How my fear of failing in soap making diminished over time.

Featuring Real Stories from soap makers in Singapore:

Soap Maker Jin will be sharing her soap making journey and soap recipe. 

In London, eco-friendly and affordable bar soaps were readily available off the shelf and online. Back in Singapore, I could not find such options easily. The desire to continue living more sustainably and ethically sparked the idea of making my own soaps. Based on what I read on the Internet, soapmaking seemed quite straight forward.

I was attracted to the idea of making soaps as a start to making more environmentally friendly alternatives to readily available commercial products. As a part of living a conscious lifestyle and making better decisions for my health and the environment, I felt that the DIY process is a good way to go. One, I could learn more about the origin and effects of different ingredients in the soap and choose ingredients that are better for different skin types and conditions. Two, by understanding the process of making soap and the by-products, I can try to remove unnecessary additives that are harmful to the natural environment. By taking my body (skin) and the environment into consideration, I make decisions in the DIY process and this allows me to have more control over what I use daily.

Furthermore, the thinking was that I could craft soaps that are suitable for myself, my family and friends – in Singapore, everyone knows at least two more people with eczema. As a person suffering from eczema myself, sometimes the commercially available options and medication are neither sustainable for the environment nor suitable for our skin conditions. In being able to design natural soaps with the user in mind, I could potentially tailor a soap that is better than commercially available options.

For the first few DIY sessions, the Internet was a great resource for recipes, and I found some to try. However, I realised after that the Internet did not tell me everything that I wanted to know. While the instructions were straight forward, I did not know the reasons behind what I was witnessing as I was making and what to expect after each step in the recipe. What I thought was a straightforward process turns out to be activity of infinite possibilities with extremely varied results. How much water is too much? What does reducing the amount of lye (superfatting) do to each bar of soap and each recipe? What is the chemistry behind superfatting? Why are there cracks in my soap?

As much as I would like to have more control in my life by making more eco-friendly choices and doing more DIY activities, I do not seem to have any control over how well my soaps turn out. I thought that soap making is a relaxing activity, but it was becoming an emotional activity. The more bars of soap I made, the more varied the bar soaps are, the more questions I had. This generated much doubt and anxiety. Not to mention, it was a little stressful. For example, having to get the oil mixture and lye solution to the appropriate temperature requires multi-tasking and good time control. I am not very good at multi-tasking.

During these months, when I had doubts during a DIY session, Karene, Terri and Nora were always very willing to share and to help diagnose what might have gone wrong. With their guidance and reassurance, I navigated through much uncertainty and self-doubt. In addition to picking up a new skill, I found myself a community of soap makers. I have met many people at the studio who are trying different recipes and techniques for the first time. They sometimes do not know what to expect either. Being stressed or doubtful is quite common too! But, soap makers seem to always walk away with a sense of accomplishment. It is the effort that counts here. There is always another opportunity to improve.

In three months, I found the answers to my initial questions after making more than 20 batches of bars soaps. They are currently sitting a cupboard at home, with aromas emanating along the corridor.

How I cure my soaps at home

My family have to put up with my many soap experiments and friends have been receiving lots of bar soaps from me. I now introduce myself as a soap maker when I meet new people. I think the bar soaps are more resilient than I am. Natural bar soaps mixture can withstand quite a few extra millilitres of oils, overmixing, burnt milk mixtures and more.

Upon reflection, I recognise two important factors that contributed to my sustained interest in making soaps. First, it is the existing community of soap makers. The instructors at the DIY sessions facilitate a supportive environment where concerns and questions are addressed. I am always curious to know what the soap maker at the next table is making, and it is always something different and that is another idea I could try next time. Secondly, my fear of failing diminished over time. I realised that demon soaps will always appear and when it does happen, I can always make another batch! Thankfully, the stakes aren’t high and it is always a learning experience. It is crazy to wish for absolute certainty over a process such as soapmaking. Managing uncertainty as a part of managing expectations is and should always be part of the process.

Join our Community of Soap Makers!

If you have always wanted to give soap making a shot, come say hello to us! Seasoned soap makers are also welcomed! We just love to gather soap makers together and form a little community! Our studio is conveniently located at 81 Ubi Avenue 4 #10-19 UB.ONE Singapore 408830 (We are just 5 mins walk from Tai Seng MRT).

See Class Schedule here.

Try Jin's Soap Recipe!

Lavender Coconut Milk Soap (1.75kg)

Coconut Oil (35%) - 245g

Apricot KernelOil (25%) - 175g

Grapeseed Oil (25%) - 175g

Castor Oil (10%) - 70g

Jojoba Oil (5%) - 35g

Lye - 99g

Coconut Cream - 160g

Water - 20g

Lavender Essential Oil - 30ml

Ground Lavender Flowers - 1/8 cup

Watch a fun step-by-step video on How To Make Lavender Coconut Milk soap

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel @Sugar & Spice Singapore

Available Classes

(Suitable for Beginners!)

Basic CP soap making class

Learn how to make natural bar soaps from scratch!

(Suitable for Beginners!)

CP Liquid soap making class

Learn how to make natural liquid soap from scratch!

(Suitable for children and adults!)

Melt & Pour soap making class

Learn how to make your own handmade soap in the easiest way!

(Rent our workshop for soap making!)

Cold Process Soap DIY Workshop

FREE to use our available equipment and facility in studio!

Prior CP knowledge is required.

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81 Ubi Avenue 4, #10-19 UB. One, Singapore 408830.

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