Classic Bells > Soapy stuff

Soapy Stuff

Getting started

Anne L. Watson on soap and lotion making. A lot of soap making info on the internet and in print is incorrect, wrong, and sometimes even dangerous. Anne will get your started safely and sensibly, and her books are very reasonably priced. Buy her books on Amazon.com... (external links)

Recommended online soap recipe calculators. These free calcs give the user full control over how soap recipes are set up and calculated. Even if you never want create your own recipes, you should learn to use a calc, so you can check soap recipes to ensure they are correctly calculated and safe to use.

SoapmakingFriend.com soap recipe calc. Easy to learn. Includes additive calculations, inventory control, recipe storage. Created with input from SMF members. (external link)

Soapee.com soap recipe calc. Easy to learn. Includes recipe storage. (external link)

SoapCalc.net soap recipe calc. A classic. (external link)

Estimate the Amount of Batter to Fill a Mold. Got a new soap mold? The "0.40 Rule" or the "0.70 Rule" can help.

Stick Blender Basics. Tips for using this tool to bring soap batter to "trace" without overdoing it.

Soap Making Forum. Very little drama and lots of good info. Beginners and advanced soap makers are welcome. (external link)

Soap Making Forum Fragrance Oil Review. Soaper's reviews of fragrance oils (FOs) and a list of suppliers. (external link)

Get More Help with soapy problems.

About "Soapy Stuff" and Terms of Use

 

Liquid soap (soap made with potassium hydroxide, KOH)

Liquid soap: Tips for making it

Liquid soap: Tips for designing good recipes

Liquid Soap Tutorials by Faith of Alaiyna B Bath & Body. How to make liquid soap, a basic recipe to try, various methods of thickening liquid soap, etc. (external links)

Should You Add Preservative to Liquid Soap?

Preservatives: All you need to know! By Making Skincare. Properly using preservatives in cosmetic products, including soap. (external links)

pH Testing and Lowering the pH of Liquid Soap. By Faith of Alaiyna B Bath & Body. Accurately test the pH of liquid soap and what to expect when one tries to lower the pH below what is normal for soap. (external links)

 

Bar soap (soap made with sodium hydroxide, NaOH)

What do the Soapcalc numbers really mean? Have you also wondered about the fatty acid numbers in Soapcalc?

Full water and other drippy myths. Want more consistent results when soaping? Explore better ways to calculate the water for your soap recipes.

Iodine Number and INS Value. Is an INS value of 160 the "holy grail" of a great soap recipe?

Estimate the Amount of Batter to Fill a Mold. Got a new soap mold? The "0.40 Rule" or the "0.70 Rule" can help.

Curing soap. It's not just about water evaporation. And yes, HP soap needs to cure just as much as CP soap.

Rancidity and DOS (Dreaded Orange Spots).

Calculating a dual lye (KOH and NaOH) recipe. Are you making shave soap or cream soap or do you want a better-lathering bar soap?

Rescue Oven Processing. Firm up cold-process soap that is soft and crumbly because it did not gel during saponification

Crackling, streaking, and mottling (aka glycerin rivers). It has everything to do with the fatty acids in the soap, water content, temperature, and rate of cooling ... and nothing to do with glycerin.

Glycerin Rivers by Clara Lindberg of Auntie Clara. More about creating and avoiding "glycerin rivers" in bar soap. (external links)

How to pH Test Handmade Soap. By Kenna of Modern Soapmaking. Although I believe zap testing has its place in soap making, I otherwise agree with what Kenna has written in this article. (external links)

 

Specialty soaps and projects

Egg soap. Add a little cackle and crow to your soap, easy peasy.

Pine Tar soap. Tips for making this classic but tricky soap

Laundry soap mix. The "hows and whys" of making an effective dry laundry soap

Salting-out soap scraps. An alternative to rebatching soap scraps

Making wood ash lye. For those who want to make soap the old fashioned way.

Felting bar soap. How to cover bar soap with wool fiber -- useful for travel and fun for kids

 

Alkalis -- NaOH (sodium hydroxide), KOH (potassium hydroxide), and NH4OH (ammonium hydroxide solution)

Lye Calculation using a Saponification Chart, by Auntie Clara. Still want to make soap after the zombie apocalypse? Here's how to calculate a soap recipe with pencil and paper. (external links)

Recommended online soap recipe calculators --

SoapmakingFriend.com soap recipe calc. Easy to learn. Includes additive calculations, inventory control, recipe storage. Created with input from SMF members. (external link)

Soapee.com soap recipe calc. Easy to learn. Includes recipe storage. (external link)

SoapCalc.net soap recipe calc. A classic. (external link)

Lye Concentration versus Water:Lye Ratio. A handy table.

Zap test. A time-honored, quick, and accurate way to check for excess lye.

Calculating a dual lye (KOH and NaOH) recipe. Are you making shave soap or cream soap or do you want a better-lathering bar soap?

Ammonium hydroxide (ammonia solution). How to use household ammonia solution (NH4OH) as part of the alkali in your soap.

What is "lye"? It is not just sodium hydroxide (NaOH).

NaOH or KOH purity check. A quick test suitable for kitchen chemists.

NaOH's remarkable ability to absorb water. A demonstration to show why NaOH needs to be stored properly.

Containers for lye solution. Choose a safe container for making and storing lye solution.

"Dry bucket" for storing NaOH or KOH. A method for keeping your alkali as dry and pure as possible.

Making wood ash lye. For those who want to make soap the old fashioned way.

Lye first aid. Never use vinegar to treat lye on the body!

 

Fats and Fatty Acids

What do the Soapcalc numbers really mean? Have you also wondered about the list of fatty acids in Soapcalc?

Superfat. Facts and fiction about adding extra fat in soap.

Rancidity and DOS (Dreaded Orange Spots).

High oleic, mid oleic, and regular oil. Not all sunflower, safflower, or canola oil is the same

Calculating fat content from nutrition labels. Do you ignore the fat added when you use coconut milk in your soap? Maybe you shouldn't!

How to use "ppo" What does this abbreviation mean and how to use it?

 

Water

Lye Concentration versus Water:Lye Ratio. A handy table.

Full water and other drippy myths. Want more consistent results when soaping? Better ways to calculate the water for your soap recipes.

 

Fragrance

Fragrance tips. How to interpret IFRA guidelines for adding fragrance to soap?

How to use "ppo" What does this abbreviation mean and how to use it?

 

Glycerin

Glycerin made by saponification. A quick way to calculate this.

 

Acids and Salts to increase hardness or lengthen the shelf life of soap

So what do acids do in soap?

Acetic acid (Vinegar) and Sodium acetate

Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and Sodium ascorbate

Citric acid and Citrus juice

Sodium citrate and Potassium citrate

Lactic acid

Sodium lactate

 

Chelators to bind up trace metals that can cause rancidity, DOS, and sticky soap scum

So what is a chelator anyway?

Tetrasodium EDTA

Sodium citrate and Potassium citrate

 

Antioxidants to prevent oxidation and rancidity

Rosemary Oleoresin (ROE)

Tocopherols (Vitamin E)

 

Soap Making Techniques and Tools

Stick Blender Basics. How to choose and use this must-have tool for making soap.

How to use "ppo" What does this abbreviation mean and how to use it?

Tips for pouring liquids. Eliminate drips and dribbles with pipettes and pour sticks.

Estimate the Amount of Batter to Fill a Mold. Got a new soap mold? The "0.40 Rule" or the "0.70 Rule" can help.

 

Safety and First Aid

Lye first aid. Never use vinegar to treat lye on the body!

Choosing a respirator

Choosing eye protection

Zap test. A time-honored, quick way to check for excess lye

 

Product packaging, labeling, and photography

Labels and Labeling. What information should be on your soap labels and the other documentation you create for your soap?

Creating soap labels. How I design and make labels for my soap?

Using shrink bags to package soap. How do I package my soap?

Product photography tips

 

Get more help

Do you need specific help about information I have shared here? Or do you have a suggestion or correction to make these articles more accurate and useful? If so, please contact DeeAnna.

Do you need general help about soap making, doing basic math calculations, evaluating soap recipes, using various ingredients, troubleshooting soap problems, or developing your business? If so, please join the Soap Making Forum to get help from experienced soap makers.

 

About "Soapy Stuff"

Many of these soap making articles are based on posts I have made on the Soap Making Forum since 2014. Various SMF members have encouraged me over the years to put my advice in a single location so people can find this material more easily. My solution was to put them here.

Audience. My target audience is the novice to intermediate soap maker with only basic skills in math and science. For this reason, I do not provide references except for giving proper credit for quoted material. If I was writing for a technical or scholarly audience, I would list references, but I am not, so I don't.

References. If you would like references for a specific topic, just ask. I have always and will continue to do my best to respond to reasonable and specific requests. Be aware that some of the more technical reference sources I use are only available as printed books or behind paywalls.

 

Terms of Use

Copyright. I retain all copyright privileges. This means this website is my intellectual property, and I retain ownership of all content on this website. You are welcome to use this material for personal, research, or educational purposes, as long as you do not sell my work for your personal gain or present my words to others as if they are your own.

If you want to quote this material in any published work -- including but not limited to a magazine article, book, school report, or term paper -- keep the quote BRIEF (2-3 sentences) and include a clear reference to the source of the quote. For example:

The material quoted comes from DeeAnna Weed at <insert URL here>

Corrections. While I do my best to present accurate information, I make no guarantees about the correctness of the information presented here. If anything is unclear or if you find errors or inaccuracies, please contact me about your concerns. If I am in error, I will acknowledge my mistake and correct the problem.

Disclaimer. Soap making is a risky activity, and I am not liable for any injury that you or others may receive when making soap. Use the information on this website at your own risk.

Compensation. I receive NO compensation for my soap making articles.

Ownership. I am the sole author and owner of all content on this entire website unless I specificially state otherwise. I reserve the right to change, delete, or add content anywhere on this website at any time and without notice.

DeeAnna Weed, BS ChE, MS AgE, PhD