget pinch for a mold, the top of a photo album box (Like the $2.50 kind at craft stores) lined with freezer paper can make a nice single bar thick batch of 8 bars of soap. – Miffie Seideman
Corflute is your friend , you can make any shape , size mould you want and its only about $7.00 per sheet. – Tina Taylor
You can use a small flat rate box lined, as a mold. – Irena Marchu
Keep 5 quarters (1 ounce) in a baggie to test your scale before weighing out ingredients. Also, remove some main batch oils into a little ramekin and warm that with your scenting oils before adding to trace to avoid seizing. – Peg Leslie
Focus, stay focussed while soaping. Accidents happens as soon as you get distracted. – Rashi Rathi
Wait for the cut before you get all depressed about your “failure”. Some of my prettiest designs came from what I was sure would be ugly disasters. – Sandy Vaccariello
Not sure if this was mentioned, but instead of water to make my lye solution, I use ice. It means that my lye is immediately ready to use. If I’m making a goat’s milk soap, I use frozen milk. – Suzanne Finley
Make a list of all the fragrances you have used and rate them on how you liked them and if you want to use them again or hate them. – Debbie Simpson
Do you have any tips or tricks for soap makers? Please share in the comments. Thanks for sharing!
If you are new to soap making, check out our free guide with links to helpful articles, recipes and soap making advice. If you haven’t joined our Facebook Group, join us today!
Omigosh, I recently started soaping and have discovered SO many things! Here are some tips I have:
– If trying a new FO/EO, color, etc. that doesn’t have a reliable feedback history for CP soap, make a simple 1 lb. batch to see how it behaves. It’s better to not be happy with 1 lb. batch of soap than a 3 or 5 lb. loaf. Same thing goes for new soap recipes.
– When in doubt, always soap at cooler temps.
– If ordering larger amounts of solid base oils (coconut, palm, etc.), melt down the entire container at first, mix well, then redistribute the melted oil into smaller, more manageable containers. It’s easier to melt down a 16 oz. container of palm oil than a 8 lb. (or 35!) bucket.
So helpful! Especially for a newbie like me! Thank you to everyone who provided tips! I do have a question about lining molds – parchment paper for baking versus freezer paper – do they both work? Equally well? Thanks!
Use “Evernote” app, take pictures, be organized:)
I mix my lye water in the sink, then put it on top of the stove with the downdraft fan on. It sucks out the fumes and helps to cool off the lye.
Wow. Excellent read, Amanda 🙂 A question about the warm jug of water that you use to rest the blender in. Can that blender be put back into another a soap mixture after it has been in the water? I mean, can it be whizzed in the warm water and then used in one of the other colors you are using? Is my question as clear as mud? 🙂
Yep! That’s what I do. 🙂 I whirrrrrr it in the water between mixing different colored soaps. 🙂