Ready to get into soap making?! First, you gotta know what soap making supplies you need based on the method of soap making you want to explore. Once you get all the supplies, head over to the beginner’s guide to soap making ingredients.
There’s four main methods to soap making and the materials & supplies necessary may vary with each method. We’ll go over all of them in the other guides but I’ll make sure to specify if it’s only used for a certain method. Use the checklists at the end of this guide to make sure you have all the supplies for the methods you want to explore.
SOAP MAKING SUPPLIES AND MATERIALS
Ventilated Space – A ventilated space is most important if you’re working with lye (sodium hydroxide). Lye can be extremely corrosive and you’ll need to take a lot of precautions while working with it. It’s used in cold process and hot process soap. We’ll get more into lye later. (For cold process, hot process)
Rubber Gloves, Goggles and Mask – Rubber gloves and goggles are required if you are using lye. Again, these are just safety precautions that are necessary in the cold and hot process of making soap. Don’t use cheap goggles for this. You really need to protect your eyes. Buy goggles that are typically used in labs where you would need extreme protection from various chemicals. Use a mask so that you aren’t inhaling the fumes of the lye. (For cold process, hot process)
Water (Distilled) – When making soap bars, you should use water that is free of minerals and contaminants. Distilled water is way better than using regular tap water. This will produce the best soap bars if you’ll be able to control as many ingredients as you can in the final product. (For cold process, hot process)
Water (Regular) – You’ll need water to wash off chemicals or any other ingredients you get on yourself. You can just use your sink for this. This is different than the water you’ll be using for the actual soap making. (For cold process, hot process, melt-and-pour, rebatch)
Stainless Steel Pot – If using the cold process soap making, make sure that you designate one stainless steel pot to use for lye. Do NOT use aluminum. This is where the actual soap making magic will happen. Since this chemical is no joke, you want to make sure that it doesn’t get confused with a pot that you actually cook with. (For cold process)
Stainless Steel Saucepan – You’ll be using this to heat your fats, oils and other additives. (For cold process)
Heat-Safe Glass Containers/Measuring Cups – You’ll need these to start mixing your ingredients together. Do not use plastic containers as it may melt while making soap. (For cold process, hot process, melt-and-pour, rebatch)
Measuring Spoons – Used to measure! When you use it to measure lye, you should stick with plastic. Certain metals may react with the lye. Make sure you don’t use any plastic for super hot solutions when you measure. You might melt the spoon. (For cold process, hot process)
pH Paper – Phenolphthalein or litmus strips can be used to check the soap’s pH. It’s recommended for use to check the pH in the hot process soap method. (For hot process)
Pipettes – Pipettes aren’t completely necessary but are pretty easy for measuring small amounts of ingredients such adding drops of essential or fragrance oils. (For cold process, hot process, melt-and-pour, rebatch)
Digital Scale – Digital scales are most important when making soap using the cold or hot process method since you’ll need to be pretty accurate with your measurements of the chemicals. Find a scale that weighs to the tenth of a measurement in both grams and ounces. I love the Amazon Basic digital scale (pictured on the right). It’s not expensive and weighs in ounces, grams, pounds, or kilograms up to 11 lbs. (For cold process, hot process, maybe melt-and-pour)
Thermometers (2) – Thermometers are important for cold and hot process methods as you’ll need to keep a good eye on the temperature of your oil mixture and your lye mixture. It’s good to have 2 different thermometers so that you can use one for lye and one for oils. You also should ensure that the thermometers are made of glass or stainless steel so that the lye won’t react to it. (For cold process, hot process)
Silicone Spatulas – Silicone spatulas are used to help you mix. Don’t use wood for soap making. The lye will start to erode the wooden spatulas if used frequently. (For cold process, hot process)
Mixing Spoons/Spatulas – You can use wooden or metal spoons for mixtures that don’t have any lye in it. (For melt-and-pour, rebatch)
Electric Stick Blender – An electric stick blender will be used to mix. The stick blender pictured on the side is pretty affordable and comes with a whisk too! Helpful for other kitchen adventures! (For cold process)
Bottle of Rubbing Alcohol – This will be used to ensure a smooth surface on your soap as you pop any bubbles that have formed. (For cold process, hot process, melt-and-pour, rebatch)
Microwave – A microwave is typically used for the melt-and-pour or rebatch method.(For melt-and-pour, rebatch)
Crockpot – A crockpot is only used for hot process soap making. It helps accelerate the saponification process. You don’t need to get a separate crockpot to work with the lye because the lye will cook out of the soap. A crockpot isn’t necessary for the hot process soap making either, it’s just one option you have if you decide to make soap using this process. Don’t think you can’t try the hot process method without a crockpot. (For hot process)
Plastic Wrap – This is mainly used for hot process soap making utilizing the crockpot method. (For hot process)
Knife – A medium-sized knife is used to cut soap or soap bases in the melt-and-pour method or rebatch method. (For melt-and-pour, rebatch)
Cutting Board – Any cutting board will do while cutting soap or soap bases in the melt-and-pour method or rebatch method. (For melt-and-pour, rebatch)
Soap Molds – Molds are used to create the solid shape of the soap. There are several types of molds that you can use. (For cold process, hot process, melt-and-pour, rebatch)
Plastic – Plastic molds are cheaper but not the easiest to use. They can be pretty difficult to remove from the plastic once the soap solidifies. If you want to be more cost-effective, you can try these and see if the risks are worth the benefits.
Silicone – Silicone molds are my favorite. They are easy to use and still pretty affordable. The soaps are easy to unmold, which makes it easier to use than plastic ones. However, the silicone molds can be a bit flimsy and the shape of your soap may not come out exactly as you had desired. I currently love this affordable silicone mold I found on Amazon. It makes soaps that are perfectly-sized for gifts!
Wooden – Wooden molds are much more sturdier than silicone molds and provide more insulation. These types of molds will need to be lined with either a wax or parchment paper. These will be the priciest type of mold.
Paper – If you really want to be cost effective, you can use paper molds such as used milk cartons. They may be flimsy but the soap is pretty easy to unmold as you can just rip off the milk carton paper.
Lining Paper – These are used to line the wooden molds before you pour the mixture into it. You can also used plastic wrap to line the wooden molds. (For wooden molds, any method)
Tape – Used to secure the lining paper for wooden molds. (For wooden molds, any method)
Cutting Tool – If you’re using molds that produce a loaf of soap, you’ll need a cutting tool to cut them into separate bars. This is primarily for wooden or paper molds. (For wooden molds, any method)