One of the questions that an aspiring soapmaker faces before the process really gets going is whether to use a ready-made base or to create the entire product from scratch. Depending on your needs and your focus, you may lean one way or the other. There are some definite differences between the two, and taking a closer look before you get started is probably a good idea.
Making soap from scratch means that you take all of the basic ingredients and actually blend them together to make the soap. Typically, water, oil and lye are used to make soap with some botanicals and other ingredients for color and fragrance.
When you make soap from scratch, it’s important to work from an accurate recipe, so you don’t end up with too much lye in the soap. Too much lye increases the pH level and will cause burns to your skin.
When you make the soap, a solid lye is dissolved in water, then oils are heated to dissolve any fats. Once both solutions are at the temperature specified in your recipe, you mix them together until they thicken.
Follow the recipe for the right time to add the ‘extras’ and precisely when to pour in to molds. Once it cools in the molds, you have homemade soap.
If you decide to use a ready-made soap base, all of the main soapmaking is already done for you. Ready-made bases are sometimes called ‘melt and pour’ soaps as they typically come in a solid block.
The directions will tell you how to melt the block into a liquid state and then how to add fragrance, colors and other ingredients to customize it. Once you have it all good and mixed, you pour it into molds just like the scratch soaps, so it can solidify and become soap.
Ready-made bases are good for making a wide range of specialty soaps in various shapes, and for adding different features embedded in the body of the soap.
Which Is Better?
The method that is better for making homemade soap will depend on the preferences of the soapmaker. If you ‘re more interested in the artistic side, and just want to produce soap in different shapes, sizes and with different features, using a ready-made base might be best for you.
On the other hand, if you are really into the actual craft of soapmaking and take pride in getting just the right measurements and ingredients for the perfect bar of soap, the scratch method is probably best.
Making soap using a ready-made base will take less time and is generally more convenient, but making it from scratch is considered more authentic in terms of homemade soaps. Just take a little time to think about which elements are important to you, then choose the appropriate method to make your very own soap.