I get asked this question a lot: "How do you make soap?!" This is both an easy and a hard question to answer! There are several types of soap that can be made at home. Cold Process, Hot Process, and Melt and Pour.
Cold Process soap making requires a chemical reaction called saponification. This happens when lye is mixed with fats (lard, oils, and butters are all used in soap making). The combination of oils and butters is completely up to the soap maker! The many different combinations yield many different results such as bigger bubbles, creamier lather, or a harder bar of soap. Once the soap is ready, it is poured into a mold to harden, cut, and left to cure. As it cures, the excess water evaporates, creating a harder bar of soap that lasts longer. To see many examples of Cold Process soap, visit this page on Soap Queen's blog!
In order to speed up the cure process, a soapmaker can choose to use heat! This is known as Hot Process soap. The final look of the soap is more rustic.
The type of soap I make currently is known as Melt and Pour. I use a soap base and design a bar using color, fragrance, and embedded objects. Soap bases can vary greatly depending on added oils and butters, which make the soap more moisturizing. My favorite is added shea butter! It makes for a very creamy lather!
So, how is Melt and Pour soap base made? There are varying recipes, but it is essentially a Hot Process soap with added liquid glycerin or alcohols to lower the soap's melting temperature. The resulting soap hardens into a solid at room temperature, but can be melted down in order to add color and fragrance. Melt and pour bases can also be purchased already made from a supplier.
Here are some examples of soaps I have made! You can check out my current inventory in my Etsy Shop!