Although it is easy to simply walk into a store and choose between the numerous varieties of soaps that are available, there is much to be said for hand made soap making and having the joy of using a bar of soap that you have created yourself.
The homemade variety looks and feels very different to those that are mass produced, and has loads of character as no two bars produced by hand are ever the same. There are basically four ways to make your own soap at home, each with their own variations, advantages, and disadvantages. Regardless of the method you choose, you can produce soap with a level of personalization that no store-bought, factory-made bar can ever hope to compete with.
The first is called the melt and pour method, where ready made bars are melted and mixed with your own fragrance, and then reshaped into fresh blocks. Second, and one of the most common ways to make soap is the cold process, where blocks are hand made from start to finish, using lye and various oils. The third is a variation on the cold process, where cooking the mixture is involved. The fourth, called re-batching, is where a ready made bar is ground up, milk or water is added, and coloring and fragrant ingredients are combined and the result is reshaped.
Coloring your hand made soap adds to the fun of the whole process, and also adds to the sophistication and overall appeal of your soap. The general rule is to keep colors subtle, and match them as closely as possible to the fragrance of the bars. For instance, if it is lavender scented, then a nice shade of lilac will complement the fragrance, or, if the scent were peach, then the obvious color to go for would be a soft shade of peach.
Colors can be obtained by using natural ingredients, such as barks, seeds, or flower petals, or, an easier method is to make use of commercially produced pigments. Cosmetic grades of mica can also be used to add a glittery effect to your items, which is a really nice touch if intended as a gift for someone special. Most use FD&C Colors that are skin safe and provided by respected suppliers such as The Candlemakers Store. They are the easiest to use and the most cost effective.
A beautiful soap must have a lovely perfume as well, and there are numerous scents that are readily available for adding that special fragrance to your soaps, such as sandalwood, vanilla, lavender, rose, jasmine, coconut, and many, many more. The wonderful part about scenting your hand made items is that you can blend different scents together, and have your own, unique fragrance for each batch of soap that you make.
Choosing the fragrances you want to use depends on your creativity and resourcefulness. For instance, if the items you are making have fruity colors, then stick to the theme and go with the same type of scents, or, if it is intended as a gift for someone, then you could use a fragrance that is special to that particular person, who will then know that you have put a lot of thought into the making of the gift.
For additional information on best soap making practices, contacting a respected supplier of soap and candle making supplies is advisable.