List of Equipment You Need to Make Soap at Home
Before you can begin making soap at home, you need to gather some specific pieces of essential equipment.
Below, I’ve assembled a list of must-have tools for soapmaking, followed by a couple of extras that are also useful to have on hand.
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This doesn’t have to be super expensive. Check the kitchen supplies section of local stores. THIS is the kind I use and the one shown in the photo above.
All soapmaking oils, liquids and lye should be weighed and not measured by volume. Weight doesn’t always equal volume. For example, in the case of olive oil, 8 ounces (by volume) poured into a 1 cup measuring cup actually weighs much differently when using a scale. If you use a measuring cup instead of a scale for your oils or lye, your soap could end up overly oily, or worse, lye-heavy, creating an unsafe product.
There’s a pretty wide range of temperatures that the lye solution and oils can be before mixing them together. Depending on the recipe and which soapmaker you ask, this can vary anywhere from room temperature to 125°F (52°C).
To keep track of the temperature of your lye solution and oils, you’ll need an accurate thermometer. While I got by for many years with a simple candy making thermometer, like THIS ONE, an infrared laser thermometer, like THIS, is light years easier to use and highly recommended!
3. Immersion Blender (Stick Blender)
While you can stir soap by hand for a long time (sometimes hours!), an immersion blender, also called a stick blender, will cut the mixing time down to a matter of minutes. THIS is the kind that I personally use; I had the same one last over 10 years and it’s still going! Inexpensive stick blenders from local stores are usually fine to start with, but if you decide you enjoy soapmaking, you’ll probably want to invest in a stick blender that’s a little more durable.
Here’s a video of me mixing up a batch of cold process soap! (Often an ad plays first, but the video will be right after.)
4. Containers for Measuring & Mixing Lye
Weigh out the dry lye (sodium hydroxide) needed for your recipe in small disposable bath cups or a designated small container clearly marked with the word LYE.
Since the lye solution can shoot up to over 200°F (93°C) at first, it’s best to avoid a glass container for mixing the lye and water together, even if it’s heavy-duty. Lye can etch places in glass over time, causing weak points that are prone to breakage. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve gotten from people who had a glass container shatter on them while making soap! If you still feel the need to use glass, I suggest working in your kitchen sink to better contain any potential accidents.
Instead of glass, use stainless steel or heavy-duty plastic which should have a recycle #5 symbol on the bottom of the container.
(While we’re on the topic and since I get this question frequently: Some good brands of lye for soapmaking include ComStar and Red Crown. You can find these on Amazon or check local hardware stores.)
5. Containers for Mixing the Soap Batter
I’ve used all sorts of things from a Tupperware pitcher, the ceramic liner of an old CrockPot, an enamel lined soup pot, a stainless steel pot, and a Pyrex mixing pitcher. Since the lye solution has cooled by the the time you start mixing, it’s okay to use heavy duty glass at this point.
Currently, I’ve settled on using Encore Mix N Measure containers from the paint section of my local home improvement store.
The 2 1/2 quart containers are perfect for mixing up a batch of soap; my recipes are usually around 2.5 pounds, containing around 28 to 30 ounces of oil.
The 1 quart containers are good for mixing lye solutions, and also for mixing up mini test batches of soap.
Don’t use aluminum or anything with a non-stick surface (Teflon), since they’ll have a negative reaction to the soap batter.
6. Heavy Duty Plastic or Silicone Spoons & Spatulas
These are used for stirring the lye (sodium hydroxide) into the water or other liquid, and for stirring the soap batter as needed. You can find all sorts of options in the kitchenwares section of local stores. Look for heavy duty plastic or silicone, avoiding anything with aluminum.
7. Gloves & Goggles
These two pieces of safety gear are an absolute must. Even after 16 years of making soap, I still wear them and find them useful. Just this past summer, I accidentally splashed a bunch of raw soap batter on my face. I was so grateful for my goggles or else I would’ve been rushing to an emergency visit with my eye doctor. Never get too complacent in this department! I look for safety glasses/goggles that are specifically meant for working with chemicals (LIKE THESE). Regular eye glasses don’t really offer much protection.
To protect your hands, use disposable latex or nitrile gloves, or look for dishwashing gloves in the cleaning section of local stores. I like THESE KIND because they can be used multiple times and also because they extend almost up to my elbows, keeping my forearms protected.
In the past I recommended soapers wear long sleeves too. After accidentally dumping a mold filled with raw soap batter all over the front of me though, I found that the long sleeves were actually a hindrance and smeared more batter across my skin as I struggled to get out of it. I no longer specifically recommend long sleeves, but other respected experts do, so I’ll let you decide on that point.
8. Soap Molds
Virtually all of my soap recipes will fill a Crafter’s Choice Regular Silicone Loaf Mold (you can buy one HERE). If you can’t buy a mold yet, use an empty rinsed milk carton instead. You could also line a sturdy shoe box with a trash bag, or check out the baking section of local stores for silicone loaf pans.
I also have a list of 15+ decorative soap molds for when you’re ready to get more adventurous with soapmaking!
Mesh Teaspoon – This is an exceptional tool for making pencil line designs in soap. Just scoop cocoa powder or your desired colorant, into the spoon and gently sift over soap layers. I bought mine from Mountain Rose Herbs.
Strainer with Funnel – I get so many questions and comment about my funnel/strainer set. I bought it from Mountain Rose Herbs and it’s perfect for straining infused oils and herbal teas for soapmaking!
Coffee Grinder – useful for grinding oats, dried herbs/flowers, and other soapmaking additives. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. (I use an inexpensive Hamilton Beach one.)
Soap Cutter – Though they’re a bit of an investment, a steel wire soap cutter ensures perfectly sized bars, every time! Check out Etsy for a high quality product.
Soap Stamps – You can find all sorts of fun soap stamps on Etsy. SoapRepublic is a favorite shop, but there are other great ones to explore as well!
Simple & Natural Soapmaking – This is my print book! :) It’s loaded with recipes that feature natural ingredients, colorants and essential oils. (Read more about it HERE.)
Great post (and love your book!). I like to encourage people to start off with items they already own or can buy cheaply before spending big on soapmaking (to make sure they like it first), although good scales is essential.
Thanks Liz, I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the blog post & book! :)
Thank you for the list. I would like to know if lye is not harmful to human skin.
How can I get (or buy your book) I live in Africa and want to make my own natural soaps and shampoo.
Hi Ange! Lye by itself is harmful to your skin, but when it mixes with oils, it becomes transformed into a completely new product.
I have a whole article about that, that I think you will enjoy reading! :)
Thanks for asking about the books! :) I have some links to them right here:
or if there’s a place you normally buy books from, you could check with them to see if they carry it, or if they can order it for you. The print books are distributed worldwide. :)
Your links to Amazon are not working
Hi Kathy, Thanks for letting me know! I’m so sorry to hear that they didn’t work right for you! I just checked and they seem to be doing okay now, but if you still can’t see them, you might need to try a different browser or clear your cookies. Thanks again for letting me know & hope you have a great day!
Very nice thanks
Hi Amanda! I’m glad you found it helpful! :)
Purchased your book and look forward to reading it!
Hi Jon! Thanks for buying the book & hope you enjoy it!
Hi am Lydia and please I want your ebook collection how do I get it please
Hi Lydia, Thanks for asking! You can find out more about the ebook collection at this link:
I just purchased your ebook collection and so far have found it to be very helpful. Especially found the list of supplies and equipment useful. I have made some glycerin soap in the past but I am looking forward to experimenting with other soaps as well.
Hi Wanda, Thanks for buying the ebook collection! I’m so glad that it’s helpful! I hope you have lots of fun making soap! :)
Thanks for your information on suppliers
Hi Evelyn! I’m glad you found it helpful!
Thanks a lot for this helpful post.
Hi Shilah, I’m glad you found it helpful! :)
Is glycerin needed??
Hi Liana! Glycerin isn’t needed to make cold process soap, but it’s naturally produced in the process. Lye + Oils are transformed into Soap + Glycerin.
There’s some more information on that in this article: https://thenerdyfarmwife.com/why-you-need-lye-to-make-soap-faqs/
Thanks a lot!!!
I got many many information for soap making.
Now, I am trying to make soap.
I believe I can do.
Hi Myat! I’m glad you found the information helpful! Good luck with your soap making adventures! :)
This is a great site, thank you! This may be a dumb question, but it dangerous to use equipment (i.e. blender) on food after using it for making soap?
Hi Brina, That’s a great question! I always wondered that too! If you’re going to make a lot of soap, then it’s good to get special equipment for it because the lye will eventually etch and wear the equipment/containers. If you’re going to make soap just once or twice to try it out, then it’s okay to use regular kitchen equipment if it’s cleaned very well afterward. Soap batter has saponified (turned into soap) within 1 to 2 days and is no longer caustic, so you can tuck the dishes & mixing utensils away for a couple of days, then soak them in warm water, and rinse thoroughly – it’s just like washing in soap at that point which is perfectly safe if rinsed well. The only thing I don’t recommend using for food would be the containers used to weigh and mix lye, or if you use a fragrance oil or strong essential oil (such as eucalyptus) because the smell will tend to stick around in the dishes later & that won’t mix well with your food at all. Happy soapmaking! :)
I have really appreciated you teaching. So, I am a ugandan.i what to start up the production of soap on alarge scale.where can I acquire the cheap source of raw materials?
Hi David! I’m afraid I’m unsure of where to buy ingredients on a large scale in Uganda. I wonder if perhaps the Lovin Soap project has some ideas or resources?
Best of luck with your soap production project!
Just wanted to ask what kind of colorants do you use for soap making? Is it mica or pigments or natural ones like peppermint and so on? Also, do you make soap with cold process or melt and pour? I generally am thinking about making soap and selling it but I want to be sure that the ingredients I use are not harmful to the skin. Thanks
Hi Aiste! I use natural colorants like clays and plant pigments (indigo, madder root, chlorella powder, etc). I make both cold process soap and melt and pour. This nerdy farm wife site has mostly cold process soap recipes, while I started a second site for my melt and pour projects. EasyMeltandPour.com I need to add more colorants information to this site, but I have a pretty extensive photo gallery of soaps with natural colorants in my print book, Simple & Natural Soapmaking. :)
THANK YOU FOR SHARING!
Hi Martin, I’m so glad the list is helpful! 😊
I want to be involved in soap making to enable me help my inmates. I am head of a correctional custodial facility.
Hi Eke, That’s such a great thing to do! Best wishes in your endeavors!
Where would you recommend getting the soap products themselves like the soap base and lye? I’ve made soap with pre-made soap base I bought but it just isn’t the same as making it myself.
Hi Jessa! A couple of great places I’ve purchased from includes: Wholesale supplies Plus, Bramble Berry, Soap Goods, and Bulk Apothecary.
I buy lye from Amazon – Red Crown, Essential Depot, or ComStar have all worked well!
Hi Jan, your soap cutter looks really good. Where did you get yours from? Can you recommend soap cutters for beginners, that are not too expensive?
Hi Elisabeth! My husband made that soap cutter for me. He looked at a bunch of different ones for sale and came up with it.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get pictures or notes when he made it, or I would definitely share them here! I get a lot of interest and questions about that soap cutter! 😊
Before that, I just used either a non-serrated large kitchen knife or a soap cutter like this one:
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