Handmade soap seems to have become as exclusive and desirable as luxury candles and designer perfume. With more and more natural handmade soaps becoming available, I set myself the challenge of finding out how difficult it would be to make my own…
I made my own soap using a kit a few years ago and, although it didn’t produce professional-looking results, I managed to create usable soaps fairly easily – so, with a bit of refinement, I know that it’s achievable. With some research and the help of The Natural & Handmade Soap Book, here’s my guide to creating your own handmade soap at home:
One of the first things you need to know about making your own soap is that there are two main methods: the traditional ‘cold process’ and the simpler ‘melt and pour’ method. If you’re a dabbler like me, and like to get things done quickly, you’ll want to start with the ‘melt and pour’ method. The ‘cold process’ is easy to master and more versatile, but is very time-consuming and requires more ingredients. With the ‘melt and pour’ method all you need is a soap base, which can literally be melted and poured into a mould and then left to set to form soap – so simple! ‘Melt and pour’ soap bases come in clear and opaque varieties and can be easily heated in the microwave or a saucepan at home, so no specialist equipment is required.
Assuming that you’re using the ‘melt and pour’ method (for the ‘cold process’ you’ll require some extra oils and chemicals), you only need a soap base and some rubbing alcohol (to remove bubbles from the mixture). However, you may also want to add frangrances and colours to your soap base to give it that luxurious smell and look that makes handmade soap so attractive. There are a huge range of essential oils available, which not only add a beautiful scent to your soap but also often have useful anti-bacterial properties that help the soap to last longer. Choose from popular scents like lavender, orange or rosemary, or try adding botanicals like honey and cinnamon.
Once you understand the process and have all of the ingredients, it’s time to start making! I was completely inspired by the soaps in The Natural & Handmade Soap Book written by Sarah Harper from The Clovelly Soap Company. The book has loads of ideas for beautiful, natural soaps that look as tempting as I’m sure they must smell – the ones I want to try first are the sweet strawberry soaps shown opposite, which are made even more realistic with a strawberry fragrance and poppy seeds added into the red soap mixture for decoration. Shaped soaps like these are fun to make, but if you’re on a budget you can use old juice boxes, plastic pots and cake moulds instead of specialist silicone moulds. You can make a square or rectangular bar of soap and cut out shapes using cookie cutters too.
Handmade soap makes a great gift, and you often have to make a large batch anyway, so it’s perfect as a quick Christmas present or an unusual wedding favour. To make your handmade soaps that bit more special you can decorate and wrap them individually using a selection of pretty ribbons and papers. And if you love working with natural ingredients, why stop at soap? There are recipes for all sorts of cosmetics and cleaning products in The Natural & Handmade Soap Book, including bath bombs, dishwasher tablets and even a shampoo bar. You’ll also find a range of ideas in Treat Yourself Natural by Sof McVeigh from The Homemade Company, and there’s a selection of individual recipes from the book available to download.
If you’d like to learn more about making your own soap, pick up a copy of The Natural & Handmade Soap Book today. For a limited time only, you’ll get the PDF eBook version of the book to download for free when you pre-order the paperback at Stitch Craft Create. Good luck with your soap making!
Have you made your own soap before? Comment below to tell us about your experiences! We love to see what you’re making, so please share photos of your handmade soaps and other crafts with us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and in our Project Gallery.