Soap is something that has been made in the home for a very long time; pretty much since the dawn of its creation. It is only in the last century or so, with the coming of the industrial revolution, that soap has become something that was manufactured and then bought in stores. This made the product more widely available to the public. History has noted a decline in the spread of many diseases since soap has entered the manufacturing world.
Despite the benefits of the mass production of soap, in the last half-decade or so, soap making in the home has once again become popular. For some, making their own soap is appealing because they know exactly what is going into each bar, and they can be assured that no extenders, extras, or preservatives were used. For others, making soap is more of a hobby.
The two most popular soap making methods are melt-and-pour and the cold process methods. The former is quite easy and is often the method most hobbyists begin with. The latter is the more traditional form of soap making, which involves mixing tallow or oils with lye. The cold process is the same method followed by soap makers for hundreds of years, prior to the industrial age.
Just as its name suggests the melt-and-pour method involves melting and pouring. Often used by hobbyists, a soap base (available in many craft stores) is melted down. Other ingredients, like fragrance, are added to the base before it is poured into molds and then left to harden. Once hard, the product can be used as soap.
Many of those who follow the traditional methods believe that this isn’t really soap making since soap itself (the base) wasn’t made from scratch. This doesn’t stop it from being a very popular method, however. It is, in fact, arguably the best way to start soap making, which is why it is the method of choice among beginners.
The second most popular soap making method, and perhaps the most popular between the methods that involve making soap from scratch, the cold process method takes significantly longer to complete when compared to melt-and-pour. It involves combining oils and lye as well as other ingredients in order to make unique soaps.
Most seasoned soap makers have tried the cold process at least once or use the cold process method entirely. It gives them more freedom when it comes to designing or creating their soaps. However, the final product cannot be used for weeks after the day it’s made because the soap will need time to cure.
No matter what method you choose, soap making can be a lot of fun. Try one method out today and see what you can create!
By Sandy Simmons | Sandy is the author of Super Soap Making.