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The Everything Soapmaking Book: Learn How to Make Soap at Home with Recipes, Techniques, and Step-by-Step Instructions - Purchase the right equipment and safety gear, Master recipes for bar, facial, and liquid soaps, and Package and sell your creations

The Everything Soapmaking Book: Learn How to Make Soap at Home with Recipes, Techniques, and Step-by-Step Instructions - Purchase the right equipment and safety gear, Master recipes for bar, facial, and liquid soaps, and Package and sell your creations

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The Everything Soapmaking Book: Learn How to Make Soap at Home with Recipes, Techniques, and Step-by-Step Instructions - Purchase the right equipment and safety gear, Master recipes for bar, facial, and liquid soaps, and Package and sell your creations

3.5/5 (4 valutazioni)
402 pagine
4 ore
Nov 18, 2012


Create beautiful, natural soaps without leaving home!

Ever wonder what's really in your store-bought soap? Once you start making your own soap, you'll never have to wonder again! The Everything Soapmaking Book, 3rd Edition is a comprehensive guide to making all kinds of soap, whether you want to decorate your home or pamper your or your family's skin. Homemade soap is not only an easy project for any level craft lover, but it's beautiful, too!

Completely revised and updated with information on natural and organic ingredients, this easy-to-use guide shows you how to:
  • Choose the right soapmaking equipment
  • Blend colors and aromatic scents
  • Create all kinds of soap, from bath soap to facial cleanser
  • Make soaps for holidays and special occasions

You'll also learn how to beautifully package your soaps and sell them at farmers' markets, local retail outlets, and online craft sites. With these simple-to-follow recipes, stunning photographs, and expert tips and advice, you'll be a soapmaking expert in no time!
Nov 18, 2012

Informazioni sull'autore

Alicia Grosso has been creating handmade soap and toiletries for more than a decade. The owner and creative director of the Annabella and Company Creative Collective (, she also teaches classes and workshops in soapmaking. She lives in Los Angeles, CA.

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The Everything Soapmaking Book - Alicia Grosso



IN KITCHENS, GARAGES, BASEMENTS, and other homey spaces, people all over the country are making their own soap. For some, it is a hobby; for others, it is a microbusiness venture. For others still, it is a way of life and livelihood, employing a full staff of artisans.

If you talk to people who make soap, you find a number of common threads. The most marked is what is called the addiction. It appears that once a person has made soap, there is no turning back. Soapmaking becomes a focus, a goal, even an obsession.

Soapmaking is fun. You get back to the basics of color, chemistry, and cooking, and at the end, you wind up in the tub or shower! Soapmaking, more than many other great crafts, employs a broad set of skills, recombining them in ways you may never have imagined. You already have a number of the skills you need to make soap; you just need to start thinking like a soapmaker.

Holding a bar of soap that you created in your hands, no matter which method you used, is a great feeling. You will find you can’t stop looking at it, sniffing it, and washing with it. Everyone in your house will become very familiar with each new bar. They may scoff at first, but once they’ve actually used your soap, you’re going to get lots of requests for more soap, please!

Your learning curve will be on a nearly vertical trajectory as you find yourself back in the kitchen again and again, with another recipe and a bunch of new ingredients. You’ll find yourself combing the Internet for ingredients and information and sharing ideas with other soapmakers in the many online soapmakers’ communities. Learning has never been so fun and exciting.

As you make more and more batches of soap, you will develop your own preferences, style, and methods, and your family will be the cleanest for miles around. Requests for your soap will extend beyond your family to your friends and coworkers. It’s an excellent excuse to make as much soap as you can, learning more with each batch.

Quick projects are a great way to start, and you may find that you don’t want to do anything else. You can make beautiful soap quite easily. It is, however, more likely that you’ll want to challenge yourself more. You’ll try one technique, and it will lead to another, and another, and another. The next thing you know, you'll amaze yourself with the complicated projects you’ve completed.

One major thing to remember when learning to make soap is safety. You will be working with heat sources, hot liquids, and caustic substances. Thousands and thousands of people safely make soap every day because they’ve taken basic, common sense precautions. We’ll go into much more detail about safety later, but in general, always wear eye protection and gloves when working with heat and caustics and always tell your family and other people in your soapmaking area what you are doing and what not to touch.

Welcome to the wonderful world of soapmaking. You are about to join the thousands of soapmaking friends who call each other soap buds. Have fun, be safe, and get creative.


The Renaissance of Handmade Soapmaking

Once a chore, making soap at home has become a creative pleasure—not only a personal pleasure, but also an international crafting boom. You are embarking on a journey to become part of this renaissance by making your own beautiful handcrafted soap at home.

Why Make Soap?

Why on earth would anyone go to all that trouble to make something you can buy for less than a dollar at the store? One of the ways to answer this question is to imagine using a bar of your wonderful handmade soap. Once you’ve used soap you made by hand with contemporary techniques, there is no going back to store-bought. There is enormous satisfaction in saying, I made this. And perhaps that is the main reason to make your own soap.

To Control What’s in the Soap

Besides the hands-on experience of using handmade soap, there are many other reasons to make it yourself. One of the most significant is that you can control exactly what you use to make your soap and thus decide what you and your family use to bathe. For example, many soapmakers began out of a desire to alleviate a child’s adverse reaction to commercial soap.

Many people who have never been able to use most commercial soaps comfortably find they can use handmade soap. They may be sensitive to the non-soap parts of commercial soap, rather than to the soap itself. Encourage friends and family with such sensitivities to give handmade soaps a try.

When you make your own soap, you can control the kind of fragrance you want. For example, if you love handmade soap and also love the smell of a certain striped green commercial soap, you can find that fragrance at soap-supply websites. You can also add only natural essences, or you can add no fragrance at all if you like.

To Create Beautiful, Useful Things

Another reason why people make soap is a desire to create beautiful, useful things. Motivation can range from wanting to capture the essence of a favorite flower to wanting to have a perfect color match for a newly painted bathroom. The beauty of herbs and flowers, the harmony of well-orchestrated color, and the tactile satisfaction of varied textures are all artistic elements that can be incorporated into a simple bar of soap.

Along with being beautiful, handmade soap is also, of course, useful. What could be more useful than a bar of soap? No matter how fancy and fabulous you make it, it still does one basic, essential thing: It cleans. Soap not only cleans skin; you can make soap to clean hair, clothes, dishes, pets, carpets, and more. Almost anything that can be washed can be washed with handmade soap.

The Origins of Soapmaking

The creation of soap, like so many other wonderful discoveries, was likely accidental. The prevailing story holds that on Mount Sapo, animals were burned as offerings to the gods. After the ceremonies, the fire pits were full of ashes and animal fats. When it rained, water ran through the ashes and fats, washing them down to the river. When the women took their washing to the river, they found clumps of a pale, waxy substance floating in the water. The women washed their clothes by pounding them with rocks. When the waxy substance was beaten with the clothes, it made a lather, and the clothing got cleaner. Eventually, this was puzzled out, and the process of making soap on purpose began.

When lye (then a strong alkaline solution leached from wood ashes that turns fats into soap) became available commercially, soapmaking became a routine task. Women saved fat drippings and later made soap with them. This great soapmaking event was frequently a once-a-year project, often with many housewives contributing to the effort. The soap was sometimes rough and harsh, and it was used to clean everything. The phrase grandma’s lye soap still strikes fear into many a person born early in the past century. Never fear; today’s handmade lye soaps, made in carefully controlled batches, bear little resemblance to what your grandma may have used to wash out your father’s mouth when he was a little boy.

Like any labor-intensive chore, soapmaking was a drain on the scarce time and energy of the busy housewife. The industrial revolution, which changed the Western world on a grand scale, also directly affected the daily lives of women who cared for homes and families. Laundry devices, advanced cooking stoves, vacuum cleaners, and running water provided enormous relief. Goods once made solely at home—such as thread, yarn, fabric, and clothing—became mass-produced and could be purchased at stores for relatively reasonable prices. Technological advances were also applied to making soap. Inexpensive toilet and house-cleaning soaps became readily available and reasonably priced. Similarly, inexpensive all-purpose soaps and expensive toilette soap, and everything in between, were available at an attractive cost-benefit ratio.

Because it was, and still is, difficult to control the strength of lye made from wood ash, home soapmaking was a labor of some trial and error. Therefore, many relied on town chandlers, or candlemakers, who also made soap. Chandlers collected cooking and butchering fats from housewives, made soap, and sold it back to the housewives. However, this soap was expensive, and thrifty housekeepers continued making soap at home.

As with so many other things, automation and convenience in soapmaking meant a sacrifice in other areas. Although mass-produced soap is very long-lasting and of consistent quality, scent, form, and color, it has lost something. Any connection to the craft of making soap is removed from commercial soap, right along with the glycerin.

Getting Back to Nature

At various times throughout American history, there have been back to nature movements. For example, reaction against urbanization led nineteenth-century authors such as Henry David Thoreau to write about and seek utopian alternatives.

Flower Children

In the 1970s, on communes, former urban dwellers milked goats and slaughtered hogs. Suburban housewives gave up phosphate-loaded laundry detergents for those with the phrase biodegradable on the box. A growing awareness of environmental damage created a desire in many people to seek out nonpolluting alternatives to commercial cleaning products. And a few people asked their grandmothers how to make soap at home.

Soap made from kitchen drippings became a not-unheard-of household item again. Not many people were doing it, but there were some. An upsurge in vegetarianism led to experiments with all–vegetable oil soaps. Soon, olive oil soap scented with patchouli oil could be found in hippie shops on Telegraph Avenue near San Francisco and in New York’s Greenwich Village.

Finding Community

After you’ve begun making soap, thinking about soap, and dreaming about soap, you will of course want to talk about it. You may find that your beloved family can take only so much discussion of a new and wonderful swirling technique or smell only so many fragrance oil samples, and that they have declining interest as you compare the finer points of brands of stick blenders.

You must talk to someone! You have so many questions, and you will have so much to share! A small group of soapmakers that gets together once a month is a great outlet. However, many soapers have no soapers close by. And since soapmakers tend to be busy and creative in all aspects of their lives, finding time for even an occasional get-together can be difficult.


Pioneers in the renaissance of handmade soap like Ann Bramson, Sandy Maine, and Barbara Bobo wrote books, founded soap companies, and started organizations to share their wisdom and to promote handmade soap. Starting in the early 1970s with Bramson’s Soap: Making It, Enjoying It, soapmaking books have found eager learners wanting more and more information. In the mid-1990s, the Internet had taken hold, and mailing lists and groups dedicated to learning about soapmaking formed and grew. More books, teaching websites, and the Handcrafted Soapmaker’s Guild—founded by Barbara Bobo—have been helping a new generation of soapmakers refine their craft and find like-minded people.

Friends Online

The Internet is host to a huge, growing, vibrant community of soapmakers. Getting together for chats, instant messaging questions, and participating in ongoing mailing list forums have saved many a soapmaker from the frustration of having no one to talk to. The Internet has been described as vast and cold, but it has become the virtual water cooler of soapmakers around the world. A major benefit of participating in an online soapmakers’ community is the feeling of belonging. Many soapmakers have found long-lasting, close friendships with other soapers they have never met in person. Exchange of ideas, support when a batch didn’t work out right, and help with a recipe can all be found in that cold world of cyberspace.

If you plan to meet a soaper you’ve met online in person, follow the safety guidelines for any meeting with an Internet acquaintance. Meet in a public space and don’t go alone. Most often, people are who they say they are, but it is good sense to be cautious.

There are some specific guidelines to follow when joining an online community. Each online community has its own set of rules, ranging from whether or not you may advertise your goods to the group, when and how you may do so, whether you may refer to other businesses in your posts, and what constitutes on- and off-topic discussions. Please read the terms of service for the host your group uses. It is good Internet manners to lurk for a time before joining in the ongoing discussion. Read and search the archives of the group before posting a question. Start out with a question or a hello to the group, saying who you are and what kind of soap you make.

Friends in Your Neighborhood

Meeting other soapers can be difficult at first. A good way to do it is to go to farmers’ markets where handmade soap is sold. There are likely to be other soapers there doing the same thing you are—looking for someone to talk soap with!

You can also find other soapers in the craft store while you shop for supplies. Striking up a conversation at the soap-casting display has been the beginning of many a firm and soapy friendship. The handmade soap section of a health food store is good, too.

If you are fortunate to live near other soapers, make getting together once in a while a priority. It’s fun to pool ideas and even supplies. Going out to dinner with other soapers can get you all talked out. Try it if for no other reason than to give your family a break from hearing about soap.

The Value of Soaping Together

Soapmaking partnerships can be as simple as an afternoon together now and then. They can also lead to jointly run business ventures. Working together and sharing creative expression creates a strong bond that can go anywhere.

Soaping together is a way to share supplies, skills, and space. The burden on one’s own house and kitchen can become overwhelming to soaper and family. Getting together at a soap bud’s house can centralize projects and make the work more fun. Some soap friends consolidate both their families in one house for a weekend while the soapers take over the other house.

At-home moms find that soaping at home can be a worrisome activity with young children, especially at the toddler stage. Hot temperatures, potentially dangerous caustics, and the need for lengths of time of undivided attention are all reasons to be careful soaping around kids. Getting your kids organized for a play date with the kids of another soaper and reciprocating in kind may give you the help you need. Or perhaps a friend who loves your soap would take charge of a play date in exchange for a wonderful batch of soap made just for her.

You may, of course, find that soaping alone suits you just fine. There is something soothing about creating in solitude. If you live alone, you are free to spread out your soapmaking activities as much as you like. Although you may be sorely tempted to work all night on a new project, to be safe, don’t soap when you are tired.

Soapmaking Research

As you begin making your own soap and chatting with other soapmakers, you’ll discover one important fact: Soapmakers spend great amounts of time in the tub or shower. Relaxing? Certainly, but there is work to be done! Each soap must be tried, mental notes made, and future plans outlined. You’ll enjoy placing your soaps around the tub or shower. If you have more than one bathroom, even better. Don’t forget the kitchen. Just be sure to use that soap.

Another form of research is to buy soaps made by other soapers. Shop at craft fairs, farmers’ markets, and over the Internet. You’ll educate yourself, and you’ll also support a fellow soapmaker. It is amazing how much you can learn by using another person’s soap.

Be sure to let yourself simply enjoy the fruits of your and others’ labors. Like an actor cringing at a bad play or a chef eating at a bad restaurant, your heightened senses will always be ready to analyze any soap you find. Try to turn off your internal soapmaker and simply enjoy. If you come across a soap you don’t like while bathing, put it aside and save the critical assessment for later. Enjoy the wonderful community of soap buds!


Soapmaking Equipment

In any new crafting endeavor, taking the time to obtain the proper equipment will make everything else go smoothly. Soapmaking has the added caveat that your safety depends on the proper equipment. With careful research and shopping, you can outfit yourself for soapmaking for far less money than you might think. Use recommended equipment at first, then create your own system variations as you gain experience. You’ll need safety equipment, a scale, pots and pans, a thermometer, utensils, measuring equipment, a stick blender, soap molds, and cutting tools.

Safety Gear

Soapmaking at home can be hazardous. Heat and caustics are the primary potential dangers. If you fear that you cannot sufficiently control your surroundings to keep and use soapmaking materials safely, do not make soap at home. However, soap is made without incident every day by thousands of home soapmakers. The basic safety gear you’ll need is eye protection, rubber gloves, long sleeves, oven mitts, a painter’s paper dust mask or filter mask, and for applications using a stove, a fire extinguisher.

Eye Protection

Internet soapmaking supply companies and hardware stores stock a variety of eye protection. Make sure that the eye protection you use is resistant to impact, caustics, and heat. If you wear glasses, get goggles that are large enough to wear over them. Be particular as you shop for eye protection. Never take chances with the health and safety of your eyes.

The danger to your eyes comes from the potential of lye particles, lye solution, raw soap, hot oils, and other liquids splashing you in the face. In methods that do not use caustics to create soap, the potential hazards are hot melted soap and steam. As long as you work mindfully, you will experience very few—if any—splashing events. However, you do not want to be caught unprotected in the event that one should occur. Many soapmakers use a full-face shield that can be flipped up or down as they work.

It’s always a good idea to post the phone numbers of your physician, emergency room, and poison control center where they are easily seen. If you were to have an accident, you would be able to get the help you need more quickly.

At the very least, caustics will cause surface irritation to the skin on your face. At the worst, you can be blinded if you splash lye solution in your eyes. Be sure to have an emergency plan just in case something horrible should happen.


Regular rubber kitchen gloves provide appropriate protection for your hands and lower arms. Make sure the gloves you buy have textured fingers so that you can keep a firm grip on your equipment. Some soapmakers prefer heavy-duty gloves. Just be sure you can use your fingers freely.

Thin examination gloves are sufficient for handling partly cured soap. You can find these in the pharmacy section of a mass-market store and at drugstores. If you are sensitive to latex, you can buy gloves made from thin vinyl or neoprene. Check your gloves regularly for holes and splits. Replace them before you need to.

When you are finished with your soapmaking project for the day, clean your gloves well with soap and water. If you clean them and dry them, they’ll last quite some time. Turn them inside-out to dry, and store them only after they’re completely dry.

Be sure to protect your arms above the gloves with a long-sleeved shirt. An oversized button-up shirt with sleeves you can roll up is ideal.

These safety precautions are not meant to scare you; however, it is always of primary importance to put safety first, fun second. Once you are sure you have the safety measures in place, you can relax and enjoy the fun of soapmaking!

Remember that you’re not going to go around carelessly splashing lye. You will have everything prepared so you won’t be running here and there, dripping caustics and hot soap around. Just use common sense and be sure you protect yourself and household surfaces.

Painter’s Paper Dust Mask or Filter Mask

If you’re making soap with lye, caustic steam will rise when you combine the lye and water. Usually it is enough just to stand back and not breathe the steam, but if you are concerned about sensitivity, take the extra precaution of wearing a painter’s paper dust mask or filter mask over your mouth and nose.

Fire Extinguisher

Whenever you are working with a stove, hotplate, or other heat source, you need to have a fire extinguisher within easy reach. Make sure your fire extinguisher is charged and ready to go. The time you need the fire extinguisher is not the time to wonder where it is or if it’s charged. Read the instructions so that you know how to use it. Also be sure to review basic kitchen safety procedures. For example, you would never throw water on an oil fire, and you would always use protective mitts when handling hot pans and utensils.

Water, Not Vinegar

Vinegar has traditionally been thought of as a neutralizer for lye and raw soap spills. However, you should not pour vinegar onto an alkaline spill on skin. It would be a good idea to let your doctor know you are making soap, and ask about the best way to handle skin contact with caustics. If you come in contact with lye or raw soap batter, gently wipe the spill from your skin. Then flush with water and finally wash with soap and water. Don’t wait to finish stirring your batch before removing and rinsing a smear of raw soap from your skin. Do it as soon as it gets on you.


The best way to measure ingredients for making soap is by weight, so you need a good scale. Measuring by volume is not consistent or accurate. Inaccuracies in measuring become amplified when you are working with small batches. One ounce of oil more or less won’t make a big difference in a batch that has a total weight of 12 pounds. But in a batch of 1 pound, 1 ounce short or extra is a huge difference and can make a batch far too alkaline or too oily.

When you shop for scales, economy shouldn’t be your primary concern. You need accuracy,

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