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GemstonePony

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Hello, all! I'm looking to get into soapmaking as a very side hobby since I have a full time job. I love intricate, colorful, detail-oriented work, but my concentration doesn't last well, so the fact that I don't get forever to work on it should work well for me.
I love chemistry and texture, so I'm not looking for the cheapest/simplest options. I also love experimenting and can afford to fail a bit.
And I'd prefer to keep my bars naturally based, including scents, even if it makes my other goals more challenging.
I would like to branch into shampoo bars and lotions eventually, but soap looks like a good place to start.
Thanks for reading!
 

Zany_in_CO

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Howdy from Colorado USA!
There are many Newbies and Semi-newbies here so you are in good company. You might want to take some time to read info posted on the Beginner's Forum -- especially the Stickies. There's lots of good information there to help you. Take a cuppa along and scroll down to Lovin' Soap Studio to get a handle on most of the stuff we talk about here.

To save time, money, and frustration, this is a good read for a soaper at your stage of experience:
Q: What advice would you give to your beginning soaping self?

Most of the equipment you need you probably already have in your kitchen, with the exception of a stick blender which you might find at a thrift store or Walmart, Target, etc. You can use a whisk to bring soap to trace, but a stick blender is faster.

LYE NaOH (Sodium Hydroxide): Look for Roebic or Rooto "100% sodium hydroxide" locally at the hardware store or big box stores (as drain cleaner). Some online soap making suppliers like WSP sells it and is the supplier that is closest to a one-stop shop for supplies, including molds.

For very little expense, you can buy lard at the grocery store which makes a fine bar of soap all by itself. Plan on making small 1 pound (500g) batches at first to get the hang of it. Molds can be made from milk cartons, plastic containers or cardboard boxes lined with plastic bags or freezer paper.

Run all recipes through a calculator like SoapCalc first.
You can get feedback by starting a new thread on the Recipe Feedback Forum (non-soap items too).

If you like chemistry, DeeAnna's Soapy Stuff is a good read for Newbies & experienced soapers alike.

The best way to search SMF: Look for the SpyGlass in the upper right corner of this page or GOOGLE (type your keywords here) site:soapmakingforum.com

If you have problems negotiating the forum, feel free to contact our Admin/Mods by clicking on their names or avatars: Angie, Irish Lass, Relle, lsg, Shunt 2011

HAPPY SOAPING!
 

GemstonePony

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Thank you @Zany_in_CO !
Everyone here seems so friendly, this seems like a wonderful group of people.
I've already flipped through a bunch of those threads, and thanks for the advice on the lye! That was one of the materials I've still been researching sourcing on.
I've watched a lot of tutorials on YouTube and I've read a few books. My favorite book so far has been the Soapmaker's Companion by Susan Miller Cavitch.
I have stuff in shopping carts with WSP, Bramble Berry, Mad Mica, and Amazon (I might be missing a vendor) while I check, double-check, read reviews, research some more, read more reviews... So. Many. Reviews. But it's worth it to me to invest in quality the first time around as opposed to buying twice. Also, I use my Mom's kitchen for most baking things (it's significantly larger), so while I have quite a bit of experience, I'll be buying a fair amount of utensils, dishes, containers, measuring things, etc. for soap endeavors.
 

Zany_in_CO

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Thank you! I've already flipped through a bunch of those threads, and thanks for the advice on the lye!
You're welcome! I feel I should mention that most of us buy lye in bulk from online sources to get the best price. For example, The Lye Guy has a deal "Buy 5 (2 lb containers) get 1 Free". Use the Search feature at the top-right of this page to find more lye vendors.
I've watched a lot of tutorials on YouTube and I've read a few books. My favorite book so far has been the Soapmaker's Companion by Susan Miller Cavitch.
TIP: Too much YouTube leads not only to confusion (conflicting information) but also to "decision paralysis" cuz there are so many tempting soaps you will want to try! :eek: Eek!

Soapmaker's Companion is an excellent reference book. It's one of the few I have on my soap shelf and refer to often. Caution: 2 things. Her recipes use 10% or so SF (Super Fat). Not recommended. 5% SF is average and a good place for beginners to start. She also uses Grapefruit Seed Extract as an "antioxidant" to protect against the unsaponified oils/fats from degrading. GSE is hard to find, expensive and studies show it's not as effective as ROE (Rosemary Oleoresin Extract) and natural (vs."acetate") Vitamin E.
I have stuff in shopping carts with WSP, Bramble Berry, Mad Mica, and Amazon
If you can buy it all at WSP, once you spend $500 (over a year's time) you become a "Silver Member" which entitles you to special discounts, freebies, and free samples. When comparing prices, remember that shipping is included in WSP's pricing, which means, to get a true comparison, you need to add shipping cost to the product you're comparing.

Bramble Berry sells quality but pricey and known for slow delivery. The Owner, Anne Marie is the best teacher for easy to follow videos on Soap Queen TV, especially for beginners. Well worth a look.

Mad Micas: I advise you to back burner the micas for now and concentrate on making the best all natural soap you can. That's enough challenge without adding micas to it. I've been making all natural Bath and Body products for 16 years and never use micas -- except for one soap: A rainbow soap for a wholesale customer's LGBTQ Annual Event.
Also, I use my Mom's kitchen for most baking things (it's significantly larger), so while I have quite a bit of experience, I'll be buying a fair amount of utensils, dishes, containers, measuring things, etc. for soap endeavors.
Once again, WSP has one of the best assortments of molds. Also the other items you mentioned. They also have some very unique fragrances that combine the best of both worlds, EO & FO Blends. I've only tried two so far -- good "stickers" and long lasting, which most EOs are not.

If you haven't done so yet be sure to read this before plunking down your hard earned $$$!
Q: What advice would you give to your beginning soaping self?

HAPPY SHOPPING!
 
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