I can only tell you of my experience and hope that it will help you on your journey. In the beginning I was terribly over whelmed, scared and even intimidated. I can tell you not to be, but that would be wrong of me, as these are all normal feelings. I will however, try to set your mind at ease, some what anyway.
First you have to decide which method of soap making you would like to use. If you haven’t chosen one yet you can read my blog for a glimpse into different methods. http://lizdavissoaps.com/exploring-the-different-types-of-soap-making/ I personally chose cp soap. I do have an area dedicated to making soap where there are no distractions that could become a safety issue. If you dont have this option you might want the mp method. No matter what your choice I think this should be your first decision.
Next I did a lot of research books, blogs, forums, etc. the information is endless and this is where it got got overwhelming for me. I started reading and one person would say this and another that. You should do it this way or that way. Then I really got a kick out of the ones who would preach about safety and how important it is to wear eye protectors and gloves then Id watch their tutorial video and they would have none of the above on. This steered me away from that person. I’m a practice what I preach person, not a do as I say not as I do, person. All and all what I realized here was that every person is an individual and will have their own ways of doing things. You will too over time. When I first started, I kid you not, it took me over two hours now I can do it in half that. At the end of the day no matter how or what order things are done as long as your calculations, measurements and temps are accurate you will surly make soap. I would suggest that you find someone to follow that you feel comfortable with or relate too. This makes it much easier then jumping all over the place and confusing yourself with the multiple directions out there.
Which will bring me to my next subject. There are a lot of awesome soap makers out there. This can be very intimidating and make you doubt your ability especially if you mean to turn soaping into a business. I looked at some of these soaps and could not believe them. How could I ever compare? It will take me years to be this good! I seriously questioned weather I was barking up a wrong tree. I also at the time didn’t realize the different methods of soap making and the pros and cons of each. One allows you to make pretty molded soaps where another can make colorful swirls and designs. Again it’s what you want to do with your soaps. Personally I decided that I wanted to keep my line pure, simple and usable. I knew asking my husband to wash with a cupcake shaped soap was not going to cut it. I also didn’t want to make soaps that sat in a dish for decoration. I’m not knocking it at all, they all are really great soaps, but to each his own.
Cost was another thing that made me nervous and yes it can be costly. You can find a lot of your set up supplies at garage sales, flea markets and thrift stores. Dishes, utensils, stick blenders are items that can be bought 2nd hand. Towels to cut up into rags are another find if you don’t already have at home. As far as your molds you can find all kinds of things that will work for this, if you cant afford to buy them, as they can be rather pricey also. Walmart, Kmart and such are great places to find molds on clearance after a holiday. You can also use a pringles container or a shoe box. I would suggest buying a new scale as I said earlier weight needs to be accurate. Now your materials such as oils, butters and scents will cost you. I would recommend looking at soap suppliers online. Check out grocery stores, costco and other places to see what your best prices are going to be. I know some soap makers buy a lot of olive oil when it goes on sale at their local grocer. I mostly use Bulk Apothecary. They have comparable prices, customer service and shipping times are pretty good also. Most of the time if you search online you can find a coupon code to help offset shipping cost.
I also spent a lot of time trying to understand the science of soap. There were all these terms coming at me and I thought I had to know exactly what was going on. Don’t stress this part as I did. I read one blog that said not to worry about trying to understand the science, that it would eventually just click . At the time that wasn’t real acceptable for me but I went with it. I wish I could remember who posted that. I would like to say thank you because they were right, it did. I spent a lot of time before I made my first batch but now I look back and realize that I was procastinating due to fear. It’s kind of like hands on training, It will all come together. The wait time before I could unmold my soap was hard, but when I did it was such a good feeling to see that I made soap and yes I can do this and so can you so just dive in and do it. You will be glad you did.
My hopes are that this may have helped you feel more at ease as you jump into the fascinating world of making soap or if you have decided that you will just buy your handmade soap then I will be happy to assist with that also.