Making Soap the Minimalist Way
On your minimalism journey, one of the things you’ll start to take notice of is waste. Living in a privileged society, we often take for granted how nearly everything we buy is processed, packaged, and presented to us in as enticing a way as possible.
Soap is one such product. You have the plastic wrapper, the individual cardboard boxes, and look at the number of unpronounceable ingredients the manufacturers continue using. What’s all that about?
What the average person may not realize is that there’s an easier way. Making soap at home is surprisingly easy and affordable when done correctly. Before you embark on your personalized bath bar journey, be sure to review these simple tips for more successful soaps.
Start with the Right Base
Making a bar of soap isn’t difficult if you know what steps you need along the way. Every block relies on a specific base, which determines the properties of the final form and how well they perform.
Some bases use fragrances which are too strong, making it a challenge to get as clean as you should from odors. Others add anti-dew properties, or “sweat,” which usually happens with your moisturizing formula blends as they draw out humidity.
Whether you prefer the classic white bar of soap or a clear base for colorations, you have many potential candidates. Some require that you warm them in the microwave, while others prove much more challenging to work with for beginners.
Which Type of Soap?
Some people see all soaps as being the same and use the same bars for their hair, face, skin, all over. Not only is that a little gross, but it may not be the best approach. Sure, the 3-in-1 bottle at the store may seem like a time saver, but it also means subjecting certain areas of your body to cleansers that typically weren’t designed for them. .
Back to bar bases. What you expect to see from your custom soaps begins with what building blocks get used. Some prove ideal for facial skin, while others will quickly leave your extremities feeling dry and peeling.
For generations, people have relied on a variety of different bases for their final products, including milk and fragrant oils. Some of the many popular options for DIY soap making include classic and modern additions, including:
- Castor Oil
- Olive Oil
- Shaving Soap
- Palm Oil
- Goat’s Milk
- Shea Butter
- White Base
- Clear Base
- Soy Soaps
- And more.
Decide if You Need the Equipment
The process of creating organic bars of soap from scratch isn’t as complicated as it may seem at first glance. What it does rely on, however, is a shortlist of equipment items, which could quickly make for expensive hobbies.
Because you are engaging in low-level chemistry, you’ll want a material scale and a thermometer for accurate measurement readings. You will also need quite a few stations set up to blend, mix, and pour combined ingredients, taking up room.
Most of these items are easily purchased online or at a local hardware store, however, so you shouldn’t have difficulty locating them. You may feel a little twinge of guilt and bringing more stuff into your space, but think of all the money you’ll save on expensive soaps in the long run!
Pick Your Process
In the end, creating soap from raw materials is a chemical reaction, the difference being how ingredients respond to others. The four primary processes of creating your DIY soap bars is Cold Process, Hot Process, Melt & Pour, and Rebatching.
Cold Process is the most common practice, but it’s also the most time consuming, and it uses potentially harmful lye. In comparison, Hot Process soaps get cooked by a heat source, using anything from traditional ovens to crockpot devices. Though if you use the latter, just make sure you clean it out before making your mom’s pot roast recipe for dinner.
Melt & Pour bars get created from melting pre-formed ingredient blocks, allowing you to choose what fragrances will get added and potentially what shape, if you feel like being creative.
Finally, Rebatching soap means that you are creating new bars from leftover scrap pieces for more rustic visual appearances. This isn’t really “making your own” soap exactly. However, it is repurposing leftover soap which helps reduce waste and is more efficient than just buying a new bar when the old one gets tiny.
Budget Your Project
Many DIYers find that regularly making soap isn’t worth the time and effort. If it seems like you’re always tearing your place apart for fresh bars, keep buying them at the store. However, if you can budget accordingly, you can enjoy fresh, affordable soap all year long for less than store-bought. And with a small list of ingredients, it becomes far better for you and the environment.
Most minimalists find that larger batches are more economical than smaller amounts. Try making a lot at once to keep your costs lower, especially as a holiday gift or personalized birthday present.