In the midst of harvesting our gardens and canning, I have been preparing for the adventure which is soap making. I LOVE good soap, but not good soap prices. I also love knowing just exactly what chemicals I’m putting on my skin (the less being the better). I have a budget from selling two antique pieces on craigslist totaling $95.00. For that amount I needed to be able to buy all the supplies I’d need to set up shop (consumables like fats, essential oils, and lye go on a separate budget as I hope to sell soap and recoup those costs). When you’re on a tight budget you can either get incredibly frustrated or incredibly invigorated by the challenge. I chose the latter, with fervor.
I was inspired by this lady, Marsha, who on a YouTube video thoughtfully and simply went through making cold process soap, and most importantly, she pointed out all the ways that you can do it cheaply. Because it is one of those things that very easily could be done much too expensively. She showed a wooden mold her husband had made for her. My husband made one for me the next day out of scrap wood. Do you know the story “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie?”; well, if you give this wife a soap mold, she’s going to want to scour online sales, thrift shops, and discount places for all the other bits needed to make soap making a reality in her life. And she’ll want to do it without adding weight to the load of the family budget. So she sells some unnecessary antiques that she acquired off the curb and at a yard sale, and looks at that $95.00 and grits her teeth, and says, “Let’s do this thing”. And then she stops talking in third person. Mercy.
So, soap making supplies can be costly. Like, there’s a beautiful wire soap cutter that slices 12 perfect bars at once for, oh, five hundred dollars. Or the divided molds with removable sides for eighty. But, as my obsessive tabulations below show, it doesn’t have to be a break-the-bank proposition. And this applies to any number of hobbies; don’t let sticker shock keep you from realizing a dream. Realize that there’s usually another way to do things and get comparable results. Relish the challenge!
My Soap Supply Budget
- digital scale: $35.00 (on sale on Amazon) This was the only precision instrument needed, so I didn’t bother looking for a used/possibly damaged one.
- gloves: $2.00 (Dollar Store) Needed for working with lye.
- spatulas and whisks: $4.00 (Target) Would have been more, but they were on sale and I had a five dollar gift card from buying our school supplies there, so saved $12.00!
- pitcher: $2.07 (thrift store) Soap making requires soap-only vessels as the lye would cross-contaminate my kitchen supplies.
- wooden soap mold, 10 X 20 for making 25 bars: free (scrap wood) (thank you, handy husband)
- safety goggles: $18.00 (Amazon) I needed chemical goggles that would prevent lye from splashing up into my eyes, which could cause blindness or severe damage. Very worth that chunk of the budget! Don’t skimp here!
- measuring spoons: .75 (thrift store) Good for measuring essential oils or nutrients like oatmeal or honey.
- small and medium liquid measuring cups: $1.75 (thrift store) When doing different colors or textures, these allow the batch to be divided.
- large pitcher: $1.00 (thrift store) For mixing and pouring raw soap.
- silicon mold: $3.00 (thrift store) Makes twelve decorative soaps, originally designed for baking in, these are ideal for soap making due to being able to pull away from the soap easily.
- two knives: $2.75 (thrift store) For cutting the bars.
- immersion blender: $14.99 (Ollie’s Discount Store) These are used in the saponification process to bring the lye and fats into a creamy relationship.
- vegetable peeler: $1.29 (Ollie’s) Used for trimming up the edges of cut soap bars.
- two candy thermometers: $3.98 (Ollie’s) To get both the lye and the oils/fats to the same temperature.
- long stainless steel spoon: $1.79 (Ollie’s) To stir the caustic raw soap.
- small batch wooden soap mold: free (scrap wood)
- cutting surface: free (my father in-law had a scrap piece of Corian countertop)
- books on soap making: free (public library)
- stainless steel pots: free (extras not needed in the kitchen) These are used for melting solid fats down.
Total spent: $92.42, under budget by $2.58
Wasn’t that a fun romp through my obsessiveness? HA!
So, you see how I roll. And best of all? I’ve whirled my friend Andrea into my soaping vortex and we’re attempting our first batch on Monday. So. Indescribably. Excited.
What dream can you work on that you’ve put off? What could you sell to help you get there? Trade a good for a better and let me know how it went!