Haponesang Sunog or losely translated as the Sunburned Japanese Girl is a cute, generous, informative site.
This website has great information.
I was sucked into it when I was browsing Manila jewelry craft sites and one click led to another. It talks bout how to make circle blanks and rectangular blanks or where to buy them if you don’t want to make. It talks about metal stamp suppliers and her preparation for the metal stamping workshops that she was offering.
What I found interesting were a few pointers:
The mention of a bracelet bending bar. A bracelet mandrel is used in metal forming which I’ve actually never used but which my teacher mentioned a long time ago.
The advice to use a 16 oz or 1 pound hammer as lighter hammers wouldn’t impress on the metal as well.
The recommendation to use 18, 20 or 24 gauge for aluminum and thicker for brass.
Some of this information is new to me while some of it are things that I practice myself. I’d add CKK Tools and Supplies as another really good supplier for jewelery makers because they have some serious stuff – roller mills, fantastic files, and drills. They’re expensive but they are the only carriers of jewelry supplies that I know. There may be others in Bulacan but I’ve never been so I can’t say.
In addition, the information is organized well and the writing is clear, which makes it a joy to read. I even stopped by her Etsy store, which I have not done for other sites.
In any case, it’s good to see another good resource for craft jewelry makers in Manila, and it’s nice to see information being shared.
There are tons of online guides and great books on it, and when I started I read tons of stuff to make sure that I was doing it right and to counter check with other sources since I noticed some inconsistencies. In fact, my own comprehensive guide on soap making developed from my notes.
Still, sometimes it is pretty comforting to have someone sit down with you and go through it step by step. People get especially nervous around lye and have several concerns handling it for the first time.
There are classes everywhere for aspiring cold process soap makers, no matter where you are based in Metro Manila.
Craft Manila is located in the Pamana Building on Pasong Tamo in Makati. They’ve tons of classes, which run the gamut from book binding to jewelry making.
Their soapmaking class is taught by the proprietor of Simoy ng Harana, an online shop of scents that have been featured on Real Living (the best interior design website in the Philippines), and is Php 5,500 with a maximum of 8 participants.
While the most expensive of the classes I’ve found, it’s got a great track record and is centrally located, so you pay for convenience and expertise. They’ve partnered with Rockwell Malls and other well known companies to teach workshops on just about anything so these guys are pretty legit.
I find them really responsive on email while usually other businesses are more comfortable on cell or private messaging.
Negoskwela has a plethora of courses for people who want to turn their crafts into a hobby, and I wish they were located somewhere easier to get to. People who are crafty who’d love to develop their talents but have got work might have a hard time getting here.
They’re located in CMLI Bldg. North Ave. Cor Agham Rd Diliman Quezon City and their day long soap making course is Php 2,800. I like their thrust of empowering people through entrepreneurship.
Landline: 924-5111 and 208-7211 to 13
Sun: 09253685306| 09253685307 | 09253685308
Globe: 09175118019 | 09175117925
Soap Central is also pretty active on Facebook, and is at the LaRychean Building at 176 Tunasan Road in Muntinlupa. If you’re from the South, this is the prefect place to start. I think they are a great resource, and they are open every day till 6pm.
If you are thinking about taking the class in 2018, they’ve got you covered: they’ve already released the schedule for the year. They have classes on formulations for Php 2,500 and hands on cold process soap making for Php 4,500. they’ve got a free soap mold for those that sign up a month early, so sign up early! 🙂
There were no silver smithing studios or classes in Metro Manila when I first started looking in 2014.
So I’m grateful – really I am – that when I started looking again, I actually found a silver smithing class in Metro Manila.
There is now one option for us desperate, passionate silversmiths instead of none, although of course the hours long drive to get to Soul Flower’s does kind of drive you nuts by the time you get there.
The only metal working class in Metro Manila is tucked into a 18 square meter room on Malingap Street in Diliman’s Teacher’s Village and is run by Soul Flower, a partnership between 2 friends.
They offer beginner, intermediate and advanced classes for silversmithing as well as other craft classes.
I’ve trained as a metalsmith for a year aborad, and I do so love the work. I haven’t had a chance to get back to it since I’ve been preoccupied with other things, and have only lately started picking it up.
Will let you know how it goes.
Unit 2h, No. 22 Malingap Street, Teacher’s Village, Diliman, Quezon City
Safeguard is sold in packs of 6 bars with a label saying, save 37 pesos.
Everyone I know buys it.
On Saturdays, friends head to Cash and Carry and buy a multitude to stock up. They pile it up in their bathrooms behind their towels so that when someone runs out of soap – as is inevitable in a house with children – they’ve got a bar to hand out.
So spoiler alert – not a fan.
Just too many chemicals in there for me to be excited.
For Safeguard Pure White, the Philippine formulation is: Sodium Palmate, Tapioca Starach, Water, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Glycerin, Fragrance, Talc, Palm Kernel Acid, Sodium Chloride, Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Pyrithione, Tetrsodium Etidronate, Zinc Sulfate, Disodium Distyrylbiphenyl Disulfonate, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Citric Acid.
That’s the formulation for the Philippine market, and I am not sure if the formulation is the same for other markets. P&G has often developed local variants of popular brands.
When I type Safeguard in the EWG database, I come up with three anti-bac bar soaps. None, I think, are the equivalent of the Philippine Safeguard Pure White bar, and when I look at the ingredients, they differ.
These different formulations make it difficult for a consumer.
You can’t just pull up a score from EWG to assess a product, and it is tough for non-profits to grab information and create an assessment. Neither can you rely on a local formulation to remain stable – it changes over time as well.
So how do you assess a product?
The less ingredients the better
Go for products that are not made up of compound products such as soap bases or perfume, which are often made up of multiple ingredients themselves.
Go for products where you are familiar with the ingredients.
These are really quick, really simple rules for assessing a product but they are by no means foolproof. It just that with an estimated 79,788 chemicals in daily life, it is almost impossible to know an avoid them all.
We rely on governments and businesses to keep us safe, but often with conflicting interests involved and weak regulation, it is pretty tough for consumer health to be at the forefront of product creation.
This Easy Handmade Soap Guide for Beginners is for people like me who want to make soap but get confused because they come across lot s of contradictory information.
So I wrote a guide to try to help other people. I explain how to make soap here, but I also try to resolve questions you might have come across yourself.
I’ve got things like whether to use tap or distilled or whether you really should put vinegar on that lye burn, and I’ve put my sources if you’d like to check them out yourself. I’ve also split up the post so that people can go back and forth and choose how much they want to read.
I’ve made 4 sections, and written down problems or info I offer right after.
Ingredients: Different olive oil classifications and which to choose, lye grades and what to buy, and whether to use distilled versus tap water
Equipment: Should you use water or vinegar for emergencies?, Is glass better than plastic for our lye water mix?, and stick blender and equipment specs
Process: An discussion of why Castile soap doesn’t require oils to be heated, and the different types and uses of trace
Cleanup: which is so unglamorous no-one talks about it
The easiest handmade soap for beginners is Castile Soap.
Made of only 3 ingredients, this DIY Soap is a traditional recipe composed of olive oil, lye, and distilled water. It is very mild and gentle and is often used for babies and those with sensitive skin. It’s also inexpensive.1
It does take a while before it can be used. Unmolding takes 2 weeks and curing is another 4 to 6. Veteran soap makers say that best results are after 10 months, which I’ll admit is a heck of a long time to wait.2,3
We’ll make a small test batch of 1 pound batch of soap, making 4 bars of 4 ounces. There’s a little allowance since you’ll never get all the raw soap out of the containers and there’s some water shrinkage. It’s a short ingredient list:
It really can’t get simpler than that. Plus, it’s an oldie but a goodie, tried and tested through centuries of use since its inception in the Middles Ages. What else could you ask for?
For those who want to get going, skip ahead to the Equipment Section but for those who have questions on the ingredients, I’ve written a few things about olive oil grades, the kind of lye, and the debate on water.
If you are a perfectionist, this is where you start to worry.
Should I buy extra virgin? What about pomace olive oil? What is pomace olive oil?
Based on the USDA4, there are 2 main types of olive oil and several subcategories under them. We are most familiar with food grade olive oils such as extra virgin, virgin, refined and regular olive oil and less familiar with pomace olive oils, which are intended for further refining for human consumption or technical use.
But here’s the thing – let’s keep it simple.
Since the fatty acid structure of the oils are the same, the soap produced is going to turn out pretty similar. Some soap makers will avoid pomace olive oil since it can produce a bar with a stronger smell, but the properties of the bar will be the same as other olive oil grades.
Buy the grade you prefer. Choose a reputable supplier since some groceries stock olive oil with other oils mixed into it or have old stock.
Just to illustrate my point, Soap Queen5 tested Olive oils from the grocery shelf and soon found that they exhibited rancidity – this is when the oils go bad and ruin both odor and appearance with little orange spots.
So, make sure you get fresh 100% Olive Oil without any additives and you’re good to go.
Sodium Hydroxide or Lye
There are two types of lye. Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) is used for making bar soap while Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) is used for making liquid soap. Liquid soap and bar soap have different formulations by the way so if you plan on making a liquid version, don’t just substitute one for the other.
Since this is a bar soap recipe, we’ll be using Sodium Hydroxide.
Usually, Sodium Hydroxide can be found in hardware stores at tech grade or sometimes food grade. Tech grade contains more impurities and some say they can tell the difference in their soap.
But tech grade is commonly used by big suppliers and several crafts people have reported using it, so grades seem to be a matter of personal choice. Buy 100% lye without additives and your soap should turn out well.
Also, a word on safety.
Lye is pretty caustic so it can hurt if you don’t take the proper safety precautions and wear the correct equipment. I’ve included a mini-homily on lye down below and the right safety equipment because I can’t stress safety enough – soap making should be fun, not hazardous!
Yes, I know. Yet another lengthy debate about ingredients!
Tldr: you can use tap.
Some people only use distilled water because they say that some hard water has such a high mineral content that impurities abound. They say distilled is better if you don’t know the qualities of your water because it ruins a soap batch. Others say that they’ve used tap and the bars turn out fine.
Tldr: you should be fine with tap. 😊
It can be tempting to use items from your kitchen, but remember that once you’ve used them for soap you should never use them again for food.
Below is a list of basic soap making gear for Castile soap or really simple recipes. There’s a lot of other auxiliary stuff you can get for fragrances, essentials oils and colors, but it’s really not needed for Castile.
Personal Protective Equipment or PPE such as safety goggles and rubber gloves and practical measures such as wearing long pants, long sleeves and closed toe shoes. Also, always work in a well-ventilated area near a source of running water in case of spills.
Cleanup Supplies such as paper towels, dish cloths and black garbage bags for dealing with the mess.
Eager to start? You can skip ahead to the soap making process but I would strongly suggest reading the PPE section. Safety should always come first!
Below, I’ve added a few tips on what to look for in equipment. Before I bought anything for soap making, I spent a month reading up on what to buy so it’s chock full of my notes as I made my way through soap making.
Personal Protective Equipment or PPE
Okay guys – this is where we get serious.
Lye is the number one reason that most people are wary of making their own soap.
Lye is a caustic base meaning that it is corrosive when it comes in contact with skin and several metals. It eats away at hair and can cause blindness. It’s a pretty harsh chemical by all standards.
There’s a lot of conflicting information about how to handle lye spills or what to do if solid flakes come in contact with your skin. Some people say flush with vinegar while others say not.
But think about it.
What happened when you were in the 1st grade and you put baking soda and vinegar together for the volcano science project? Do you remember the eruption?
When you put an acid like a vinegar and a base like lye together – even weak ones like these – you get an explosion.
Water will also cause a reaction but it will be weaker than one with an acid.
Be careful when handling lye. There’s no way to make soap without it unless you do a melt and pour, so it’s really important that we treat it with respect.
There will be some inevitable spills but hazards can be quickly reduced if you have the proper PPE. Always choose equipment that is a tight fit – a lot of accidents occur simply because a sleeve was snagged or a loose glove caused a container to fall.
According to OSHA9, Neoprene, Latex/Rubber, Butyl, and Nitrile glove are graded VG for both sodium and potassium hydroxide.
Always check before starting for leaks and tears and replace as needed. Always use gloves with a good fit, since many accidents happen because the gloves didn’t allow a firm grip.
Wear thick, tight fitting jeans and long sleeves to make sure there’s an extra layer if lye does spill on you. Use close toed shoes to protect your feet. Some people also wear a leather apron.
And move fast! Remove the clothing immediately and continuously flush with water if you do get a spill.
Goggles are necessary.
Others may prefer full face shields and I can understand why! I came across a soapers forum where someone had nearly been blinded when lye splashed into her eyes.
Use safety goggles – prescription glasses are not enough. Safety goggles that seal completely around the eye. This way, if something splashes from the side, you’re covered.
Well ventilated area
Always work in a well-ventilated area with running water. In case you do get a spill, you can immediately start washing with water.
I don’t have personal experience with all the brands – who does? So instead I read up massively on them and tried to figure out what I needed before spending a penny.
What I learned is that they will break and there is a lot of personal choice.
I found that a stainless steel shaft of a single piece construction is preferable because it wears well and is more sanitary. A detachable shaft is easier to clean. I also found that the deeper it could be submerged without liquid touching the motor allowed for bigger batches of soap and less spillage. A longer cord is preferable so you can move around easily.
Don’t spend too much. Buy something that will do the job and then as you get more confident (and when it breaks 😊) buy something else.
An Accurate Scale
I remember thinking that since I had measuring cups, I really didn’t need to buy a scale.
That couldn’t be more wrong.
I definitely needed a scale. A scale measures weight or mass and it is mass that that determines how much lye is needed.
Each oil has a different mass because it is made up of different fatty acids. Long chain fatty acids need less lye since they have less carboxylic functional groups per gram than short chain fatty acids.
Get a scale that is sturdy, has a flat top that can take at least 5kg of weight and can measure in ounces, pounds and grams. A tare function is also helpful since it allows you to disregard the container’s weight and just measure the contents of the container.
Splurge on this – you’ll need it as a serious soap maker!
Temperatures are important!
Too hot, and the soap can rise up out of the old like a volcano or have a puckered, wavy surface. Too cool, and soda ash forms on top of the soap.
The usual range for soap making is 120 to 130°F or 49 to 54°C mainly because this is where most butters and oils melt and where lye traces at the right speed.
I find there are pages and pages on the effect of temperature on soap – controlling it can be useful depending on what you want to accomplish.
Temperatures needed vary, especially for advanced soap making. You might want to add milk or avoid gel phase. You might want to intensify colors or work with solid beeswax. These are all examples of what you can do with temperature control, although they should be done for later projects.
Temperature control matters and so, buy a good thermometer if you plan to be a serious soap maker. For Castile, you really just need to check that the lye is at 120°F or 49°C.
You might use a candy thermometer but I’d like to suggest a temperature gun. This is so much easier than cleaning your thermometer all the time, and I really can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t like a little shortcut.
A lye water PP 5 plastic container with a lid
Buy something larger than needed with a handle and a spout to control pouring and reduce possible spills. A lid also helps to prevent spills. This is still lye that we are working with, so any spill or splash can be dangerous!
Heat resistant glass is recommended by more than one website. Less commonly known – but apparently true – is that Pyrex shatters after many uses12 since the lye can etch small scratches in the glass, which causes it to break. Apparently, lye reacts with the silicates in glass – although this is a sloooow process – and scratches the glass causing it to shatter or even explode.
A long handled stainless steel spoon or whisk for stirring lye solution. Avoid wood since the lye eats away at the wood and you’d have wood splinters in your soap.
A Stainless Steel Pot
I’d go for a stainless steel soap pot for mixing my oils and lye solution in since this allows me to melt my oils in it after measuring and then add in the lye. I completely avoid having to transfer to a new container, so automatically less cleanup and much more convenience.
Also, grab something with good strong handles so that you can easily transport it from one area to another and avoid accidents.
A Silicone Spatula
Silicone Spatula to remove all soap batter from the soap pot. Again, avoid wood as splinters may end up in your soap.
There are tons of soap molds. You can use wood, plastic, silicone or many items around the house.15
Wood molds can used for hot process as well as cold process soaping and have great insulation. The only thing is they must be lined since wood is porous and absorptive.
There’s quite a bit of debate around what liner to use since people have reported differing results16. Wax paper is reported to melt into soap and parchment may not be too durable. I have not heard any complaints about freezer paper however, so that is what I would buy.
If you don’t want to line your molds, silicone molds might be a good option. It is easy to take soap out and they are also easy to clean though soap might take longer to unmold.
Plastic molds also do not require lining but are often less sturdy than silicone. They also take a longer time to unmold.
Recycling a container is also perfectly fine and just require lining. Also make sure that there is a little “give” in the mold so that you can remove your soap. One of the saddest things is having a perfectly formed bar and then realizing that it’s impossible to remove from the mold.
In any case, you’ve got options. So long as you line your mold and can remove the soap easily, you should be fine.
Knife for cutting your bars of soap which should not be serrated so that you’ll have a nice smooth edge.
Paper towels, dish cloths and garbage bags to deal with the mess.
For more complicated recipes, you’ll find that you need to have mixing bowls for fragrance, essential oils and different colors of batter; mixing spoons, spatulas and whisks as well as other tools such as funnels, squirt bottles, small mixers and coffee grinders. It all depends on how far you want to go.
Finally, we’re ready to go!
If you’ve read the ingredients section, you’ll have found your 100% olive oil, your sodium hydroxide and decided on your water.
The equipment section will have put to rest the confusion you might have felt on deciding on the materials for your lye water pot and the correct materials for your stirring tools. I hope the emergency procedures for lye accidents and personal protective equipment or PPE were also clearly understood – be careful when working with lye since its corrosive.
I’ve written down a super duper easy to follow procedure below with several pro tips and quick explanations to help us beginners along. Keep safe!
Step 1: Prepare your workspace by making sure you’ve got enough space to work, covering it with newspapers or cardboard, and setting out your equipment. Make sure it’s clear of tripping hazards, well ventilated and near a source of running water in case of accidents.
It’s also really helpful to set out your equipment and pre-measured ingredients in the order that you’ll need them. I’d also line the mold with freezer paper so that you can immediately pour the soap. I’d reserve bringing out the lye until you are ready to start – just to be on the safe side. 😊
Step 2: Put on your PPE. This includes safety goggles, gloves, tight fitting pants and long-sleeved shirts, closed toed shoes and an apron. Please do read the PPE section to make your you’ve got the right protective gear!
Step 3: Measure your water and place in the chemical resistant PP 5 plastic container. Measure your lye and add to the water slowly. Stir and then wait till the solution is clear.
Always add lye to water because otherwise it explodes.
Add lye slowly to water to ensure control and minimize splashes.
Water should be at room temperature and not hot or even lukewarm to avoid over-heating.
To speed up the cooling down of lye, you can use cold water, use ice cubes for half of the water, or put the lye solution in a sink of cold water. Don’t put the lye solution in the ref – it’s fumes are dangerous.
Use every bit if lye – saves clean-up after!
Step 4: Measure your oil into a large stainless steel or PP 5 plastic pot.
Step 5: Add the lye solution into the oils when your lye water solution is 130°F or 54° Minimize bubbles by pouring the solution slowly or by pouring it down the shaft of your stick blender.
Lots of recipes mention that the oil and lye should be within 10°F or roughly 6°C of each other, but so long as the oils are above their melting point – i.e. they are liquid – you’re good.
Avoid air bubbles by tapping the stick blender on your container’s bottom. When no more air bubbles rise to the surface, you’re good.
Run your stick blender in short bursts to avoid overheating the motor.
Submerge your stick blender as far as it can go so that soap doesn’t end up flying around. Lye’s still pretty harsh at this point so it’s best to be safe.
Step 6: When everything is thoroughly mixed, it begins to thicken to the consistency of cake batter. In soap making lingo, this thickening is called trace. Trace indicates that soap has begun to form.
There are 3 types of trace:
Light trace is the consistency of light cake batter
Medium trace has the texture of heavy cake batter and is when we add ingredients that we’d like to remain suspended.
Thick trace is when the soap holds its shape after its been poured. Like frosting, it can be used to make decorative tops and textures.
Beware of false trace or of using soap batter before everything has been fully mixed.
In false trace, thickening occurs because the oils have started to solidify. Oils solidify when they’re below their melting point so keep an eye on temperature!
Sometimes soap will be poured into a mold when it hasn’t properly mixed. Streaks of oil indicate you should keep on mixing since if used at that stage, pockets of harsh lye may appear in the final soap. This would be dangerous to use.
For Castile, our oil is liquid at room temperature and all we need to hit is medium trace, so we just have to make sure that we mix really well. Castile takes a while to trace, so don’t worry if it takes longer than you’d expect.
Step 7: Leave the soap in the mold for 2 weeks, since this is an especially soft soap. Unmold and cut and cure for an additional 4 to 6 weeks. It can already be used after this, but best results will really come after a 10 month cure time.
And that’s a wrap!
Clean up’s boring – but necessary! The lye is still active and needs to be disposed of properly.
When you use as much batter as you can, there is less clean-up plus more soap, so use that spatula when you’re emptying your soap batter into the mold.
Oh, and don’t put things in the dishwasher – there’s still lye on it so you should avoid mixing food and soap making equipment. Better safe than sorry!
Step 1: First, make sure you still have your protective gear on. You’ll need it since the lye is still harsh.
Step 2: Make sure the area is still secure from small marauders like children and pets.
Step 3: Collect your equipment and move it to the sink. I would deal with the raw lye water items first and then the containers that have the oils and raw soap batter.
Step 4: Rinse items that have lye water solution residue such as your lye water container and lye water stirrer.
Step 5: Remove as much raw soap batter and oil from your equipment with rags to prevent pipes clogging. Put the rags in a plastic bag when done. Rinse with hot water and a strong degreaser or detergent.
Alternatively, you can leave your rags for 24 hours in the plastic bag. It will then become soap and should be easy to launder. Personally, I don’t do this simply because I think it might not be good for my washing machine, but that’s just me.
Step 6: Strip your working surface of newspapers or cardboard and wash with water. Wipe down and spray with vinegar.
You made it (In more ways than one; that was a long guide)! Congratulations!
Cavitech, Susan. 1997. The Soapmaker’s Companion. United States: Versa Press
Faiola, Anne-Marie. 2016. Pure Soapmaking: How to Create Nourishing, Natural Skin Care Soaps. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.
Gail, Amanda. 2008. Private Soapmaking Class, Pyrex and Lye, Essential Oils and Plastic [Weblog] Lovin’ Soap. 5 December 2015. Available at http://www.lovinsoap.com/2015/12/private-soapmakin g-class-pyrex-and-lye-essential-oils-and-plastic/ [Accessed 15 June 2017]