Learning to Teach Soap-making

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Active Member
Mar 1, 2020
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South Africa

I am certainly not what I would call an experienced soaper, but I think I have learnt quite fast (pats self on back lol). My soap-making story goes like this...
I moved into an amazing little cottage on a farm and my landlady, Lizzy, was buying natural soaps and asking each of the suppliers if they do courses. She desperately wanted to learn how to make soap but the answers were all "in the future I am thinking of holding courses". Being a crafter, and an avid fan of the old ways, I started researching how and then watched a few youtube videos and was surprised at how simple the art is.
I happened across a Castile HP recipe (turns out it is Bastille) and tried it and was thrilled at the result and still is one of my faves.
More research, more videos and a few batches in I read that all CP recipes can be HP and all HP can be CP - that was mostly true until I made a pure coconut 2% superfat laundry soap and tried to HP it. The result (I can hear you experienced soapers laughing already) was an instant solid mass akin to a very hard candle wax. Ever creative I stuck it in the blender with lots of water and blitzed until smooth, cooked it a little more and put it into two silicon loaf pans and into the oven to evaporate more water..... Result: soap meringue. When dried I blitzed it again and use it as laundry detergent lol. That, so far, has been my only disaster but also brought me down to size in a big way.
Lizzy was so impressed with the Bastille soap, she asked me to teach her - so we had a session and she made her own batch of lavender HP. Since then we have also played with Melt and pour for the artistic, quick results. I like melt and pour for the aesthetics and creative angle but far prefer the chemical transformation of making real soap and I want everything to be all natural ingredients. I am also not sure what actually is in the melt and pour soaps as, here in South Africa, it is not yet a criteria for ingredients to be specified on packaging.
Since I started I have experimented with various techniques, ingredients and processes and will put some pics below
So here comes the reason for this post. I would like to teach soap-making courses but would like some comments or suggestions on best practice (not the safety and legal side), or the best way to go about doing training. I personally am a hands-on person and don't want to pay money for a course where I just watch someone create something and then they expect me to "know it all" at the end. However, it seems that a lot of courses actually operate this way (including the online courses). I am also reluctant to pay for an online course when there is so much information, and videos, out there (including this soapmakingforum which is an invaluable resource).
So, my question is, would you teach a hands on course with no more than a couple of people at a time where they do the work themselves. Or, would you do bigger classes in a "classroom" and show them how and let them go home and take the risks there?
Any help would be appreciated. Thanks for an awesome forum.
My soap, batches curing and my latest two trying the hanger technique (with charcoal and eucalyptus) and the pour (with cocoa, paprika and sandalwood)


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I would do small hands on course which would mean extra molds and equipment for everyone to use.
I took a soap making class several years ago. Can't say that we learned anything about actual soap making though everyone went home with a 1lb carton of soap. It took place at a local community center that was supposed to have three working stoves for a dozen people...there was only one stove. Cost of the class included ingredients which was Shortening, Olive Oil and Coconut Oil, Lye and Distilled Water. We were required to bring out own equipment...a glass jar to mix our lye, a stainless steel pot to melt our oils and mix our batter in, eye protection, gloves, apron, , candy thermometer, spoon, whisk and clean half gallon cardboard carton (juice or milk).

After putting on glasses, gloves and aprons, we lined up to receive a paper cup of lye and have water poured into our jar. We then went outside to a picnic table and carefully poured lye into water and left it to cool. We then all lined up with our pots, set it on the scale and were given our oils and then told to melt oils...it took awhile. We were told that our oils and lye had to be exactly 110F before we could make soap...it was a bit of a mess. Then we all set down, added lye to oils and stirred...and stirred and stirred and stirred. The "instructor" finally brought out a stick blender and a half hour later, everyone had finally reached something called 'trace' and we poured our batter into our molds. As we were cleaning up, we were told to wrap our mold in a towel and put on top of our frig for a week; we could then unmold our soap, cut into bars and then leave them on the frig for three weeks and then we could use it and then we all went home.

We were going out of town so I unmold my soap at five days...it was soft and gooey and a mess to get out of the carton. I turned those six skinny, misshapen bars every day for three weeks. It was soap...not great soap, but it was soap.

If I were going to teach soap making, it would ideally be in my shop/studio and be 3-day, 2-hour a day program, max of six students. I would supply all the equipment and the cost of the class would include instruction, recipe, list of reputable soap suppliers, list of start up equipment, and ingredients. Day One would be about soap making, ingredients, equipment and lye safety. Day Two would be hands on making soap. Day Three would be unmolding, cutting and discussion.
I would charge $120 with 50% down to reserve your place and balance at the start of the class. I think it's a fair price; I paid $60 for the 'class' I took seven years ago.

I've been making soap for over a year now and while I consider myself knowledgeable enough to teach my daughter or a friend the basics of soap making, I know that I need to know more before I would feel ready to teach an actual class of strangers.
So, my question is, would you teach a hands on course with no more than a couple of people at a time where they do the work themselves. Or, would you do bigger classes in a "classroom" and show them how and let them go home and take the risks there?
As one who does teach, and has done the demonstration type classes, as well as the hands on... I will say that the hands on classes are always better. Although the demos do tend to give more followup business as people are then curious enough to pay for an individual class or at the very least buy soap. I do not do demos as a "this is everything you need to know about soapmaking" and very clearly state that this is an overview of the process and I don't expect people to be able to go home as soapmaking experts. One of the better soap demos that I did was for a group of 20-ish people, ranging in ages from 8 - 60 years old. I demonstrated how soap was made, safety precautions, and a very basic science explanation, that took about 15 minutes. I then passed out small packages of soap dough that everyone was allowed to sculpt and shape into their own creation, with a cure card to remind them to let their creation air dry until xx date, and then they could use it if they wished. I see this group of ladies once a year and they enjoy telling me that their creation is still decorating their bathroom or their husband used it by accident.