Soapmaking Is Like Cooking

People ask me all the time how I can make all these soaps and lotions and other products, assuming it must take skills acquired from chemistry labs past and that the whole process is vaguely akin to mad science – and I won’t deny there’s definitely some truth to both of those things. (I do, in fact, own a lab coat.)

However, while chemistry class may have helped me understand emulsions, making mayonnaise or custard helped even more. Actually, there are very few processes I have encountered in the making of products which haven’t had a predecessor of one sort of another in the cooking I had been doing years beforehand!

So, when people ask if I think they could learn to make soap, I usually ask if they can make bread. If so, they already know how to measure ingredients, mix to the right consistency but not too much, monitor temperatures to ensure they don’t get too far out of band, shape the product mid-process – and, perhaps most importantly, how to wait. Patience is key!

And this is why, when I post the odd tutorial, trouble-shooting, or in-depth process description as I plan to do, I’ll be using cooking metaphors quite a bit. It’s also why from time to time I will no doubt make a food post, too! I’m afraid I’m a bit of a seat-of-the-pants operator in many ways both culinary and soapy, so I won’t be telling you how exactly long to stir this, or precisely how hot that got in the mold, or how many days/weeks by the calendar you have to let soap cure before using it. Mostly, I’ll tell you how to recognize when it’s been stirred enough, how to make sure it doesn’t get too hot in the mold, and what soap looks and feels like when it’s fully cured.

Also, I’m far more likely to talk about how to develop a soap or lotion recipe than I am to just quote recipes at you, but maybe we should work up to that a bit?

I’ll be posting the first thing along these lines sometime in the next week or so.

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About Amy Young

Founder of Foam on the Range soaps. View all posts by Amy Young

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