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Jun 15, 2008
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Sunderland - UK
Hi I'm totally new to soap making and was hoping that I could get some ideas on the equipment eg. pots and pans. I have read that I should only use stainless steel or enamel stockpots the thing is most stockpots I come across are cast iron with an enamel coating would this still be ok to use?
You don't have to have stainless steel to make soap. You can use a large glass bowl to mix your cold process soap. An old ceramic crockpot insert is just the right size for smaller batches. I have even used a heavy plastic container to stir the oil and lye solution to trace. I have a quart jelly jar that I have designated for mixing my lye solution. I use some old wooden mixing spoons and an old rubber spatula for stirring the soap and for scraping it out of the mixing bowl. I use a cheap stick blender sometimes to mix the soap.
I started out making 1 lb. batches of soap in an old blender. Just make sure that equipment used for cold process soap is used only for soap and not for food.
I mix my lye solution in the jar, in the kitchen sink, so if the jar breaks it won't go all over everything. I also set my soap mixing bowl or container in the sink while I am mixing. That way, if there is an accident, it will be contained.
A few things that you do need to invest in are a good digital scale, eye goggles and rubber gloves.
Hi Lynn and welcome to the forum! :)

A Pyrex measuring cup is commonly used for lye mixing. These tempered glasses are safe up to boiling temperatures. I use a 2 qt. measuring cup dual use food and soapmaking, washing it twice before returning it to food use.

Steel pots are the ideal container to heat your fats and mix in the lye. An enameled iron container is the least expensive choice. It would probably be better to not use this container for food too, but I suppose a careful and thorough person could. I got a 2-1/2 qt. steel double boiler pot at Bed Bath & Beyond for about $12 after applying a coupon.

Neither aluminum nor iron should be used for soapmaking because lye reacts with these two metals. Utensils and containers should be steel, glass or corrosion resistant plastic. Wooden utensils may be use but the lye eventually ruins them and they have to be replaced.

A family member gave me an unwanted 8 qt. stock pot and I have my own 12 qt. stock pot if I want to go the wash really thoroughly before returning to food use. Steel is practically indestructible so you can get very radical about your cleaning methods.

I got a large crock pot on sale at Sears for $20. A Euro-Pro model, made in China. Go figger. ;)

I found that it was easy to get all the basic gear cheaply if you're willing to shop around. Sears, Walmart, BB&B if you have their 20% coupons, and don't forget to check out restaurant supply stores. There's no reason why anybody can't get all the equipment they need for about $100. Maybe a bit more if you have to purchase a large steel pot brand new (about $50-$80 depending on size). The inexpensive enameled iron stock pots sold at Walmart are the least expensive mixing containers.
Im new to the whole soap making thing as well, but I use pyrex measures from wal-mart to do everything with. I bought a huge pyrex bowl, but my measuring cups are sufficient for my 1lb batches. The molds I use now are the silicon bread molds with some towels wrapped around them. Everything cost my under $50 canadian and sits in a rubber maid container when I'm done cleaning them.

Hope this helps.
Can't go wrong with Pyrex! :)

Of course even Pyrex demands respect. You cannot pour ice water into an oven hot Pyrex container, nor pour boiling water into Pyrex just out of the freezer, and it'll shatter if you drop it on something too hard, but when used with common sense Pyrex is extremely durable and very cleanable.
Tare weight. Yeah, gotta have it. My model is out of production...

Get one that reads in both grams and ounces.
I use an Escali 5000 gr./11 lb. capacity. It will zero out and measures in grams, ounces and pounds. There may be a better option; but I am pleased with this scale and it wasn't too expensive.
Thank you

Thank you all for your help. I live in the United Kingdom and we don't have a Wal-Mart or Sears. I guess I'll just have to shop around for the equipment I need. At least now I know what I need to look out for :lol:
Hi Lynne,

I'm from the UK too, and I use a plastic mixing jug that is capable of dealing with boiling water. I got it from Robert Dyas, which is chain of kitchen/gardening shops (I think they are pretty much all over the country). I just tested it out with boiling water quite a few times before I used it for lye mixing.

I love to find things for soaping at Ikea. I got 8 plastic measuring cups, about 4 cups each - $1.79. Work great for swirling. For mixing the soap, I reuse the 3.5 and 5 gallon buckets I get my oil in. I keep the lye in a washed out fabric softener container from Costco. I found a Rival 8 qt Crockpot at Goodwill for $3.00, I use that when I have to rebatch.

Normally I do RTCP, but when I am making something special and have to heat the oil I use a very old, but still serviceable white LeCreuset cast iron pot I found under the laundry room when we moved to this house.

I never use anything for food that I use for soap. I'm a bit of a color fanatic in my decor so whatever I use for soap is WHITE or glass - spatulas, spoons, bowls. I tried the wooden spoons, but they started to wear away rather quickly, so now I use rubber. I find it more flexible than nylon for scraping to get the last bits out of the container. Once I got serious about soaping DH made our most of our mudroom into a soap kitchen. It has it's own shelving, cabinets, work tables, a cooker and a DEEP laundry sink to wash buckets. No more soapy spaghetti!
thank you

thank you for all this information

soap making forum is the best forum
I like using my stainless steel pots. It seems when I am trying to cool the lye solution, the stainless steel pots conducts the cold from the ice bath better than glass or plastic. Brings the temp down real quick.