Making your own soap is a great way to be creative and thrifty at the same time. Throughout its long and colorful history, soap making has taken on a life of its own as a sub-culture with numerous enthusiastic participants.
Ann Bramson, a handmade soap pioneer and author of Soap, writes in her book, "Where the hard pastel-colored bars sold at the drugstore are anonymous and indifferent, homemade soap has character. It charms…it smells good…feels good…is comforting in ways which manufactured soap can never be."
When the process is broken down to its most basic elements, soap is merely the outcome of fats or oils interacting with lye on a chemical level. What separates grainy lye soap from a more sensuous and soothing product is the choice of ingredients and measurements. It is this basic understanding that has contributed to the development of so many ways of creating handmade soap.
Here are three most common approaches to creating homemade soap:
Cold Process: Much of soap making is comprised of using products you already have in your home. The cold process is often favored for its simple steps, which don't require using any heat except for when it's time to melt the oils.
Hot Process: This is one of the more in-depth processes, so prepare to spend a good amount of time cooking soap in a pot.
Melt and Pour: Melting premade blocks of soap and adding your own fragrance is a simple and safe process that many people are happy with but, for some, is just a stepping stone before moving on to more complicated soap-making methods.