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The Basics of Homemade Soap Making: A Beginner's Guide

Handcrafted soap making is an ancient practice that is enjoying renewed interest these days. More and more people are choosing to start making their own soap rather than buying commercial products. In this primer, we'll explore why making your own handmade soap has many benefits, both for your skin and for your personal satisfaction.

Why make your own handmade soap?

Homemade soap making offers a multitude of compelling reasons to get into this creative activity. Here are some of the main benefits:

  1. Ingredient Control : By making your own soap, you have complete control over the ingredients used. You can choose high-quality vegetable oils, nourishing butters and natural additives that are specifically suitable for your skin type. This allows you to avoid the chemicals and potentially irritating substances found in many commercial soaps.
  2. Customization : Handmade soap making gives you great flexibility in terms of customization. You can experiment with different scents using essential oils, herbs, spices, or even dried flowers. Plus, you can add exfoliating or soothing ingredients to get a soap that suits your needs and preferences.
  3. Financial savings : In the long run, making your own soap can be economically beneficial. Once you have invested in the basic ingredients and manufacturing equipment, you can produce a large quantity of soap at a lower cost compared to buying commercial soaps of equivalent quality.
  4. Creativity and Personal Satisfaction : Craft soap making is a creative activity that allows you to express your personal style. You can experiment with unique colors, patterns, and designs to create aesthetically pleasing soaps. Plus, the satisfaction of creating something tangible with your own hands is priceless.

The Benefits of Using Homemade Soaps

Using homemade soaps also has many benefits for your skin and general well-being. Here are some of the benefits associated with using handmade soaps:

  1. Natural and gentle ingredients : Homemade soaps are often formulated with natural ingredients that are gentle on the skin. The vegetable oils and butters used in these soaps are rich in vitamins, essential fatty acids and antioxidants, thus nourishing the skin in depth.
  2. Fewer Harsh Chemicals : Commercial soaps often contain harsh chemicals such as detergents and synthetic foaming agents. By opting for homemade soaps, you avoid these irritating substances and preserve the natural balance of your skin.
  3. Moisture and Softness : Artisan Soaps are formulated to provide a luxurious washing experience. They leave your skin clean, soft and hydrated, thanks to the use of nourishing and moisturizing ingredients such as shea butter, olive oil or coconut oil.
  4. Natural scents : Homemade soaps often use essential oils to add natural scents. The delicate and soothing aromas of essential oils provide a pleasant and relaxing olfactory experience when using the soap.

Homemade soap making offers many benefits, both in terms of skin health and personal satisfaction. In the following sections of this article, we'll explore the basic steps to making your own handmade soap and guide you on this rewarding journey.

Understanding saponification

Saponification is the key chemical process that occurs during soap making. In this section, we will explore the basics of saponification, the chemical reactions involved, and the different types of saponification used in homemade soap making.

What is saponification?

Saponification is a chemical reaction between an alkaline agent (caustic soda or caustic potash) and oils or fats. This reaction produces soap and glycerin. During saponification, the molecules of oils or fats separate into fatty acids and glycerol, while the alkaline agent reacts with the fatty acids to form soap.

The chemical reactions involved

Saponification is an esterification reaction, which is a reaction between a fatty acid and an alcohol. Here are the main chemical reactions that occur during saponification:

  1. Hydrolysis of triglycerides : Triglycerides, which are molecules of oils or fats, are hydrolyzed into fatty acids and glycerol in the presence of an alkaline agent.
  2. Reaction of fatty acids with the alkaline agent : The fatty acids react with the alkaline agent (caustic soda or caustic potash) to form salts of fatty acids, which are soaps.
  3. Formation of glycerin : During saponification, glycerol is released as a by-product. Glycerin is a natural moisturizing agent that helps maintain skin hydration.

The different types of saponification: cold, hot, etc.

There are several saponification methods used in artisanal soap making. Here are some of the commonly used techniques:

  1. Cold Saponification : This popular method involves preparing a mixture of oils and caustic soda at room temperature. The saponification reaction occurs slowly over time, usually for 24-48 hours. Soaps obtained by cold saponification retain more of the nourishing properties of the oils used.
  2. Hot saponification : In this method, oils and caustic soda are heated together to speed up the saponification process. This allows soaps to be obtained more quickly, usually within a few hours. Hot saponification requires more precise manipulation of temperatures and ingredients.
  3. Mixed saponification : This method combines the principles of cold and hot saponification. It involves heating some of the oils with caustic soda, while other oils are added after cooling to achieve specific properties in the final soap.
  4. Saponification with caustic potash : Unlike the caustic soda used in most soaps, caustic potash is used for the saponification of liquid soaps or shaving soaps. Caustic potash produces milder, creamier soaps.

By understanding the basics of saponification, you will be able to choose the method that best suits your needs and preferences in making handmade soap. In the next section, we'll cover the specific steps for making your first batch of homemade soap.

The essential ingredients

When making homemade soap, it is essential to understand the basic ingredients used. In this section, we will look at oils and fats, alkaline agents, such as caustic soda and caustic potash, and other additives commonly used in soap making.

Oils and fats used in soap making

Oils and fats play a crucial role in making handmade soap. Here are some of the commonly used oils:

  1. Olive oil : It is an oil rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants, which brings softness and hydration to the skin.
  2. Coconut oil : It gives soap lather and hardness. Coconut oil is also nourishing and cleansing.
  3. Shea butter : It is rich in vitamins and fatty acids, providing moisturizing, soothing and protective properties to the skin.
  4. Castor oil : It creates an abundant and stable foam in the soap. Castor oil also brings hydration and softness to the skin.
  5. The different milks of sheep , goat or cow

There are many other oils and fats that you can use to formulate your soap according to your preferences and desired properties.

Alkaline agents: caustic soda and caustic potash

Alkaline agents are essential in saponification to transform oils and fats into soap. The two commonly used alkaline agents are caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) and caustic potash (potassium hydroxide).

  1. Caustic soda : It is used in cold and hot saponification for the manufacture of solid soaps. Caustic soda is corrosive and requires careful handling. It is crucial to accurately calculate the amount of caustic needed to obtain a safe and balanced soap.
  2. Caustic potash : It is used for the saponification of liquid soaps and shaving soaps. Caustic potash produces milder and creamier soaps compared to caustic soda.

Water and other additives

Water is an essential ingredient in soap making, as it allows the dissolution of alkaline agents and the saponification reaction. The amount of water used depends on the recipe and method of making.

In addition to the base ingredients, you can add various additives to customize your soap, such as:

  • Essential oils : These add natural fragrances to the soap.
  • Natural dyes : They give color to the soap, using ingredients such as clay, spices or plant powders.
  • Exfoliators : Ingredients such as ground oats, poppy seeds, or coffee grounds can be added to gently exfoliate the skin.
  • Special additives : These include ingredients such as goat's milk, honey, oatmeal, etc., which provide additional properties to the soap.

  1. uit softer and creamier soaps compared to caustic soda.

By understanding these basic ingredients and commonly used additives, you will be ready to formulate your own handmade soap recipe. In the next section, we will cover the basic steps for soap making.

The necessary equipment

Handmade soap making requires a few specific tools to ensure an efficient and safe process. In this section, we'll cover the basic tools needed to make handmade soap, as well as important safety precautions when handling the chemicals involved.

The basic tools for making handmade soap

  1. Plastic or stainless steel bowls or containers : You will need heat-resistant bowls for mixing oils, water, and caustic soda. It is best to avoid aluminum containers, as caustic soda can react with this material.
  2. Thermometer : An accurate thermometer is essential to accurately measure temperatures during saponification. You will need to know the temperature of the oils and the soda solution to make your soap successful.
  3. Accurate Kitchen Scale : An accurate kitchen scale is necessary to measure ingredients accurately. It's best to use a scale that measures to the nearest gram to get consistent results.
  4. Immersion Blender (Hand Blender) : An immersion blender is used to blend oils and caustic soda until a trace is achieved. This allows the ingredients to be incorporated well and to obtain a homogeneous consistency in the soap.
  5. Soap molds : Soap molds can be plastic, silicone, or wood. They are used to pour the soap mixture and give it its shape. Be sure to use molds that are suitable for soap making and easy to unmold.
  6. Stainless steel or plastic spoons : Spoons are necessary for measuring and mixing ingredients. Avoid aluminum spoons, as they can react with caustic soda.

Safety measures when handling chemicals

Soap making involves handling harsh chemicals such as caustic soda. It is essential to take appropriate security measures to ensure your protection. Here are some important security measures:

  1. Eye and Hand Protection : Wear safety glasses and chemical resistant rubber gloves to protect your eyes and hands when handling caustic soda.
  2. Adequate Ventilation : Work in a well-ventilated area or use a ventilation hood to exhaust caustic vapors. Handling caustic soda should be done in a ventilated area to avoid inhalation of corrosive fumes.
  3. Careful handling of caustic soda : Always add caustic soda to water and never the other way around. Slowly and carefully pour the caustic soda into the water to avoid splashing. Do not breathe caustic soda fumes.
  4. Safe Cleaning and Storage : After use, thoroughly clean all tools and containers used with soap and water. Store chemicals, such as caustic soda, in labeled containers and out of reach of children and pets.

By following these safety measures, you can minimize the risks when making handmade soap. In the next section, we'll cover the basic steps for making your own soap.

Basic Steps of Handmade Soap Making

Now that you're familiar with the ingredients, equipment, and safety precautions, it's time to move on to the practical steps of making handmade soap. Here are the basic steps to create your own soap:

1. Weigh and measure the ingredients
Use an accurate kitchen scale to weigh oils and fats according to your recipe. Also, accurately measure caustic soda and water, following the specific proportions listed in your recipe.

2. Prepare caustic lye
In a suitable container, add the caustic soda to the water, making sure to slowly pour the soda into the water. Mix gently until the soda is completely dissolved. Be sure to follow safety guidelines and handle caustic soda with care.

3. Combine oils and caustic lye
In another container, pour the previously weighed oils and fats. Then add the room temperature caustic into the oils. Use an immersion blender to blend the ingredients until the mixture reaches trace, that is, a thick paste-like consistency.

4. Tracing and Adding Additives
When the mixture reaches trace, you can add additives such as essential oils, natural dyes or exfoliants. Mix thoroughly to evenly distribute the additives throughout the soap.

5. The molding and hardening of the soap
Pour the soap mixture into previously prepared molds. Smooth the surface of the soap with a spatula if necessary. Cover the molds with a blanket or plastic sheet to insulate the heat and promote the saponification process. Let the soap sit in the molds for about 24-48 hours.

After the initial standing time, unmold the soap and cut it into desired bars or shapes. Place the bars of soap on a rack or rack to allow good air circulation. Let them harden and dry for at least 4-6 weeks. This process, called "curing", allows the soap to complete its saponification and become softer and more durable.

By following these basic steps, you will be able to create your own handmade soap. Remember to experiment with different recipes and techniques to discover your favorite combinations.

The different personalization techniques

Handmade soap making offers many customization possibilities to create unique soaps adapted to your preferences. Here are some commonly used personalization techniques:

Using Essential Oils to Scent Soap

Essential oils are natural plant extracts that provide pleasant scents and aromatherapeutic benefits to soap. You can add a few drops of essential oils to your soap mixture when tracing to scent your soap. Choose quality essential oils and make sure they are safe to use on the skin.

Natural dyes to add color

Natural dyes add an attractive splash of color to your soaps. You can use ingredients such as clay, spices, herbal powders, or even natural food coloring to achieve different shades. Add them to your soap mixture when tracing, starting with small amounts and adjusting to desired intensity.

Incorporation of exfoliating or soothing ingredients

To add exfoliating properties to your soap, you can incorporate ingredients such as poppy seeds, ground oats, coffee grounds, or crushed walnut shells. These ingredients provide gentle abrasion to slough off dead skin cells and promote skin renewal.

To soothe and nourish the skin, you can include ingredients such as goat's milk, honey, aloe vera, colloidal oatmeal, or cocoa butter. These ingredients add moisturizing, soothing and nourishing properties to your soap.

Experiment and be creative!

Customizing handmade soap is an opportunity to explore and let your creativity run wild. Feel free to experiment with different combinations of essential oils, natural dyes, and exfoliating or soothing ingredients to create unique soaps tailored to your needs and preferences.

Keep in mind that certain ingredients can react differently and affect the properties of the soap, so it's important to do some research and take notes to know what results you get. Enjoy exploring the different customization techniques and discovering the unique soaps you can create.

Practical advice for a successful artisanal soap

Homemade soap making can seem complex at first, but with a little practice and precision, you can achieve satisfying results. Here are some practical tips to help you succeed with your handmade soap:

Common mistakes to avoid

  • Measure Accurately : Be sure to weigh and measure ingredients accurately. Inaccurate measurements can compromise the quality and safety of your soap.
  • Handle caustic soda with care : Caustic soda is a corrosive chemical. Follow recommended safety precautions and handle it with care. Always add soda to water, never the other way around, and be sure to work in a well-ventilated area.
  • Do not neglect tracing : Be sure to mix the oils and caustic soda sufficiently until the mixture reaches the trace. This ensures a complete reaction and an even consistency in your soap.
  • Additive overload : When adding essential oils, dyes, or exfoliating ingredients, avoid overloading your soap. Follow the recipe recommendations for a balanced, well-formulated soap.

The importance of patience and precision in manufacturing

  • Patience for the cure : After unmolding your soap, let it dry and harden for at least 4 to 6 weeks. This curing process allows the soap to complete its saponification and obtain a soft and lasting texture. Be patient and wait for your soap to be ready before using it.
  • Precision of measurements : Soap making is a precise science. Be sure to follow the specific proportions listed in your recipe. Precision in measurements ensures consistent results and avoids safety issues.
  • Take Notes : Write down the recipes, steps, and techniques you use, as well as the results you get. This will allow you to track your progress, identify what works best for you, and adjust your formulations if needed.
  • Experiment and learn : Don't be discouraged by possible mistakes. Handmade soap making is a lifelong learning process. Experiment with different combinations of ingredients, techniques, and recipes to find what works best for you.

By following these practical tips, you will be able to create quality handmade soaps. Remember that practice and experience are key to improving your soap making skills. So go ahead, be patient and have fun creating your own unique and personalized soaps.

The drying, storage and use of handmade soap

Once you've made your handmade soap, it's important to know the proper practices for drying, storing, and using it to get the most out of it. Here are some tips to follow:

The drying time required

Drying is an essential step to obtain a quality soap. After unmolding your soap, allow it to dry and harden for a period of 4-6 weeks. During this time, the excess moisture evaporates, allowing the soap to harden and reach full maturity. The longer you let it dry, the more your soap will be soft, durable and pleasant to use.

Be sure to place the soap bars in a dry, cool and well-ventilated place during the drying process. Use a rack or rack that allows air to circulate around the soaps. Avoid stacking them on top of each other, as this can hinder drying and create areas of humidity.

Proper storage methods

Once your soap is completely dry, it's important to store it properly to preserve its quality. Here are some guidelines for proper storage:

  • Cool, Dry Place : Choose a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight to store your soap. Excessive humidity can cause the soap to deteriorate, while heat and light can alter its color and fragrance.
  • Well ventilated : Make sure the storage area is well ventilated. Avoid airtight containers or wraps that prevent air circulation, as this can cause condensation to form and affect the quality of the soap.
  • Labeling : Label your soaps to identify the different varieties and the dates of manufacture. This will help you track their shelf life and use the oldest ones first.

How to use and get the most from your homemade soap

  • pH test : Before using your handmade soap all over your body, perform a pH test on a small area of ​​your skin to make sure it is suitable for your skin type. Most homemade soaps are mildly alkaline, but they should be mild and non-irritating.
  • Lathering and cleaning : Lather the soap between your hands or using a bath cloth. Apply the foam to your skin using gentle circular movements. Rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water to remove any residue.
  • Moisturizing after washing : Handmade soap can have moisturizing properties, but it is always recommended to apply moisturizer or body lotion after washing to maintain your skin's hydration.
  • Soap rotation : If you have made several bars of soap, consider rotating them in your usage routine. This helps to avoid stagnation and to use all your soaps in a balanced way.

By following these tips, you will be able to take full advantage of your handmade soap. Remember that homemade soap can provide a pleasant and personalized skincare experience. Take the time to savor the benefits and natural fragrances of your handmade soap, while taking care of your skin in a gentle and respectful way.


In conclusion, artisanal soap making is a rewarding activity that allows you to create unique, natural products adapted to your needs. By embarking on this adventure, you can discover a new creative passion and take care of your skin in a personalized way.

We've explored the basics of homemade soap making, starting with why making your own soap can be beneficial. We also looked at the benefits of using homemade soaps, including their natural composition, customization, and potential to nourish and protect skin.

We then covered essential topics such as saponification, key ingredients, equipment needed, and the basic steps of soap making. Next, we explored the different customization techniques, providing the ability to add specific scents, colors, and properties to your handmade soaps.

We've also shared practical tips for making your handmade soap a success, highlighting common mistakes to avoid and the importance of patience and precision. The section on drying, storing and using handmade soap has provided you with information to maximize the quality and lifespan of your creations.

Finally, we want to encourage and inspire you on your soap-making journey. Don't be afraid to experiment, create your own recipes and let your creativity run free. Each batch of soap you make is an opportunity to learn, grow and hone your skills.

So, dive into this captivating universe of artisanal soap making and enjoy the benefits of using natural, homemade products. You are about to discover a unique experience, while taking care of your skin in a healthy and respectful way.

Bon voyage into the wonderful world of artisanal soap making!

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Je me lance dans la fabrication du savon non seulement pour mon usage personnel, mais pour le commercialisé avec mes proches et amis. Je tenais à vous remercier pour ce beau cadeau que vous me faites en prenant le temps de mettre par écrire toutes ces informations qui me permettront de partir de bon pied avec mon projet. Force à vous de Alymar et Co.

Marie Martine Elie Richard

Merci a vous pour ce guide très riche en explication et très instructif.

Dombwa Hortense Flore

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