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How to economically get into fancy soap-making?

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My daughter became enamored with a boutique display of fancy soap (the kind poured into long molds then sliced...) and would like to start making some. We've done melt-and-pour and took a goat milk soap class but that's the extent of our soaping experience. Is there a fairly economical way to break into this hobby? Or just pick a recipe and buy what's needed, then start expanding from there? Any tips for a newbie would be appreciated! :)

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I love fancy fancy soaps and buy them just for the looks for display....True works of art I have seen out there that is so spell bounding....

 

Trappeur

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Welcome!

like anything else there’s a learning curve. First, I’d learn to make a nice soap, then try to make it fancy.

 

if you choose melt and pour, practice making the embeds, etc. placing them into a mold, and see how your soap ages.  Some do ok, some degrade rapidly.

 

if selecting cold or hot process (which involve lye) learn the process, and like melt and pour, practice making the embeds, etc. and watch how your soap ages.  Some recipes age horribly, turning rust orange. Others are very brittle limiting what you can so.  

 

The holy trinity of oils, (25% coconut, 25%palm and 50%olive) produces a fine soap and is generally easy to work with.  Soapcalc.net is a nice place to start so you can create a safe soap, it tells you how much lye is needed for the oils you are using. 

 

In any event, any fragrance you use will need time testing too.  Some mess with the soap causing it to either become too “loose” while working with it, others cause it to seize into cement in the pouring pot. Some fade, some morph. Play around and see what works for you. 

 

a very simple soap packaged well can be a nice lead in to fancy soap. 

 

When you’re ready to sell, look into the Indie Business Network or Soap Guild for product liability insurance. Typically if you want to be in stores you’ll be asked to provide proof of insurance with at least $1 mill in coverage.  The insurers noted cost about $500 a year and come with some nice member perks and benefits. The indie business network offers a wonderful business forum that helps people just starting out in business learn to figure out the real costs of Doing business so you’re not surprised along the way. 

 

Good luck! 

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37 minutes ago, TallTayl said:

 First, I’d learn to make a nice soap, then try to make it fancy.

 

Tall is 100% spot-on, but I wanted to emphasize this.   It takes time to perfect a soap.  Then you want to see how nice it is in six months and then again in a year.  Others may disagree, but what appears to be a fabulous product may be rather horrific in a year. 

 

When my grandmother passed away, I found that she still had some of the old bars I'd made ages ago tucked away in a drawer with some old wax melts.  Various mixes, various scents, various colors.  Some were amazing.  Some not so much.  It was an eye opener.

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I would also start as the others have suggested, and master the basics firsts. It sounds to me like you are wanting to learn how to make cold process soap, which is quite a bit more involved on the front end than Melt and Pour (although I think melt and pour is a lot tougher for doing the fancy stuff with!).

Brambleberry has great tutorials and nice kits, as suggested by Kandlekrazy.

If you would like to create your own recipe with locally sourced materials, you can get GV shortening from Walmart, olive oil, and coconut oil from the same aisle for a reasonable price. Many hardware stores carry Red Devil lye, you will need that as well, and distilled water to dilute it in. You can use Soapcalc to determine your amounts of everything.

BUT you will still need to find a really good tutorial, because it's a little more complex than throwing your ingredients together like cake mix. Oh! I forgot, you will need a scale as well to weigh your ingredients, Walmart has some decent ones.

Natures Garden has some good tutorials. I think WSP does as well, if you look way back. I do think WSP's are not as detailed and lack some of the info a beginner would need. Definitely check out Brambleberry!

Havr fun!!

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Yep, agreed.

Learn, read, research then expand. 

 

You can start with a kit, see if you even like doing it in the first place. Learn which oils bring the qualities you want in a soap. Fancy soaps are great, and what I make and market my soaps as, however, as fancy as they are, they should still be functional, and skin soothing.

Soapmaking, in my personal experience, has a faster learning curve than candlemaking does, so there is a plus there. However, the wait time is much longer. Most soaps will need at least a 4 week cure, and depending on oils can take much longer to get a nice cure. You will learn all the terminology with the research you do. Just know that cure does not = saponify. As long as a soap has fully saponified and there is no active lye in the end product, it will be perfectly safe to use. However, it will not be it's best or the most mild it can be until a full cure is achieved. 

 

 

 

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Thank you so much for the helpful advice and replies, everyone! We'll get started with a simple recipe and go from there!

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TallTayl nailed it and I agree with all the other suggestions ESPECIALLY Sarah_S comment YOU NEED A SCALE. 

The only other thing I would mention is that you get and USE all of the appropriate safety gear... Rubber Apron ( or at least a canvas apron), rubber gloves for working with lye, and SAFETY GOGGLES. It never hurts to have a gallon of white distilled vinegar NEARBY for when you inevitably splash a little active lye soap on yourself or work area. 

It's a LOT OF FUN, and it doesn't have to be  expensive. If you'd like a cheap formulation that makes a lovely soap and can be purchased 100% (except for the lye) at Walmart I'll be glad to share one with you. 

Last bit of advice and it is a HARD AND FAST COMMANDMENT that YOU NEVER BREAK.

ALWAYS RUN A FORMULATION THROUGH A LYE CALCULATOR YOURSELF. 

Never 
trust a soap formula that you haven't CHECKED in a lye calculator YOURSELF. 

I would also strongly suggest that you never make soap without a lye calculator or a scale. 

Have fun!

Cheers, 

Sponiebr
The Executor of Bad Ideas and Sundry Services.   

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You've been given a lot of great information.  Also, don't use expensive exotic oils, keep it simple. It's soap and washes off.  And, never put vinegar on a lye splash on the skin.  It will make it worse.  Rinse well under cool water.  

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