DIY cold-process soap

You may wonder, why make soap? I certainly only go through a bar or 2 a year and there are plenty of soap options to buy...but what it comes down to for me is that I love the control over the ingredients & it's super fun. The moment when your soap is ready to cut is a sweet moment. It's also like a science experiment, trying different add-ins and not really knowing how a colour or pattern will turn out. Fun! (and sometimes argh!!).
most recent batch, cinnamon swirl soap 
After doing my research, I decided to make soaps as natural as possible. I've been colouring with various clays and things from the kitchen cupboard (used spirulina powder, turmeric and cinnamon with success). I'll never get the amazing vibrant colours, but I like knowing that it's natural.  Same with fragrances, I'm using only essential oils. A lot are needed to scent a batch with any strength or lasting power, so I've been using stronger, cheaper ones for now (like peppermint and lemongrass).
my supply closet in the art room: check out my new soap mould on the floor!
The soap I make is by cold-process. It involves using lye, but as long as you are careful, it's not bad. It's to be taken seriously, for sure and I wear safety glasses during the key portions.

I'm not going to go into details about the process because others have been there and done it beautifully.

The Soapmakers' Companion by Sue Miller is great and I've used her basic soap recipe with success.

the Crafty Gemini is very pleasant to watch
She goes through the whole process in a nice little video and covers the equipment and the safety stuff.

Kathy Miller : old school soap guru (just noticed 2 'soap people' with last name Miller...interesting)
Many good tips, troubleshooting, questions and lots more.

Calgary girl, Humblebee & Me, whose soap mould inspired me to build my own (by Craig, thank you)

Soap calculator, when you are ready to whip up your own concoctions. 
This calculates the amount of lye you need depending on the kinds and percentages of fats and oils.

I get my supplies from New Directions Aromatics.
The shipping is very reasonable. Even with heavy buckets of soap making oils!
Christmas soap packaging options I tried this year
If you've always wanted to try it, go for it (or befriend someone who makes soap. I've only been making soap for 6 months, but I've got enough to last me and my extended family for years & possibly lifetimes). Happily, with my new soap mould, I'm now able to make much smaller batches. This is great to try out just a couple bars at a time.

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