Making soap at home can be fun, save you money and be environmentally friendly. It is important to realise that there are two main types of homemade soap – cold press – which is making soap from scratch with oils and Lye, and melt and pour – which is using a premade soap base from which to add your flavours and textures. (Thank you Molly for pointing out that there are other ways of making soap – including hot process – lots of boiling and smells)
If you wish to try making soap from scratch a really good tutorial is here at down to earth – all you will need is oils – cheap olive oil is a good place to start – and Lye (caustic soda) – the caustic soda is neutralised (called saponification) in the process but starts out as being a hazardous chemical – so safety equipment is required. The end product of this soap is totally natural ingredients and lovely on your skin – this soap however does need to be cured for several weeks before you can use it.
Cranberry lane has en excellent article on soap making and how to make cold pressed soap here. Treehugger also has a recipe and about.com has a good roundup of the pros and cons of cold pressed vs melt and pour. Waltonfeed has a whole bunch of tips and links on soap making + recipes.
Melt and pour soap is a soap base, usually with glycerin added, which is melted, flavours and textures and colours added, and then poured into a mold – it can be used almost straight away. Melt and pour is super easy – safe for the kids to help out with, and if you use a good quality and natural soap base – lovely on your skin. One problem with melt and pour is the soap base is not always as natural as you might think so check the ingredients first if this is important to you – the clear glycerin soap base which is so fun to use has lots of chemicals added to it.
here is a basic how to use melt and pour. Go planet earth has some really fun melt and pour recipes. I recommend the melt and pour from here - natural ingredients. Aussie soap supplies also has a really good recipes, tips and tutorials.
images are from etsy soap sellers:
Cold process soap with lavender from pamper me please
cold process soap with clay and essential oils from you stink soap
cold process soap from fuzzy bunny.
cold process goats milk soap from pixie soap.