Over the years I have heard many weird and wonderful things about soap making and it’s time to dispel the tall tales that circulate far and wide.
Soap Can Be Made Without Lye
This is one of the biggest myths around. Soap cannot be made without lye. Why not I hear you ask? Let’s break it down to define how soap is created. Soap is created from an alkaline solution (such as sodium hydroxide) mixed together with oils and butters. When the two are mixed there is a chemical reaction called saponification and the end result is soap. Without the chemical reaction there is no soap and you need the lye to create the chemical reaction. Hence the reason why soap cannot be made without lye.
Soap Making is Dangerous
This is another popular myth. Soap making involves working with sodium hydroxide or lye and this can result in anxiety if you have never made soap before. I have been there myself and it can be scary when you are starting out. However, there is nothing to be afraid of as long as you take the necessary precautions. Wear appropriate protective gear and always work in a well-ventilated area. Don’t make soap around children and pets and make sure your ingredients are stored safely. We all do things everyday that requires care and attention like driving a car. If you apply the same principles to soap making you have nothing to fear.
Soap Making is Difficult
Despite the rumours that I have seen floating around online you don’t need to be a scientist to make your own soap. The process of soap making is methodical and each part of the process can be broken down into easy to follow steps, much like baking. And like learning anything new you must learn to walk before you can run. So, if you are new to soap making trying to design your own recipes before you know how can often result in difficulties. This could be the reason why some people think soap making is difficult because they have jumped in at the deep end before learning the basics.
Soap Making is Expensive
Soap making is only expensive if you want it to be. You don’t have to splash out on lots of fancy equipment and or invest in setting up a workshop. You can buy most of the equipment and ingredients you need to make soap from supermarkets. Discount stores are great places for soap makers, as you can pick up some real bargains. You don’t need to invest in expensive moulds either. For example, you can use an old orange juice carton which is exactly what I did when I made my first batch of soap and it worked a treat. And finally, once you learn to make soap you can make it for gifts which is less expensive than hitting the shops and it is also much nicer for the recipient to receive.
Handmade Soap is Harsh
Many of us have heard about old fashioned handmade soap that was harsh on skin. Soap made back in the good old days was probably harsh because there were no precise calculations or accurate formulations. I imagine that much of it was guesswork which is never a good idea when it comes to soap making. Soap makers back then made their own lye from hardwood ashes and rainwater. They had no way of knowing the strength of their lye solution and their soap was probably hit and miss. Long gone are those days thankfully as we now work with precise formulations and make use of accurate tools such as soap calculators, so nothing is left to chance. If soap is made correctly there should be no reason why it should be harsh. In fact, handmade soap is loaded with glycerine which is kind to skin and helps to keep it moisturised.
These are the most common myths that I have come across in my time and I hope that they don’t scare people away from the wonderful world that is soap making. Have you come across any of these soap making myths?
If you want to learn to make soap check out my soap making courses here.