6 common soap making mistakes and how to avoid them

Making handmade soap is fun, relaxing, and you can be as creative as you want. It also allows you to create something good for your body.
But for a newbie, it might be a little bit too overwhelming.
Nothing terrible will happen if you break some of these rules, but for your and other’s safety, it is better to read through before you start your handmade soaping adventure!

Not being familiar with soap calculator.

Oils and butter have something called a sap value, also known as the saponification value. It is a number assigned to oil or butter that tells you the amount of lye needed to convert one gram of specific fat (oil/butter) to soap. If you use the same recipe every time, you can check the soap calculator once, write those numbers down, and never return to it unless you want to change oil or butter, which leads us to point two on this list. I always use soap calc.

Changing oil or butter without running it through a soap calculator.

As mentioned before, each oil and butter has its sap value. For example, Pumpkin Seed Oil has a sap value of 0.139 for lye, while Babassu Oil has a sap value of 0.175, and you can not substitute those two across. 

Not using safety equipment.

Safety equipment is often being ignored and is a standard soap making mistake. You should be wearing:

  • safety glasses – Be sure you have something covering your eyes. You don’t want that strange little splash to end up in your eyes accidentally
  • long sleeves – When using lye, you may get little pieces of it that stay on your bare arms as you measure (Ask me how I know it πŸ˜€ ). It will itch your skin immediately. Do yourself a favour and wear those long sleeves.
  • wear socks and long pants – no barefoot, please! Speaking from experience here.
  • face mask – You do not want to inhale the lye fumes. You can try to turn your head away and mix the lye outside, but wear a mask if you can not do that.

Measuring your ingredients incorrectly

It does not feel comfortable telling you what to do, but it is a MUST to use a kitchen scale when it comes to measuring the ingredients.
You can not eyeball or use the cup to measure your oil or butter. We spoke about sap value before, remember? πŸ˜‰ When the recipe calls for 130g lye, you MUST use 130g lye. Otherwise, your soap can harm your skin.
If you want your soap to saponify and be safe to use, the kitchen scale is your friend.

Not preparing all ingredients beforehand

Mixing colourants or micas, preparing vegetable pulp or measuring essential oil after pouring lye into oils is not the best idea. Actually, it is the worst idea because things move quickly.
Prepare all ingredients, whisks and bowls in your soaping area so they will be reachable while you are soaping.

Using fragrance oil, you didnt test before

Getting to smell all those lovely fragrance oils can make you go crazy, I understand. I was there, too.
But not every fragrance oil behaves the same.
It can dilute, condense or make no difference to the soap mass.
So when you are planning to make a beautiful watermelon soap, make sure you are quick enough to mix fragrance oil with the oils. Otherwise, you might get stuck with a soap mass that turned into a stone. Been there, done that πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

Before you pour the fragrance oil into the whole soap mass, first do a small test to see how the fragrance oil behaves:

  • pour a small amount of soap mass into a small container
  • add fragrance oil and mix
  • watch what happens with the soap mass
  • If it turns out that the mass has solidified within 3-5 seconds, it will mean that you will not have time to make a multi-coloured soap.

So, these are basic things you need to be aware of and cautions you need to take when making your soap from scratch.
Especially if you are a newbie, you may be stressed out about all the things at first. I know I was, too. I was checking the soap in the mould every five minutes.
But I can tell you, the more soap you make, it gets easier and more enjoyable for you! I promise!

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