There are two basic methods of Soapmaking, Cold Process and Melt & Pour. Most beginners consider Cold Process Soaps intimidating or even a little scary. This is mainly due to the necessary use of Lye to make this Soap Base. Lye is a strong Base Solution. A base solution is caustic, just like an acid solution, especially when exposed to water. If it gets on the skin, it can cause severe burns and scarring of the flesh. Very scary indeed, but also preventable with basic precautions. If you are willing to make an effort to prepare your work space and yourself, Cold Process Soapmaking can be a safe and even fun process.
Melt & Pour Soap has had the Lye neutralized and is ready to use, as is if you wish. Most times you will take that Soap Base, heat it until melted so you can add Fragrance, Color and any other additives before you pour it into a mold. You soap is virtually ready to use once it has cooled enough for you to unmold it (tho it will be better left to harden and dry for a couple days)
Each soapmaking technique has advantages and drawbacks. White soap is better as Cold Process, Melt & Pour is great when making layer soaps. Cold Process soap can be poured into a mold within an hour of starting the process, Melt & Pour can take an hour or more to heat up enough to liquefy and may have a small window of time in which it is workable enough to add your ingredients and pour into a mold without it cooling and seizing.
if you plan to make soap base the old-fashioned way, you will need distilled water, oils, lye, essential oils, exfoliants, colorants, and herbs. Before starting, you have to wear rubber gloves and goggles, and a plastic apron is also helpful. Lye gets really hot when mixed with water, so make sure you have a container that can withstand 200 to 400 degrees. Make sure the lye is measured carefully using a scale, and that you pour the lye into the water. Stir continuously without stopping until the lye is dissolved. At this point, you can set it aside.
Heat your solid fats and oils in a pot until they melt, and then combine them with the liquid oils and fats in your recipe. Make sure that these ingredients were measured in weight, not volume. This ensures you do not have too much or too little of the fats and oils in the soap, which can ruin the recipe. Stick a thermometer in the lye mixture and oils, and wait until both are about 95 degrees before mixing. However, if you are using tallow or lard, mix them at around 110 degrees. Slowly pour the lye into the fats and oils, and stir continuously. For fast results, use a powered stick blender. Otherwise, mixing by hand can take an hour. Add the rest of the materials after trace is reached (when it has thickened significantly). Then, just pour it into molds and insulate it for curing for about 18 to 36 hours.
After reading through the lye method, making soaps can seem difficult and dangerous. Melt and pour soaps are really easy to make. With this method, you can skip the lye process completely. Instead, you can just melt the base down and add your ingredients. This makes the craft very fun, safe, and ideal for children. With this easy method, you have more time to focus on the design, color, and function of the soap.
Using the melt and pour method, you can melt the soap base in a pot on the stove. From there, you can add pigment, essential oils, herbs, and other ingredients. You can take your time combining different oils and herbs to make the soap have the exact properties that you desire. After melting and adding ingredients to the soap, you can pour it right into molds to dry. There is no curing time, so, once the soap is solid, it can be used. Since it is so easy, many people make cute novelty soaps very quickly without any dangers and risks.