The cold process creates the best soap product. This is just one of the interesting things you will learn from this episode, where Nick Gay and Tony Frischknecht share practical steps on making handmade soap. Learn what simple ingredients and tools you’ll need to start making your own product at home. Plus, you’ll get tips on how you can price your product. Ready to make your very own handmade soap? Then dive right in!
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How To Make Handmade Soap At Home With Nick Gay
I am here with my Head of Product Management, Nick Gay. How are you doing?
I’m doing great. How are you, Tony?Melt and pour soap is by far the easiest and user-friendly method of making soaps. Click To Tweet
Fantastic. We are going to do some cool stuff here. I have never made this before but I’m sure there are some folks out there that are reading right now that have made their soaps. We are going to be creating our own soaps along with fragrances because if you are following our show at all, we take and we extract essential oils from different plants and we use that for fragrances, flavors and so on. Nick, have you made soap before?
Yeah. I have made soap and every different type of method that you can use to make soap, I have done that. We are going to be doing a melt-and-pour soap, which is by far the easiest and user-friendly.
What other processes are there to making soap?
There’s a cold process and then a hot process, which both use different oils as well as sodium hydroxide, also known as lye. The hot process is done within the day whereas the cold process takes about 4 to 6 weeks to cure out. The reason behind that is because the chemical processes are carrying out of saponifying the oils. Your end product of soap will have no lye in it at all and very little oil. That’s the chemical process that happens to make soap.
Is there any one of those processes that produce a better product than the other?
The cold process creates the best product for sure. With that said, this is the safest way to make soap at home because, as you may know, lye can be pretty dangerous. If you get it on your skin, it will burn you or anything like that. With the proper precautions like goggles and gloves, then relatively safe.
He’s got a pot where he has started, the first part of this process of melting down his soap base itself. With that said, what are the ingredients that we are going to be using here to make our soap?
The first ingredient is I’ve got a goat milk soap base from the Hobby Lobby down the street. This 2 pounds, it costs me $10 to get that. The only other ingredients you will need are our CO2 extracted Lavender essential oil that we made in the Little Buddy, any colorants or anything you would like to do in the soap. I made that. I did an Australian red clay as the colorant and that’s something natural. It’s a clay that will make a nice Moab red rock color and then I also have some other colorants here. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any purple, which I was going to use for the Lavender but we are going to use some Spirulina, which is a ground powder, also another plant–based colorant. We are going to add that into the soap base and that’s going to make our soap green.
As you mentioned, this is one of the safer ways to make soap, correct?
Yes. This is a process you could even do with your kids. The only danger here is this heating element if you cook with your kids. This is a very similar process, things are hot and that’s all you need to worry about.
For those folks out there that are creating their own product or own soap, we talk about the economics of how much you spent on this product. The goat’s milk base soap that you have and then you have the extracted Lavender essential oil in front of us. Nick, the expenses that you have to create this product is your base goat’s milk soap and then the extraction. How much would it cost for somebody to buy some of this handmade soap, whether it would be a store, Farmer’s Market or something like that?
The retail prices that I have typically seen on the low end would be $7, where on the high-end would be $20. It’s a pretty expensive product and we are making it for quite a bit lower than that.
Did you say we could make six bars? Is that what you were saying?
Correct. With these 2 pounds, we can make six bars with my mold choice.
We’ve got six bars and they are roughly $10 without the essential oil, right?
If we add the essential oils, how much do you think we could sell one of these bars for once we are finished?
I would say above $5 is my estimated cost, even with buying the essential oils, it would be $2 a bar. On the lowest end, you are going to be making a $3 profit per bar.
That’s relatively conservative.
That’s buying this, not bulk, just from a craft store. If you were doing this as a business model, then you can buy this soap base in bulk for a lot cheaper or you could also go the route of doing the cold process soap, which we can visit on a future episode.
For those of you out there that are looking for some type of side business or something to work on, this would be a fantastic way to sell some online products if you wanted to get your name out there and start building a soap brand. I know that’s funny to say but instead of going to your Farmer’s Market, we have that ability now to sell anything online. It seems like it’s a great way to make some extra money. If you are out there looking to make some extra money, this is entirely viable for you to do so. Is your base melted and ready to go?
We need a little bit more time. It’s almost all melted. I’m continually stirring. The stirring helps it melt better. You want to make sure that your wax is fully melted before you add your essential oils, any colorants or anything like that. That way, you get a nice clean core into your mold here. Tony, it’s a great way to give gifts as well. I have 5 uncles and 5 aunts. Every Christmas, I will make some lotion or soaps and you can give everyone a gift for relatively cheap and still give a nice product.
You have made it, as long as it’s good.The typical retail price for handmade soap on the low end would be $7, on the high end it would be $20. Click To Tweet
I keep scraping this wax that’s solidifying on my silicone spatula here back into the batch so that it can remelt. The mold we are going to be using is a square mold. This is a mold that’s pretty easy to get. They sell it at a lot of liquor stores because people use them for ice cubes for cocktails.
It’s one large ice cube for your scotch or whatever you are trying to cool down. Those are awesome and they are a few bucks, too. They are not expensive.
They are $10 and you could use them for ice cubes and soap as long as you are washing them in between.
What can people expect as they mix this extracted oil into the solution there? Is it going to mix up easily? Is it going to be challenging to mix up?
It’s going to mix in pretty easily. You want to make sure that your entire mixture is fully melted so that you don’t have to unnecessarily heat your essential oil because you are going to be losing some quality there once you heat up your essential oil too much.
For you guys out there that maybe this is your first time tuning in, that’s one of the things that our extraction machine doesn’t do. It’s a closed-loop system and we are using CO2 so it keeps those temperatures low, which in turn creates a better product because we are not burning off all the natural scents that are in the product itself as we extract the oil. That’s one of the big differences here. Are you adding the colors? Is that what you are doing?
Yeah. I’m about to add the colorant right now. Any colors you are going to do, you are going to want to do first, especially if you are using natural colorants because it’s a trial and error thing. You want to look at your batch and see what type of color you are going to get there. I have a tablespoon here. I’m going to dump that in there and mix that in.
As this is mixed in, what is the cooling process? Does this take a long time to cool? Is it going to be ready for use even if you wanted to wrap it up and sell it? How long does it take for this to set up once it hardens in the cube tray there?
It takes 2 to 3 hours to harden. What I have done is I made a batch with a different colorant. What I’m doing with the Spirulina is mixing it directly in, whereas what I did was using the Australian red clay is I layered it. You could see the top layer is a little bit that red rock color, whereas the base is white. What you could also do is you could pour those two colors in at the same time and it would create a swirling effect.
You can get pretty creative as you are making soap, it seems like.
You can put different botanicals, herbs or flowers on them and do different colors. With cold process soap, there are even more options.
Why is that?
You’ve got to be quick about it because you don’t want it to harden as you are pouring it. Whereas cold process soap doesn’t harden for a couple of hours until the actual chemical process starts happening.
Are we ready to pour that?
We are about ready. It’s like a mint chocolate chip color going on here. I’m using a double boiler here so I have hot water boiling and then I have a secondary pot sitting inside of that. The one thing you want to keep in mind when you are pouring this is you are going to want to use a rag or something so that you don’t get any water in your actual soap. That’s why I have had this rag sitting here waiting for me. I’m going to turn the heat off here. You could see there are a bunch of water that’s formed. I’m wiping that off so that it doesn’t go into our mixture. You want to do this on a level surface, so get a proper pour.
You are filling up each one of these cubes in the cube tray. There are about six of them for you guys that are reading. He’s filling up each one just like you would fill up an ice tray. These cubes are probably about 2×2 inches. He’s filled up four of them there and there are a bunch that stuck to the side but who knows how you can scoop that out without it getting too cold and setting up on you.
I have the silicone scraper that helps a lot. At this point, there are not that much left in there. I will leave it in there but if you had quite a bit in there, you are making another batch or something like that. You would want to set that back into the hot water so that’s melting back down. I will show you one of the finished bars, now that you see it in the mold.
That’s a good–sized bar.
You can make smaller bars where you are making more. Let me slap this on a scale really quick.
He’s got a little tabletop scale he’s using.
This bar weighs 101 grams. That’s a pretty big bar. Honestly, most bars that you buy are a little bit smaller than that. I like this mold. It’s also an easy mold for the viewers to purchase.
Those silicone molds, too, that you have. It pops out easily once they are dry, right?
Exactly. What I will do is I will let it sit for about four hours and then I will pop it in the freezer for about ten minutes. That gets it super hard. When you are pushing it out of the mold, you don’t make fingerprints, divots or anything like that. Another pro tip that you would do is you have all this hot water. This is a mess to clean up. Even though it’s soap, it’s so much soap that it’s hard to clean up. When you have all this hot water, pour that hot water directly on your basin where you were melting your soap and that will make it easy to clean it out.
That’s a great tip. Thank you. The one that you have finished, let’s talk about that. Does that have a Lavender addition to it when you made that?
That one, I did Cedarwood oil. I wanted a little bit of a variation and I also wanted to save the Lavender for this mixture. I made a Cedarwood and then now I made a Lavender.
We didn’t extract the Cedarwood from that. That was a product that you had purchased to add to that, correct?
Correct. I have a big old stash of essential oils at home.
We are trying to extract everything we can. Who knows? Maybe we can figure out how to extract Cedar oil from the actual wood itself. We will bring that to you guys, too.
It’s a seasonal thing. I’m here in Colorado. It is springtime. There are not much bloom in and growing now. The only thing we are extracting is dried Lavender but I have a bunch of stuff growing in the garden. I’ve got Hops, Thyme, Rosemary and Sage. We are going to be doing a lot of extractions in the summer.
Nick, this was all great stuff. If people want to talk to you about soap, can they reach out to you?
If you want to talk, Nick has done this a lot. He gave you a couple of his tips right there but also if you are creating this for the first time, he’s more than happy to walk you through the process, talk to you about it and explain how the extraction makes it easy to add it and go. Please reach out to us at ExtractionEssentials.com. You can message us there, we have texting and you can call us very simply. We are easy to get to. I appreciate you reading this. I hope you learned something. I know I did. We will see you next time.
- Nick Gay – LinkedIn
About Nick Gay