Beginner Soapmaking Resources (Cold Process Soap)
Posted on 27 June 2015
One question we're asked on a regular basis is, "Can you teach me how to make soap?".
- The short answer is, "No, but look up Anne-Marie Faiola (aka The Soap Queen) and read, listen to, and watch every resource she's published."
- The longer answer is, "No, but we can point you in the right direction....".
My favorite book to recommend is "Soap Crafting: Step-by-Step Techniques for Making 31 Unique Cold-Process Soaps" by Anne-Marie Faiola. It covers every imaginable topic for a beginner soaper from safety guidelines and colorants to molds and designs to additives and more. One thing I greatly appreciate about this resource is the wealth of helpful pictures throughout the book. You don't have to use your imagination to try to picture what she is describing because there is usually an applicable visual nearby. (In fact, I just quickly flipped through the book and didn't come across any 2-page spread that didn't contain at least one photo.)
A quick Google search will give you many options, but the "Free Beginner's Guide to Soapmaking: Cold Process" found on the Soap Queen blog gives a very comprehensive, easy to understand overview, complete with soaping vocabulary. For some more technical, detailed information and recipes, jump over to Miller's Homemade Soap Pages and explore. You'll also need to become very familiar and comfortable with a lye calculator (I recommend the one at SoapCalc.)
I am hesitant to link to any YouTube videos right here, as I haven't spent time watching them recently to know which ones provide accurate and safe information. Unfortunately, there are many unsafe and "less than stellar" examples, so be careful to check-up on whom you are learning from. (As time permits, I'll try to find some reputable videos and update this section.)
This....now THIS is a real treat! If you live near a certified soapmaking instructor, you might be able to gain some guided, hands-on experience under the watchful eye of someone who knows what she is doing. The Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetics Guild maintains a list of teachers that have met their requirements and have passed the certification process; you can check their listings to find someone local to you. Additionally, you can access a current list of scheduled classes. (If you are anywhere near Georgia and you're interested in learning soap from one of the the best teachers available, sign up for Soapmaking 101 with Michelle Rhoades of Mossy Creek Soap. She will give you a solid, thorough foundation and you'll leave her studio feeling confident to make soap on your own. She also maintains an active Facebook group for members who have been in her classes so that she can follow up and continue to help you grow in your soapmaking skills. Another excellent teacher is Marilyn Schendel of Ritual Waters. She has a variety of classes available for those in the Winston Salem, NC area and I can guarantee you'll be well taken care of by this nurturing soul!)
So, are you ready to get started? Let me know, and I'll cheer you on! (If you're an experienced soaper and would like to share additional resources that you've found helpful, please feel free to help out by leaving a comment below.)
NOTE: We make soap via the Cold Process method (a cousin to the Hot Process method), but you can also enjoy crafting Melt & Pour soap. What's the difference? Anne-Marie Faiola, of Bramble Berry, explains:
"Melt and Pour (M&P or MP) utilizes a pre-made base that is ready to use as is (literally, you could take the melt and pour block, as-is, get in the shower and lather away!). Cold Process soap is made by mixing or saponifing lye and oil and the resulting chemical reaction is soap. With M&P base – the saponification and waiting step has been done for you while with CP, you do it yourself." (quoted from her Free Beginner's Guide to Soapmaking).