New member, making soap for two years now

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emaesoap

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Hello everyone, I’m excited to find this forum. I’ve been making soap at home for about two years now. I’m a chemist and work in the cosmetics industry and thought this would be a fun and easy hobby for me with my science background. I don’t sell my soap but I like making big batches to give away to family and friends as gifts. Looking forward to learning more from all of you.
 

TheGecko

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and thought this would be a fun and easy hobby for me with my science background

Welcome.

I'm assuming that since you have been doing it for two years that you are having 'fun', but am curious if you found that it is 'easy', even with a science background?
 

emaesoap

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The basics have been very easy for me. I have a lot of lab experience and use sodium hydroxide solutions all the time so I think the basic safety elements were maybe less intimidating for me than someone totally new to all this. I learned about saponification reactions and sap values for oils while I was still in school, that’s what originally got me interest in soap making. I’ve been happy with the quality of all my soaps so far and I think a lot of my lab skills come in handy. I keep detailed soap making records at home just like I do for all the products I work on for my job.

That being said, the possibilities are pretty endless for soap making, and making intricate designs is more art than science, it takes a lot of practice to get certain techniques down. I’ve been having fun learning and still consider myself a beginner. I’m really interested in how the scents and colorants added can impact when a soap reaches trace.
 

TheGecko

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No science background here...I'm an accountant. I have always been respectful of Sodium Hydroxide but no more or less than anything else I might find in the kitchen.

I knew absolutely nothing about making soap before I got into it; I still remember asking someone if you needed Lye to make soap. Not unreasonable...NaOH is a 'chemical' and the whole purpose of making soap is to get away from chemicals.

I think soap making is equal parts science and magic. Now the science of saponification is the "alkaline hydrolysis of the fatty acid esters" or the lye breaks down fats into glycerol and fatty acid salts and then hardens into 'soap' or you can take lye, dissolved it in water, add it to a liquid fat or fats, give it a really good stir and it magically turns into something else called 'soap' that you can clean with with.

When I first started I just wanted to make pretty, good smelling soap that was good for you. I started with a 'tried and true' recipe, messed around with a bunch of different oils and butters that sounded good 'cuz what soap maker doesn't want to be 'original' until I found something that I, and family and friends liked to wash with because it made their skin feel good and honestly, I was good with that.

But noooooooooooooooooooooo folks just couldn't leave well enough alone. They started talking about 'fatty acid profiles' and how this oil or that butter is high or low in Palmtic Acid or Oleic Acid or Stearic Acid and can do this or that or the other thing and Saturated vs Unsaturated and why Lye Concentration is better than Water as Percent of Oil Weight and 'water discounts' and since knowledge weighs nothing...off I went.

I don't care...it's still magic.
 
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Welcome, welcome! There are a few other science-y members here, and no lack of great scientific discussions (most of which go over my head). I'm big on practical how-to's, sprinkled with lots of, "Ooooo pretty!" when folks are kind enough to share their pics. :)
 
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Welcome! I have no science background at all and after three years of soapmaking, still consider myself a beginner. I never fail to learn something from the folks on this forum - so much good information and some lively discussion. Can’t wait to benefit from your knowledge/experience as well!
 

Zany_in_CO

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Welcome.gif

The really cool thing for me about making handmade soap is that I made my first batch when I was 60. I'm coming up on my 79th birthday next month and it still gives me joy every time I unmold a (successful) new batch! 😁
 
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