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Soap Making Supplies – for Business and Pleasure

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In the “Earth’s Children” series of novels by Jean Auel, the subject of soap making is touched upon. The story revolves around a remarkable young woman named Ayla, her eventual husband, Jondalar, and the clans and tribes they meet along their travels during the Ice Age. In the novels, soap is either made by Ayla pounding on petals and leaves to extract their saponin, or mixing mammoth fat with ashes and water to create a soft skin cleanser. Today, the availability of soap making supplies makes the job a lot easier. Sure, a fair amount of work is still involved in the creation of handmade soap, but such products make the job a lot more enjoyable and help get one’s creative juices flowing.

Basic Soap Making Supplies

There are several ingredients necessary for a person interested in embarking on the handicraft of soap making, either as a hobby or a small business. The basic three are lye – also known as sodium hydroxide or caustic soda -- oils and fats (from animals or plants), and water. All these can be bought in supermarkets or stores that sell soap making supplies. However, a person must do his share of research before going out and just buying supplies arbitrarily. The right ingredients must be used or the end product will not be the desired result. For example, olive oil should be pure and not blended with other oils, lye must be near-pure and not made up of a combination of chemicals, and tallow and lard must be pure animal fat.

Soap Making Supplies for Color and Fragrance

Perhaps the most interesting and fun part of soap making comes when it’s time to add the ingredients that give soap its tint and aroma. A variety of plant and animal products can be used, and most of these not only clean the skin but have other health benefits as well. For instance, neroli essential oil is useful for treating skin conditions like acne. Milk helps smoothen skin and create an even complexion. Oatmeal is good for rashes, while peppermint is an effective astringent, which also has antibacterial properties.

Essential oils are also fine sources of fragrance. A little experimentation can be a good thing here – just pick and choose among those that appeal to you or which have the properties that would benefit you most. If you are giving the soap products you make to other people as gifts or if you plan to sell them to friends and family to start with, a little of everything would perhaps be best. You can make an educated guess about what the people around you would want in terms of color and scent, and you can customize your soap making supplies accordingly.

Soap Making Supplies: The “Hardware”

The quality of other soap making supplies should not be overlooked. Beginners, especially, should take into account safety issues. Lye is a caustic agent that can burn or irritate skin, so it should not be handled with bare hands, so one should probably wear gloves and safety goggles to be safe. It can also corrode aluminum, so it’s best to mix lye and other ingredients in stainless steel containers. The molds in which the soap mixture is to be placed come in various shapes and sizes, it’s also fun to pick and choose among the many designs available. Lastly, consider packaging issues. Equipment to encase soaps in shrink-wrap plastic or boxes are available in handicraft stores. Labeling the finished product can also be fun – a person can create the label design by hand or use a printer for the job.

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