Posted on

What Are A Soapmaker’s Instruments?

I read somewhere that one soapmaker likened churning out a batch of cold process soap to making a banana cake in your kitchen. They are both just as easy or complicated to make, depending on how fancy you want the outcome to be. Now that I’ve been making soap for quite a while I can see how that comparison came to be. :p

Here are some photos of the utensils I can’t do without when I pull on my gloves to make a batch of soap.

Stainless steel pots. The one on the left is for making the lye solution (sodium hydroxide + water), while the larger one on the right is for warming up the oils. It’s important not to use any utensils that contain aluminium, as the metal reacts with sodium hydroxide and won’t do anything good for soap. Trust me on this, because I found out from first-hand experience. Ahem. :”>

Clockwise from bottom left corner: 2 heavy duty plastic pitchers (to measure out lye and for containing raw soap), 2 slotted spoons (to mix lye and oils), melamine mixing bowl (I usually mix my raw soap in there), another heavy duty plastic pitcher containing hand blender attachment, two stick thermometers and a rubber spatula (for scraping off every last little bit of soap from the sides of my mixing bowl).

My two stick thermometers (also known as meat thermometers). Very important, as I have to keep track of the temperatures of both the oils and lye mixtures, ensuring that they both fall within the same range of between 32C and 42C, before I can mix them together to get saponification going. Falling out of this temperature range can mean a failed batch of soap (so I read), although I have yet to experience this.

You can find these thermometers at specialty baking shops, the more uppity departmental stores and also your local hardware store. I bought mine from Isetan KLCC, as I was still holding down a full-time job nearby at the time.

And finally, the item that works the hardest for me — my trusty Philips hand-held blender. Without it, I could be stirring my raw soap mixture for 3 hours before it saponifies enough to be poured into molds! Thankfully it usually takes me just 5-10 minutes tops to bring my raw soap to trace.

So there you have it — a little tour of my kitchen utensils that help me make soap. Isn’t it great that they’re familiar items? No fancy specialty gear needed. And for the record, all these are used ONLY for making soap — I don’t use them to prepare any of my meals. While I take great pains to make sure they are thoroughly cleaned after each soapmaking session, I can do without the possibility of having traces of soap, essential oils or at worst, LYE, in my food!