Monday, February 22, 2010

How to prevent mistakes in soap making

I like to think of making soap along the same lines as cooking. Two people may start out with identical ingredients and depending on technique and skill level both may end up with totally different products - either mush or a gourmet dinner.

In making soap, technique is as important as the ingredients we use to make soap.

Soap making is a precise measurement of chemicals that when combined together with certain variables in place forms a reaction. The end product can be altered either by changing the variables or the ingredients. Mistakes occur when we do not measure accurately or inadvertently change a variable that is not accounted for.

Mistakes can be prevented by following proper procedure and sticking to it, even after your 200th time making soap.

1.Take the time to calculate your recipe using percentages, not volume measurements. This enables you to make adjustments easier and more accurately. By calculating your recipe based on percentages, you can better keep track and modify the recipe. Plus its easier to see what works and what does not. If you get a recipe from the internet, calculate it back to the percentages. This is easily done through the calculators available on websites such as Majestic Mountain Sage. Write down all formulas and check off as you add ingredients. This is the way nurses are taught to give medication. If you check off on your list, there is no second guessing if that portion was added. Do not rely on your memory.

2. Always weigh soap ingredients with an accurate scale. Most shops that sell scales also sell calibration weights to check the scale to make sure it is accurate. Again, volume measurement can be inaccurate. Invest in a scale that can measure in small increments. When making a sample batch less than 2 lbs, convert all measurements to grams. And Measure additives with an appropriate scale. Cosmetic scales ar especially good for weighing small amounts.

3. When making soap do not rush, be patient. Incorporating ingredients at the wrong time can seize the soap. If the recipe calls for combining the fats and lye solution at a certain temperature, do so. This can speed up or slow down trace. You may need to slow down trace because of the addition of fragrance or additives.

4. Know your recipe and ingredients. Make sample sizes before making big batches. Always test scents and additives in small batches. Although some scents will not seize a small batch, it may seize a larger batch. Your fragrance should be cp/hp compatible. Many manufacturers and fragrance retailers will provide you with this info if requested.

5. 90% of my soaping mistakes occurred because of being distracted by the phone or because I was in a hurry. I have learned that if you do not have time to dedicate to making soap, it is best to postpone it until there is sufficient time to do so.

Reprinted with permission from Winsome Tapper, Soapmaking Editor,


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