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Soap Making Equipment Checklist

3 Min Read
Soap Making Equipment Checklist

The ancient art of soap making comes from fats boiled with potashes from fires. Soap is created by the chemical reaction of a fatty acid with an alkali.

Sodium hydroxide lye is highly caustic and has the potential to burn the skin. Always Add Lye to Water (NEVER add Water to Lye!)

Lye creates an exothermic reaction that causes a dramatic temperature increase so the choice of equipment is extremely important.

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What are the raw materials needed in soap making?

Soap is made from butters and fats and water mixed with Lye (sodium hydroxide NaOH) and alkali to form a salt.

Original years ago soap was created using wood ashes as the alkali. They believe this happen by accident when animal fat fell into the fire ashes and formed a solid.

So when we walk about butters and oils these are things like.

Soap Making Oils:

Olive oil, castor oil, avocado oil, rapeseed oil (canola), argan oil, Apricot kernel oil, Jojoba Oil (waxy), and Calendula Oil to name a few.
Generally, you use a higher ratio of oils to butters.

Soap Making Butters:

Cocoa Butter, shea butter, coconut oil, palm oil,mango butter,  and even animal fats (tallow)
Butters vary significantly some are soft and spreadable, and others can be solid and brittle so you can chip away. Butters you use in smaller quantities than oils dependant on the hardness of the bar you require.  (10%-15%)

Saponification Process

Each butter or fat has a different rate of saponification. Use a lye Calculator to make sure you calculate the correct amount of lye to your butters and oils. This will ensure it goes through the saponification process and does not leave excess lye which could then burn your skin.

Remember that tap water isn’t always great to use in soap making as the PH levels can vary (hard water) and different impurities are present. Think about using distilled water instead.

There is also a simple way to make your first soap called “melt and pour” which you melt the base product, add the aroma and colours, and simply place it in a mould. This process doesn’t require as many complex materials and soap making equipment.

What equipment do you need to make soap?

Here is a basic list of equipment to make a cold process soap checklist it’s important to take every safety precaution when making cold process soap.

At a minimum, you need safety equipment, bowls, moulds, something to mix with like a blender and a thermometer as the temperature is key.

Soap Making Equipment Checklist

Basic list of equipment to make cold process soap
Protective Clothing

Think about personal safety by wearing long sleeves, long trousers, & shoes to give your body extra protection.


Splashes easily happen protect your clothes and yourself with added protection of an apron.

Rubber Gloves

Protect hands from splashes and burns while mixing ingredients.


Lye in your eye is capable of causing major ocular damage.

Face Mask

The fumes that come from Lye as it mixes with the distilled water is very strong. Potentially mix outside where possible if not windy and avoid breathing in any fumes by wearing a face mask. Make it a well-ventilated area.

Stainless Steel Pots & Pans

Remember to think about size you don’t want the soap to be at the top of the pan.Don’t use the equipment for anything else like cooking they must be kept separate.

Stainless Steel Utensils

Do not use wood utensils as lye causes wood to splinter and some plastics will melt so be careful.

Don’t use the equipment for anything else like cooking they must be kept separate.

Digital Scales

The quantity of the ingredients crucial as it is based around a chemical reaction. Ingredients must be measured by weight. Scales have a weight limit.

Digital Pocket Scales

More accurate for smaller ingredients like essential oils.

Stainless Steel Blender

Plastic heads can melt in the soap batter so best to stick to stainless steel.

Digital Thermometer

Temperature is SO important for saponification process.


Transferring essential oils in small qualities safely.


Looking for sturdy, heat-resistant plastic or glass. Don’t mix lye solution in a metal jug because the lye solution gets incredibly hot.


To put the soap in to set. These can be silicone or wooden lined boxes.

Kitchen Roll / Wipes

Small spills or splashes quick clean up. Also wipes to wipe gloves between actions to make sure you can’t accidentally come in contact with any skin by accident.


Each oil or butter has a different SAP value and requires different amounts of Lye.Always run every formula through a lye calculator before using it.

Cooker / Warm Plate

Melting your oils and butters.


You will need to wrap up the soap to keep it warm once in the mould to keep the reaction going.

Soap Cutter

Cutting the soap up into bars.

Drying Racks

Soap needs somewhere to sit, dry and harden for 4 / 6 weeks with air being able to circulate.

Washing Up / Bucket

Make sure area clear and not other kitchen equipment around. Always leave gloves on while washing any soaping equipment because the soap will still irritate the skin. Use lots of hot water and grease-cutting soap. Or place in a bucket for twenty-four hours and let it harden before cleaning.

First Aid Kit

Be prepared for accidents with a first aid kit.

Lye is VERY dangerous. Dangerous breathing in (inhaling) and will burn the skin so have first aid available for chemical burns.

Emergency Plan

Look up emergency action for the products you are using referencing the MSDS sheet (Material Safety Data Sheet). Who would you call? Have a phone nearby.

PH Test Kit

Measure the pH levels of your soap.

Another method is the “zap test” touch your tongue on your soap and if feels like putting it on a battery it is lye heavy. If no zap the soap is safe to use.

Frequently asked questions
Looking for more info? Here are some things we're commonly asked

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