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DWinMadison

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Do any of you guys ever teach soaping classes..either fee-based or just as a community service?
 

Clarice

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Hi Daryl - I am interested in this too - thinking about teaching to women who are in a local domestic abuse shelter as a craft or potentially income generating skill (except the market is so doggone crowded). I need to learn a LOT more myself before I would be qualified to teach - but eager to follow this thread!
 

amd

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Yes, I have done classes for a group or for individuals, mostly as fundraisers for other events (in those cases I donate my time, students pay for materials and the remainder of the class fee is the donation). Note: doing a demo is different in my mind than doing a class based on time, how far into a topic one can go, etc. which is why I had asked for tips for the farm show.

@DWinMadison what information exactly are you looking for?
 

DWinMadison

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Yes, I have done classes for a group or for individuals, mostly as fundraisers for other events (in those cases I donate my time, students pay for materials and the remainder of the class fee is the donation). Note: doing a demo is different in my mind than doing a class based on time, how far into a topic one can go, etc. which is why I had asked for tips for the farm show.

@DWinMadison what information exactly are you looking for?
I'm just wondering. I run a small rural hospital, and several of my volunteers and local seniors as well as some of my employees have asked me to hold a demo and/or classes. The volunteers would like to make soap for our patients, but I have all kinds of risk management issues to think about with that one. We don't encourage soap in patient showers due to the fall risks...not to mention issues with elderly patients and skin breakdown.
 

jcandleattic

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I would love to teach, however, I don't use technical terms, and feel that I am not scientifically inclined to do a great job as a teacher, so I have not ventured into it as of yet.
I mean, I know how soap is made, I know the chemical reaction that takes place, and I *KNOW* how soap becomes soap. I don't know how to adequately explain it to others, if that makes sense.

Take for example DeeAnna's posts. I know what she is saying, I can follow and understand it. I can basically mean the same thing when I express myself, but I personally feel my words are not as adequate or as eloquent as DeeAnna's and therefore teaching is probably not in my repertoire.
 

amd

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@jcandleattic I don't worry too much about "being sciency" - I can if one of the students wants to, but generally I have found that of the 60+ people I have taught to make soap, ZERO of them have ever done it again outside of the class. I have roughly a handful who will contact me once a year to make soap, but they seem to prefer having someone figure out the recipes and provide materials and utensils for them and guide them for whatever design they want to do. I'm more than happy to do that with them (and make sure I get paid decently for doing it). I do provide sources in a handout for the student that wants to dig in for themselves, but soap is such a HUGE topic that I don't think one could teach it. I'm pushing 7 years of research with 5 years of making and I'm still learning stuff!
 

DWinMadison

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@jcandleattic I don't worry too much about "being sciency" - I can if one of the students wants to, but generally I have found that of the 60+ people I have taught to make soap, ZERO of them have ever done it again outside of the class. I have roughly a handful who will contact me once a year to make soap, but they seem to prefer having someone figure out the recipes and provide materials and utensils for them and guide them for whatever design they want to do. I'm more than happy to do that with them (and make sure I get paid decently for doing it). I do provide sources in a handout for the student that wants to dig in for themselves, but soap is such a HUGE topic that I don't think one could teach it. I'm pushing 7 years of research with 5 years of making and I'm still learning stuff!
Interesting you would mention this. My thinking exactly. I've shown several 1 on 1 folks who THINK they are interested in soap making. NONE of them --not 1 has followed through. So, if I was in the biz, I would tend to look at it as a marketing opportunity for my product. I was thinking I could make a few (maybe 10) little 6-bar molds, so each student would have a take-home "show and tell" from their class time. Pre-measure their oils and lye to save time, but show them the process of choosing oils and drawing one up, talk about importance of safety/accuracy, etc.) The catch is how to let them pour the soap one day and come back the next to cut it. Let's face it...that the most fun part! If you were working with retirees or stay-at-home moms, I guess you could do a day of teaching/soap making and the next do a "reveal/cutting party" have some refreshments and show/sell them some of your bars. This is my problem...I'm always thinking, and it gets me into trouble.
 

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I agree with @amd -- most people most of the time really don't want to hear the geeky super science-y bits, whether in real life or here. Even the saponification reaction can easily be overkill. I don't say that to disparage anyone -- it's just that when people are in a class to learn about a hands-on craft, most of us (including me) usually want to get into the "down and dirty" process of making soap, not discussing the science.

If science-y stuff isn't a person's strong suit, then don't go there in a demo/class even if you think you should. Teachers don't know all there is to know about a given subject, and we often tailor our presentations to what we know best, as long as the critical stuff is covered. Focus on the "nuts and bolts" of soap making. Your students will still learn lots of good stuff, and you and your students will all be happier. :)

Here are some guidelines I try to follow when teaching --

Decide what material you think you want to cover in your demo or presentation and then pare the amount down to about half. Yes ... half. Time and time again, this rule of thumb has turned out to be about right amount of stuff that a person can actually teach in a given time interval. This is especially true if you haven't taught much or if you have not taught that particular class much -- a teacher tends to overestimate what can be accomplished. When that happens, we have to rush to get everything covered and that is frustrating for everyone.

Especially for a first time class, prepare a brief written outline of key things you want to cover. Follow the outline as best you can, allowing for the inevitable questions and interruptions. Many people will appreciate it if you give them a copy of the outline too.

Don't write out complete sentences and paragraphs in your outline. If you do, you will end up reading this stuff word for word aloud to your class. Reading verbatim is a Very Bad Thing for a speaker to do.

Practice your demo or presentation on your family or friends. Decide if there are any parts that are especially wasteful of time and streamline or eliminate those parts. (For example -- Premeasuring ingredients vs. having students measure in class.) Rehearsing is especially helpful if you are extra nervous or are new to teaching.

If students are doing their own work, consider getting a knowledgeable assistant to be your lab assistant if your class is larger than, oh, about 5 people. People will get frustrated if they can't get prompt help. It's been my experience that you need about 1 instructor/assistant for every 5 people in a lab situation, especially in a situation where there is some risk involved (active lye!) and when people are unsure and unfamiliar with the process they're doing.

Answer questions sufficiently well, but keep answers to-the-point and brief. Resist the temptation to let one person's questions and curiosity divert you for long from the material you really want to cover with everyone. Instead, ask that person to come back at break or after class to get into more detail.

Speak a bit slower than you do in regular conversation. Project your voice to the far wall so everyone can hear.

***

"...The catch is how to let them pour the soap one day and come back the next to cut it...."

If it's a one day class, I'd make soap ahead of time, and let them unmold and cut that soap to take home. Or I might consider using a hot process soap method, so the students' finished soap will be safe to take home at the end of class. It doesn't work well to have students return just to pick up projects, speaking from experience.
 

Dean

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I would love to teach, however, I don't use technical terms, and feel that I am not scientifically inclined to do a great job as a teacher, so I have not ventured into it as of yet.
I mean, I know how soap is made, I know the chemical reaction that takes place, and I *KNOW* how soap becomes soap. I don't know how to adequately explain it to others, if that makes sense.

Take for example DeeAnna's posts. I know what she is saying, I can follow and understand it. I can basically mean the same thing when I express myself, but I personally feel my words are not as adequate or as eloquent as DeeAnna's and therefore teaching is probably not in my repertoire.
I don't think that you have to be scientist to teach soap. My teacher wasn't. If your class is a couple hours long, as mine was, you won't have time to go into the details of the science anyway. If you have good understanding of the fatty acids and saponification, you're good to go IMO.

I have found that of the 60+ people I have taught to make soap, ZERO of them have ever done it again outside of the class.
WOW! I'm shocked by that. I guess I was only soaping geek in my class.
 
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amd

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I was thinking I could make a few (maybe 10) little 6-bar molds, so each student would have a take-home "show and tell" from their class time.
I did one class where my hubby made small 1lb wooden molds for the students (it was included in the materials cost). Otherwise I have my students bring clean empty milk cartons, pringles cans, or I provide a "Tupperware" container correctly sized for them to use (with instructions to not use it for food once the soap is done - I can usually get a pack of 4 at the dollar store).
Pre-measure their oils and lye to save time, but show them the process of choosing oils and drawing one up, talk about importance of safety/accuracy, etc.)
I make up one simple recipe (usually OO, lard, CO and castor oil) for the class and they do their own measuring - you want them to understand how to tare the scale, etc. and why the safety precautions for lye are necessary. I teach using the heat transfer method, so it's a one pot deal. (not counting the cup for measuring oils, the cup for measuring lye, and the pitcher for the lye solution of course)
The catch is how to let them pour the soap one day and come back the next to cut it.
I bring some loaves that are ready to cut so that they can feel the firmness, and see how different tools will cut (I'll do one cut with a pastry blade, one with a knife, one with a wire cheese cutter. Of course it's always fun to show off my multi bar cutter too...) and then let them take it home and do it themselves. I've had a few students show up at my house the next day to use my multibar cutter - which was an option that I extended to them :) But I certainly didn't go out of my way to have a second class just for cutting. I did have one lady who decided she liked her soap as one block (it was a small 1lb batch) so she left it that way and used it at her kitchen sink! She said it was a great conversation piece. I give them the guideline for curing, and it's all in their hands after that.

The above is what I do for group classes. For individual classes, I'll find out a bit more about what they're using the soap for (gifts, personal use, etc) and what things they want in a recipe. Some will specifically ask to make a milk soap, or an aloe soap, or want to use poppy seeds or other additives. I tailor a recipe for them and then explain why I chose what I did (dry skin, less CO - stuff like that) and then we make the soap. I make a video for them when I cut the soap if they can't be there, then I keep it until it's cured and they can pick it up when it's ready.

I really need to do more of that, I do like it a whole bunch, and it's fast money.

WOW! I'm shocked by that. I guess I was only soaping geek in my class.
It is an expensive hobby once you get into colors and fragrances. (That's why I started my business, I wanted to play with fragrances and colors but couldn't justify it as a hobby...) I think that's the number 1 reason I've heard, followed by "I already have too many hobbies" or "I don't have time to do it more than once or twice a year and I don't want stuff to go bad". The latter are the handful that I make soap with each year, they'll make a couple batches at a time, and they can do a variety of scents and colors and only pay for what they use + my fee for using my equipment/time, much cheaper for them than if they were to buy 8 different colors and 3 different FO's, plus the lye, oils, and equipment.
 
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dixiedragon

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TBH I would not call soap making a marketable skill. Nobody is looking to hire a soap maker. Sure, some people make a living doing it. But those are few and far between. I think it might be a fun class to teach at a women's shelter, with the idea that it's a fun activity like a movie night, vs teaching a marketable skill.
 
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DWinMadison

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I did one class where my hubby made small 1lb wooden molds for the students (it was included in the materials cost). Otherwise I have my students bring clean empty milk cartons, pringles cans, or I provide a "Tupperware" container correctly sized for them to use (with instructions to not use it for food once the soap is done - I can usually get a pack of 4 at the dollar store).

I make up one simple recipe (usually OO, lard, CO and castor oil) for the class and they do their own measuring - you want them to understand how to tare the scale, etc. and why the safety precautions for lye are necessary. I teach using the heat transfer method, so it's a one pot deal. (not counting the cup for measuring oils, the cup for measuring lye, and the pitcher for the lye solution of course)

I bring some loaves that are ready to cut so that they can feel the firmness, and see how different tools will cut (I'll do one cut with a pastry blade, one with a knife, one with a wire cheese cutter. Of course it's always fun to show off my multi bar cutter too...) and then let them take it home and do it themselves. I've had a few students show up at my house the next day to use my multibar cutter - which was an option that I extended to them :) But I certainly didn't go out of my way to have a second class just for cutting. I did have one lady who decided she liked her soap as one block (it was a small 1lb batch) so she left it that way and used it at her kitchen sink! She said it was a great conversation piece. I give them the guideline for curing, and it's all in their hands after that.

The above is what I do for group classes. For individual classes, I'll find out a bit more about what they're using the soap for (gifts, personal use, etc) and what things they want in a recipe. Some will specifically ask to make a milk soap, or an aloe soap, or want to use poppy seeds or other additives. I tailor a recipe for them and then explain why I chose what I did (dry skin, less CO - stuff like that) and then we make the soap. I make a video for them when I cut the soap if they can't be there, then I keep it until it's cured and they can pick it up when it's ready.

I really need to do more of that, I do like it a whole bunch, and it's fast money.
I would only do molds if I planned to teach multiple classes. I’d keep and reuse them—offer to build them on for a price if requested.

Like cooking, jewelry or painting classes, most people are looking for an occasional activity to do with friends for fellowship and laughs and maybe try their hand at something new. People don’t take cooking classes to become chefs.
 
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karon L adams

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I did Classes through the local college as a "Continuing ed thing. the short hobby courses. makes it easier to get folks in, the college just includes the course in their catalog so they cover all the advertising and fee collections. from that, we usually sold a fairly decent amount of supplies at the end of the class. we could usually depend on at least one person from the class hanging in and continuing to make soap and be a customer. it's a great way to boost your semi monthlies.

We did a one pound sample batch, Big Gulp style with a Dr Pepper recipe and a small carboard box for a mould. they walked out with minimum, their batch of soap and the things we always sold in the kit, safety glasses, the big gulp cup, a spatula and a 1/2 bottle of EO. we offered three choices of EO for the soap. meanwhile, while things like Lye cooling, we showed them around the shop, the stuff we used for larger batches, they got to sniff the entire collection of EOs in the cabinet and so on. it was on Saturday mornings, most times, took about 3-4 hours, was a great day for everyone, exhausting but usually made some decent money while generating new customers.
 

MGM

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I started soaping by taking a soap-making class at a local brewery in November. The instructor provided the lye liquid (made with beer) already prepared, and we all had our individual equipment and oils to measure. We all followed the same recipe, and she had 3-4 optional additives and a half dozen FOs to choose from. We got a 20-page handout with the steps and safety info very clearly laid out, and some other info, as well as the recipe in SoapCalc. Not as much emphasis on science as on SAFETY.
The instructor said she has many people who do a workshop with her once a year to make soap for their family, as they don't want to invest in everything (smart! Then they can't get addicted!)
It seems that the equipment investment to run a class can be quite steep if you're only doing it once in a while....she had 5 sets of ALL equipment, including hot plates, cooling baths, SB, pitchers, goggles, masks, aprons, etc. etc.
We poured and wrapped our soap that evening and were instructed to unmold the following evening and then cut the next day.
Not surprisingly, this soap I made there remains my best one yet :)


(Pardon my photo skillz....two-tone beige soap on beige carpet!)
 

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Teresa408

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Maybe for your purposes it would be fun to make some lotion bars. They set up pretty quickly and they are satisfying to unmold and to use.
 

meena.shah

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I did one class where my hubby made small 1lb wooden molds for the students (it was included in the materials cost). Otherwise I have my students bring clean empty milk cartons, pringles cans, or I provide a "Tupperware" container correctly sized for them to use (with instructions to not use it for food once the soap is done - I can usually get a pack of 4 at the dollar store).

I make up one simple recipe (usually OO, lard, CO and castor oil) for the class and they do their own measuring - you want them to understand how to tare the scale, etc. and why the safety precautions for lye are necessary. I teach using the heat transfer method, so it's a one pot deal. (not counting the cup for measuring oils, the cup for measuring lye, and the pitcher for the lye solution of course)

I bring some loaves that are ready to cut so that they can feel the firmness, and see how different tools will cut (I'll do one cut with a pastry blade, one with a knife, one with a wire cheese cutter. Of course it's always fun to show off my multi bar cutter too...) and then let them take it home and do it themselves. I've had a few students show up at my house the next day to use my multibar cutter - which was an option that I extended to them :) But I certainly didn't go out of my way to have a second class just for cutting. I did have one lady who decided she liked her soap as one block (it was a small 1lb batch) so she left it that way and used it at her kitchen sink! She said it was a great conversation piece. I give them the guideline for curing, and it's all in their hands after that.

The above is what I do for group classes. For individual classes, I'll find out a bit more about what they're using the soap for (gifts, personal use, etc) and what things they want in a recipe. Some will specifically ask to make a milk soap, or an aloe soap, or want to use poppy seeds or other additives. I tailor a recipe for them and then explain why I chose what I did (dry skin, less CO - stuff like that) and then we make the soap. I make a video for them when I cut the soap if they can't be there, then I keep it until it's cured and they can pick it up when it's ready.

I really need to do more of that, I do like it a whole bunch, and it's fast money.


It is an expensive hobby once you get into colors and fragrances. (That's why I started my business, I wanted to play with fragrances and colors but couldn't justify it as a hobby...) I think that's the number 1 reason I've heard, followed by "I already have too many hobbies" or "I don't have time to do it more than once or twice a year and I don't want stuff to go bad". The latter are the handful that I make soap with each year, they'll make a couple batches at a time, and they can do a variety of scents and colors and only pay for what they use + my fee for using my equipment/time, much cheaper for them than if they were to buy 8 different colors and 3 different FO's, plus the lye, oils, and equipment.
How did you get them to use lye proposition.
 

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